(Featured: Welcome Skate Store blog, 2nd January 2015.)
On May 19th 2014, the news would spread that the Sovereign Sect of Alien Workshop was no more. Since then, I’ve spent plenty of time pouring my heart out over the company that near enough defined what skateboarding is, to me. However, there has always remained a glimmer hope that the Workshop would return. With the past few months seeing sister company Habitat Skateboards rise from the ashes and find a new distributor via Tum Yeto along with the scarce information given in interviews stating that the Workshop was just technically on hold; I’d been holding out for the day I heard an unofficially confirmed rumour or scrolled through my Instagram feed and see that little alien logo make a return.
Funnily enough, though the foundations of my New Year’s Day stoke where due to miraculously not having a hangover; scrolling through Instagram my semi-sleeping self promptly shot awake at something my tired eyes couldn’t completely make out, but it was clear enough. That Parenthesis logo accompanied by a lever pulled to ‘ON’ has had me stoked since 9am yesterday
As the Workshop is held in such regard by everyone at Welcome, rather than follow the other sheeple all over the internet and just talk about this resurrection with the visual teasers we’ve had so far, we’re opting to bring you our favourite video parts from the companies’ history. However, we can’t skip on showcasing yesterday’s news to start things off so here’s the mysterious trailer that debuted yesterday morning.
While other re-launched companies have seen the original image tarnished, I pray, yet aren’t too worried that if Alien’s reincarnation has the people it deserves behind it this wont be an issue. The subtle self references in the mysterious trailer to the first video Memory Screen, along with the almost subliminal slander as a company most of the ex-tem currently reside at (“Totally not awesome.”) already has me smiling at what the next few months may bring.
I can’t express just how stoked I am at this happening and although with who will make up the team is unclear; from what’s been said the past few months I cant imagine Chris Carter and Mike Hill aren’t involved and they’re most important people to consider.
Now it felt appropriate to go with what some could consider the beginning of the end. Fellow blog-head Josh Hallett, like many skateboarders, has that Morrissey-esque affection for the enigma in all white that is Heath Kirchart. So, here is his section and what would also be the final video part for a full length AWS video, Heath in Greg Hunt’s 2009 masterpiece Mind Field.
You know what the last part means right?
Now, going back to the actual beginning, when Alien Workshop debuted Memory Screen, it was a video like no other and pioneered an art direction that aspects of which would be appropriated and referenced for years to come. Whatever your stance on Rob Dyrdek is, his opening part in Memory Screen is an absolute classic and the back to back uses of Dinosaur Jr’s ‘A Little Ethnic Song’ during the opening…timewarp – for lack of a better word followed by Dyrdek skating to ‘The Lung’ will always flag up memories of this section.
The second Alien Workshop video, Time Code, is often thought of as the video that ‘just happened’. Even the team seemed unaware it was even in production judging from most of the tales that have been passed down over the years. As the DC video was the first skateboard video I saw and my first board was an Alien Workshop deck, I was so stoked to see how many members of the DC roster at that time where also part of the Workshop. Aside from Danny Way, Josh Kalis is a skateboarder that always takes me back to my first days on a board. Prepare to Time Code (literally).
At the opposite end of the video’s spectrum comes one of bossman Tom Brown’s favourite parts, the one and only Lennie Kirk. Amongst the aforementioned stories related to Time Code, Lennie’s transition from free wheeling lunatic to Christian lunatic is in equal parts hilarious, unbelievable and utterly insane. The Workshop has definitely prided itself over the years on ‘schizophrenic art direction’ and the ability to close a video by successfully merging preaching and a gospel track with a skate section while keeping inline with the videos style simply reinforces the creativity of Mike Hill, Chris Carter and the Workshop as a whole. While the entire story behind Lennie’s Christian conformation is a complicated one, we recommend visiting (or re-visiting) Josh Kalis’ Epicly Later’d for the most amusing retelling of those events.
