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Paul Teutul, Sr. - Fresh Start for OCC on CMT

Friday, November 15, 2013
They refined the science of the theme bike. They’ve built a bit of everything, from an electric drag bike to a biodiesel Springer, from the far-fetched, flame-throwing, track-driven concoction created for a biker build-off to web-wrapped choppers. Orange County Choppers helped thrust motorcycling into the mainstream as Paul Sr., Paulie Jr., and Mikey Teutul became household names during American Choppers ten-year run. From suburbia to the big city, American Chopper filled family living rooms weekly as people tuned, drawn in by the drama the toll of running a family business takes, intrigued by the larger-than-life customs that came together before their eyes.

But all things eventually run their course, and on December 17, 2012, the last episode of American Chopper aired. The show had lost luster, producers opting to showcase more of the infighting and family conflict than bike building. It played out like a primetime soap opera. The formula had grown stagnant and it felt like all parties involved had their fill of having their private lives drug through the court of public appeal. Before moving forward, larger issues needed resolution. A new approach was needed.

That’s when CMT stepped in. The Country Music Television station, who’s actively stepped up its presence promoting motorcycle-related content as it filmed a series of Sturgis specials at the Legendary Buffalo Chip this summer, picked up the show. A new Orange County Choppers series was developed, with an eight-episode season set to debut this Saturday. The show promises to take new direction, as Paul Sr. put it, “less drama, more fab.” OCC has undergone its own in-house changes as well, hiring on a young new creative director - a 23-year-old builder out of New Jersey named Evan Favaro. Favaro has assumed the huge responsibility of not only taking the reins of an internationally known company, but to help inject it with a fresh perspective. Every move he makes will not only be under Senior’s scrutiny, he’s under pressure to succeed in the public eye. How will Favaro fare? Tune in tomorrow night to see.

In the meantime, enjoy our interview with OCC’s driving force, Paul Teutul, Sr.

Motorcycle USA: So, here we go again. The last Chopper show felt like the last one (the biker build-off with the guys from Fast & Loud and Jesse James). What made you decide to give TV another run?

Paul Sr.: Hang on! I was all about continuing it, you know what I mean? There was some issues going on when we left Discovery. I would have hung on for the ride as long as it would have lasted, but it didn’t so we weren’t ready to quit. Once we were released from Discovery, I asked my agent to find another station to see if they’ll pick us up and CMT picked us up right away. It was cool. They’re a young station as far as they’re expanding on reality shows so it’s a good time to get in. They were good because they said we just want you guys to be yourself and build bikes and have fun. What more can you ask for?
Paul Teutul Sr. OCC
Paul Teutul, Sr. is excited about the new Orange County Choppers show on CMT. The switch to a new TV station and the addition of a young, talented new creative director promises to inject fresh blood into the series.

Motorcycle USA: So tell me a little bit about the new guy, Evan Favaro. How’d you decide on him out of all the applicants for the job?

Paul Sr.: Actually, he had the best skills, especially for being 23-years-old. He’s been a fan since he was a kid but he’s also got his own little shop and he’s had that. So he’s been building bikes and fabricating at an early age, so he’s a good fabricator. But he kinda fits in, which is a difficult thing to do around here. (Big laugh!)

Motorcycle USA: Who all do you still have on the crew from before (Jim Quinn, Christian, Jason Pohl) What about Mike Amarotti, Skeeter Todd and Rick Petko?

Paul Sr.: They’re all here. Jason, Nick - Everybody’s still here. Nobody’s really left. All these guys have been with me 10 years or longer. Rick’s still here. Skeeter is like part-time.

Motorcycle USA: What about ol’ Amarotti?
No, he’s gone. Actually, he’s the only one that’s not left of the group.

Motorcycle USA: What can people expect in the new show? From the trailers we’ve watched, it looks like it’s business as usual, of course, but it looks like there’s quite a few practical jokes and some in-house shenanigans going on.

