Rory Self Isolating at home. Photo: Lewis Khan
For the second instalment of Isolation Station I thought we could speak to another one of our favourite skateboarders. Rory Milanes’ reputation precedes him, he has been killing it on the streets of London for a long time, earned himself a pro board for Palace Skateboards and is a long serving member of the Slam team.
Rory recently sent me some amazing music in the post and he was one of the first people I thought of when the idea for Isolation Station formulated because I knew he would have some good fodder for us. He came back quickly with a skate video, film, album and a book and we spoke about their significance. I came away from the conversation enriched and watched something new the same evening and I hope you do too…
Words and questions by Jacob Sawyer.
STEREO SKATEBOARDS. A VISUAL SOUND
How come this was your pick for a skate video?
I don’t know because it’s actually kind of boring but I just love that first part so much.
Yeah, I think he is so amazing that guy. I haven’t seen any other stuff of his so that’s the one I always watched. I just thought he is so so good and he’s got a banging style, good choice of tricks.
Good manual tricks…
Yeah really good manual tricks, good ollies
Front 180 fakie manny…
Yeah he does one on a really high manual pad. He does some lines, random ones where he just starts the line with a switch backside ollie and then ollies a bar and it’s just so cool. Carl Shipman’s part is sick too, he just went to America and smashed it. Jason Lee’s section is beastly man
Yeah he backside 180 fakie nosegrinds a handrail!
Oh shit yeah and the line where he does a backside 180 fakie 5-0 on a block . I like the line where he does a nollie tailslide to fakie then a pop shuvit and then pushes and does a backside flip. I don’t think anyone else could do that and it would look good. It is a bit of a strange one to pick. I watched Antihero Cow the other day and that was definitely not boring. That Antihero video made me want to watch videos again, it’s a proper honest video, raw skating with no filter.
I like the line where he does a nollie tailslide to fakie then a pop shuvit and then pushes and does a backside flip. I don’t think anyone else could do that and it would look good
Do you watch videos to get hyped to go skating?
To be honest Jake I don’t really watch skating that much but I used to when I was a kid I used to love it.
What was the first skate video you ever saw actually?
It was 411VM Issue 14 which was Joey Crack’s first video as well. It’s got Koston in it on a Girl roadtrip, that was the first video I ever saw. I saw some really old school videos too when I was a kid. Some guy handed me Useless Wooden Toys and I watched that, that was cool.
Do you ever go down the rabbit hole with skate videos?
There are a couple of parts that I like watching but not really. I should maybe but I just don’t want to not be hyped to go and skate. Sometimes you’ll watch a video and it makes you not want to skate at all. I don’t need it to hype me up, music does that for me more.
Tell us about this pick.
This record was given to me a couple of years ago as a birthday present. Up until then I hadn’t heard of him or any of his music. I remember being pretty amazed when I listened to it in it’s entirety, I really liked it. Then I listened to a lot of his other music after that.
So Don Cherry was a jazz trumpeter, but that piece of information may lead you to expect something very different from this album.
Yeah, he studied other instruments too which gave him a reputation for world music as well as jazz. You can hear on this record loads of other weird instruments, it’s more than just a jazz album.
It blends rock, African, Indian and Arabic traditions and broke boundaries. Kind of creating this world music terminology.
Possibly, I always get confused with world music. It doesn’t use traditional instruments as far as Western jazz is concerned.
Explain why this one is special to you…
I just find it really hypnotic and uplifting and it really varies across the different songs. The first song is proper funky, I like it. The second track I like because it has a really long intro on a tambour, then the trumpets come in and the mood changes really quickly.
Do you listen to and investigate a lot of stuff like this?
Yeah I listen to a bit of free jazz like Pharoah Saunders and especially Miles Davis, his seventies electric stuff and there are hints of some of that wild stuff in this record but really this record is one of a kind. It’s not like anything else, but there are hints of Miles and even Popol Vuh I think.
Yeah I listen to a bit of free jazz like Pharoah Saunders and especially Miles Davis, his seventies electric stuff and there are hints of some of that wild stuff in this record but really this record is one of a kind. It’s not like anything else
You have a vast collection of music spanning many genres I imagine it was hard to pick out one album?
That was quite easy to pick really. It was harder for me to pick a skate video (laughs)
Any other Don Cherry recommendations?
Yes! There’s a mix I heard online recently that one of our mates Tom of England made and he has interviews with Don Cherry as well talking about growing up in L.A and stuff.
He grew up in Watts right?
Yeah he grew up in the hood. Another thing I love about that record is the cover of him by Watts Towers. That’s another subject in itself, that structure is amazing. I recommend anyone who is out by LAX airport with some time to kill to go and check that out.
LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY– WERNER HERZOG
Explain this documentary to us and your reason for picking it…
Werner Herzog is a German film and documentary maker and I’ve watched most of the films he made and I love them all. This is my favourite one of his, that’s why I picked Little Dieter Needs To Fly. It’s about Dieter Dengler who was a German American soldier that was shot down over Laos in his fighter plane during the Vietnam war. He was captured as a prisoner of war and made a daring escape and lived to tell the tale. He tells his story and re-enacts it, he even re-enacts the torturing.
Another reason why I picked this one is because he goes through his house and shows that he has all of these emergency provisions underneath his floorboards. Rice and oats and honey and wheat. It just reminded of all the panic buying we have seen recently. It just made it pop into my head.
It’s about Dieter Dengler who was a German American soldier that was shot down over Laos in his fighter plane during the Vietnam war. He was captured as a prisoner of war and made a daring escape and lived to tell the tale
This is quite a serious reach into the atrocities of war through one mans story. What did you take away from it. Any life lessons?
I just thought it was amazing how he had been through this horrible experience yet he is smiling and just seems like a wicked guy. It doesn’t make much sense how he is so happy yet that happened to him. He is really passionate about flying and he talks about that, he always wanted to be a pilot when he was a kid, he’d watch planes out of his bedroom window.
This is the documentary Rescue Dawn was based on have you seen that?
That’s right I have seen it yeah.
Is it good?
Yeah it’s good. He’s a weird one Christian Bale though, people love him off. American Psycho is good I guess, I actually prefer him in that film. I’m recommending Little Dieter though that’s the one. If you like war films though I would also say The Killing Fields
Any other Werner Herzog recommendations?
Watch them all man, I would say White Diamond is a good one. Some of his stuff is quite a hard watch so an easy one to watch is the one about a sky jumper called The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner. It’s about a woodcarver who is a professional ski jumper, Herzog clocks he is going to be the best in the World and starts to record his jumps, it’s got an amazing soundtrack like a lot of Herzog films, it’s an easy watch, perfect for getting stoned to. Also Burden Of Dreams
That’s the film about Fitzcarraldo?
Yeah it’s the making of Fitzcarraldo.
THE JONES MEN by VERN E.SMITH
How did you find your way to The Jones Men?
I like gangster books and reading about true crime and stuff so my friend recommended me this one. I loved reading this book so much so it was quite easy for me to pick this one.
Tell us about the book…
It’s set in Detroit during the early seventies after the 1967 riots which was a brutal time for Detroit. All the police during this time were white and a lot of African Americans fell into crime
Detroit was murder capital at the time right?
Yeah it could have been, I know it definitely has been in the past. It’s an amazing book man, it makes you feel like you’re there. It brings you into the subculture of addicts, dealers, corrupt cops and cold blooded killing.
It’s an amazing book man, it makes you feel like you’re there. It brings you into the subculture of addicts, dealers, corrupt cops and cold blooded killing
Were your picks for this article influenced by each other? The protagonist in this novel is a Vietnam vet like Dieter Dengler and dealt heroin which would become Don Cherry’s downfall.
Nah, I didn’t even think about that, that’s true (laughs) That’s perfect. Maybe subconsciously you never know. I love the slang in this book, it’s about this Vietnam veteran who wants to knock the all powerful Willis McDaniel off his perch, he is the top boy basically. It’s so well written and it’s really gnarly. It’s the only book Vern E. Smith wrote I think.
Yeah apparently he was a journalist and he didn’t think the drug problem he was reporting about would later become the basis of a novel. There’s a podcast about it.
Yeah I remember reading that.
It’s been called “The Wire before The Wire”.
Really? I’ve never seen The Wire before.
That’s a good one.
That would probably be a good one for the isolation. So it got compared to that, that was set in Baltimore wasn’t it?
Yeah and it’s similar territory, it was written by a former police reporter.
Okay so someone who knew what they were writing about too. Yeah Vern E.Smith definitely knew what he was talking about and that shows in the novel. I think it’s a wicked book.
Thanks for these picks Rory, much appreciated. How is isolation treating you at this stage?
I really can’t complain. I’ve got a roof terrace, I don’t live alone, I live with one friend which is good. It’s actually been really nice. I feel bad saying that because I know some people don’t have it as good but I’ve been enjoying it. I’m glad I’m not 21 trying to get mash up every night. I’m doing things I like doing like reading and cooking.
Any advice or words of encouragement for people out there?
Sleep is good, stretch in the morning, eat well. Exercise is very important. Everyone is different but I don’t think it’s good to be exposing yourself to TV and adverts. Also Netflix kind of forces you to watch stuff you might not choose to watch in the first place, it’s better to ask your friends and get recommendations then watch something properly. Or I’d rather spend an hour really picking something good to watch than just watch some bullshit for the sake of it. I guess that’s where this comes in.
Hopefully you have some life enhancers tucked away after this one. We’re stoked some of our favourites are sharing the knowledge. If you enjoyed this then read the first Isolation Station with Dom Henry.