“As a musician, I feel like skateboarding played a huge role for me…I played piano, I played guitar, I always wanted to play music, but at age twelve, thirteen, fourteen, that seemed to be an impossibility. The level of musicianship and the culture around rock music wasn’t open at the time. It didn’t feel like you had any access, like there wasn’t a possibility as a result. There was only radio and top 40 stuff, there were no musicians around, I didn’t know anybody. It just seemed out of reach. Skateboarding, the urethane wheel era, the mid-seventies: that’s right when I was pondering the possibility of music, and skateboarding, conversely, was totally accepting and totally open and it was just a blank canvas for whatever people wanted to, wherever you were, and whatever your terrain was. Discovering kids around the country who were also skateboarding was really profound and inspiring. The perpetual mission of trying to find a cool spot or getting in a bus for an hour and a half and skating another thirty minutes to a ditch you heard about, or a spot next to the freeway that’s completely illegal but you’ve driven by so many times that you have to pull over and jump in — those experiences were accessible, and skateboarding was really a creative discipline, and one in which the world is your pallet. I think that experience really fulfilled what was missing for me in terms of music. Punk rock came along, and skateboarding had me well trained to think about life and the people around me in different ways, and punk was really accessible and inviting. Again, it was sort of a blank canvas…Now, there’s people I play with who never skateboarded, so I don’t think it’s a necessary component, but for me, I found skateboarding was a way on gaining a different perspective on a situation, and figuring out how to attack it. That works for music too, in my opinion.
I think Ed Templeton was one of the first people to use the band with Toy Machine stuff. I just think people identify with them [the band], they’re skateboarders…With Fugazi, we don’t license our music for feature films or commercials — we’ve never done that, but we were supportive of student films quite often, and we just try to help out an artist who’s got an idea up until the point it becomes commercial. But with skateboarding and other action sports, we’re a little more open about it. We feel it’s pure soundtrack. When you put your song into a movie, or an ad, then the song becomes permeated by the product being sold or the footage in the movie…Skateboard videos don’t do that. The music runs parallel with the visual, and one hopes that they both accelerate each other.”
–Ian Mackaye, 2016
With SBS, we select what we consider a well-rounded example of the use of a particular artist in skate video soundtracking work. It isn’t an all-encompassing list (we ask that you leave your other favorites in the comments), but 5 of what we consider the most interesting use of that artist’s work as translated to the medium at hand.
- Ryan Spencer – True Blue
Song: “Guilford Fall” (End Hits – 1998)
Ryan Spencer’s song in True Blue is fitting because both parties are atypical in approach: Spencer’s skating often takes the path of most resistance, and “Guilford Fall” is one of the few Fugazi songs without the signature howling vocals. The lead guitars open the part with an impending vehemence that’s matched only with high-speed kickflips over street gaps and switch ollies into crusty banks, building up to Spencer’s line with a kickflip over the rail at 19:25 and a frontside slappie a curb, mid-hill bomb, as a droning riff begins, perfect for Spencer’s flowing skating on a variety of terrain. Editor Kevin Barnett forgoes slow-mo throughout the part (a wise choice) and instead uses breaks in the song to highlight Spencer’s best clips, like the lipslide through the corner at 20:03 as the guitarist takes a moment to meander across his fretboard, and the line ending with a frontside 180 fakie 5-0, frontside half cab out as the song breaks tempo. Even without lyrics, a Fugazi song still carries an unrepentant viciousness, and Ryan Spencer’s skating matches that energy well.
- Ethan Fowler – Live
Song: “Great Cop” (In on the Kill Taker – 1993)
Seeing as Fugazi regularly appears in Toy Machine releases, it’d be a travesty to leave Ethan Fowler’s part in Live!, set to “Great Cop” off In On The Kill Taker, off our list. Fowler has always skated with power, and we have the pleasure of watching his style mature in this part. His skating matches the intense tone begotten by a Fugazi song almost immediately, as he takes a running start the moment the song kicks in to do a solitary frontside 5-0 on a ledge. Amidst the baggy clothes and tiny wheels, we see snippets of Fowler’s style shining through, in the backside 180 nosegrind at 40 seconds and the backside 180 over the trashcan at 1:23. After two minutes of ledge lines, the fast-paced song explodes as Fowler switch 360 flip down a set of seven stairs, large for both the man and the time. Unfortunately, most of the “classic” (re: Stereo) Ethan Fowler footage is later in the part and set to a different song, barring his part from a higher spot on our list.
