If ever there was a band perfectly attuned to provide the soundtrack to rapidly cut video footage of people crushing their reproductive apparatus in a quest for handrail kudos, then that band is Misfits.
Something about the industrial-tinged gothic gloom of their horror punk output has drawn skate video makers, (and skateboard graphic designers) to the music and iconography of this New Jersey group since the early days, and nobody has embraced this marriage of music and testicular trauma with more enthusiasm than Jamie Thomas.
With the release of the very first authorised Misfits skateboard line in conjunction with Zero skateboards this Autumn, I figured that was excuse enough to finger the archives some and see if I could rediscover some Misfits scored classics for my own (and your) edification, seeing as how roughly 70% of everything released currently is tepid bogwash.
VHS students should already know this but for those who don’t - there is only one place that any discussion of the connection between skateboarding videos and Misfits music can begin and that place is 1996 with Mike Maldonado’s section in Toy Machine’s ‘Welcome to Hell’ video.
Providing the precursor to, and launch pad for, Zero skateboards, (which started life as a clothing brand run by then Toy Machine pro Jamie Thomas, before evolving into a board brand), Toy Machine’s ‘Welcome to Hell’ hosts one of the most memorable marriages between Glenn Danzig’s voice and high intensity big boy skateboard antics to date.
The story of The Chief’s behind-the-scenes reigns tugging of Toy Machine’s third and most influential video is well known and 22 years after its 1996 release it is still rightfully hailed as one of the best, one the gnarliest, and one the most influential videos ever made.
For the purposes of this potted history however, it is to the opening section that we turn our vampiric forelocks towards.
Mike Maldonado - Toy Machine – ‘Welcome to Hell’ (1996)
Misfits - London Dungeon
“Mike Maldonado – East Coast powerhouse.”
As far as introductions go, that one is as brief as it is accurate, with West Chester, PA born Mike Maldonado opening up one of the heaviest videos ever with two and a half minutes of raw street brutality.
Waist high 5050 on a crash barrier, you say? Yeah go on then, and I’ll chuck in doing it on a main road surrounded by heavy traffic for extra points too.
Whilst relatively low on the tech-o-meter, big man’s powerful street skating is perfectly accompanied by the track ‘London Dungeon’, first released in 1981 on Misfits 7” EP ‘3 Hits from HeLL’. If you’re going to watch somebody predict the footage of skateboarding’s Instagram output via a brace of full speed switch wallies, then what better accompaniment than Glenn Danzig chanting, “They ought to lock us up – Put us in their British Hell”?
Allegedly written as a response to Danzig and fellow band-mates getting locked up in Brixton after fighting with local skinheads, this marriage of cargo pants, massive pop and a Misfits classic will remain one of the greatest opening video parts forever. The final 5050 alone, performed on an above-waist-high rail with a ride out approaching Victorian levels of cobbled dogshit would still be considered diesel today, 25 years later.
Whether you’re Wu for Life, or a fan of that Soundcloud shit that sounds more like somebody mumbling a Methadone order in Boots than music; if you’ve watched this video, then you know some of the lyrics to a Misfits tune. Congratulations – underneath our clothes we are all moshers…
On a final note – if somebody had told me as I eagerly pressed play on this VHS for the very first time, that two decades later the very same Mike Maldonado would be breeding alligators in his cellar in Pennsylvania, I would’ve probably replied with, “No shit – did you see how fucking gnarly he is?”
Jim Greco - Wheels of Fortune - 411VM Issue 21 (1997)
Misfits - I Turned Into A Martian
Next up is one-time Zero rider, Baker OG and man of a thousand identity crises himself, Mr. Jim Greco. Despite being released prior to Jimmy’s abduction by Jamie Thomas, (with him still riding for Birdhouse at the time this was released), this 411 ‘Wheels of Fortune’ most definitely acted as a 1 minute and 33 second statement of intent for Connecticut-born Grecs.
Establishing a theme of high speed recklessness and classic tricks taken to scary looking spots – this one is a precursor to the rising tide of hammer-focused skateboarding that had overtaken professional street skating by 2000.
Extra points also need awarding here for the inclusion of a trio of slappies filmed outside Huntington Beach’s ‘Ralphs’, (the American equivalent of filming tricks for 411 down Sainsbury’s kerb). Set to the rousing sound of the 1982 Misfits ode to identity confusion, ‘I Turned into a Martian’ – this is a short but sweet pre PissDrunx intro to the Greco that was to come. Special note should be paid to the mega dipped back smith ender, a Grec’s specialty that also acted as the pre after-black ender of his first Zero part in Misled Youth.
Does the Misfits tune on the above 411VM foretell Greco’s years of chameleon-like identity switching, or was it just the nearest CD to whoever was editing 411 at the time? Who the fuck knows – that back smith is a banger though…still.
Adrian Lopez - Wheels of Fortune - 411VM (1997)
Misfits – She
Another Zero OG, another 411 ‘Wheels of Fortune’ section and another belter of a Misfits track here courtesy of pint-sized king of the Cab, Adrian Lopez.
Featuring the B-side from their first single ‘Cough/Cool’, (released in 1977 on Glenn Danzig’s own label Blank Records), this lo-fi recording celebrates the exploits of American heiress turned domestic terrorist Patty Hearst, with her being the ‘She’ of the song’s title.
