Words & interview by Jason Dill
From SNEEZE NO.16 summer 2012
I could not have picked a better person to go through the trials and tribulations of the last fourteen years of riding for Alien Workshop than Anthony Van Engelen. There is just a certain dynamic to the two of us together when we are doing our job that works so well on so many different levels. From similarities in how we grew up, to similarities in what we like. I like grace and elegance. I like fucking ballet and shit. Anthony, he’s got that side to him a bit, but then he rips through concrete. His whole kit is breaking concrete — it’s getting it done in a violent way. I love when people attack things and I love when people set shit on fire — Anthony does that.
DILL: Where are you? You’re in a ditch?
AVE: Yeah, I’m in a ditch.
DILL: What ditch are you in?
AVE: Some fucking ditch. I dunno, it sucks.
DILL: Who are you with?
AVE: I’m with Terp, Cody, Omar, Big J and Mike Anderson. We’re doing it.
DILL: Doing it. How’s things in the modern world of skateboarding these days?
AVE: Yeah, modern. It’s wild, you know. There’s a lot of radness out there and a lot of weirdness too. It’s gone full circle, a little bit of everything.
DILL: I read this little thing of Elijah Berle the other day — one of those Last Words — he’s so insane, dude. When they’re like, “What’s the last video you watched?” He was like, “Corey O’Brien” (laughs). “What’s the last board you set up?” He was like “Corey O’Brien, Santa Cruz cruiser board.” I love that! Some young ass kid, all he does is watch Santa Cruz videos.
AVE: Skateboarding seems to be at a point where the history is embraced, which is making these kids into so well-rounded skaters. They’re good, hard skaters, they’re good street skaters, they fucking skate everything because they embrace it all now. When I was growing up, even us, it would be like your fucking wheels are too big, or where are your size-40 pants at? You’d get jammed into these things.
AVE: I was talking to somebody the other day about a Jeremy Wray part. I’m like, all you need to do is put some different fucking jeans on that thing and it’s still good today.
DILL: Totally, totally.
AVE: The late eighties, early nineties was just fucking so crazy.
DILL: It’s so bonkers how everything would change up so quick. I remember like a time period in the nineties when Keith Hufnagel started riding for Real. I was skating with Gino and Keenan all the time and I remember them being like, “Fucking Huf’s doing wallrides and shit! What the fuck is that? Why you going old school?” We used to see Huf at Embarcadero do switch flips, switch frontside tailslides and shit. He was so tech. I remember we said something to him like, “What are you doing wallrides for?” Looking back at how we were, God we were lame! Skateboarding in general, we were so lame.
AVE: It was a really small-minded thing. Especially where we came from at that time period. But if it wasn’t for that, a lot of the technical aspects wouldn’t have been born. I used to be proud of the fact that only my tail and nose were scratched and not the middle because I didn’t boardslide.
DILL: Totally (laughs). Fuck! You’re doing a railslide? Get the fuck outta here!
AVE: Yeah, and it’s sad to look back and because of that, I feel like we missed out. Now you look at kids, now they do it all. Elijah Berle will fucking frontside nosegrind nollie flip out on a fucking ledge, then he’ll go skate vert. For sure.
DILL: He’ll do a fucking eggplant or something! I love that. I love that Grant Taylor has come at the exact right time for Grant Taylor to be the king of skateboarding. Think about it, if Grant would have been our age, he would have been fucked. It would have been like Duffy. Too early. Way too early. Duffy was so fucking gnarly, skateboarding couldn’t handle it. I feel like Pat got robbed because Pat should be like the Gonz… People were doing mega hard shit, like Rick and Mike and all them. Especially Carroll. Carroll’s such a sick example of no matter what year you go back to him, you’re getting the best of him and the best decisions made. Everything he did looked fucking rad. It didn’t matter if it was small wheels, big pants, Carroll looked the best. But, yeah, fucking Duffy was so gnarly he freaked skateboarding out.
AVE: Skateboarding has finally fucking grown up. Not in a gay way, just in a rad way.
DILL: We got on Alien Workshop in ’98. I met you in ’96 when we rode for Sal Barbier’s company, 23, and then we made the move to the Workshop. I don’t think I’ve ever asked you this question: what did you think back then, in 1998, when I first was like, “Hey, I think I’m going to ride for Workshop, and if I do it, you’re doing it, too”?
AVE: I knew about the Workshop, and I had seen Memory Screen when it came out. I think Time Code had come out only about a year before we got on.
DILL: Time Code was pretty new still when we got on.
AVE: When Time Code came out, I was working at a skate shop. I remember just being like, Workshop’s fucking rad. I felt this connection to it as far as a place I’d like to be one day. That was when we were riding for 23.
DILL: I remember that day, being like, boom, alright, this is the next step, this is what we’re doing. It was in the very beginning with you, you were still kinda seeing what the whole thing was for yourself. I got on the Workshop and the very next day you got on. I felt like right after that you just went zoom. You went on your own way, created your own deal. We were always paired up after that.
AVE: I remember people thought it was a little obscure, but that’s what I liked about it.
