Photo by Alex Pires
Past generations of skateboarders outside the U.S. felt like they kept one eye on America, the unavoidable center of skateboarding’s media and industry, and another inward on their native scenes. British skateboarding, on the other hand, felt like it had to look three ways: towards America, around its European neighbors, and at itself, as a place that produced distinctly English skate videos that looked unlike anything else.
It is tempting to call Jacob Harris’ “Atlantic Drift” series on Thrasher the most beloved video franchise coming out of the U.K. today. Except the videos are less an insular sum of their influences, and more a global portrait of a particular brand of skateboarding, as seen through an English lens. It was no surprise that Jacob’s influences came from all over the place ;)
Jerry Fowler — DNA Skateboards: Continuum (2002)
I don’t know what DNA is, what Continuum is, or really who Jerry Fowler is — I just find the part quite feel-good. That Joe Walsh song is super geeky, and I kind of see his skating as mirroring that: this guy, doing these cool tech tricks in shorts, with tight trucks and chunky shoes. He does this fakie shove it crook over the front of a ledge, and then pauses for a bit, where it’s almost like, “Is the filmer going to follow him?” There’s something innocent and cool about it, and this era of skate videos in general. It looked super old when I first saw it, and I was blown away by some of the tricks. He does that frontside no comply fakie 5-0, and a pop shove it backside 5-0 up that yellow barrier. He doesn’t see like the type of dude who’d be doing no complies into ledge tricks. I think that’s the appeal. He seems really anachronistic, and I just love it for some reason.
Jason Dill — Habitat: Mosaic (2003)
I tried my best to not put in Pappalardo’s Mosaic part, or Jake Johnson in Mind Field, because it seems too obvious. I think I started watching this before I knew who Jason Dill was, or what his style was in the context of skating. I was just like, “Who is this fucking dad with frizzy hair who can hold front crooks?”
I love all the little clips of him where he tries something and falls over, like a fakie flip on flat or that jump on a 5050. I love the lines, especially the one where he does the feeble grind and tries to nollie back 180 the stairs. I always liked people who do clean, popped flip tricks, and he has some amazing ones in here — like the line in Barcelona where he does the switch front 3 on flat, or the fakie varial heel at L.A. High. I also like how he ended a part with a manual trick at the end of a line. And as far as video editing goes, it’s hard to deny that Mosaic found its way into everybody’s videos for the next ten years afterwards.
Alex Carolino & Flo Marfaing — 411VM 13.3 (2005)
The edit is pretty weird. I don’t even really like the song much, to be honest, but I was really blown away when I saw it. Alex Carolino starts the part with this backside nollie cab over a barrier, and a nollie frontside heelflip three feet high on flat. At the time, I couldn’t believe anybody could do tricks that well. It’s full of super crisp flip tricks, which is the exact opposite of how I skate — I can’t flip my board at all — so I really enjoy watching people who can. I also have this thing when people have tight trucks and do nollie front heels. I guess it’s like a fetish or something.
I’m not a massive Flo Marfaing fan, but the part itself is mental. It came out a time when being a European skateboarder was almost a disability, like Europeans couldn’t skate as well as Americans. But this part was just the most incredible skating: Flo Marfaing tre flip noseslides Le Dome in it. There’s also something pretty mythical about him. There’s this thought of why didn’t he like, “make it,” you know? There are rumors about him like getting on Alien Workshop, but then somebody didn’t pay an advertising bill, so his interview didn’t come out in Transworld at the right time, or something like that. I love those sort of stories, and how skateboarding has these figures who are there at the right time, but for some reason it doesn’t add up, and they still carry on getting it.
When Mike Mo Capaldi came out, he had this sequence where he did a fakie bigspin flip manual backside flip out for a Lakai advert — I remember getting into an argument with my friend, like “That’s not even that good! Alex Carolino did nollie front heel fakie manual fakie frontside flip out! This guy shouldn’t even be on!”
Jamie Bolland — H’Min Bam (2005)
I really want to give this part a shout out because I do find myself watching it quite often. This was a Scottish video, and this guy doesn’t really do anything difficult — he just has super sick style and a really good flick. He skates like, tree roots and stuff, falls in puddles. And he makes it look so good. You look at those puddles, and they’re just…full of cigarette butts. There’s something grim about it, but it’s so funny — it seems like they’re just dealing with having to skate in Scotland. There’s something about the Scottish sense of humor that’s really in this part. I don’t know anyone who has met him, and there’s something really mythological about him in Britain.
There’s not really any substance to anything, but it’s so pleasing. He does a line at the end where he scrapes a manual, does a switch front board, and then falls in a puddle. There’s also one brilliant bit where he switch ollies a fence at night, the shot just keeps playing long, and you watch somebody get out of a car, completely uninterested in the situation.
Nick Jensen — Blueprint: Lost & Found (2005)
I suppose everybody has a formative video. When I first started being aware of skateboard videos, I went to the Lost & Found premiere. I was like 14, and I realized this is what skateboard culture is, and it made me want to belong to skateboard culture. Jensen’s part is kind of cheesy, and it goes straight for the emotional jugular — it really makes you want to feel something. I just kind of …let it. It’s got this awful Travis song, but it weirdly suits Nick because he’s this young, handsome, floppy British guy.
After Lost & Found, I spent five or six years wanting to be Jensen and Brady. Now Nick is one of my best friends, but I still cherish this time when I didn’t know him and he was the coolest person ever — even though he is a lovely guy. It was just an innocent time of hero worship that lasts for about four years of your teenage life before you realize skateboarders are just people.
I’d say this is probably my all-time favorite part. It has a super tasteful trick selection, and a lot of it was in London, so I’d just go around being like, “Oh my god, is this the place Nick Jensen did a tre flip on flat with like, his trousers not meeting his shoes?”
Previously: Jamal Smith, Paul Rodriguez, Gilbertt Crockett, Ben Chadourne, Tom Knox, Louie Lopez, The Chrome Ball Incident, The Bunt, Lacey Baker, Andrew Allen, GX1000, Brian Anderson, Gino Iannucci, Josh Kalis, Sean Pablo, Wade Desarmo, Chris Milic, Chad Muska, Hjalte Halberg, Danny Brady, Bill Strobeck, Aaron Herrington, Jerry Hsu, Brad Cromer, Brandon Westgate, Jim Greco, Jake Johnson, Scott Johnston, Josh Stewart, Eric Koston, Karl Watson, Josh Friedberg, John Cardiel, Pontus Alv, Alex Olson, Jahmal Williams
Atlantic Drift is without a doubt the best thing on Thrasher
Dancehall caballeros ty Jacob :)
Ha I’d never thought I’d hear a Seed track in a skate vid, let alone in a scottish one. The world is weird sometimes.
To *hear* someone *speak* this way about skateboarding from this time, when it was still more or less not okay to have emotions, is heartwarming
i like that he manages to throw backhanded compliments at pretty much everyone in his five favorite parts. I love the Atlantic Drift videos because the skating isn’t that great and it’s edited weird, i just love that about them
it’s not that serious my guy
Also like in the music piece more good thoughts from J Harris, much appreciated
just a little historical note, Marfaing was fully on Seek, which was part of Alien, started at same time they started Habitat. In his era he would have been like a John Fitzgerald on Hockey, but actually bigger because there was less output in those days. He did “make it” but his shelf life was only a decade or so. great selections
lol…have you ever met an english person? this was nothing. just the sense of humor they have.
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