Sunday, December 21, 2008

A teasa please | Mystery solved

As Boil The Ocean perfectly summed it up, 2008 was most definitely the year of the Tim And Henry format’s resurrection.
Are these things long trailers?
Or short videos?
Why are bushes bushy?
So many questions, so few answers. I’ll still call them “teasers” though, for the sake of my feature’s title's pun, and while some left us hanging wanting to see less, some definitely worked their magic. Like Stereo's "Dyson" part, the semi-recent Mystery promo is one of these.
With the brand's trademarked black-and-white-only aesthetics and tasteful riders choices (Pete Eldridge shouldn't be installing fireplaces), it’s also a success on the musical front. Which for whatever reasons I was expecting (dreading) to be way more three-chords or even worse, arena-rock, inclined. Well my friends, hosannah ! It wasn’t. Let’s see what this promotional teaser’s black box has to say.

1. Chuck Berry : The Downbound Train (Intro)
Right after he got advised by his idol Muddy Waters to go and meet a certain Leonard Chess, the musician whose cousin improv'd for a fresh-out-of-1984 Marty Mc Fly -shamelessly stealing his song from the retro-future, Johnny B Goode, as any serious biographer knows- recorded his first hit in 1955. It was called Maybellene, and got shortly followed by the No Money Down 7-inch. The Downbound Train could have been forgotten on its B-Side… Until the Mystery promo resurrected it. Feeling as bluesy as a 500-frames-a-second videographer losing all the colors on his screen, reverting back to trolley-less, Eastern Exposure 3-black and white times. Perfect mood-setting tune.

2. Smith: Baby It’s You (Everen Stallion)
The archetype of the one-hit-wonder that disappeared without a trace –still trying to contact Q Lazzarus, dudes-, Smith’s glory peaked in 1969 with this song. Nice performance when you come to think that it was only a cover of a 1961 Shirelles tune, that got also sung by The Beatles in 1963. But no, Smith got the money, and their beautiful soulesque interpretation of Baby It’s You can be heard on their debut album "A Group Called Smith," and in that fancy double-feature Tarantino film.
Four decades later, Smith’s singer Gayle McCormick ‘s poisonous delivery of these Cause-baby-it’s-yous still work -look at the photo at the beginning of this post and let imagination do the rest. Also, this band invented a very popular grind in skateboarding.

The other tunes
3. Sly And The Family Stone: Underdog (Montage)
4. Sean Price : King Kong (Pete Eldridge)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Re:music | Ed Tempeton's greatest almosts

Ever imagined what Nick Trapasso's already classic Suffer The Joy part would sound like without Sleepwalk's nonchalance? Ed Templeton and Kevin Barnett did, they even contemplated the option for a while. It wasn't the only one. Whatever the reason was, this one and a bunch of other tunes that should have been in Toy Machine videos never were. Why? Ed picked five and explains.

1. John Renbourn: Nobody's Fault but Mine
"Austin Stephens wanted to skate to it in Good and Evil but we couldn't secure the rights, so we used Peggy Honeywell's Sing, Sang, Sung instead."

2. Bob Dylan: One More Cup of Coffee
"That's the tune Nick Trapasso wanted for Suffer The Joy. But he got Sleepwalk by Santo and Johnny."

3. Johnny Cash: Hurt
"Billy Marks was trying to get this one but we ended up using Ladytron's Blue Jeans in Good and Evil."

4. Some song from Yes
"Kerry Getz was going to use a song from the band Yes in Jump Off A Building but then changed his mind, using the Scorpions."

5. Led Zeppelin: Immigrant Song
"This one was supposed to be Donny Barley's song in Welcome to Hell, but at the last minute he switched it to Ozzy, then Jeremy Wray used it I think..."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Interlude | Memory Screened is up

Oh by the way, I just started also the Memory Screened blog, it's an archive of that page in Skateboarder aimed at creating a mess in pros' garages by asking them to dig up their five favorite boards and comment them. 
So far I posted the two first installments (Ed Templeton and John Cardiel) and will update it once a week -yeah right, just like this one. Anyway, it's up. 

Thursday, November 27, 2008

AVS # 7 | Penal Code 100 A (1996)

Sure, before FTC’s first video Finally, some people had dabbled in the classic soul-ish repertoire. Some. Because in 1993, rare were the ones who allowed themselves to think outside the Das Efx/De La Soul box when it came to picking tracks for a skate video. A smooth-operating, Chico Brenes Finally part set to Sade’s suave purring later (not to mention the OG Jackson 5 intervention in Video Days), it suddenly made sense. So once again with FTC’s second film, Aaron Meza digged deep for the oldies (*) and skateboarding’s soundtracks were changed for a while, launching a trend that culminated with Girl’s early flicks.
Penal Code 100 A
is such a good shop video, it even made forget that there's a Coolio tune in the Howard/Carroll part –courtesy of Mike Carroll, according to Aaron. The epitome of the SF/NYC connection, it also doubled as the the swan song of the hi-top white Superstar craze and featured about fifty of the most-wanted (sometimes blunted) skaters from both coasts, on classical spots. Penal Code 100 A also drew the blueprint, music-wise and otherwise, for the Girl/Chocolate decade to come.
Welcome to the 7th installment of A Visual Sound, dedicated to all the Markus Browns and Ben Sanchezes and Keefe bros out there. Droorstalgia at its fullest, people. Again.

(click on the sleeve, see the part)

Van Morrison: Moondance
Tune used: Caravan (Bobby Puleo)
As the Cliché team has proved more than once with its infamous tours, the gypsy lifestyle has been fascinating “gadjos” for a while. Irish songwriter Van Morrison was no exception, as the Rroms prompted him to write Caravan, a tune present on his third album from 1970 –with the other inspiration being how as a kid he could distinctely hear his neighbor’s radio, even though the guy was one mile away down the road. Weird, huh? Especially the link between the two, pretty hard to figure out but hey, what do you expect from a dude nicknamed “The Man” thirty years before John Reves?
Besides being one of George Ivan Morrison Order Of The British Empire’s reliable live crowd pleasers, Caravan reached a mythical status as one of the highlights in Last Waltz, the Martin Scorcese doc about VM’s last show before his band split, in 1976. Which leads us to our own legends and Martin Scorceses : Bobby Puleo and Aaron Meza. The former showed how to pop properly out of a f-side boardslide on a curb, while the latter figured out how all this epicness could be encapsuled: via a song from an absolutely classic album by Van The Man, brewed in a time when ‘R&B’ actually had the words “rhythm” and “blues” in it. “I like how the lines are during the versus and the single tricks during the chorus,” Meza had to say about his second-favourite tune on PC100A, after Althea and Donna’s (*).

