The surrounding environment a skateboarder grows up in sculps their trajectory on a board from the first moment they learn how to push around. The available street or park terrain influences the type of skateboarding one might gravitate toward the most. But, it’s the people, skate shop, the community, and the media outlets that also have a powerful effect on one’s taste. Collin Graham is an example of such a topic, as the skate scene and people he grew up skateboarding tell us about his favorite music. Hailing from Virginia Beach, Virginia, Collin discusses his favorite rock and metal bands, what he jams out to while at work off his skateboard and a custom-curated music playlist.

Let’s start off with your favorite type of music?
It varies depending on my mood. The majority of the time, it’s probably metal, skate punk, or surf punk-type music. Sometimes it’s hip-hop or reggae, but most of the time, it’s some type of metal.

Did listening to metal come from growing up skateboarding?
Yeah, I grew up around a big skate scene, and that’s kind of the music everyone listened to, and I grew up listening to it. So it just evolved into my go-to and favorite, especially to get pumped up to go skate.

Do you think skating transition influenced listening to that type of music?
Probably because I definitely feel like when I am skating something smaller, like more of a street obstacle or little park, and I’m trying to get like in kind of a confident mood, I’ll do some hip hop instead. If I’m trying to charge it on a big ramp, I want that something heavier. 

Can you name some of the bands you listen to that get you hyped up?
Black Sabbath is always on the list and a go-to. Lately, it’s been a lot of Metallica, the Big Boys, some 999, Bad Brains, Black Flag, and Suicidal Tendencies.

collin graham music on rotation
Photo Credit: Durso

Before we started this interview, you mentioned you were getting off work from installing cabinets. You ever listen to music while you’re at work too?
Definitely had the radio going all day today at work. I just had it on a radio station all day, so I’m not having to worry about changing the song and have in the background and not really worry about it. But my boss has a reggae playlist he puts on every day when we work, and I’ve been in that mood lately. I’ve been listening to a lot of reggae because of him.

What’s the radio station that you tune into while at work?
Out here, it’s 98.7. It’s like an alternative slash punk and metal. They don’t really play anything too casual. Usually, its some rock music.

How does a typical morning start out for you? Does music play a role in getting your day going?
I don’t usually listen to music around the house too much. So just depends on the mood I’m in. If it’s going to be metal or hip hop it definitely helps to get the juices flowing. It’s like, as soon as I get in the car on the way to skate, I try to get myself pumped up. It gets me psyched to skate and gets me in the right mindset.

Do you ever skate with earbuds in, or do you pull up with a speaker?
I used to be a big headphone guy like I had to have them in, or it felt like I was off-beat without them. But I haven’t used headphones in a long time. Mainly because I don’t have my phone in my pocket. I have a really big JBL speaker that I’ll bring up to the park, and I’ll have it intercom style across the whole park so that everyone can jam out.

Is that the same for when you’re in a competition? Do you ever throw headphones on to get in the right mindset, or is that something you don’t do anymore because you don’t have your phone in your pocket?
If I’m sitting there, I have a stretch routine that’s 10-15 minutes before I skate. Sometimes I’ll throw the headphones on while I’m doing that to hone in, especially if I’m trying to focus really hard on remembering my lines and to really focus and get in the zone for the contest.

During that time, what are you playing that helps you get in that zone while stretching out? Is it still metal to get you hyped up, or do you have something mellow to keep you calm?
It’s probably some punk or metal, but I’ve toned it down a little more. Once the contest is about to happen or is going on, it’s like full-blown Slayer, but before that, it’s something a little more casual, like the Big Boys is a good one that gets me in a good mindset.

collin graham music on rotation
Photo Credit: Dangaard

What would be your go-to song right now if you were at a contest setting?
That’s a great question. Probably anything by the Big Boys. That’s a good one. I got a lot of songs, but some are a little too much right before the contest. I don’t want to get over-psyched and then go all out and blow it.

Do you remember what you played while at Dew Tour this past summer?
So my skate playlist, I got stuff that I listen to a lot, like Halls of Valhalla by Judas Priest, I Ran by A Flock of Seagulls is kind of funny, that I like that song a lot. Rebel Yell by Billy Idol, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by Black Sabbath, and some Devo in there.

How do you curate your skate playlist? Do you continue to add songs that you like jamming out to?
Yeah, that’s usually what I throw on the speaker when I get to the skate park. I kind of slack on it, and it’s the same 30-40 songs I’ve had for like a year or two. I need to add to it more often.

Any skate videos you watched growing up that influenced what you listen to today?
Not too much I never followed into, like, knowing what song this person skated to in this video. I’m pretty bad when it comes to music, honestly, like knowing the album names and song names, like I know the bands and stuff, but as far as skate videos go, I don’t know about that influencing it. I feel like all skate videos have really good soundtracks, but I always kept listening to the same stuff I’ve been listening to.

collin graham music on rotation
Photo Credit: Muller

This next question always stumps people. If you had a video part coming out and could pick any song you wanted rights-free, what would it be?
So my dream song honestly is Black Magic by Slayer.

Any particular reason why?
That’s always been my favorite Slayer song. Slayer is my favorite band growing up. The first tattoo I got, I tattooed Slayer on myself. I love Black Magic, and I’ve been really wanting to put out a good video part lately, and I want it to just be all bangers. That song has a steady fast-paced tempo throughout the whole song. I feel like it do good justice, and if the skating does it justice as well.

Do you remember the first time you were introduced to Slayer?
I feel like it was always on the speakers when I was at a session with the older heads I grew up with. But I probably didn’t recognize and appreciate it until later. Then I was like, whoa, this band is crazy. Like, this is so good. It gets me so pumped up, and now like, anytime Slayer comes on like, if I’m at a contest over the speaker, I’m like, oh it’s game on.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Collin Graham (@collingraham757)

So that influence came from like the older guys around the park.
Yeah, for sure. Virginia Beach has a huge skate scene and a ton of pros and local legends out here. So all those guys were huge influences on me.

Virginia Beach has a pretty big music scene too, right? It’s home to The Neptune with Pharrell if I’m not mistaken.
Yeah, there are definitely a lot of local artists and stuff. Lamb of God who I listen to, is also from Richmond, which isn’t too far. Pharrell is definitely a big name and hometown hero guy.

Sound off in the comments below!

Join the conversation