Paul Sr.: You’re going to see a lot of that. That kind of stuff, we love to do. We’ve kind of done that since Day 1. It’s a lot of fun and people talk about that stuff for a long time. Remember even in the early days when Mikey drove the pick-up in the pond? People still today remember that stuff. So I think that’s good clean fun. I think it keeps everybody happy. It’s kind of a positive effect on the audience and listen, the end result is always the bike. And we always build cool bikes. Some people want vacations, these guys just want to blow up something and then they’re back to work. It’s just the way it is. You’ll see a lot of that. Actually, the show Saturday night, it’s a good one. 

Motorcycle USA: The Teutul family dynamic was such a big part of the old show. Will the new show continue to showcase the relationship between you and Paul Jr. or will it be different, focusing more on what OCC does in-house?

Paul Sr.: It’s just going to be Orange County Choppers and it’s gonna be more focused on building bikes. A little less drama. But I think people want to see more of the fabrication and humor and stuff like that. It’s just really the show, the drama and stuff lasted for quite a long time, but I think at the end, it was all drama and very little bike because we were splitting the show up. But I think people were getting tired of the drama and wanted to see more bikes. Me personally, I’d rather build bikes because the drama is going to be there no matter what because you are under tension all the time. So it’s a part of life, so that will be there. But I think that the good times need to be shown too.

You need a facelift. After a while you get complacent and you kind of lose interest because you do stuff on the show and then it doesn’t get shown and the guys here get disappointed. It’s like, why do that if it’s not going to get shown, so they were getting like down on that. Now everybody’s backing up, they’re happy about the show, they’re happy about what they’re doing and it shows. It really shows.

Motorcycle USA: I saw you at Sturgis this year at the Legends Ride and was there when you presented the bike to the wounded vet and Purple Heart recipient Robert Five. (For the full story, see our GAF Awards Vet OCC Bike at Sturgis Chip article) Do some projects strike a chord with you
OCC made a bike at the bequest of GAF who awarded the motorcycle to Robert Dickey  a member of the American armed forces who was wounded in combat.
OCC was in Sturgis to present Purple Heart recipient Robert Dickey, aka Robert 'Five,' with this chopper on the stage of the Legendary Buffalo Chip during the Sturgis Rally. The building of this bike and its presentation is one of the new Orange County Choppers episodes shot by CMT.
Robert Dickey  who helps out other wounded veterans through the non-profit Warfighter Made  was the lucky recipient of a custom OCC presented by GAF.
Robert Dickey, who helps out other wounded veterans through the non-profit Warfighter Made, was the lucky recipient of a custom OCC bike presented by GAF.
more than others?

Paul Sr.: Yeah, the good feels are always the best. You need the money to pay the bills, you know what I’m saying, but when you can do something like that, you always get more out of it. Good guy, too. (Warfighter Made, the company Robert Five was representing at Sturgis, is a non-profit that retrofits vehicles for wounded soldiers.) 

Motorcycle USA: I was peeking at some of the trailers and I can’t wait to see the episode with the Dragon Bike. Was that the first time you guys have done a hub steering project?

Paul Sr.: Yes. Oh my God, that whole thing, I mean if you look at it, the carbon fiber dragon. We did everything on that bike. Most people would sub out a lot of that stuff. Even that steering, we had to fabricate three-quarters of it to make it work. So it was a challenge, it really was a challenge that bike. It’s cool though.

Motorcycle USA: Why does OCC have such a polarizing effect on people, they either love you or hate you.

Paul Sr.: Yeah, even the people that hate us love us. (chuckle) They love to hate you. I don’t know, I think that we’ve had a huge impact on every walk of life, from families to hardcore bikers and whatnot. You know, you just can’t get them all to like you, but I think our fan base is huge internationally, and it doesn’t seem to go away, so we must be doing something right.

Motorcycle USA: What do you credit OCC’s longevity to?

Paul Sr.: The show or the company? Well, I mean we’re doing a lot more as a company. We’re doing restaurants now, we have our retail store here and we have a restaurant here. We actually have a bowling alley here. So, we’re just venturing off into, we just came out with a display that’s available to the public, not just necessarily motorcycle shops. You can put it in a showroom or something, we’re constantly evolving, we never just stay in one spot. 

