Skateboarding’s Beloved Soundtracks: Modest Mouse

Modest Mouse was the hot skate video band during the mid-2000s, and it’s easy to see why: each song seems tailor-made for a video, with loud guitars, perfect build and a huge dynamic range, yet unique enough to match up with a skater’s personal style. The editing world gave up on Modest Mouse towards the end of the decade, but the band will always hold a special place in a millennial skateboarder’s heart. You can call this one a throwback if you’d like.

(This isn’t a complete list, but a sampling of the variety of ways MM has been utilized in video parts)


5. Cairo Foster, Real to Reel

Song: “Never Ending Math Equation”, a single released in 1997.

Cairo Foster’s part in Real to Reel starts out as mellow as one of his parts ever could, with plenty of Bay Area lines set to the meandering sounds of “Never Ending Math Equation”. The part picks up as the song intensifies, and we’re treated to some of the hubbas, rails, and nollie hardflips Foster is known for. Dan Wolfe, usually a master of editing restraint, couldn’t resist using slow motion twice in this part: on the nollie noseslide down Clipper as Isaac Brock’s guitar slows to a crawl at 1:06, and on the switch flip at 3rd and Army at 2:04, timing Foster’s landing with Brock’s lyrics. Unfortunately, the song cuts out a few tricks afterwards and before the song really picks up, disqualifying it from a higher spot on our list.

4. Stefan Janoski, Subtleties

Song: “Paper Thin Walls”, off of 2000’s The Moon and Antartica.

Stefan Janoski seems like an easygoing guy, so it’s only natural that he has the most lighthearted song on this list, “Paper Thin Walls”, featured in 2004’s Subtleties. The editing in this one is a bit obvious – slow motion during the slow parts, fast lines and quick cuts during the fast parts – but that doesn’t take away from Janoski’s natural talent on a skateboard. In an excellent display of minimalism on both the part of skater and editor, the backside 5-0 on the long, round bar at 2:28 coincided perfectly with the near-silent break in the song. The fakie 360 flip on flat at 2:49 fits perfectly with the strumming of the guitar, and the switch flip 50-50 at 3:38 synchs up with the drumming, slow motion be damned.

3. Brad Cromer, Outliers

Song: “Tundra/Desert”, off of 1996’s This Is A Long Drive for Someone With Nothing To Think About.

Brad Cromer, a known shoegaze buff, chose “Tundra/Desert” off the band’s debut album for his most technically proficient part to date. The song is mostly static, leaving the edit open for plenty of double angles and second shots. For example, the stutter in the lyrics matches up with the quick kickflips up the four stair at 2:49, and the frontside flip over the bump-to-bar at 3:37 matches the droning bass guitar. Also worth mentioning is the sound of the scoliosis grind in the aforementioned line cueing up perfectly with Jeremiah Green’s drumming. Towards the end of the part, Chris Thiessen cued the dramatic change in the song as Cromer switch heelflips out of the Bennett grind in Barcelona, rather than before or after, a technique that ensures the trick stands out after the initial viewing. Cromer’s part was an obvious choice, if only to include a part from this decade.

2. Jon West, Art Bars: Subtitles and Seagulls

Song: “A Different City”, off of 2000’s The Moon and Antartica.

Jon West’s part in Art Bars: Subtitles and Seagulls is a friendly reminder that skateboarding is supposed to be weird. West’s skating consisted of oddities such as wheelbite slides and smith footplants, as well as hammers like frontside hurricanes down handrails, all set to “A Different City”. A huge chunk of his part was filmed at night and accompanied by 16MM West himself shot, giving credence to the song’s lyrics. Take note of the way the street gap section at 1:35 is synched up to Issac Brock’s jarring guitar, followed immediately by the 16mm footage of eyes as Brock yells “My eyes roll around all”. Using the white noise at the end of the song for the hammer section was a great move, as well. ATTN: Jon West – skateboarding misses you.

1. Rick McCrank, Antisocial

Song: “What People Are Made Of,” off of 2000’s The Moon and Antartica.

How fitting is it that the best part of an already overlooked career is, in itself, often overlooked? Rick McCrank found time after Yeah Right! to film a full part for his own shop video, simply titled Antisocial, in 2004. Set to “What People Are Made Of”, the part features more than enough fantastic single tricks to fill the song’s chorus (the alley-oop frontside flip over the rail still gets me), as well as plenty of long, flowing lines to keep up with the song’s instrumentals (including one where he wallies the fuck out of a barrier, mid-line, before going on to backside flip a decent-sized gap). The sound of the first trick complements Isaac Brock’s guitar riff quite well, as does the backside nosegrind on brick at the minute mark. A park section kicks in as the song breaks at 1:35 and provides us with the best glimpse into McCrank’s tranny skills yet, aside from a few Beauty and the Beast appearances. Finally, the song picks back up, the street skating kicks back in, and the part starts to gain momentum before screeching to a halt as McCrank frontside flips the Clipper stair set and Brock screams. The part is short and sweet, and takes full advantage of a lesser-known Modest Mouse song, earning it the coveted number 1 spot on our list.


  1. Old School Dave

    March 12, 2016 4:47pm

    Who can forget the Toy Machine commercial(s) set to “Shit Luck”?

  2. FeelingOfStoke

    March 13, 2016 5:45am

    Holy shit. I forgot about the McCrank part. That first ledge he kinda goof around messes up on is 3 blocks from my house here in NE Portland. Skate-stopped nowadays. Bummer.

  3. FeelingOfStoke

    March 13, 2016 5:47am

    Also, no mention of the obscure but heavy Modest Mouse song “Shit Luck” used in the Toy Machine commercial featured in the Zero video Misled Youth?

  4. Mayor Grimble

    March 13, 2016 8:17am

    Solid list. Agree that Shit Luck would have been a good choice as well. McCrank also used a song from the Modest Mouse side project Ugly Casanova in his Yeah Right! intro.

  5. Kanoodling

    March 14, 2016 4:53pm

    Don’t forget Bobier’s part in One Step Beyond. “Alone down there” is an epic song.

  6. Moon

    March 14, 2016 7:30pm

    Good list but I would take out Stefan’s part and include Bobier’s part in One Step Beyond. That shit is awesome

  7. speirsy_j

    March 20, 2016 1:10am

    must have been sleepin’ cuz that McCrank part is SO sick. hella PDX footy in there too. 10/10 straight up

  8. Jimmy

    April 20, 2016 1:16am

    Pete Mcgeary in City Boardshop video has the best one


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