When I first discovered skateboarding, I didn’t realize that there are a number of bands that share a strong bond with skateboarding: Joy Division, Sonic Youth, Bad Brains, Minor Threat and more, but the first band that I realized had an especially strong connection to skateboarding was Dinosaur Jr. Their energy, wild guitar solos, buzzy feedback, and history in skate videos remain unmatched.
Dinosaur Jr. has a special bond to skateboarding, considering its frequently attached to the lexicon of Alien Workshop. Yes, the band was introduced prior to Memory Screen (like Ohio Skateout and Savannah Slamma III), yet the trio enhances the quality of Alien’s video parts from their already superb quality. In a way, it is fascinating to see a video part edited to the band without being attached to an AWS video. Let this article be considered an ode to Dinosaur Jr., but by proxy, a secondary homage to Alien Workshop. Here are a few selections to give an idea of the different ways Dinosaur Jr. have been utilized in skate videos.
5. ZERED BASSETT: OUTLIERS
Song: “The Leper” off of Dinosaur
One of my hopes for writing this article is Outliers gets sold out in skate shops everywhere. Not only is the entire video stellar, but Zered’s penultimate part is almost entirely just skateboarding, without the arthouse-feel of some Alien videos. It goes to show that Dinosaur Jr. is a band that all skaters can enjoy; especially the ones who have switch impossibles, as Zered does in the line at 3:26. A band and skater from the east-coast make an unlikely match to successfully create the grittiest, but also most technical part on this list.
4. MEMORY SCREEN/ MANOLO’S TAPES
Song: “A Little Ethnic Song” off J. Mascis’ Guitarrorists Sampler
Memory Screen & Manolos Tapes Edit
Alien Workshop effectively differentiated itself from other board companies by creating almost art-house media for skateboarding. In the first few minutes of Memory Screen, the industry got a clear, defined image for where Alien was heading. “A Little Ethnic Song” (technically by J. Mascis) adds a light-hearted spirit to the intro, which is not found in abundance in AWS videos. Not that an artistic intro in a milestone skate video is bad, but it recalls both the mystery and fun that all of us felt when we first started skating. I find it fitting that once the news broke about the fall of Alien, Manolo created a greatest-hits-edit and had the credits end with the same song that began Memory Screen. Not only is that edit top-notch, it tugged the heartstrings of skaters everywhere.
3. THE BUTCHER: SUFFER THE JOY
Song: “Raisans” off You’re Living All Over Me
This part was my first exposure to Dinosaur Jr., but it had an enormous impact on my perception of video parts because this song fits so well with Diego’s skating here. Once the Butcher does the frontside air on that hip and he hops over the water to match the crash of the cymbal sealed the deal for it being on the list. He skates incredibly fast, as the ender and the pushing to the ender clearly illustrates (3:23). The solo fits as a well-suited section (2:35) for all of Diego’s fastest clips of his huge gap skating. Let this part be a friendly reminder that we need more of the Butcher in our lives.
2. OMAR SALAZAR: MINDFIELD
Song: “Almost Ready” off Beyond
Omar Salazar is a goddamn freight train, out of control on a skateboard and I cannot get enough of it. Mindfield had a lot of high expectations riding on it in 2009, so who could have been a better fit to open the video other than Omar, who clearly knows how to get psyched when he skates. The best feature about Omar’s part is that its almost two-in-one: his mini part introduces the full part. The high-pitched riff of Omar ripping through the snake run with quick tailslides and carves never fails to excite any viewer. The cherry on the cake goes to the final line: guitar amps fading with a perfectly captured 50-50 to quick snap at 4:40.
1. GRANT TAYLOR: MINDFIELD
Song: “Grab It” off Without a Sound
Grant Taylor killed it in Mindfield and put out a part that would’ve been an ender in any other video. The balls-to-the-wall editing by Greg Hunt elevates this part into a territory that I’d call underrated. The part begins with a rocket taking off out of nowhere and it parallels the flight of Grant’s frontside airs, in turn bookending the part as it also ends with a falling rocket. At :52, the drums belt into the chorus, but Hunt was a genius and synchronized the beat to flash images of a pool filled up with a green filter. A company like Alien best utilizes a chorus like this to show how skaters look at the world differently, in particular with swimming pools. The half-cab 50-50 at 2:50 stands out from the rest of the part as the guitar slides with Grant’s grind. This part gets as crazy and melodic as possible, which gets carried out furthermore by Grant’s shredding.
Written by: Jeffrey Adams Martin.
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