The Isley Brothers : 3+3
Tune use
d : Who’s that lady (Montage #3)
Allright, allright: some might argue that this section’s highlight actually starts when the music stops. Just when the brothas from the same motha stop wondering who that intriguing lady might be, the Lennie Kirk show begins. Two sick lines, one drop of death, no music, cut. This said, this 90s skater’s wet dream montage wouldn’t be this good without The Isley Brothers’ track, a 1973 reworked tune inspired by, yes, another Impressions song. Which in turn was used by the Beastie Boys on Paul’s Boutique. “They sampled this and I loved it,” Aaron says, “so I just went to the source on this one.”
Back to more skate-related concerns, though: Guy Mariano’s come back. About as big as The Isleys’. Hailing from Cincinnati in 1954, they consisted originally of four brothers and lasted only one year with the original line-up, before they disappeared. The reason being, one of them died in an accident. Three years later, using the reliable Phoenix tactic, they rose from their ashes and went on as a trio, briefly using a guitar player named Jimi Hendrix. After elaborating some pretty cool soul/funk singles and LPs, success came when the Isleys somehow looked in their drawers and found two more brothers, plus one brother-in-law. Hence their album’s name, as simple as what they had become : 3+3.
After various disbandings, platinum albums, deaths and add-ons, things became fairly more complicated, so why get into it? All you need to know is that some of the most powerful (sometimes political) soul music came from this band of bros that sang a tune called Fight The Power 25 years before Public Enemy. Also, that once upon a time, a skateboarding montage bared names such as Weston Correa, Pepe Martinez, Robbie Gangemi, Rob Carlyon, Ben Liversedge and... wait, was that photographer Lance Dawes, almost a decade before Chomp? Meza truly invented everything.

Sly and The Family Stone : There’s a Riot Goin’On
Tune use
d : Family Affair (Montage #2)
Skateboarding’s always loved lyrics that matched the “montage spirit,” for some reason. While the Plan B guys were appreciating “a little help from their friends” in Virtual Reality, FTC saw the whole thing pretty much as “a family affair”. Cute. “I think I picked the people for this section that were actually family,” Meza explains, “like Marcus and Lavar McBride and the Keefe brothers, or people who were really close friends. Pretty corny, huh?”
Anyway, Sly’s little affair wasn’t any less rambunctious, as he stated on his 1971, Rhodes piano-led, synth-drummed mega-hit co-sung with his sister Rose. Family Affair definitely helped propelling the band’s fifth, darker and more conscious album to the very top of the charts. A funny destiny when you keep in mind that the tune itself got recorded in a Wenebago, at least part of it. And also that it was this close to becoming nothing at all: according to the biography Sly and the Family Stone An Oral History, the singer felt that Family Affair wasn't strong enough to be released as a single. Imagine that. What would Aaron Meza have done? Use Thank You For being A Friend by Andrew Gold, of Golden Girls fame?

(*) Disclaimer : Please note that if one of the cleverest-matching tunes of all video-times, Althea and Donna’s Uptown Top Ranking, “Nah pop no style” (on Huf's section), isn’t part of this selection, it’s simply because it is drowned in one of these disappointing reggae albums (jut re-listened to it, I confirm) –and we’re all about fully classic LPs over here, sorry. What do you mean, what’s a LP?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Re:music | Adventures in chill with Nicolas Malinowsky

Ever heard of Rémy Bricka, l’homme-orchestre? Nicolas Malinowsky would be his skate counterpart, collecting slashes the way your grandpa accumulated war medals. For those who don’t know, "Mémé" happens to be a really good skater straight outta the ‘90s school of Shell-toeing (see pic), a DJ/producer –he did among others the music for JJ’s part in Cliché's Europa-, a video animator, and also quite a stunning, meticulous graphic designer whose hand-drawn fonts always leave crowds of humid fans in awe, as his adventures with Chill mag, and now with his Ill Studio buddies, attest.
To sum it all up, a musician who skates, a skater who makes music, the link to A Visual Sound was almost too obvious. Here are French Skateboarding’s own Rémy Bricka (minus the fireworks)’s picks when it comes to his 5 favorite tunes, ever, on video parts.

1. Steely Dan: Peg
As used in: Let The Horns Blow
(Scott Johnston’s part)

“I watched this video a lot, and particularly Mr Johnston’s part. This came out when skating was becoming stylish again, i.e. when the whole thing was about doing lines (preferably in SF event though in my case it was more in Issy-Les-Moulineaux, but it worked too) based on well-selected, basic tricks to be landed in the cleanest possible way. A whole different approach than trying a new late-underflip combo a la Damon Byrd.
Anyway, this song fits perfectly Scott Johnston’s part, it’s catchy and sums up for me a certain spirit in skateboarding : going downhill in half cabs, wearing a (not-so-baggy) Droors jeans and a (mad Circle in this case) white t-shirt.”

2. Royal Flush: Worldwide inst.
As used in: Mouse
(Gino & Keenan’s part)

“OK, so this one has been my party hit for the past ten years. You know the four skaters present will always go off when you play this inter-planetary hit... For the true nerds [French nerds, he meant -Seb’s note], the must-have on this instrumental is the freestyle by Lunatic, X-men an Oxmo Pucino, recorded live on 88.2 FM in 1996, during the best ever moment in French rap history.
Back to Gino, since he’s pretty much the best skater in the world, any track that would be ran on his parts would become dope anyway, BUT this Royal Flush did have a little something. The little squeaky sample works perfect, not to mention the acapella, which I remixed all over the place. Recently, I reworked it with the instrumental from Rustie's
Just For Kicks. By the way, I really love Rustie, the latest add-on to the “new comer from Glasgow” category… It made me think that I can’t wait for the new Chocolate video.”