DILL: Anthony and I went skating one time and we’re like, “Alright we’re on Workshop, we’re going to kick some fucking ass, we’re going to do it, this rules!” That feeling you get when you’re so happy, at that age, when you get on something you really like, it makes you really go kick ass. I remember we were all jazzed up to get our ads and shit and this photographer was like, “You guys ride for Workshop now?” And it was like, “Yeah!” But the feeling from him wasn’t yeah! It was like, that’s fucking weird. And I remember being like, “Fuck you, man, Workshop fucking rules!” It was weird, people in California looked at us funny, like it wouldn’t work or something.
AVE: Yeah, for sure. But fairly quickly it started to make a lot of sense to people. Fuck, we got on, by that time we had done the industry section of 411 and fucking finished Photosynthesis. When did that come out, 2000 or 2001?
DILL: Photosynthesis came out in 2000. But it took so long to make that film. We filmed Photosynthesis over a two-year period. The thing I always tell people — and they don’t even ask — Photosynthesis just happened. I don’t remember filming a last trick. Photosynthesis, really, no bullshit, it kinda came out. It wasn’t this huge thing to me back then. For a film to have a really big impact it has to come from a really honest place, like nothing contrived and no build-up. I mean, they did those ads and stuff like that. It’s amazing Photosynthesis even came out.
AVE: It was still around that time when you just went off and skated. Then, fine, time to edit this thing. It’s not like it is today.
DILL: Do you think there’s anything skateboarding is missing these days? Just as an example, I wish there was a Sean Sheffey and a Henry Sanchez in skateboarding right now.
AVE: We’re at a new generation right now. We will have them. These guys will evolve into those types of people. We’re going to get a whole new batch of people that are going to be going crazy. So we’ll see. It’ll be exciting, I’m sure. Whole new batch. Skateboarding is big business now, so skateboarding has lost a slight bit of its edge when it comes to acting how it wants to act, or how it naturally does.
DILL: People who are reading this who don’t know, you and I pick the people who are on the team and we present it to the rest of the team and that’s the way it goes down. I think we’ve done a pretty good job.
AVE: I fucking love our team. It’s crazy, get in the van with fucking sixteen people and the fucking energy is fucking sick. How many teams have that many people on the team and everybody gets in the same van and gets along?
MR.SNEEZE: What about the fallout with Josh Kalis?
DILL: I was talking about the modern day, now, Workshop. Josh was someone who definitely had different opinions and ideas and I feel like Josh kinda got shoved out because we were bringing so many like-minded people in. I’m just kinda talking about how we revamped the Workshop to what it is now. What we’re looking at is different than it was a year ago.
MR.SNEEZE: Don’t you find the skaters a team has are all too similar nowadays?
AVE: You get a little of that with the board companies, but I mean, fuck. I think the Workshop has a more similar vibe across the board than it used to. I think it used to be a bit more. I mean, Kalis is very different. What do you think, Jason?
DILL: I mean, as far as it goes, I don’t care what anyone else does. I care about the Workshop. We have immense pride in the Workshop. Pride’s a weird thing. It’s like saying your shit is better than someone else’s. But for lack of a better word, I know that’s what Anthony and I have. We know we’re not going to be here forever doing it. Right now, the now is very important to me, and I know right now is very important to him. Let’s completely kick ass, let’s fucking go nuts. Whatever fat we have on this team we’re fucking cutting it. We are only about us, our fucking deal, right now. When it came time to do that Transworld section that we put out — that thing’s fucking incredible — there’s no names. It doesn’t say Dylan, it doesn’t say my name, because we felt like, we’re making this for skateboarding. If some outsider doesn’t realize that’s Dylan, I’m me, that’s AVE, that’s Omar, well, then fuck ‘em. Our whole kit, our whole team, and the way we skate is so different that we can do a montage video like that. Kids will want to figure out who the fuck did this and who did that. Fuck the Internet babies.
MR.SNEEZE: You guys are getting old. How do you cope with it?
DILL: Oh, boy. Thanks for putting it so subtly. We’re dinosaurs. We’re almost irrelevant, nothing we do matters, so let’s go kill ourselves. Okay, next question (laughs). Well, tonight, Anthony, I will be hanging myself. How are you going to be killing yourself?
AVE: Well, Dill, I thought about taking some cyanide (laughs).
MR.SNEEZE: This might sound corny, but in a sense you two being together in LA for the past year, would you say you have saved each other’s skate careers?
DILL: Mine needed saving because it was going away, because I was a drunk and was hospitalized and was fucked. I needed to leave New York and come here, I needed him to help me get back to where I thought I should be. I had no idea that things were going to work out so well. So yeah, fuck yeah, I needed him.
AVE: For me, I think that that happening kinda helped re-spark my passion for skating and pushing myself. I saw Dill doing that for himself and he hadn’t done that in a long time. To have that kind of energy going on, there’s no way it can’t rub off on you. I had been skating the whole time that Dill wasn’t, but it was few and far between and very inconsistent. It’s all about consistency and getting that feeling back. We’ve been skating for a long fucking time and it gets harder and harder to grasp. Our lives get big and different things happen as you get older. To have that feeling one more time, where it’s skating all day and then going home and watching skate videos, then waking up and fucking being like, “Alright, let’s go,” everyday in your thirties, is fucking radical. ♠