September 2015 sees the release of the tenth game in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (THPS) series. “So why do I care,” ask you, the readers, “for is this not a music site?” Where the games captured the style, speed, fun, and excitement of the sport of skateboarding, their soundtracks have captured one of the other main aspects of the larger skate community; the music.
Look at any X-Games event and you’ll see they’re as much mini music festivals as sporting events. This year’s X-Games in Austin, Texas sported musical luminaries such as Metallica, Deltron 3030, Pennywise, The Glitch Mob, and…..ahem….Nicki Minaj. OK, so that last one is hopefully a freak event but it goes to show that the music surrounding the event can be as appealing as the sporting spectacle.
Since skateboarding’s inception in the 70’s as a way of taking surfing to the streets, the surfer rock music scene that had existed as a niche genre grew alongside it. As skating became more popular the catalogue of musical accompaniments evolved to include various flavours of rock, punk, and metal, and perhaps surprisingly including hip-hop and rap as time went on.
Sometimes the two worlds would merge such as with veteran skater Chad Muska’s band Muskabeatz appearing on the THPS4 soundtrack alongside vert legend Steve Caballero’s band The Faction supplying the song ‘Skate and Destroy’, a phrase that would become a staple part of a skater’s vocabulary. Last but certainly not least, Mike Vallely now fronts Black Flag, one of the original hardcore punk heavyweights. Mind you Mike V does have the best CV in the world sporting skater, stuntman, and professional wrestler as just a few of his career choices.
Nowadays skating and music are all but intertwined. Take a look at the headline banner on Thrasher magazine’s Sept 2015 cover and you’ll see metal legends Slayer and indie darling/douche (delete as appropriate) Morrissey sharing the spotlight alongside skater Brandon Biebel.
A huge part of my personal exposure to new music has come from video games such as THPS. In the olden days before on tap streaming services, when Napster was a way of stealing music and annoying Metallica, the only ways to discover new music were TV, radio, and magazines with cover mounted CD’s (or tapes if you’re even older). Had it not been for the now 421 song strong collective soundtrack of all these games I could well still be unaware of – to name but a few – Dead Kennedys, The Ernies, Goldfinger, Primus, The Vandals, Suicidal Tendencies, Bad Religion, Millencollin, Dub Pistols, Del Tha Funky Homosapien, Flogging Molly, The Toy Dolls, and most importantly to me, the Japanese mad house that was The Mad Capsule Markets.
I should point out that all of those artists above are only from the first four games. Of the 32 artists listed for the latest game in the series I only recognise 7 of them, but frankly it really doesn’t matter. Hearing a brand new song from a previously unknown artist can be a great moment; it’s why Musicscramble’s New Band Spotlight segment is so popular.
I’m very much looking forward to once again becoming a couch skater gorging my eyes on the visuals and my ears on the audio and hopefully loving some of those unknowns. So go play, keep your ears open and you never know, you might just discover your new favourite artist. I’ll leave you with a playlist of some of my favourites. Sadly Spotify doesn’t have Dead Kennedys ‘Police Truck’ nor any Mad Capsule Markets so do yourself a favour and look them up when you can.