Hearst is the granddaughter of American businessman and newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, (the inspiration for the Charles Foster Kane character in Orson Welles masterful ‘Citizen Kane’ film) whose life-story reads like one of the lurid, exploitative headlines of her grandfather’s newspapers.
Born into wealth, Patty Hearst was kidnapped at the age of 19 by the radical left-wing domestic terrorist group known as the SLA (the Symbionese Liberation Army) and allegedly brain washed by them.
She was freed 19 months after said kidnapping and, despite her family’s power and influence, was tried for her involvement in numerous bank robberies, (hence the Misfits lyrics “She walked out with empty arms, Machine gun in her hand, She is good and she is bad, No one understands”) and sentenced to 35 years in prison. Freed after only 22 months by President Carter in 1979, Hearst was eventually pardoned by President Bill Clinton in 2001.
‘What does the above have to do with Adrian Lopez?’ I can hear you asking.
Well, honestly, not that much but it was more interesting to write that, than to wonder, as many did at the time: ‘How the fuck does Adrian Lopez have that much pop? He’s about the same size as Ronnie Corbett!’
It’s probably worth mentioning in passing that Zero used Misfits ‘She’ again on their Zero/DGK ‘Fresh till Death’ 2011 release, and that none other than Josh ‘Kasperholics’ Kasper also skated to the same song in the 1997 Scarecrow Wheels video ‘Disturb not the Sleep of Death’.
Chris Cole – TWS - ‘In Bloom’ (2002)
Misfits - Die, Die My Darling
Fast forward 5 years and Zero Skateboards are leading the charge of a professional milieu dominated by a quest for the ultimate in ‘tech-gnar’ street skating. Chris Cole’s section on the 13th TWS video (the follow up to the incredible ‘Sight Unseen’) sees the recently all-black clad Cole join fellow on-the-up early noughties heads P-Rod, Tony T and Mike Taylor to release a taste of the level to come on this John Holland and Ewan Bowman produced classic.
Coming in with the second section, (behind young iron knees Evan Hernandez), Cole’s section begins with an intro track by UK legend Alex Moul and a voice over by Jamie Thomas. Now whilst being described as “Joan Jett on wheels” is not exactly as ringing an endorsement as the earlier Mike Maldonado one, what Cobra Cole might have lacked in a punchy voice over, he more than made up with the skating contained in this piece. This one is notable for a number of reasons:
- As suggested in the intro to this nonsense, few other bands produce a sound more suited to accompany footage of people crushing their bollocks than the Misfits do, and the punchy intro to their track ‘Die, Die My Darling’ comes correct with a perfect foil to a little montage of big lad wrecking his knackers.
- This part contains one of the rarest of rare tricks in the intro, the ‘heelflip Lotti’.
- You can see Cole’s outfit switch-up happening in real time throughout the course of this part, moving from big denim and XXL yellow tees to the now customary all-black mosher look (albeit without the wristbands at this stage) as the four minutes play out.
- Cole ends things off with two heavy NBDs down the (at-that-point) fairly untouched Love Park stairs with a switch frontside flip and the closing backside flip. Bonkers.
Zero ‘Cold War’ trailer (2013)
The Misfits - Earth A.D.
Skipping forwards a few years here for the next notable Zero-related usage of Misfits music with possibly the clearest proof yet that Misfits and skateboarding induced pain go together like Instagram and trick regression.
If you can think of a better soundtrack to seeing people hit their heads, rip their shins open, or slam on their sweetbreads than the opening track from the second eponymously titled Misfits full-length album, then you’re a better man than me. Earth A.D. is a banger and this trailer is too – go reacquaint yourselves with Zero’s ‘Cold War’ – it’s fucking amazing.
Franky Villani - Zero ‘No Ca$h Value’ (2014)
The Misfits – Angelfuck
For my last submission to this list, we turn to Zero’s most recent full-length release ‘No Ca$h Value’ and the first half of Franky Villani’s welcome section. Again proving the maxim that Danzig’s voice and urethra damage are a marriage made in A&E, young Franky’s section starts off with slow-mo footy of a truly horrible-looking handrail bollocking as the opening chords of the track ‘Angelfuck’ kick in. By Misfits standards, this one is a fairly upbeat ditty, which suits Villani’s playful magpie approach to skateboarding down to a tee.
Whether you’re a Misfits fan or not, this is worth a re-watch for sure – there are not many people who can so seamlessly go from cab back tails down handrails to fast plants like this smiling nutter.
And there we have it – a little potted history of Zero-related usage of Misfits music from the last couple of decades. Are you supposed to have learned anything here I’m asking myself…
I’m not sure really – perhaps you didn’t know who Patty Hearst was previously. Or you didn’t realize that you knew lyrics to songs from a band whose lead singer once landed the cover of Thrasher
Regardless – if this little piece has piqued your interest then you could do a lot worse than to check out the Zero x Misfits drop for a dip into some authorized skull-based goodness.
Finally – if you need more stats on Danzig’s baritone voice accompanying skateboarding footage more generally – go take a look at the excellent Skate Video Site and geek out to your heart’s content.
Written by Ben Powell