3. Jacqueline Taieb: Le coeur au bout des doigts
As used in: Stereo promo
“This one, Jason Lee and Dune killed me [the original expression, in French, was “they sawed my anus in two”, which alas doesn’t work that good in English –Seb’s] when they pulled it out of their trenchcoat. Jacqueline Taieb was one of these female “yéyé” singers as we say, she put out an amazing LP in 1967 called
The French Mademoiselle. Ca défouraille sec! I think you can find the video for her song La Fac De Lettres on Dailymotion. If you ever find it on vinyl, buy it cause it’s worth gold these days, and not only in Japan.
Le coeur au bout des doigts represents the ultimate class as far as Frenchitude goes. I have to say Stereo already hit a spot with Gainsbourg [and this one], but I give them the Digger’s Award to have dug this one out. Watch out though and stay away from Jacqueline’s ‘80s stuff, it really sucks”.

4. De La Soul: Odle of O’s
As used in: Goldfish
(Mike Carroll’s part)

“One of my favorite Mike Carroll’s parts, because of its tune too. De La Soul’s smoothitude matches really well Mike’s. I thought about it cause I just found the Saturday EP, which was missing in my “emergency party dancefloor hits” collection. It reminded me how I used to listen so much to 3 feet High and Rising and De La Soul Is Dead in these days, and how it was such good hip hop. Hip hop was better before anyway, and if I dared I’d say it’s skateboarding’s case too, but I would sound too much like an old fart. Plus skating still looks cool today, especially when it’s Lucas doing it, or Gino. Still the best, even without skating!”

5. Casual: Lose In The End
As used in: Virtual Reality
(Mike Carroll’s part)

“Allez, another Mike Carroll part that rules, as much as Casual’s album. What was it called? Early hyphy? This one, I bled the cassette dry in my walkman, going to school when it was still dark after having smoked weed with my friend Jimmy til 5 in the morning. It was also a very good office pick when we were doing Chill. Actually, it’s one of these hip hop albums that can be listened to on and on, like a good fusion jazz album. It might be looped and looped, the whole Bay Area/Carroll/Sheffey feeling you get from it just never gets old.”

Also, here are a few random bonuses that Nico wanted to add too:
. Company Flow : 8 Steps To Perfection (Josh Kalis in The Sixth Sense)
. Cream : White Room (Jeremy Wray, Second Hand Smoke)
. Chocolate Milk : Actions Speak Louder Than Words (Richard Mulder, The Chocolate tour)
. Steppenwolf: Born To Be Wild (Chico Brenes, Love Child)

Monday, November 17, 2008


... Not dead yet ! Just kinda travelling up and down at the moment. This will be updated sometime this week, I hope and almost swear. It will be about full-on Droorstalgia, as it often occurs. Let the horns blow!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Interlude | Nico Levet is seeing red

Tired of staring in the eyes of Dee Edwards's beautifulness, now below this post? OK, I got something you might like better. I am talking Haters' Ball, SxE-esque, not on a positive trip, raw and immaculated misanthropy. So as the world should know, Nicolas Levet is a French fun ball hailing from Grenoble, France, and got nicknamed many moons ago 'Marre De Vivre' (Tired of living) for he, as about two other people in France, has been enjoying the merry , somewhat monastic, straight-edge lifestyle. A very apt nick as, besides being an excellent, and creative skater part of the Trauma adventure, Nico's been known to address the world issues by calling a firestorm upon them -literally, as it is one of his favorite Earth Crisis songs. Which include anybody dressing unaccordingly, the TWS videos makers, a very vast array of pro skaters, hippies, the general French population etc etc. There's nothing, he swears, that hanging wrong-doers in an organic sleeping bag while a team of righteous, animal-friendly, compassionnate buddies whip them with bike chains can't fix. Ethical purification? Mmmh, tooouchy subject.
The funniest thing is, Nico is actually a sort of shy and hilarious dude from what I remember -I haven't seen him since 1998- who incidentally also enjoys the world to see his "quenelle", and photographer Loïc Benoit's (thanks for the pic) for that matter.
Anyway after this fastidious introduction, which will probably only attract a firestorm threat upon me -not to mention upon my pagan dub habit-, here are the straight-edge tunes MDV would like to see in a video, and for what SxE skater. "It was hard to find 5", Nico conceded. Yet, he enlightens us in his concessions-free fashion:

1. Earth Crisis : Firestorm
"Would have been a good tune for Mike V's part in New Deal's 1281, even though the original tune was actually by legendary SxE singer Dan O Mahoney, who allegedly was ths first one to get a 'Poison Free' tattoo. Back then, Mike V was the shit, he wasn't corrupted by the dollars and the merchandising yet. The Earth Crisis song's tough guy touch would have fit perfectly the character he was, I remember that once he fought Joey Suriel cause he did a bad joke to Templeton about veganism. In these days, Mike V could have thrown a firestorm to purify skateboarding".

2. Side By Side: You're Only Young Once So Do it Right
"This I can see on a Geoff Rowley part, understood that he stopped being vegan when he was 30, so yeah, he saved his youth. Maybe they should modify the title and call it You're Only Old Once So Do it Right".

3. Bold: Always Try
"This one should back a Jub part. It would be good in a video just because of the slams he gets."

4. Seven Seconds: Young 'til I Die
"For this hardcore SxE classic tune, you need a classic skater. I'd say Rick Mc Crank, still vegan, still straight-edge".

5. Minor Threat: Minor Threat
"I think that Ed Templeton might like this. I mean, he seems to be a lot into Dischord and Fugazi [Ian Mc Kaye's label and current band, note] stuff, so..."

