WL sent our secret spy along to the London première of VEECO: A Volcom Filmmaking Documentary - this is what he thought of it:
When Volcom blazed into existence over 20 years ago, in a spunk of punk-rock excitement and lo-fi frenzy, the founders Richard “Wooly” Woolcott and Tucker “T-Dawg” Hall probably never envisaged that they were in the process of creating a brand that would go on to become one of the leviathans of the sideways sports industry.
As they were hacking together videos in their garage at midnight, leaving their fingerprints on every last frame of taped-up Super 8 footage, they also probably couldn’t foresee that one day they would be in a position to reminisce over a body of work spanning nearly a quarter of a century, which would comprise some of the most seminal and era-defining shred movies such as The Garden, Subjeckt Haakonsen and the plasticine-based hallucinogen that is escramble.
Volcom have shaped the collective snowboarding sense of right and wrong for a generation.
And it is thanks to their movies that Volcom have always been much more than just a clothes company. They have been the one of the critical organs of the snowboarding corpus for the last two decades. They have, by inserting their flickering home-made grainy footage, stop-motion acid trips and endless face shots into our brains, shaped the collective snowboarding sense of right and wrong for a generation.
But by virtue of their longevity and enduring success, Volcom, who were once “Youth Against Establishment”, now are The Establishment. They are the industry. And their founders are, just like our sport of snowboarding, in their middle age – a time in your life when nostalgia has the sneaky habit of creeping up on you, taking your eyes off the road ahead…and can make you spend $31,313 on an old snowboard that doesn’t work very well (for example).
So when I got the call from Whitelines HQ to go and see the UK première of VEECO, a documentary which looks back at the history of VeeCo productions, I was both excited, and a bit nervous about what I would find.
Excited because I have worshipped at the altar of the Volcom stone for two decades, but nervous because I am acutely aware that nostalgia is the most deceptive of emotions, the pathos of which is rarely felt by the young. It injects you with a milky yet ultimately corrosive fix, making you wallow in events that have acquired a hazy and sugary bromide glow. Nostalgia brings comfort, but stops you from focusing on what remains before you, in your future.
And VEECO’s veins were riddled with heart-felt nostalgia. Nostalgia for the early days of Volcom’s punk rock spirit. Nostalgia for hand-cut quarter-pipes and XXL baggy threads. Nostalgia for the days when they were making it all up for the first time.
And knowing that it was calling me siren-like onto reminiscent shores, where I feared we would both be shipwrecked forever, I still loved it.
I loved hearing Terje chew the fat, Sheckler talking about landing his first big tricks on film, and seeing Bruce Irons pull into insane certain-death shore breaks.
I loved seeing Kai Garcia, a mofo meat-head lineup enforcer, dropping in on haoles and watching them get smashed into reefs. I loved hearing Terje chew the fat, Sheckler talking about landing his first big tricks on film, and seeing Bruce Irons pull into insane certain-death shore breaks. I loved seeing Chad’s Gap getting owned, getting an insight into the ghetto-setup of the early movies, and learning that the first edit of Magna Plasm was pretty much 50% girls on the beach in bikinis.
I also loved seeing Terje’s wrinkles under the peak of his baseball cap, Gavin Beschen’s crow’s feet framed by his flowing locks of salted hair, and hearing Lynn‘s gravelling voice from his slackening vocal cords rumble over his tattoos.
VEECO officially marks the point at which Volcom’s posse of anti-establismentarians became comfortable with being grown up. The point at which they were happy to tell us how old they were, and be nostalgic.
So as I strolled home after watching the movie, with my Air Jordans distracting onlookers away from my bald head, I concluded that VEECO officially marked the point at which Volcom’s posse of anti-establismentarians became comfortable with being grown up. The point at which they were happy to tell us how old they were, and be nostalgic.
My initial fear was that their comfort with nostalgia might be a signal that they were about to stop striving. But, as Sam McMahon‘s wise old head on his young pair of shoulders pointed out to me, Volcom have been behaving like grown-ups and simultaneously looking to the future for over 20 years. Which I should have realised when I saw Bryan Iguchi‘s salt and pepper beard juxtaposed with his psychedelic shred gear.
They have stuck by their old friends, but have offered a guiding hand to the kids. They can actually get The Guch and Mike Rav together for a game of ping pong. When Pat Moore was stressing about his mortgage after Forum collapsed, Volcom put their arm round him and brought him closer into the family, but also pushed him into a massive urban bomb drop and the same time. And their most recent movie True to This both recognised their heritage, but was still every bit as thrilling and modern as Magna Plasm or Stoney Baloney.
So, reassured that the future is safe, I look forward to the next 20+ years of Volcom movie making, to its maturing and ripening, and to seeing a 60 year old Terje drop handplants with his grandchildren.
Old or young, go see VEECO when you get the chance. A snippet of history that bodes well for the journey ahead.
Here is the official teaser for VEECO, the full movie will premièred online on the 26th August. Sign up here to be a part of it.