The Inclusive, Weird, Awesome Gospel of The Worble

Photos by Garrett Remy

While visiting a friend of my mother’s in Laguna Beach a few weeks ago, her six and a half-year-old son Georgie and I snuck away for a quick session in his driveway.  

He had two boardsone fun, pointed Welcome complete, and another, a piece of balsa wood the size and strength of a salmon plank.  He asked me to ride the latter. Nonetheless, I learned a lot from Georgie; Tony Hawk is sick no matter your age, an old school kickflip is actually when you spin the board with your hands and let it fall to the ground, and apparently, a lesson on Tony Alva is part of the first-grade curriculum in Southern California schools. When his babysitter came over to take him to lunch she told me that he couldn’t stop watching one “skateboarding movie”. “What was it, again?  The Van?  Airplane?” Young Georgie couldn’t stop watching Propeller, the Vans video.

Skateboarders have been ringing the death bell of the full-length video for, I don’t know, five years now. But The Worble knows. Their full-length, New Driveway, premiered at the Hi-Hat in Highland Park, Los Angeles. The screening was followed by live performances from musical guests Wild Wing and Cobra Man. New Driveway pushes the long form formula forward while crushing picnic tables, tree stumps, ditches, gates, toy plastic cars, and plywood in the process. The tone is set with a perfectly executed ‘80s logo, synth vibes, and a clear appreciation for their own early ‘90s home video. Mind-twisting skating and meticulously thoughtful editing reference well-worn methods and creates something exciting and new.  

Part Man Down, part Baker 3, and part The Wolfpack (a documentary by Crystal Moselle), New Driveway showcases the home-spun talent and vision of The Worble’s “team” members. Their aim is to take out the homogeneity in skateboarding and allow individuals to “stand in their truth”, to quote Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams of Two Dope Queens. Doubles, triples and even quadruples abound, as does stepping off the board, weird no comply varieties, and goof-off tricks. Trailing close behind, however, is the tasteful skateboarding and spot ingenuity that you’d expect from the group who brought us Manramp. And then there are the gnarly, harebrained stunts that make it seem like Jaws should be off having lunch with little Georgie.

The home video footage is not only a stylistic device but also establishes the relationship and environment of the four Mull brothers who form the core of The Worble crew. Growing up in Manchester, Vermont, the Mulls used their driveway to create fantasy worlds full of zombies and other mystical characters. “We were all homeschooled, so if we finished our work early we could get out on the driveway and have fun. As kids, playing outside turned into playing outside with a skateboard,” explains Tom Mull, “Our goal was to use skateboarding as a medium to interact with our environment.” Like a Sally Mann-esque tribe, they used the natural landscape of southern Vermont—tree stumps and piles of snow, not to mention plywood ramps held up by each other—to skate and have fun. Much of this was caught on video by members of the Mull family or friends of the crew. With age, the proverbial driveway of the Mulls’ youth began to fade. But with a skateboard, the world became that driveway.

Thus equipped, The Worbles moved together to Los Angeles, taking the ethos they developed in Vermont to the flora and fauna of the world at large. They found bigger stumps and replaced snow piles with the dirt of Los Angeles’ mostly-dried flood control channels. And, of course, there’s Manramp. By the way, he can more than handle himself on top of a board as well.

In a further stroke of ingenuity, New Driveway has an entirely original score done by their friends Andy Harry and Sarah Rayne from Cobra Man.  The soundtrack totally nails that John Hughes film music vibe you wanted for your next phone edit and, also, eliminates the growing problem of needing licensed music to publish videos online. Also, it serves as a unifying force that reinforces The Worble’s collective approach.

The crew’s open-mindedness is both infectious and intended. Maybe it’s the small-town Vermont life, the often misunderstood practice of homeschooling, or simply the magic of the driveway, but The Worble have found a voice that is authentic and honest. They’re funny and thoughtful and cool and awkward, a mix familiar to skateboarders who met their best friends skateboarding in suburban driveways. And they all absolutely rip on the boards. Did I forget to mention that? There’s no need to list particulars, but the stand out for me was Manramp’s ollie to footplant wallride at the Rosecrans ditch. Naming esoteric tricks and spots is in exact opposition to the spirit of the whole thing, though. Talking to the guys afterwards just drove it home. “We’re trying to get more inclusive beyond skateboarding,” Tom told me “take the collective mindset and expand that to include artists and musicians and…just keep making stuff.” Here’s hoping that stuff includes another video.  If you must insist that the full length skateboard video is dead, then let’s call this a resurrection.

New Driveway is directed and edited by Tom Mull.  It features Steve Mull, Chris Colbourn, Alex Farrara, Dylan Christopher, Chuck Mull, Ryan McDonald, Rick Rossi, Andy Dicker, and Dave Mull.  Get yourself a DVD, a hat, a sweatshirt, a shirt, a zine, and follow The Worble to see what they’re up to next: / @the_worble

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