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.


Watson said...

Hey dude, drop me an e-mail I have something I want to show you.

Jason said...

Insightful interview! Any way to get in touch with Ron Allen by chance? thx!

Not The New Stereo Video said...

yup, email me your request and I'll pass it along if you want. cool?

jed walters on 101 said...

since the first time i heard these songs, i couldn't forget about them - even to this day i am listening to badly captured mono versions of "greedy", "it's gone away" or "telephone betty". although the quality of the songs - hence i captured them from old skatevideo vhs'- is so bad, i was still satisfied with it, not losing the melody.
unfortunately i don't have the live video - and this song: "a soldier's story" keeps coming back to my mind all the time.
so, what i'm asking is: are there any chances to come across these songs anywhere (in a better quality)?!
thx for your time

jed walters on 101 said...

aaah, of course i meant the life video

Hairy Soap said...

Ron Allen was one of my favorite skaters when I was a kid. Partly because his stuff in Hokus Pokus was so good (still one of the best videos of all time), but also because he was from the East Bay, where I grew up. I had his Life "Thank You" deck and the first Fun one that had all the eyes on it.

I used to work at a skate shop called Surf Berkeley, and Ron would stop by quite a bit. He was a really mellow guy and a great story teller; much more down to earth and engaging than other pros I'd met. I asked him for a tape of his stuff from the H-Street and Life videos and he either thought I was kidding him or he was just being modest. He just kind of said, "Oh! That stuff?!" But I was being totally serious, because I thought the songs were really good. I'm glad to see that other people appreciate them too, and that he's made the blogsphere for it. Now if only they'd issue a CD, complete with liner notes and a tour to promote it!

Shane said...

all songs available to download. and most of the songs from the h-street videos can be heard at