- Bobby Worrest – Get Familiar
Song: “Waiting Room” (13 Songs – 1989)
Bobby Worrest’s skating is timeless enough to fit any music, no problem, so no one batted an eye when he skated to “Waiting Room” in Chris Hall’s Get Familiar – an excellent coupling of D.C. metropolitan area audio and visual. “Waiting Room” has fantastic build, possibly the best of any Fugazi song, which Hall really utilized throughout the part. Most of Worrest’s low-impact footage is in the first half of the part. The pause at 48 seconds, though manipulated in editing, really builds tension and increases the viewer’s expectations. The part picks up steam as Worrest nollie frontside noseslides on round rails and front boards through wooden kinked rails, his skating mimicking the song’s building intensity, before the backside 360 kickflip over the hip at 1:38 signals the end of the first refrain. The latter half of the song is reserved for bigger rails and gaps The way Worrest holds onto the crook pop-over at 2:23 matches the growing intensity of Brendan Canty’s drumbeat, and the ollie up, wallride line at 2:50 fits perfectly with the break in the song. “Waiting Room” is one of those songs that’s ended up in a number of skate videos, but Worrest’s part finds itself a cut above the competition.
- Arto and Geoff – Feedback
Song: “Styrofoam” (Repeater – 1990)
Arto Saari and Geoff Rowley were the team to beat at the turn of the millennium. Throw in “Styrofoam”, as Ty Evans and Jon Holland did in Feedback, and you’ve got a winning combination. The part starts with Saari cruising through the hallway as MacKaye and Picciotto’s dueling guitar riffs build anticipation, leading up to one relaxed switch lipslide as both song and skating explode into action. Evans and Holland chose to relegate Arto’s ledge lines and Geoff’s bank session to the chorus, saving the big rails and the ramped slow-mo (still a novelty for the time) for the jarring melody in the refrain. Arto dominates the part with kickflip back lips down rails and switch 360 flips down stairs at the end of lines, but don’t count Geoff out: his front feeble down Beverly is set perfectly to the riff at 2:19, and his nosegrind at 2:51 was flawless. Oddly enough, the part ends with both a bang and a whimper, as Arto backside lipslides a big rail and runs into the grass while the remainder of the song’s explosive energy is spent on his celebration.
- Tom Karangelov – Cold War
Song: “I’m So Tired” (Instrument Soundtrack – 1999)
The least ferocious dude imaginable skated to the least ferocious Fugazi song. In a moment of softness uncharacteristic for a Zero release, some of Tom Karangelov’s meltdowns, sticks, wallies, and nosegrinds are interspersed together and set to ‘I’m So Tired’, a sparse piano piece that’s noticeably removed from Fugazi’s usual style. Ian Mackaye told us that this song was so detached from Fugazi’s style that it ended up in a release limbo for years, making it a fitting choice for Karangelov, an odd man out from the Zero roster who left soon after the release of Cold War. Pay attention to the way the skate sounds stand alone and yet fit into the music, particularly in regards to the roll-on grind at 14 seconds and the wallie line at 38 seconds. Mackaye’s confession — “I can’t be reached, only had one call, dragged underneath, separate from you all ” — plays as Karangelov sticks on the frontside lipslide and slams ollieing down the stairs, providing a sobering look at the sometimes daunting task of filming a video part. Though, technically, it is an intro, the song makes this part memorable, and Tom K. relatable, among the usual chaos and carcass-hucking of a Zero video. Jamie Thomas and Lannie Rhodes could have easily turned this introduction into a throwaway slam section, but I’m so glad they didn’t.