Oh, and I almost forgot : for those who can read French, you MUST read his video reviews on the Mofo blog. Too bad the slogan "He says out loud what everybody only thinks" is already taken by the National Front in France, cause that would suit perfectly.
I can't resist translating just the outtro to his Ride The Sky article :

"If you like the Zero vids, you won't be disappointed.
If you like the Static vids, then don't bother.
If you like TWS vids, then you like anything.
If you like the Jolie Routine, then go and kill yourself.
If you like the Parisien vid, then go and hang yoursef in a sleeping bag to a rafter, I'm coming with a sledgehammer to kill you
[I liked it very much - Seb's note. What color for the bag?].
If you like the Antihero vids, then do run away.
If you like Eastern Exposure, then you know what's up."

Monday, October 13, 2008

A teasa please | Dyson and Dee

Teasers suck. I mean, usually. If it's for my retina to be bombarded by a 30-second epileptic pile of half way-cut tricks and/or just slams, I tend to end up more frustrated than, hum, teased. There are exceptions, though. If you extend the concept to (a very selected amount of past) 411 commercials and "short video parts that should do until something more consequent drops", then you might find a few gems, skate-wise and music-wise. Hit or miss kind of deal : you only have one tune to pick, so please dig deep and don't embarrass yourself by using Highway To Hell for the 234th time. Plus, you can choose a tune you actually love, as you'll be able to keep it under the radar in terms of music rights clearances...

Anyway, this is a new, irregular feature on A Visual Sound, which will resurrect everytime an above-average tune pops up in of these court-métrages, the idea kinda came from this previous post.

So, has anybody noticed the brilliance of the choice on this Dyson Ramones teaser from a few weeks back? Perfect skating style aside (very important for a stale fart such as yours truly who grew up watching all the Ethans and the Barleys and the Luy-Pas out there), listen carefully.
At first, the fuzzy guitar might lead you in a wrong, hippyish/psych direction. Spit your acid and save it for later -at least wait for the Bummer High teaser- as instead, this is the intro to Why Can't There Be Love, by soul diva Dee Edwards.It originally came out on a very much sought-after 7'' on the Bum Shop (sic) label in 1972, and is easier to find around here in its German version (on Vogue, see picture), yet, if your record-shopping budget doesn't bare the equivalent of a small country's Gross National Product, this delicate English DJ Gilles Peterson has a present for you : he included it on this compilation.

Dee's life was pretty interesting too : born in 1945, she passed away in 2006 in Detroit due to a heart attack after a night out, fallen soldier-style, a definitely familiar adieu in the skaters' circles. After starting The Paragons -the US ones, not these awesome Paragons- she went solo in 1963 and You Say You Love Me, her first tune on her own, came out on the local, Alabama-based label Tuba.
After a sting of 45s for the label, she proceeded to marry arranger Floyd James and recorded a bunch of soul gems for various labels -try to find one that didn't include the word "love"- before hitting the charts with a disco tune in 1979 (The musical equivalent to becoming a contest robot in skateboarding), then disappearing during the '80s, focusing on her painting and family.
Dee only had time to have one full LP out, Heavy Love (on Cotillion), but Why Can't There Be Love will always remain a Northern-Soul collector favorite. Kind of like the first Natural Koncept video: the second time around, you miss the surprise factor -even though, please, do yourself a favor and check Dysfunctional Family.

(Think a particular teaser had a good tune to it? Please do comment...)

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Re:music | Rudy Johnson

As absolutely nobody noticed, I haven't posted anything substantial in a while, yet actual articles might come back at some point. Maybe. In the meantime I'll just throw a meager bone every now and then...

So again, this was part of a bigger Rudy Johnson interview that I did for his 'Memory Screened' page in Skateboarder a few months ago. I left the charango bit that was in the mag, just cause, but the rest wasn't used yet. I'm thinking of starting a separate blog with the full-on interviews cause there are always some funny anecdotes in them -in Rudy's case, how he hung up on Mark Gonzales the day Gonz asked him to ride for Blind, as he thought it was a prank call, or how his Big Brother interview in issue 3 was actually made up, since he was dissing his mom's girlfriend in the actual cold call he got, and wasn't too stoked about it being run as the girlfriend in question was a Powell am's sister. That kind of stuff. Realistically though, I already have trouble updating one blog every now and then, so... two? We'll see.
For now, here's a little thing about Rudy J on music. I hope that will do until a bigger post.

Just Like Heaven
"In Video Days, I think the only people they picked the song for were Guy and Jordan Richter. Guy’s part, that was perfect. I remember Jason wanted Milk, and Mark wanted some jazz. I definitely picked that Dinosaur Jr tune, the Cure cover. It was cool cause it was on a tiny little mini-disc, really small, you couldn't find it on any other CD [It later came out on the Fossils single compilation]. It worked perfect for the part.
I hesitated between a few other songs but I would have had some metal for sure, something heavy. I’ve been playing guitar for like 20 years, when I first started it was like: Metallica! I always had the rock in me. I knew for sure I wouldn’t take no rap."

The charango board
“Paulo Diaz and I, we went to Bolivia in 1995. We went together, without no skate affiliation. We went just to go on vacation, for probably two and a half weeks. And it was really strange, cause we were very young, like 22 or something. But we went out there, and we learned about all these instruments. This is like a strange instrument, with ten strings, but it's only five double strings. And this one in particular is called a charango, it's made out of an armadillo, a real animal.
We went to Bolivia cause that’s where they make this instrument. There are three countries that make it: Peru, Chile and Bolivia.
This actual graphic is a poster that I brought back. The whole ting. Instead of my name, it said : Ernesto Cavour, who was a master player. And it just said that, it was the exact same layout. I was so happy to ride this board, and people loved it. I still own two of the posters.”