Motorcycle USA: Did you ever think you’d enjoy as long of a run as you have?

Paul Sr.: I don’t know, ya know what I mean? It’s kind of like, the show started and it was kind of cool because we were picked to be like the second Jesse James in a sense because he had the first show. There was a lot of people around Arlen Ness and all those guys that had a lot more visibility than we did. And when we got asked to do the show, it was like, you’re not used to taking pictures and being on camera, so it took a little while to get used to. But the rides been great and I want to keep riding it.

Motorcycle USA: After it’s all said and done, what would you like the OCC legacy to be?

Paul Sr.: I guess the combination of everything. Some of the charities that we did, making a difference in people’s lives, and always being known as the best motorcycle company in the world, on and on I guess, right?
Paul Teutul  Sr. from OCC showed up at the Legends Ride to help support the cause.
Paul Sr. is all smiles in Sturgis at the Legends Ride. Senior helped lead the ride out of Deadwood in the Sturgis Buffalo Chip's annual fundraiser.

Motorcycle USA: One thing I don’t think people realize is how much you guys do give back and how many different things you guys support locally and on a national level.

Paul Sr.: I agree with you there, too. People love to complain or they love to see anything that has to do with failure, but they don’t recognize what we do in our community. The presence brings people, the hotels get filled over here when we have an event, people spend money, they just don’t recognize the charities that we’ve done and helped. There’s pages and pages of them. It’s a lot and we’re going to continue to do it. 

Motorcycle USA: How’s Paul Jr. doing?

Paul Sr.: He’s doing OK. We talk now, so the relationship’s a lot better. As far as what he’s doing. Listen, the show, just having the show, enables you to be versatile and be able to do lots of things in different areas.

Motorcycle USA: What about Mikey, still as goofy as ever?

Paul Sr.: Yeah, yeah, he’s a funny guy.

Motorcycle USA: Is he still pursuing his art work?

Paul Sr.: Naw, he kind of gave that up. I’m not really sure what he’s doing, I haven’t seen him in a little while, but we have lunch or breakfast a couple of times, so we still stay in touch, too.

Motorcycle USA: The last thing we were curious about, you see the way that in the biker build-off, they portray this little rivalry and almost animosity between you and Jesse James, but how do you guys really get along?

Paul Jr.: Me and Jesse? Actually, really good. We got to know each other at the bike build. He actually built me a ’33 Ford. Really cool car. It’s got a Hemi motor in it, so it’s not like we go out to lunch, but we stay in touch and it’s a good relationship. He’s a good guy really.

Here’s a little bit more info about the new Orange County Choppers show, courtesy of CMT.

The world-renowned custom motorcycle shop and its fearless leader return to television in CMT’s new eight-episode series Orange County Choppers, premiering Saturday, November 16 at 9:00-10:00 p.m., ET/PT. This turbo-charged series follows the iconic Paul Teutul Sr. (“Senior”) and his team as they take on the most challenging bike builds of their careers.

Each hour-long episode of Orange County Choppers, Senior and his team navigate tight deadlines, lofty egos and all the chaos that emerges from a group of rough and rowdy co-workers — including some of the most outrageous pranks ever. When 23-year-old Evan Favaro is hired as Creative Director, he has no choice but to hit the ground running. Evan must earn the respect of his new colleagues, and prove he’s worthy of his new position, by demonstrating his leadership ability and undeniable design and fabrication skills.

Highlights from the premiere season of Orange County Choppers include:

• An international client orders a custom “dragon bike” that becomes one of the most intricate builds the team has ever taken on. When a prank goes awry and a piece of the dragon is broken, all hands must be on deck to resolve the problem and finish the bike by the time the client returns to the States.

• America’s beloved drive-in fast-food restaurant SONIC commissions Senior and his team to build a bike for a giveaway at its annual SONIC National Convention. The event is a huge corporate initiative for the company — and it’s crucial that the bike impress the audience of nationwide franchise members. Pressure mounts toward the end of the assembly when a problem with an important bracket and a chrome-bubbling issue threaten to keep the bike from the looming reveal date.

