Chris Carter. Rob Dyrdek. DNA LLC. Joe Castrucci. Burton Snowboards. Mike Hill. AVE and Dill. Neil Blender. Pacific Vector Holdings Inc. Don Pendleton. Dinosaur Jr. Bo Turner. The saga of the Alien Workshop, both on the board and in the boardroom, is long and complicated.
In 2014 it all came to an end and the skateboard world mourned the shuttering of an institution after 24 years.
Within months Castrucci secured Habitat and developed a brief courtship with Tum Yeto. The remaining Workshop riders whom hadn’t fled to FA started their own brand called Mother (forcefully renamed Quasi within months). Meanwhile, Carter moved into a decommissioned nuclear bunker.
And then, while we were still in mourning, Alien Workshop was hastily reborn once again out of Dayton, Ohio. I may be going against the grain here, but I feel that the Workshop benefitted from this all am reboot. Some team continuity (and amazing skating) from Crockett and Jake Johnson would have been even better, of course. But, I’m pretty happy with where this all ended up.
Bunker Down debuted the new Workshop team in late 2015 and while still drawing from the classic Alien video iconography and style, the video production is surprisingly crispy.
Skip that 2+ minute intro (a very Alien thing) and go directly to the good stuff with new team tentpole Joey Guevara (Yaje didn’t join until a few months later). The spots are unexpectedly gritty and urban with more cellar doors then sunny schoolyards. Joey glides through the sidewalk cracks overgrown with weeds and I get the impression he doesn’t slam very often.
The rest of the team follows up with their own flavor twists, but the over video style is cohesive. Frankie Spears checks all the multi-kinks and ridiculously tall loading dock flat rail boxes needed in this day and age. Frankie goes big and it is easy to see him slipping into to Foy/Walker/Nyjah club of casual death defiance. Max Garson samples most of the the streets have to offer, from serious-consequences-if-you-fuck-up handrail grinds to the sweet little dish spot line. Those orange street barriers are generally not to be skated as ledges from flat. Brandon Nguyen ends the rebirth with a precise style the conceals just how gnarly some of these tricks really are. I can only imagine how difficult it is to smoothly dismount a kinked hubby frontside smith?
And a special reminder to take a second look at Paul Liliani. With a team popping with so much star potential, from a brand identity so infused into our skateboarding bloodstream, His mid-video tricks can easily be overlooked. His switch loft and clean haircut brings to mind a young Paul Sharpe. Liliani skates casual, making 180-manuals look like afterthoughts and generally not break a sweat.
Will this new Alien era ever approach the cultural impact of the Sect’s past eras? There might not be bigger shoes to fill. My enjoyment of the new team is definitely aided by the clean break and reboot brought on by total bankruptcy. Let’s face it, you aren’t going to ever adequately replace a Kalis or Gall or Kirk or Dylan. I’m hoping the new team stands a chance by having it’s own identity disconnected from the riders of the past, while still entrenched in the traditions of an Alien Workshop video. I’m pretty psyched on these dudes and have high hopes for another Alien full-length issued on a color cassette tape.
A heads-up, though… The mute your computer before watching Bunker Down. The music soundtrack is unforgivable.