A message to you...
"Right now I play in The Allentons, we are a seven-piece band, I play drums in it, it’s a traditional ska band. It's been over ten years, we keep it as a hobby first, but we play around town, or in Canada, in Mexico, on the east Coast, we even backed [legendary Jamaican trombonist] Rico Rodriguez !
It's not like we're gonna quit our jobs to do it though. I mean, I maybe would, man. Not all the way, I would keep in touch with all this, nowadays you can be anywhere in the world and send images or whatever.
I also play the guitar, which I consider my primary instrument, I got my own music and actually I'm gonna be doing a lot of writing and music and maybe get some stuff in the Chocolate video and some other projects. You guys will be hearing it soon."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bonus | The You Will Soon box set

As you might know already, the You Will Soon dudes are "a bunch of white guys obsessed with shoes and the gangster lifestyle who live with their moms and need to get a life". Or not.
Anyway, I, the David of blogs, won't make you the offense to introduce the Goliath of the www, cause you know and follow their adventures already if you landed here, I'm sure.

Now ready for the most impressive skate-tunes playlist ever? Straight outta The North of Everything, here's a little explanation about the four undecipherable screens below. The newest honoris causa citizen of the Nerdistan Republic, Dan Watson compiled the ultimate, 9 hours-long playlist of tunes that were in skate videos and has this to say about it:

"I've been working and adding to this playlist for so long. I've been rocking a version of it since like 97 or 98 on cassette tape, obviously when mini discs and IPods came along it allowed me to expand the playlist. I work in a skateshop and it's so good to listen to because the entire playlist is like 9.2 hours long, so gets you through a whole workday.
My skate nerd trick that I impress all my employees with is to quiz me at any time on any song and I can tell them what skater's section it's fro
m and what video it's in."

Friday, September 5, 2008

Re:music | Ron Allen

"I love Ron Allen, he proved that one can be old and skate something else than just bowls." A very famous French desk editor just told me this, and he pretty much summed up exactely why Ron's the man. I mean, H Street, Life, the '90s heart throb company Fun (Pupecki, Keenan, Travis Mc Glothin, Huf, Liversedge... and even this close to get Gino) and the politically-charged American Dream -the resume says it all.
What's below is just a small portion of a really long interview I did with him recently, a well-deserved space for the original "I make my my music for my own part" pro. Besides how Ron was not too stoked on some morbid graphics the Godoys did for him, and how he got paid off from H Street with 500 boxes of plain white t-shirts in order to start a new company somewhere else, I also found out some interesting bits about his experience in the music field. While I'm at it by the way, how come everybody remembers Sheff from A Soldier's Story, but never John De Ago? I digress, though. Ron Allen about music, it's pretty long, and it's right here:

“Rudy Ramos was this amazing musician, he could play every instrument. He could play bass, he could play guitar, he could play everyting. He would lay down a drum track, play instruments and I'd come in and do vocals to it. Just me and him in his appartment making 4-track music. And all the people were like tripping, they thought it was baaad! Then a couple of stuff we did with bands, but it would always come after we did the 4-track stuff. We’d call ourselves Black Dress Theory, Sir Lady Java or Loopzilla cause we were making loops. I didn’t know it would ever been known. I even did an interview with a German mag, just about Shackle Me Not’s music, they called it ‘H Street music’! We weren’t even a garage band, we were a ‘inside somebody’s bedroom band’. I would record the lyrics in a closet, shut the door and just bang out the lyrics.
Most of it was me and Rudy. It’s funny, we split out cause he hated rap and I couldn’t help it, I loved it. That’s when I made the music switch from being involved in rock to hip hop. I play with a lot of different bands. I was just the lyricist for that band Cannonball, they toured and played everywhere. It was jazz, then they’d funk it up or hip hop it up and I’d rhyme over it. They played in more places in California than I have ever heard of.
There was a third band called Hueman Flavor. It was interesting cause it came right when the whole skate thing kinda ended for me, when Deluxe told me that American Dream was over, and I was kinda like wow, tripping on that. I was hanging out at this jazz club and there were playing. They had this dude named Josh Jones and they were these sick jazz cats. I was like, man, I wanna rhyme in that band some day. So I did a couple shows with them, then I was invited to this gig they had every Tuesday. After that they were invited to the San Francisco jazz festival and they were like, dude, you rhyming on stage with us. So I went, I was the first MC to rhyme at this festival. At that time it was taboo, hip hop and jazz, you wouldn’t do that...
They ended up opening for sick acts, like Nas. I remember at the time I was the younger in the band, and I was 32! There were some heavyweights in that band. The guitar player, he was also my landlord, when Jerry Garcia died, they asked him to come and perform. They were like, you ride that skateboard, huh?
And then in 1997-98, my girl and I did a night club in the City, for like two-three years, called the Red Light. We’d do the flyer for it, find the talent for it, but it was such a blast, so many arists came through, you’be blown away by who’s on your stage. Freestyle Fellowship used to come through. Sometimes they’d come through and there’d be 8 people in the club. And then slowly it got more popular. There are some nights where Weapon Of Choice played, George Clinton got on stage with them. Literally, capacity was 750 and there were 1500 people there that night. It was just that little hip hop Monday night in San Francisco.”

Top 3 Ron Allen's tunes in skate flicks
1. Black Dress Theory : Greedy (Shackle Me Not)
2. Loopzilla : It's Gone (Lotti/Carter in Hokus Pokus)
3. Sir Lady Java : A Soldier's Story (take a wild guess)

Did you read all this? Come on. I know you only clicked on the links.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Interlude | The French romance

He ain't French, hence his name : French, straight outta Thornton Heat (London). Not only a professional artist but a full-time dreamer as well, French approaches life with the playful spunk of a baby seal and... what do you mean, that was Andy Roy's intro in Big Brother? I'm into literary sampling, it's an art form too. Anyway yeah, French's artwork is awesomely evil, the man himself loves to drink tea and more importantly, as far as A Visual Sound is concerned, he doubles as a death-metal monomaniac.
What tunes from this delicate soul-oldies-inspired subgenre would sound good in a skate video? Let's listen to what this man of widom has to say. Or grunt.

French's disclaimer :
"OK, so I don't know about what I'd wanna put on a video but these are the ones which I fucking love and think could work well if I was making a one. These are all proper death metal, mostly pretty modern, none of this "oh yeah I'm really into death metal, my friend once lent me an Entombed record" shit. It's proper."