Put simply though. A hefty slam coupled with misinterpreted god fearing doomsayers, leaves us with the basics of the Lennie Kirk story.
Without a doubt the most iconic skateboarders in the history of Alien Workshop are Anthony Van Engelen and Jason Dill. Even surpassing Dyrdek, both made their first appearances for the Workshop in Joe Castrucci’s Photosythesis which would soon pave the way for Habitat Skateboards to launch under Catrucci’s vision and art direction. When it comes to skateboarders than can be perfectly described as ‘no bullshit’ – AVE is pretty high up there. The use of Iggy Pop’s ‘Search and Destroy’ was an incredible match with AVE’s footage as he roughs up numerous ledges with trademark, pristinely powerful crooked grinds.
Arguably, Jason Dill’s part in the same video could be considered the most iconic audio/visual output in the history of Alien Workshop with the opening dialogue between Carter and an unaware Dill has been and will continue to be quoted for generations. Furthermore, Dill’s comments about being more ‘flamboyantly, extravagant’ seem to hold true now more than ever. Radiohead’s ‘Polyethylene’ – or ‘that Radiohead song’, as often referred to – also makes for, one of, if not the most memorable musical selection throughout the companies twenty four year lifespan, surpassing even ‘A Little Ethnic Song’.
As the opening wails of bagpipes accompanied the intro to 2009’s Mind Field, it was clear that tasking Greg Hunt to produce the Workshop’s fourth full length visual offering was a wise decision. Following on from the Workshop going under, watching this intro left me somewhat nostalgic and sad as it was this era of the Workshop, and the following final four years, that would be my the period I held so closely with the majority of skateboarders I respected and were inspired by, either being the next generation of Workshop riders or like AVE and Dill, having battled their personal demons and being at the best they had throughout their whole career. The black and white footage mixed with colour, cityscapes and interesting architecture contrasting with shots of nature, Dill and AVE…smoking (as usual), a stunned and beaten Arto shaking off the result of a back lip gone wrong; the cinematography is incredibly poignant in the first place and the use of Amazing Grace makes for a heartfelt introduction to an amazing video.
Opening sections are always held in high regard and as evident if you’ve read to here, the Workshop is no exception. J Mascis’ re-working of ‘A Little Ethnic Song’ for the Dinosaur Jr track ‘Creepies’ on the intro to Omar’s part echoed back to Memory Screen as Salazar delivered the speed freak stylings we know him so well for.
Remember pre-wallride and no comply Jake Johnson? Though, saying that, Jake’s Mind Field section delivered some of the most insane wallrides possible ever recorded; the double set wallride and switch wallride ender being perfect examples. Arguably, the following section is the one that brought Jake to the attention of the masses. Filled with New York footage and a wide selection of creative, interesting spots and tricks alongside handrails, it’s no surprise that Jake (and this section to an extent) has somewhat a cult following within skateboarding.
For Transworld’s Cinematographer Project, Benny Maglinao, produced the only company specific section of the video with Alien Workshop. The company seemed be at its greatest with Dill and AVE leading charge which saw them welcome Donovon Piscopo, John Fitzgerald and Kevin Terpening to the Workshop who all feature in this section.
Now somewhat senior members; Dylan Rieder, Jake Johnson, Omar Salazar, Tyler Bledsoe and Grant Taylor all thoroughly kill it and it really seemed like they were all there to stay. Had the Workshop not faced the unfortunate financial and behind the scenes troubles it did and continued down this road, I think it’s safe to say it would be one of the greatest team line ups in skateboarding today. As the video comes to climactic end, Workshop also used this unique opportunity and end the section showcasing Jake and Gilbert Crockett, The Sovereign Sect’s newest professional riders.
So there you have it! Our favourite video entries from The Sovereign Sect of Alien Workshop. Ironically, much like the events that lead to their demise, any and all information will be picked and speculated on over and over until anything official comes to light. Whatever the following months will bring in regards to the brand’s comeback will no doubt be mysterious and intriguing. For the time being, you just gotta…