Ages and ages ago, when I was much more flexible and much more cavalier about the prospect of splitting my head open, I was a little skate rat. At 12 years old I found skateboarding and with it, a world completely different to the one that I had experienced thus far in a small New Jersey suburb. Skateboarding introduced me to new friends, brought me to new places, and taught me to look at my environment and the world around me in a completely new way. It also opened the door to a wealth of music that I had never heard before, and probably never would have thought to explore were it not for skating.
A big part of that came from skate videos. Nowadays kids have the internet at their hands and can download (or pirate) any video they want at a whim. But back in 2004 I didn't have that luxury, so along with my friends I eagerly awaited the day when the new videos would come out so I could pick up a physical copy at the local skate shop. Those videos were everything back then, and I still get a serious nostalgia trip revisiting them. But as important as they were to hyping me to throw my body down a staircase, I also watched them religiously for their soundtracks, consuming new music and establishing tastes beyond what I knew from my parents or what was playing on the radio at that point in time. Skate videos were the original and most underappreciated music discovery tools, and here's a short list of some of my greatest finds on tape.
1. Interpol - "P.D.A." (From Justin Strubing's part in That's Life)
Probably my favorite video feature in terms of overall aesthetic. Set mainly in Madrid and Barcelona and in combination with Interpol's "P.D.A." this whole clip has this air of European chic and coolness to it. They cut short probably the greatest outro on a song ever, but they make up for it with one of the best overall performances by Justin Strubing.
2. Placebo - "Every You Every Me" (From Mark Appleyard's part in Sorry)
Looking back this song stands out so much mainly because I find it to be a bit of a weird choice for a skate video part. Most skaters go with rap or metal or something, but Placebo's ode to toxic, codependent relationships is an interesting if melancholy backdrop to a great part.
3. The Smiths - "Handsome Devil" (From Arto Saari's part in Really Sorry)
The sequel to Sorry
featured The Smiths during Arto Saari's shortened part and it was my first introduction to them. I loved the gloomy rock sound "Handsome Devil", but was a bit disappointed to find that the rest of The Smiths' catalogue didn't have the same kind of "umph" as this track.
4. Midlake - "Kingfish Pies" (From Stereo Skateboard's Way Out East)
I love tracks like this in a skate video. Just upbeat enough to keep the blood flowing but laid back and unpretentious, not getting in the way of the whole experience. I never really listened to Midlake much after the few years I listened to them in middle school and high school, but this song has stuck with me.
5. Motorhead - "Road Crew" (From Jon Allie's part in New Blood)
Now that's what I'm talking about, some freaking rock and roll. The first time I heard Motorhead and saw this part I got so amped up I promptly went out and threw myself at a handrail going down a flight of six stairs and (nearly) cracked my tailbone.
6. Notorious B.I.G. - "Let's Get It On" (Dirty Harry Blend) (From Antwuan Dixon's part in Baker 3)
Bonus Biggie. This track apparently never the saw the light of day until years after it was recorded, and this Dirty Harry remix is just a straight banger. It's raw and aggressive and features Biggie at his finest.
7. Andre Nickatina - "The Last Rap That I Write" (From Jeff Lenoce's part in Baker 3)
had a great soundtrack but this song stands out to me because it was my first introduction to rap that wasn't Eminem or 50 Cent, and I felt so cool listening to a West Coast rapper that none of my peers had heard of before. Andre Nickatina deliver bar after breathless bar on this track, but the video features a unique twist with a slow-mo ending that pitch shifts Nickatina's vocals down in a chopped n' screwed fashion.
8. Franz Ferdinand - "Come on Home" (From Cooper Wilt's part in Almost Round 3)
We actually caught up with some of the guys in Franz Ferdinand recently and I thought about mentioning this video and seeing if they were familiar with it. This wasn't my favorite video part ever, but it was the first time I heard Franz Ferdinand, and kickstarted my love for them.
9. The Sea and Cake - "Sound & Vision" (From Andrew Reynold's bonus part in This Is Skateboarding)
Andrew Reynolds is the boss, literally. He's been around so long, had so many features and accomplished so much that he's known as The Boss. His music tastes are impeccable too, and this track and style of music was so exotic and new to me the first time I heard it. The Internet also wasn't the smorgasboard of information back then as it is today, so it took me years to figure out that this song was from The Sea and Cake, but they're still one of my favorite indie bands to date.
10. Alkaline Trio - "Armageddon" (From Tony Hawk's Underground the video game)
Okay, so this is a technical bonus because it's from a video game, but the Tony Hawk series was the best way to pass the time on a rainy day or when you were lazy, and it had a great soundtrack to boot. Classic Alkaline Trio before they got all weird and vampire-y like they were My Chemical Romance.