By Neil Bailey of Opium Lord
Music has a lot to do with what makes a great video. Skateboarding is a lot about individual style, how you do what you want to do with your body, your skateboard, on what obstacles, in what order. It’s about expression, and the video, since it became a thing, is to a degree a document of a skater’s psyche, and a glimpse into how they view the world – the same as with the music in it. A video can be technically amazing, but if the music is whack, who wants to watch it? On the other hand, the skateboarding may not be career-high material, but if it looks good, sounds good and it gets you hyped, it’s done what it set out to do – make you want to go ride a skateboard.
Sometimes a video will make a song resonate with you, maybe from some genre or artist you’d have otherwise ignored, because something about the way the person skates expresses something new to you about the music. Which is the point – the way the skateboarding and the music talk to each other is one of the things that can make a skate video great. I’ve picked out ten classic skate sections with punk, metal or stoner soundtracks. That isn’t to say they’re the best video sections any of these guys has put out, or even the best punk, stoner or metal soundtracking there has been – but each one is a classic for the way in which the music describes the skateboarding, the skateboarding describes the music, and how much it makes you want to go skate.
1. Wade Speyer – Fu Manchu – Evil Eye (from Think Skateboards’ ‘Dedication’)
This section is so sick. When asked what music he likes in Thrasher magazine’s ‘Need For Speed’ video, he replies “Slayer, Ozzy, Motörhead, Black Sabbath… anything with a fast beat”. A Cali native, his tastes seem to have extended to the more mid-paced on Think’s 1998 video ‘Dedication’, casual destruction accompanying Scott Hill’s SoCal drawl and Fu Manchu’s stoned riffs. Wade is a byword for Heshing, skating everything and anything as long as it’s gnarly. The backside nosepick at 0:24 is fucking crazy!
2. Darren Navarrette – B’last! – In My Blood (from Creature Skateboards’ ‘Born Dead’)
The Vertical Vampire has been holding it down for the church of hesh since the mid 90s. In 2006, Creature released ‘Born Dead,’ a slice of pure skate evil that lay claim to a space within the skate landscape for proud moshers everywhere. Here, Darren uses B’last’s iconic song ‘In My Blood’ to illustrate his no-nonsense, straight gnar approach and love of classic vert stylings.
3. Grant Taylor – Bad Brains – Universal Peace (from Nike SB’s ‘Debacle’)
I remember seeing kid footage of Grant in the Strange Notes DVDs put out by NHS Distribution, dude has been killing it forever. Nowadays, he seems to confine most of his skate activity to big transitions, but there’s a fair bit of street footage in here, and all of it is fast, gnarly and oozing flair, just like the Bad Brains do on ‘Universal Peace’ from their return-to-form album ‘Build A Nation’.
4. Peter Hewitt – Dystopia – Self Defeating Prophecy (from Antihero Skateboards’ ‘Cash Money Vagrant’)
This was the first time I heard Dystopia. I’d probably have come across them sooner or later, but for me the band embody so much of the spirit of Peter Hewitt – Arms up, barging, eating shit, crust or die. A classic section from a classic video that also features songs by Fang, The Minutemen, Bad Brains and Black Sabbath.
5. Ethan Fowler – Electric Wizard – Electric Wizard (from Foundation Skateboards’ ‘Cataclysmic Abyss’)
Ethan is another head who’s been through multiple eras of skateboarding and came out the other side with yet another classic video part in recent years. Coming up in the early 90s on Jason Lee and Chris Pastras’ seminal board company Stereo, Ethan found himself a home on Foundation in 1997 after the demise of his previous board sponsor. In ‘Cataclysmic Abyss’, Ethan is still the smooth and stylish powerhouse he was in ‘A Visual Sound’ and ‘Tincan Folklore’, but swaps the sensible haircuts and beatnik duds of those videos for leather jacket and a respectable head of hair, with the jazz and lo-fi soundtracks making way for the monolithic, eponymous drugged-out dirge of Electric Wizard’s ‘Electric Wizard’.
6. Alan Peterson – Napalm Death – Scum (from Consolidated Skateboards’ ‘Behold’)
It’s nuts if this hasn’t been used before. Coming on with that ugly, crushing groove, Napalm Death’s ‘Scum’ fits perfectly with Alan Peterson’s stolid assault on murky terrains. Gnarly skateboarding, gnarly spots and a gnarly fucking slam for an ender.
7. Donny Barley – Metallica – The Wait (from Element skateboards’ ‘World Tour’)
This one was tough, those of you who skate will probably know that Donny seems to be a man with heavy tastes judging by his choice of music for video parts, and you may be asking why this one and not his Black Sabbath-soundtracked section in Toy Machine’s ‘Welcome To Hell. I was reticent to repeat skaters, videos or even companies in this list, so I had to pick one or the other, and even though that Sabbath song fucking slays, this part wins out for me as a section. For one, it runs for a solid two-and-a-half minutes, and second, Donny skates like a man possessed, clean, uncompromising, and punishing, pounding out solid hammers on anything put in front of him, matching this relentless assault from Metallica on a Killing Joke cover.
8. Jason Jesse – Minutemen – Paranoid Chant and B’last! – Surf and Destroy (from Santa Cruz skateboards’ ‘Streets Of Fire’)
Jason Jesse is a skate legend who came up through the 80s backyard vert scene, and skates with conviction, power, and style. “I like to fall on my face, I like to hurt myself, I like everything.” The minutemen’s frenetic, obsessive punk-rock anthem ‘Paranoid Chant’, and B’last!’s slobbed-out surf hardcore, playing over what looks like just one session at a ramp, multiplies the impact of Jason’s burly and spontaneous skateboarding. The alley-oop at 3:35 is nuts.
9. Dan Drehobl – Dead Kennedys – Holiday In Cambodia (from Think Skateboards’ ‘Damaged’)
The only man licensed to skate with a cigarette almost constantly hanging from his lip, Dan Drehobl has had his fair share of great video parts from the early 90s right up to present day. He features regularly in skate-bible Thrasher’s videos, and has skated to artists as disparate as New Order, Neil Diamond and the Zombies. His idiosyncratic approach sees him hitting weird spots in weird ways, subverting street architecture by taking the path less trodden with speed, style and here looking to be almost on the brink of out-of-control. He also skates ramp like a demon and eats some tasty shit. Classic S.F. punk rock, classic S.F. skateboarding.
10. Howard Cooke – GG Allin – I Wanna Fuck Myself (from Heroin Skateboards’ ‘Live from Antarctica’)
Howard Cooke skates so fucking fast! He’s skated to punk before, but this song from the social abomination GG Allin makes perfect sense of Howard’s nihilistic onslaught from Heroin’s 2005 video ‘Live From Antarctica’. Originally from the UK, Howard got hooked up by Consolidated skateboards in the 90s and proceeded to get gnarly and eat shit over the pond, before coming back and finding a home on Fos’ Heroin brand. He skates like he doesn’t believe he exists. No pretentions; dangerous, exciting and unnerving. Raw destruction.