Naming Skate Tricks After Olympic Divers: An Interview with the Arrivals By Todd Taylor

Sometimes, you’ll hear people talk about a “sophomore slump,” like how a certain band puts out a great debut album and promptly falls flat on their collective face, how they spent their whole lives building up steam for that first album but forgetting to leave anything in the reserve tanks. The opposite is true with the Arrivals. Their debut, Goodbye New World, was phenomenal, and with their second album Exsenator Orange, they not only raised the bar on themselves, but on the entire punk scene. They take cues from great bands like Pegboy and Dillinger Four, and not just because of the way they sound. It’s the way that they hone everything down so it’s all tense muscle and twitching sinew. It’s their ability to make you feel the sweat dripping from their foreheads while they play. It’s the way they barrel through their songs like a getaway car from an old gangster movie driven by some CART driver with a hard-to-spell name: fast, powerful, and dangerous, but firmly confident and never out of control.

Introduction and plagiarized Enuff Z’nuff picture by Not Josh
Interview and emo-style photo by Todd Taylor

Todd: When I was at your house, Little Dave, I was going through your stuff when you were asleep. I found a bunch of old skate mags. Did you used to skate?
Little Dave: Way back in the day.
Todd: Like in the eighties? They were old mags.
Little Dave: ’87, ’88ish.
Todd: What’s the best trick you ever pulled?
Little Dave: A 180 on a half pipe. Seriously, I was really bad.
Todd: But you had so many mags?
Little Dave: No, I loved to skate. I really wanted to be able to skate really bad. I was in fourth or fifth grade, and I finally had enough money saved to buy a good setup. I went to Paramount Skateboards in Midlothian (IL), which was the only place on the whole South Side Chicago that sold good skate gear. I bought a Hosoi ramp deck to learn to street skate on.
Todd: Not a good idea.
Little Dave: It’s got that ninety degree angle kicktail and I couldn’t even fucking ollie straight. I had to be on a sidewalk crack so that my board wouldn’t move anywhere, ’cause I had to move so far back to kick it down that I couldn’t do it moving. I could always manage to get up and down curbs.
Todd: Did you have a little lipper on it, too?
Little Dave: I had rails. I had pink rails with a purple deck, white Tracker trucks, and pink bullet 95A wheels. It was ugly, but it was the shit in ’87. With a Jimmy Z shirt. I wasn’t a poser, I just didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t trying to be anybody, I just wanted to be somebody.
Big Dave: I saw everybody skating, so my fat ass went out and got a Mark Gonzales 1989, some G and S trucks. I think the only trick I would do – I was a little trouble-making shit – we’d go into the Jewel Supermarket and knock down the toilet paper aisle, just clear it. We’d get in trouble. I was pretty good at skating real fast, that’s about it.
Little Dave: His best trick is the luge.
Big Dave: Actually, I made up a trick called the Greg Louganis. All the kids I skated with lived in apartment complexes with speed bumps – so we’d just launch it off a speed bump and it’d go phrreeeeew. Then there was a church at the end of my block, and it had glass windows. This is a true story, too, ’cause the guy came and harassed me. I got back and I did a Greg Louganis right through the double glass doors of the church. I used to be a little shit. I was a troublemaker. I didn’t know any better. What’s a fat guy gonna do with a skateboard?
Todd: Name a musician or band that has had a huge impact on you, that has no influence on your sound at all.
Little Dave: I have two, actually. Steve Clark from Def Leppard. If you listen to Last Lullabye, the two last string/chord kind of things remind me of Photograph and I used to be huge into Def Leppard when I was little, so I sort of?
Todd: Channeled it.
Little Dave: When I play the blues, the most influence on my playing is Michael Jackson when he was little. His singing. It was kind of bluesy. This is all stuff that I realized after the fact. When I sing Michael Jackson/Jackson Five songs, I’m in the same exact place in my head as when I play blues guitar.
Ronnie: As far as influence that I don’t use, Miles Davis fuckin’ turns my crank for some reason, dude. Whenever I sit down and listen to Miles Davis, every single part of my body becomes free.
