My first exposure to skate punk was probably the soundtrack of Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland. By the time those games were being released, skate punk was already on the decline. First, what is skate punk? Trying to define musical genres in words is stupid but here I go. Skate punk is just punk music by skaters, about skateboarding, that skateboarders listen to, while skating. Honestly, it doesn’t even have to be about skateboarding. It just has to motivate you to go out and risk life and limb in the pursuit of shredding. And it doesn’t hurt if it has that one-two skate punk rhythm.
In the 80’s, skate punk was super trendy. Everyone was skating, or at least, pretending that they could. The Bones Brigade was in its prime. Epitaph records was storming the scene, releasing killer album after album. Bad Religion’s How Could Hell Be Any Worse was a raging success that raked in a ton of money for the Epitaph label, enabling them to significantly improve their production quality. The new polished sounds of punk records attracted more people to listen to skate punk. Skate punk was a full-scale production now, not just some rinky dink operation out of some guy’s ratty basement. Skateboarding became a popular theme in music videos (the music video for Agent Orange – A Cry For Help In A World Gone Mad is literally the band performing inside a bowl while skateboarders do gravity-defying tricks in the background). The go-to source for the latest, most essential skate punk albums was Thrasher magazine’s skate rock compilations.
At some point, the skateboarding craze faded but the scene didn’t die away. There are new bands dropping skate punk albums all the time. Unfortunately, it’s really hard for these independent bands to gain any recognition when most people are satisfied with just listening to the skate punk OGs from the old days. So, if you want to find new music in this genre or in punk in general, you’ll have to dig a little deeper. It’s not hard though. All you really have to do it go to Bandcamp and type in ‘skate punk’. You never know what gems you will uncover when you go down the bandcamp rabbit hole.
The other day, I found a skate punk band called The Shidiots that really rips. They’re only available on bandcamp; you can listen here: https://theshidiots.bandcamp.com/
Could there be a skate punk revival in the future? God I hope so. We’ll have to see.
(cover art by Carliihde on Deviant Art)