• GAF, the largest roofing manufacturer in North America, orders a bike to present to a veteran on stage at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. The team only has two and a half weeks to design and build a chopper that’s worthy of a Purple Heart recipient — and that will be unveiled in front of thousands of die-hard motorcycle fans.

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Doc   August 27, 2014 12:04 PM
Where do these haters get off? OCC inspired me to build my trikes, and still inspires me with designs for the future! Don't speak for all of us you haters some of us actually like the guys at OCC & PJD! Get a life instead of criticising of others!
wildpig   November 21, 2013 09:06 AM
yea it's kinda like the myth that bmw is a reliable bike....
customaudiodesign   November 20, 2013 10:46 AM
Lots of motorcyclists give back, every day...and they're not poseurs who don't wear any semblance of riding gear and fake helmets, or ride ridiculous-handling bikes that can only be ridden in somewhat of a straight line. I've ridden custom choppers from recognized builders...yes, finely finished and looking good but they do not have anything close to adequate handling characteristics, suspension performance, and lean angle. What about that Jesse James, uh, "builder"? Saying you can ride those choppers like a regular bike? Showing people that he's going to ride his chopper to Sturgis from his shop. Through the magic of editing, he did. But the "reality" of that was the bike spent most of the time in a van because it was a POS and completely punished the rider; yet there it was in Sturgis looking like he rode it the whole way. LIAR! What a loser. Thanks to Dealer News, the truth came out. If you want art, get a painting or sculpture; motorcycles are dynamic machines and yes, can be art, but unless they're ride-able, it's just more poseur butt-jewelry. No wonder CMT picked up that drivel...the only demographic that apparently still watches that tripe. Yelling at each other, throwing parts/tools around, cussing everyone out, insulting your so-called friends and family? This is not REALITY, it's a bunch of babies acting like the children they are, on an elementary school playground. I know OEM dealers/owners, independent shops, custom cafe' & chopper shops and sole-proprietorship motorcycle shops and if any of those clowns-without-make-up pulled those stunts in their shop, they'd be shown the door permanently. One fact remains above all else: it's not "reality" TV if people know the cameras are there. These dunce-caps are encouraged to create drama, discontent and act like children; that's what the viewers want to see is what I've been told by folks who produce and direct "reality" TV. Man, how about a show about real riders (not poseurs) on different kinds of bikes, riding their bikes to different and amazing places, helping people, useful mods and parts to enhance the experience, tips and info about training and how to be a better rider, AND not having to lie to the viewers about how good the bikes handle and perform. Like what you want, embrace it, own it. But don't lie to me about something that cannot be possible within the realm of physics and the specific parameters that motorcycles can effectively operate and handle within. You put the front end out too far or bring it in too far, it's not enjoyable to ride and will try to spit you off. Unless you LIKE riding a few miles on mostly straight roads with no pot-holes or frost heaves to the bar or coffee shop. Thankfully I can change the channel; I don't even have CMT programmed into my channel selection/guide. I watched it in the beginning, thinking "hey, it's about motorcycles, I like stuff about motorcycles..." After two shows and the childish BS, the lies about how choppers really handle, you can't fool me, I'm done. Keep giving back Tooter, it's what real people do riding real motorcycles every day...they don't need a pat on the back and a not-reality TV show. Do not forget: popularity has NOTHING to do with quality. Want to see real riders on decent-handling bikes who act like adults and genuine folks? Watch On Any Sunday, Faster, The Long Way Down, Cafe' Racer, BSB, WSBK, or MotoGP.
DocNick   November 15, 2013 01:23 PM
My life has been on hold, wondering what was happening with Paul Teutel Sr. I cannot tell you how much of a godsend this is. It's like the sun coming up at the end of an ice age.
thomboz   November 15, 2013 12:00 PM
I wish these guys would just fade away, who watches these shows anyway? I don't know a single motorcyclist that is into their junior high drama (my apologies to junior highers everywhere).