1. Putrid Pile : My Inner Demon
From : The Pleasure In Suffering
"Putrid Pile is seriously under rated. The guitars are sickness and the vocals are total brutality, without any sort of vocal distortion.
The art on the CD is sick as well, and it's unbelievable this is just one guy."

2. Rompeprop : Vaginal Luftwaffe
m: "Hellcocks Pornflakes"
"These guys could only be Dutch for fuck's sake. The cover is a fake cock cumming into a bowl of cornflakes and the vocals are just unhuman. All in all, this is one on my favourite songs/records of all time. Its insane vocals and powerful riffs are all you need in gore/grind."

3. Inveracity : Visions of Coming Apocalypse
m: "Extermination of Millions"
"I'm actually going to see these Greek nutters tonight. They are tight, the songs are really techniqual and they hold their shit down well.
It's this song that has the amazing pitch and tempo changes but continues to hold the brutality."

4. Lividity : Coated With My Semen
(live bonus track)
m: "Fetish for the sick"
"I just love how out of order these dudes are and how all the songs are about fucking and murder or the two in one. But more than ever the crazy intro the lead singer gives would be rad for a skate video: 'This ones for the ladies who love big dicks and cum in the face,!!'"

5. Prostitute Disfigurement : Body to Ravage
m: "Left in a Grisley Fashion"
"My ex-girlfriend hated their name so much she wouldn't let me keep the records in the house, so she's now my ex. Anyway, this song has a rad intro and then breaks into a short or death/ thrash Malevalent Creation style riff, but still with the pig grunting vocals. The Dutch must be loving death, as these dudes are Dutch as well."

Cute, huh? I'm in a romantic mood too right now. I mean, a romance-coated mood.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Interlude | An Eclipse on the Ocean

Aww, sorry for the pun in the title, sometimes I can't help. Anyway yeah, a reader once asked me, a long while back, more info about The Eclipse, a mysterious band that perfectly fit Ocean Howell's and Markus Wyndham's parts in Risk It. Since this had been intriguing me for a minute as well, I just asked Ocean to see what he had to say.
Incidentally, and it might have been the true aim of this post, this whole thing served the purpose to link Bertrand Trichet's website, an awesome French skate and non-skate, thanks lil' baby Jesus, photographer who did some stuff with Ocean a few years ago in SF. So, The Eclipse, you said?

Ocean Howell:
"The Eclipse was a local band from North County San Diego. A good friend of mine was in it in high school. I don't have the recordings anymore, but someone else asked recently so I think I'll try to get in touch with my old buddy Jonny Eads to see if he has any copies..."

Meager, but to be continued. Ocean's tune was called Bugs and Markus' Love's Last Whisper, and that's all I know for now. I will keep the Eclipse-hungry masses in touch if anything more manifests, though.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

AVS # 6 | Sight Unseen (2001)

Remember how it started with indigestible bands like Fluf and The Presidents Of The USA ? Well, it continued for a while (never use the CDs that labels send you, never), not to say until such recent past that we might as well call it "the now". If the Transworld videos have been ground-breaking on many levels, definitely killing the derelict filming look inaugurated with Rubbish Heap and pioneering the "fixed-camera-on-a-tripod-filming-for-a-whole-day-with-cars-and-people- going-really-fast-in-the-street"-type intros, they’ve never really let the music lovers in awe as far as selection.
Until Sight Unseen that is, which contains besides the three albums below a lot of definitely worth-your-money music –surprised that Jay Mascis doesn’t have an exclusivity contract with Alien Workshop? So here it is, all broken down : A Visual Sound # 6, another partial and musical voyage to the faraway land of skate flick music Nerdistan.

(Oh, and the good old "click on the sleeve, see the part" hi-tec feature is back)

Cali Agents: How the West Was One
used: Neva Forget
(Henry Sanchez)

The Black Sabbath tune might have given the wrong impression –it was his choice too, thank you very much, not some Rocco scheme- it’s pretty notorious that Henry Sanchez has been a great archivist of underground Norcal hip hop. In Sight Unseen’s case, for "the part until which you had counted me out", as he bluntly puts it on his Myspace page, he chose a tune from Cali Agents, the bicephalous unit made of Rasco plus Fresno’s finest, mixtape king Planet Asia, straight out of their second album. Or did he ? "I didn't choose it", Henry told me, "I didn't get the impression it was up to me. I would have used some old Cellski song." For those who didn’t know, the latter is another one of these underrated SF MCs who used to also go by one of the best nicknames ever, Break-A-Bitch, so it’s safe to say that the Daisy Age didn’t smell like roses for everybody.
On a more serious note, Cellski has six albums under his belt and rolled with Yukmouth, E-40, the RBL Posse and Cougnut, so street cred isn’t really a concern here. On his side, Henry also added that some alternative choices of his would have been Silk The Shocker's Ain’t My Fault, or in a totally different genre, Baba O Riley by The Who, "but for these I didn't even ask cause I knew it would be out of the question", he swears. So that was it. Nevertheless a good tune, from a classic undergoundesque disc.

Sizzla/Anthony B: 2 Strong
used: Haunted and Nervous
(John Cardiel)

For whatever mysterious reason, good reggae’s barely ever used in skate videos. Sure, from Sergei Trudnowski to Ryan Nix there have been exceptions -see this post. But one part will forever outshine them all : Cardiel’s rabid Sight Unseen section, set to the ferocious rant of bobo dread-in-chief Sizzla Kalonji. Fight fire with fire. Perfect match. While some see it as Miguel Collins’ golden age for the Star Trail label, this late ‘90s tune represented a perfect balance of raw dancehall energy and the then-still-somewhat-melodious singjay style adopted by the young Emmanuelite.
Since a handful of early, absolutely necessary LPs (besides 2 Strong, shared with Anthony B, count Praise Ye Jah, Black Woman and Child, the 1998 Reggae Max compilation), Sizzla has been über-prolific, shooting 45 after 45 with a bunch of good full-length surprises along the line (The Real Thing, or the R&B hybrid Soul Deep, or the recent Judgement Yard mixtapes) and a lot of forgettable efforts too. Who’s counting ? He isn’t. What matters here is how parallel Cardiel’s and Sizzla’s destinies were at this very point in time, and how it showed in John’s first full part since the Dogtown video.