[laughter]
Ronnie: I mean, I have sex to Miles Davis, too.
[more laughter]
Big Dave: That’s abstract as hell.
Ronnie: Or I have dinner to Miles Davis.
Big Dave: It’s a good dinner album.
Ronnie: If you ever read up on Miles Davis at all, he was just a completely freed soul. I like a lot of Motown music.
Little Dave: I got in trouble in high school for doing a bass solo during an assembly with my back to the crowd, like Miles Davis would, as a tribute to Miles Davis. I got completely busted by the band director.
Todd: What are you obsessed by, other than music?
Little Dave: Fonts.
Todd: Fonts?
Little Dave: Fonts. Because I work in a sign shop, I always check out the fonts on signs and judge them on whether I think they suck or not. And band logos.
Ronnie: Sex.
Big Dave: Sex, love, and the woman I’m about to marry. Not to sound too cheesy, but that’s the only other thing I commit to.
Todd: If you ever had kids, would it be a moral dilemma if they wanted rollerblades or a Razor scooter?
Little Dave: Yes. I’m not much of a skater, but I always thought rollerbladers were sissies. Razor scooters are all about the label, and I’d want to teach my kid against that. I’d probably get them a really cheap Payless-style Razor scooter rip-off, if he really wanted one, or if she really wanted one. I want a boy.
Big Dave: For me, if I have little Johnny or Mary, they’re going to get those rollerblades, but first they’re going to have to learn on the old-school roller skates with the four wheels, like I did. We’re gonna find a crusty-ass roller rink. Everybody rollerblades in the park now.
Ronnie: Fuckin’ Tinley Park roller rink. Dancing to James Brown.
Todd: What’s your favorite scar?
Little Dave: Probably the one on my forehead ’cause it’s the oldest. I was trying to do a trick on a Big Wheel. I had this Big Wheel and I was getting too big for it. I was about five, so I was starting to get a little taller. You can only move the seat back three rungs before you have to ditch it altogether and ride it like a scooter, so me and my brother would ride scooter style and go around. Our mayor had this really nice house, down the block from ours. It was a crappy neighborhood. It was weird. It stuck out like a sore thumb. This huge, big, brown, nice crib. I started barreling into the guy’s front steps, hit the step, bounced up, got some air, bounced back, and practiced it a couple more times. I thought it was the coolest trick. So I told my brother, “Hey, Brian, check this out. I got this trick.” He’s like, “All right,” and he looks at me. I go [makes pedaling noises], hit the fuckin’ end of the stair, go over the front of it, and hit the whole three-sided concrete corner of the step with my forehead. Either that or all the stretch marks on my stomach.
Ronnie: I have a scar on my nose. I think I was about seven years old. I was sitting in the middle of my dad’s old Cordova. We were coming out of a video store or something, and some guy sped out and my dad had to slam on the brakes and I whipped my head against the dashboard and broke my nose open. But my dad got out. I remember it vividly. My Pops is a bad, bad man. Seriously, he pulled the dude out of the car, beat him senseless, and all the other dudes just left their friend. My dad walked to the car and said, “What a fuckin’ cocksucker.” He got back in the car and drove us home. He put a band aid on my nose.
Big Dave: When I was a little kid, I decided I wanted to get my workout in gear. I was doing pushups and I had my hand over the air conditioning air vent. I decided to put a ten pound barbell weight on my back, ’cause I wanted to kick up my workout. It slid off and went right on the hand. It’s kind of a dumb one.
Todd: Have you ever found your hand in a toilet?
Little Dave: The last would be when I was smoking hitters at work in the bathroom, dropped my hitter in the toilet and had to pull it out.
Big Dave: When I was a real little kid, I had a Swiss army knife, so I had to get that. It was dirty waters. Pre-flush.
Little Dave: When my buddies and I were little, we used to put our GI Joe guys in scuba gear and try to flush them. We did it habitually, even though it never worked and always clogged something up. We always tried. We wanted to send one Joe down into the depths.