RILEY BOLAND: A CHARACTER STUDY // 11.2
Introduction and interview by Luke Callahan Photos by Liam Glass and Gordon Nicholas Character design is a practice common in the animated...
Recently, two young men with penchants for noodling on guitars and playing on skateboards finagled their way to Spain on a skateboard trip under the guise of filming a music video. In advance of his now-recently-released new album, Arms of a Dream, Reuben Bullock jumped on a plane with his pal Jesse Landen to skate the dreamy spots of Barcelona, while filmmaker Rob Mentov documented it all for the music video “Dreaming.” Upon their return, we had Jesse and Reuben sit down to record a conversation, just before Reuben set out yet again, this time on a press tour.
As many skate nerds might remember, you had a pretty good run of skate coverage in the early 2000s. Was there a time when you were chasing a skate career?
No, I don’t think so. I maybe got a bit obsessed with just shooting photos and filming, but I didn’t ever really get that obsessed with getting sponsored or trying to really do something with it. I was pretty content with the way things were going, just kind of going out and skateboarding with friends all the time.
At what point did you shift your energy away from skating and put it more into writing music?
Probably around 19, when I had a bunch of injuries and I actually shifted into becoming a carpenter. Then I shifted from being a carpenter into being a musician. I needed to do something that was different; I needed to do something artistic; I still had that itch. I couldn’t skateboard like that and still hold down a job, but I could play music and hold down a job. So, that’s kind of how music came in and replaced skateboarding I guess at some point.
Do you think there is a correlation between like the need to skateboard and the need to write music?
For sure, yeah, it’s that same thing. There is almost like an addictive quality to it. Where you’re trying to chase this feeling of—it’s almost like peace. You’re almost chasing this feeling of peace or euphoria. Like the thrill of skateboarding or like the satisfaction of writing a song or playing a show. For whatever reason, it ends up in that same category to me.
I always thought between skateboarding and music it was like the ability to make nothing into something. You’re like in another country, in an alley that someone else doesn’t value, and you’re there with 10 people all having the best day of your lives skating a dirty muddy ledge.
Any day you could be walking down the street with your skateboard and a camera or something and you can pass a million different things and nothing will come of it; or you can just pick one thing and get to it and you can make a trick at a spot that you would have never thought about. Completely making something from nothing, the same way you can kind of sit down in your room with a guitar and a notebook, and days can go by with nothing and all of a sudden you just create something out of wherever that creative stuff comes from and you capture it.
When did the skating/music video idea begin or was it something that you’ve just always wanted to do?
I thought it was cheesy for a really long time but I’ve consistently wanted to try to film skateboarding. I haven’t really had an excuse for it though. I mean, who’s going to watch a skateboard video of mine? So, I kind of was just like, “Fuck it.” There’s one song on the album that could maybe be appropriate to be a skateboard video and that was it. The record label had this small budget, it was enough to buy a plane ticket and an Airbnb. When those two things came together I got so excited about it like a little kid. The feeling took me back to being 16 years old and, like “Holy shit, I’m going to Barcelona!”
We all know that the skate community tends to critique or criticize anything that showcases skateboarding and doesn’t come out of the skateboard industry. Were you concerned about that at all in the making of this video?
I don’t think I was that concerned because I care but I don’t at the same time. I think that I skateboard and I play music and, I’m not doing something for anyone else at the end of the day. This is something that I really wanted to do. I was hoping to show skateboarding to people that don’t skateboard and to create something and film it enough that you could enjoy it enough as a regular audience. That side of me comes from skateboarding, for sure. I don’t want to make a cheesy video, and I was hoping to get a couple of tricks in there that were half decent just to maybe show that I could still do a couple moves.
I think also from an outsiders’ perspective, it was really fun to watch someone just go back into that mentality of trying to push yourself on a skateboard and I think this video gave you a lot of purpose and I could see you grew back your teenage edge. You were like, “I guess I brought all these people here and you can’t walk away from a session saying you’re not going to feel it because, we all flew there.” There were a couple times on the shoot where I didn’t know whether to pressure you or not. Then again, almost everything you picked to do in my opinion was achievable and it was really about if you were going to try it.
That’s the thing that I forgot about skateboarding and that’s the thing that I love about. It’s that mental mind game stuff—it’s so intense. From Day 1 we went to that hubba and skated that 50/50 that blew my mind open. I was thinking, “I don’t think I’m physically capable of doing this. I’m too old to be doing this,” like a million different things were running through my head. Then you push past all the hundred things your mind is telling you about why you shouldn’t do it, and you end up doing it. Then you have to sit down afterwards because you’re confused about what your body and mind just went through. I love that shit so much.
A lot of what I would usually try to do would be scare myself to shoot a photo; to see how scared I could get but then still accomplish something. Something like being a songwriter and singing in front of people and expressing your emotions openly and putting everything out there is a similar act of bravery in my opinion. I feel like this video sort of showcases it for you in two ways. It’s like, “Here’s the song, here are the tricks, I don’t care if I’m a skateboarder to you or if I’m a musician or if it’s the wrong song or not good enough tricks and all that kind of stuff.” You’re just putting it all out there. Just making something out of nothing again.
Yeah, and that’s what I figured out. I think this trip changed a way of thinking for me which is really rad. It’s the first time I’ve really felt like two things in my life have found their synchronicity. It’s the first time music and skateboarding have literally found a place where they coexist, and it felt natural.
Photos by Rob Mentov
Check out Reuben and the Dark’s video for Dreaming here: