Interview by CORE

If you have not heard of TRED then you know nothing of the Seattle graffiti scene. He is the only writer to have numerous and continuous tags running for over two decades in Seattle, a city notorious for heavily criminalization, targeting, and expulsion of graffiti writers. He started the nefarious 3AK with his brother SEED. He reformed BTM in the late nineties and serves as one of its several captains today. He introduced me and numerous others to graffiti and lives the life of a successful writer and entrepreneur today.

CORE: 1992 had just rung in. I was at a skater party downtown Seattle on New Year’s Eve. Out of nowhere you pulled me outside and tagged TRED in the alley. I grabbed your paint and wrote CORE next to it.  Before I knew it we were crushing Seattle. Two decades later, you’re still at it. What is it about graffiti that keeps you going?

TRED: I love that mischievous rush you get when you break the law. Graffiti is a quick fix for me and I can always count on it for that rush. I think I am damn close to have broken every mischief law at least once, and the fun ones I have broken hundreds of times. I LOVE BREAKING LAWS.

C: How different is the Seattle scene now than when we started?

T: It’s a bit tamer now. Hanging out at Westlake was so fucking awesome, that place ruled. We would be 100 deep, skating, drinking, hitting on girls until 1 in the morning and then going tagging all night. Riding on the 7 bus used to be sooo much fun back then, everyone was causing trouble and the whole bus would be just crushed. The buses looked like something out of The Road Warrior. You could hit up a big ass tag all the way across the windows and 6 months later it would still be up. These days the buses are clean, no one causes trouble and tags are buffed the next day. It’s pretty sad. This applies to the whole city, everything was crushed and it would run.  It’s all a buff now.

Also the legal walls were pretty regulated back then. 2ZC and DVS crews really kept guard of everything and were constantly checkin’ fools for any type of wack behavior. The legal walls today really need guard towers to keep the fuck-tards out. Bruno and Soul were probably the only 2 O.G.’s who were really cool with us back then. Those 2 guys are still around today and they are some serious Seattle legends.

C: I remember when we hit big throw ups on the road of the University Bridge. When the bridge went up to let boats through the next day, our action was fifty feet in the air for the world to see. That was my favorite mission. (And yes, it was all your idea.) What was your favorite mission?

T: That one was so awesome! That just might have been the best mission ever.

C: BTM called it quits sometime in the late nineties. Why?

T: A few of the main members moved to other cities and we lost focus. We were like a grizzly bear that went into hibernation. Now we are back and stronger/bigger than ever.

C: Why did you feel it was important to start it up again? How did that go down?

T: I felt like the early days of BTM were the best years of my life. I had so much fun running around with you, sevi [SAVE], SECT, PROVOK, SEEK, SMOG and quite a few others. I guess I never wanted the party to end.

C: What is it about BTM that is different from other crews?

T: Almost every cat in BTM/3A is only in BTM/3A. Most people in general that are involved with graffiti are in 10 different crews, and of those 10, 5 of them don’t even like each other. And the other four are just a bunch of idiots…What the fuck is that about?!? You have to pick a side and be loyal to them. It’s like a Navy Seal fighting for the Taliban now and then, or a Crip chillin’ with a bunch of fuckin’ Bloods. 99% of the crews out there are weak-sauce compared to us. To quote the great poet Mike Tyson, “Everyone else is just a moldy loaf of bread, but we are the real-deal thoroughbreds.” We are the Special Forces of the graffiti world.


C: You were pretty notorious for being known as “T——- E———,” and still writing TRED. I even remember getting caught with you and the cop rolling up your sleeve and pointing out your TRED tat as if it were some kind of proof of guilt. If I remember right, they put you in the car and sent me walking. From experience, what can you tell writer kids that are paranoid about the cops knowing their real name?

T: It doesn’t matter if your tag is tattooed across your forehead and every cop in the city has your stats memorized, they CAN’T do anything to you unless you are caught in the act OR you snitch on yourself and admit to wrong doing. Don’t be a dumbass, simply shut your mouth and you will walk away from nearly every legal situation that you encounter. Kids need to memorize this phrase, “Sorry Officer, I do not speak to law enforcement without legal representation.” This phrase is your Kryptonite to the Super Pig. If they hear that, they WILL leave you alone.

C: I remember that in about the mid-nineties, you started rolling with the gang United Latinos. What led to the transition from graffiti to gangs?

T: I wasn’t the only one who fell into the gang trap. SEED and SECT were hitting up UL and almost got jumped in. They got lucky that they didn’t go any further than that. Those two guys are pretty extreme and would both be doing life sentences if they had maintained that path.

I can distinctly remember a few moments in my younger life where I was either pocket-checked, punked, humiliated or punched for no good reason. As I got a lil’ older I refused to ever be a victim again. The UL’s were some 110% bad-ass mother fuckers and no one ever messed with them. I guess I really wanted to be like that. My mind was a little twisted up back then. I mistakenly thought that hanging out of a car window and shooting a gun at people, houses, and cars was fun and somehow a good idea.