The stitches: 8x12
used: My Baby Hates Me
(Dustin Dollin)
Besides the interesting Oxnard scene from the early ‘80s, and a bunch of bands from these days and ages, California hasn’t necessarly bred a whole lot of interesting punk outfits lately –unless of course you are looking for the soundtrack to a wakeboard/FMX video, and if that’s the case LagWagon probably has a new, 345th, album out.
So even though The Stitches come from Orange County, even though they tried to recreate a genuine 1977 punk sound twenty years too late, well, this album is actually, almost hurts to say it, good. Plus they stayed on obscure labels on purpose (Disaster, Vinyl Dog, Kapow…), had really good albums names (12 Imaginary Inches is one) and matched perfectly Dustin Dollin’s skating. Apparently they skate pretty good themselves, too, their singer Mike Lohrman used to be sponsored by Circle A –Salman Agah and Ed Templeton started the same way- and he even built a ramp in his mom’s backyard. The icing on the cake? According to a memorable Thrasher interview, he also revealed how Jim Greco used to call him « 20 times a night for fashion advice, plus he wanted to hang out and smoke crack and play guitar ». Not to mention how Lohrmann once pissed unpuposedly on an undercover cop at Sadlands... So that would be Greco, Dollin, punk, pee, drugs. You do the math. Even if they carry that heavy OC burden, The Stitches are, like, totally awesome.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Double dipping | Hugo Liard

They don't have rim sponsors, they didn't even buy Harleys! What a bunch of unpretentious, skateboarding-for-fun-type losers... Instead, the Antiz team decided to go tour Southern Spain recently on a bunch of beat-up mopeds. You think that' how you're gonna win the Maloof Cup? Pathetic.
Anyway, Hugo Liard, one of France's finest and one of the masterminds behind this deck company/co-op, is also an expert in all sort of musical Frenchnesses, not to mention his tendencies to be an unapologetic Hessian.
It's on behalf of these two qualities that he's allowed not one, but two playlists at once. By the way, am I just another old fart, or does skateboarding need more Antiz-style ventures? Meaning, Maloof bros-free?

(For those who didn't know, you should download their latest vid, Z Movie, right here)
Oh, and the photo comes from the Antiz website, and it's uncredited on there too. I need a lawyer?

The top 5 French tunes
that would sound good in a skateboard video | by Hugo Liard

1. Trust: Certitude/solitude
"It's Trust's best tune, complete with fast and dynamic guitar riffs. It's all skateboarding music needs, plus the lyrics are really good."

2. Trust: Préfabriqué
"I love the aggressive lyrics, mixed with these super-fast riffs."

3. Warning: Rock city
"This French band kind of remained in Trust's shadow, but they sounded heavier."

4. Renaud: Laisse béton
"Hard to translate in English, but there's a pun for me with the word beton, which can mean 'concrete', so this one would sound good for a pool session or something."

5. Noir désir: Comme elle vient
"Super fucking putain d'énervé, with overwhelming lyrics too."

The top 5 metal tunes of all time, that would also sound good in a skate video | by Hugo Liard again

1. Mötörhead: Go To Hell
"Still these awesome '80s riffs, plus the prallele hell/skateboarding that gets me amped."

2. Kreator: Phobia
"Some powerful modern metal."

3. Manowar: Ride The Dragon
"Epic metal, kinda like speed metal, wich means that it means 'speed'. You know?"

4. Apocaliptica: Master of Puppets remix
"Really, really powerful, I stil have goose bumps. Better than Mozart for the dead."

5. Trust: Limewire
"Huh huh, it's a AC/DC cover in English. Fuck yeah, finally a French band that didn't have to blush compared to one of the universe's biggest hard rock bands. Trust actually almost opened for AC/DC in the US in 1981, but instead they chose to go on a French tour!"

Monday, July 14, 2008

AVS #5 | "Sick Boys" (1988)

It’s been twenty years. Twenty years since the skateboard masses have been grossed out by Bryce Kanights’ “breakfast of champions”. A pinnacle of wilderness in the streets, Sick Boys was now-famous snowboard movie mogul Mac Dawg’s first effort, and remains as one of the first flicks heavy on actual street skating –i.e. not that many ho-ho plants.
The hour-or-so film, directed by “your mama” as the ending credits states, featured the mid-‘80s cream of the crop, including Natas, Jim Thiebaud, a handrail f-side boardsliding Julien Stranger, Mic E Reyes, Ron Allen, Cab, Tommy Guerrero, and even Chris Branagh, skateboarding’s own white Gary Coleman. Plus about a million other people, unoficially starting the H-Street’s school of video making.
While some rememeber it as one of the most quotable skate videos of all time ( “You need big balls to do that and Mick E Reyes surely doesn’t lack in that category”, or the even awesomer “Sometimes we take the locals for a ride into the G-Forces of hell”), others used it to discover some of the rawest skate-rock ever, and again, nobody’s talking Pennywise’s blue album here. More so The Boneless Ones, Wonderful Broken Thing, Verbal Abuse, M.A.R live, MDC, MCM And The Monster… Most of them coming from the mythical Berkeley-based label Boner records, and all captured in the lowest fidelity lowfi can offer.
Young students, Sick Boys’ soundtrack has “classic” written all over it, no wonder the video itself is being reissued as we speak. Welcome to a crazy world full of airwalk ollies, wall rides, crazy headbands and pools. Wait, what year was that, again?

