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Tuned In – Robot Food’s Afterbang

Snowboard movies are seared into our memories partly because of the riding, of course, but a huge part of what makes a film truly a classic is the music to which the stunts are set. In Tuned In, we’ll be regularly looking at movies that combined legendary action with legendary songs to create something even greater than the sum of it’s parts. We kick off with Robot Food’s seminal classic, Afterbang.

Prior to Afterbang‘s release the music used in snowboard films could broadly be pidgeonholed into one of three loose categories: Rock (including punk and metal), Classics, or Rap. As much as the riding and editing, music choice reflects the director’s personal preferences and as such guys like Mike Hatchett at Standard Films and MDP’s Mack Dawg became tastemakers for a generations of snowboarders’ musical enlightenment, as well as for the snowboarding they presented. This isn’t intended as any kind of diss to the music in those or other productions – as we’ll delve into in subsequent Tuned Ins there were some great tunes used prior to Afterbang – but there was definitely a ‘house style’ that you came to expect from a shred flick.

But in the early 2000s, word spread that a select crew of the time’s heaviest riders were breaking away from filming with the video crews that they’d shot with for years, and were starting their own movie production that they would have more control over. Robot Food was the result, and had riders like Travis Parker, David Benedek and Bobby Meeks working closer with the filmers/editors (Jess Gibson and Pierre Wikberg) on all aspects of the production.

“Stand out tunes? Hard to call as the entire playlist is worth listening to”

As impressive as the riding was, and how Afterbang managed to convey a sense of fun that was missing from other releases of the time, the music choice was equally progressive. From the opening section set to Talking Heads’ Once In A Lifetime, there was a definite shift to New Wave, Electro and Synth-Pop coming through – an audio style that many other movie productions seemingly rushed to ape the season following Afterbang‘s release.

Stand out tunes? Hard to call as the entire playlist is worth listening to, but Once In A Lifetime sets the tone of the movie perfectly, the bleepy aggression of The Faint’s Agenda Suicide on Louie Fountain’s full-send opener is a match made in audio-visual heaven, and who could forget David Benedek raising the bar of jumping set to Presidents of the United States’ reworking of Video Killed The Radio Star?

And if all this has flickered your synapses, you can watch Afterbang here.

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