These days I prefer to solve my problems with a much lower level of violence. Instead of really trying to hurt someone, I have been administering powerful and violent wedgies. My wedgie skills are awesome. By the time I’m done there will be blood and you will be in the fetal position. I’m very serious about that. Getting punched in the face isn’t really a big deal and can easily be forgotten, but you will never ever forget that time you had to get stitches because of a wedgie I gave you.

C: How did your gang affiliation influence your graffiti?

T: It definitely put a big influence on a lot of aspects of my life. I have always been a big fan of the Mexican Mafia and I really approve of how they operate. The BTM/3A constitution is based on their code of conduct. If all of society would follow these simple rules, we would all be in a better place, even if it’s the boy scouts or your local knitting club:

  1. Never let the BTM/3A army down.
  2. When disrespected by a stranger or group, all BTM/3A’s must unite to destroy the other person or group immediately.
  3. Always maintain a high level of integrity.
  4. Every member has the right to wear the tattoo of the 3 Aces or the BTM.
  5. One must always do whatever one can to help a BTM/3A brother who has come upon hard times.
  6. Every member has the right to express ideas, opinions, contradictions and constructive criticisms.
  7. One must stay as physically fit as possible and continually strengthen their self defense skills.


C: Rumor has it that you have to get beat in to 3A. Why?

T: It’s an excellent way to weed out the pussies, fakes and frauds. It also really toughens you up. 3A gets into sticky situations and it’s good to know that you can depend on the homie next to you to not punk out when the shit goes down.

C: There is a lot of overlap between BTM and 3A kids. What makes someone a good fit for BTM? 

T: Being a god-damned stud will make you a good fit. These days I think the epitome of STUD would have to be my man KRAMS. He is my hero. He is the knock out king of Seattle but he is still very very polite when he needs to be. Those are great qualities, I know I can invite him to my mom’s house for dinner and he will treat her with the utmost respect and not embarrass me.

C: I remember that being all-city wasn’t good enough for SECT back in the day. You had to do something new. Is that the case today? Do you expect kids to pull off new stuff to be put down in BTM?

T: SECT is one incredible individual. He is like The Mecca and we are all pilgrims. If I had never met him, I am certain I would be in a better place. I would probably have 1.5 kids, a career, a mortgage and no criminal record. I am truly grateful to have met him. He saved me from a life of boredom and conformity. But yes, to be a member now you have to really impress us. We demand a lot of our new recruits, you really have to stand out. Filled in extinguisher throwies and massive all-city rollers are a definite plus.

C: In the last five years or so, there’s been at least three deaths from kids affiliated with BTM: KERSE (RIP), KADE (RIP), and AYBEE (RIP). This is just terrible. Is there anything you’d care to say about this?

T: It’s horrible and sad. Each of those deaths was pretty devastating to all of us.

C: Do you think BTM will keep on rolling for another two decades?

T: I hope so! I wish we could multiply at the same rate as cockroaches. In one year a cockroach will have approximately 150 offspring. If all 50 or so of us multiplied at this rate, in 1 year there would be 7500 of us, and the next year there would be 1,125,00. If I had my way there would be billions of us in just 4 years.

C: What got BTM to where it is now? How will BTM keep going?

T: I may have dusted it off and got BTM back on its feet but it was a massive group effort to get us where we are today. I didn’t have a lot to do with that. People like Big Daddy KERSE, Mr ADEKS, SEED the Jerk, WWL the Jew, Dangerous DIMES, O.G. Old Man T-REVS, KRAMS Dynamite, Sniper MALVO, Mack Daddy BC, EAGR The Beaver, SHOOTER McStinky Panties, King LEWY, SARO the Destroyer and several others are the guys who really put us on the map. KATSU is such an animal. I wish I could bench press half of what he can. He benches like 450 and squats 800. I bet he takes 2-foot long shits too from eating so much protein.

C: About how many kids are in BTM now? What cities?

T: We are 50 or so deep these days and in multiple states and countries. I like the thought of us spreading like a flu virus to every corner of the globe.

C: Do you think people have come around to realizing that graffiti is a way of life, not just some rebellious teen activity?

T: I think so, I mean it’s the only way of life I know. My homies from the crew are all my best friends. We have crew get-togethers on Christmas, Thanksgiving, we try and celebrate everyone’s birthday together. They are my family. I mean I’m over 20 years strong in the BTM game. It’s too late to give up now.

C: Let me end by saying you are probably the sweetest OG around: organizing BTM outings, gambling, and insane boat parties. What keeps you in the game? What is different about graffiti and skater kids that makes them the kind of people you want to be around and have fun with?

T: My homies are like an awesome hybrid of Gangster/Skater/Tagger/Pimp/Dope Dealer/Boy-Scout/MMORPG Player. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with cool-ass people like that?!?