(Witness the whole mayhem here)

Thee Fourgiven : It Ain’t Pretty Down Here
Tune used: You Can Come To My Room (skate camp)
In 1988, things were a lot different, probably. Because a song called You Can Come To My Room wouldn’t first come to mind nowadays to back up a skate-camp section, with all the strict rules and the little kids and everything. Very taboo. Anyway, what can be heard from the tune worked perfectly to accompany a hefty dose of curves destruction courtesy of Tony Mag, Bod Boyle, plus a Derby Park-wrecking Tony Roberts, and comes from the first album ever recorded by Thee Fougiven. How did Mac Dawg get a hold of them? Not too hard to guess, since Thee 4-G got started by Venice legendary skater Ray Flores (bass/vocals) and his buddy Matt Roberts (“drums, garbage can, screams”, his bio states), after they both left The Unclaimed.
Musically, this sounds like a blend of punk rock with subtle touches of psychobilly and drunken exotica –a prerequisite when your album is out on a label that pays hommage to the god of wine, Dionysus- and could have been the last, because Matt allegedly left the band for “a couple of weeks” and didn’t return for several years.
Thankfully though, Ray Flores wasn’t the only skater/muscian around and brought Bela Horvath to the mix, taking the band on two memorable Europe tours, where they opened for The Miracle Workers and... The Unclaimed, that ended up quitting one week after the beginning of the journey. Even though they broke up in 1989, Thee Fourgiven are still around, and were planning in early 2007 to release a compilation album. No news since. The producer must have gone on a trip for a few weeks.

Verbal Abuse : Just an American Band
Tune used : Social Insect (plus two)
In the early ‘80s, Verbal Abuse was such a hardcore punk classic that Mac Dawg made sure everybody got it, using no less than three of their tunes from their 1983 Just An American Band LP. A classic among classics, straight out of the very same Bay Area scene that gave birth to the Dead Kennedys or Fear. Which means expect some simple, raw, in-your-face kind of tunes, all screamed in the most sociopathic fashion, and not some of that feelings-driven emo music. Heaven knows the Texas transplants felt miserable then, no reason for it to have changed some odd 25 years later…
Regarding this classic LP (Remember Slayer's Undisputed Attitude hardcore covers album?), the purists already own its original version out on Bitzcore records, of course. Yet, they don’t frown upon the reissue put out by the skateboard company/skate-rock label Beer City a few years back, for it includes also a 1984 live in New York. Who cares? Anybody who enjoys one more Black Sabbath cover (Paranoid), and more incongruitously a mind-blowing version of We’re an American Band, by the kinda cheesy arena-rock stars Grand Funk Railroad!

MDC : Smoke Signals
Tune used: Missile Destroyed Civilization (Blood Bowl session)
Before the NoFX singer felt the urge to write a song about how he hates shower days, American punk was used to address issues a bit less captivating: political and social problems, for instance. Very, very boring. Plus, like, dude, it hurts your head.
Totally oblivious to the fact of one day being picked to set the mood of a session at the Blood Bowl in a skateboard video, Austin-based band MDC was definitely one of these bricks thrown in The Man’s windows. A heavy brick, thrown from the guts. Yeah, this section is now written by Jello Biaffra, did you notice? Did you even read that far? I hope not.
All this to say that even with its strong political stance and all, the outfit formed in 1979 in Austin as The Stains didn’t forget a little touch of humour, once they switched to MDC the following year, changing on each album the meaning of their initials. Millions of Dead Cops being the most famous one, they also called themselves successively Multi Death Corporation, Millions of Dead Children, Millions of Dead Christians, Millions of Damn Christians, Metal Devil Cokes, and Magnus Dominus Corpus. Like Verbal Abuse, they relocated to San Francisco in 1982 after a bumpy ride that notably included a fiasco of a Bad Brains/Big Boys/MDC Rock against Reagan Tour, after Bad Brains left when HR found out that the Big Boys’ singer was gay… PMA, bros, PMA!
Missile Destroyed Civilization came out on their second, maybe more rockish 1986 album Smoke Signals, and for once here’s a band that didn’t water down excessively as the years went by. Well, everybody has the right to have mixed feelings regarding their hip hop/vegan tune from Hey Cop! If I Had a Face Like Yours but all in all, MDC’s career stayed pretty straight. Still active and now set in Portland, its members still haven’t written a song about the delights of not showering.

Bonus : Mac Dawg on "Sick Boys"

A small interview with the man behind the mirrors and wires... Sick Boys by its creator, Mike "Mac Dawg" Mc Entyre, whose latest film I saw, sorry to admit, was The Hard, The Hungry and The Homeless from, what, 1993? Anyway.

Was Sick Boys your first project?
MD: Sick Boys was my first film that was for sale. I had made several short films before that point with the standout being called Goons in Paradise.

Would you consider it a documentary?
I think Sick Boys documents the times that I had when I was with the skaters in the film but not a true documentary in regards to full interviews and the such. It does however portray the period in a great light which is the mark of a good documentary.

Did you do any skate films before and after Sick Boys?
I worked for Jon Malvino as a camera assistant/sound man for a couple of years before Sick Boys. He was shooting all the top skaters in 16mm with a lot of sync sound. Unfortunately that footage was never released, which was a good part of my motivation to make Sick Boys.
After that, I got a call from the late Mike Ternasky who hired me to make Hokus Pokus with him. During that film I hooked up with Noah Salasnek who was a am for H-Street and also a great snowboarder. He wanted a snow shot for his part. I filmed it a Squaw Valley and after Hokus Pokus I pretty much was hooked on filming snowboarding and being in the mountains. There has been a lot of skating in our snow films over the years from Noah to Shawn White.

Are you planning do do any more skate flicks at all?
Not really. I think it is quite a bit different now and my path is not headed that way.

Are you planning to ever release Sick Boys on DVD?
The plan is a re-release of Sick Boys late summer or fall of 08. This is coming about with the help of my friend Bryce Kanights who is putting all the pieces together. We are planning on doing a bunch of behind the scenes interviews and letting the riders in the film tell stories about the filming. I should be really cool for kids to see where a lot of their sport developed from.

How did you find the bands for its soundtrack?
A lot of the bands in Sick Boys were into the whole skate scene in Nor Cal at the time. We would go to their show and just get wasted. They were all super cool with the film and we got to use the music for free. Those were the good old days. I think Sick Boys only sold 500 copies so I did not make any money off it or anything.
I knew [legandary Venice skate loc] Ray Flores of Thee Fourgiven and Miles of MCM and the Monster. I met a lot of the other bands but it was really when it was a party scene and not everyday type of friends.