Creature comforts: Al Partanen

Al Partenen gets in and out of a tight spot with this front feeble in an Arizona ditch. Joe Hammeke

First time I met Al Partanen was on a back street in New Orleans during Mardi Gras on a tour for his old brand, Illenium. He was introducing me to some no-name kid from Milwaukee who later grew up to be the very gnarly Greg Lutzka. Al has always had an eye for talent. I suppose it made sense that he became the Team Manager for Globe back when they had their crazy line up but I'm glad he chose not to scrap the pro skating career. Al rips on all terrains and he does it with a smile. Skateboarding needs as many dudes like him as possible. We caught up with him to see what he's been up to.

What's cooking, Al?
Just skating this Portland pool, if you can believe that.

Are you living up there these days?
Yeah, man. I've been living up in Portland for like three years. I'm at this pool with Chet [Childress] and Bryce [Kanights] and some homies. It's a rare thing to have a Portland pool. There are pools but they're not that skatable. This one is pretty good. This guy I seen at the bar the other day talked to the lady that owns the house and she's going to let us skate it until the 4th of July then she's going to fill it up. Homeboy did a little work for her; fixed her gate and tightened up the area so she's letting us skate.

How is married life treating you?
Married life is good. I'm psyched on it. It's a bit of a transition because me and my wife were in a long distance relationship for three and a half years so we're just getting to know each other better and I'm learning how to be a good guy and how to walk the line and do it with style. She's pretty cool. She supports me and gets on me if I don't skate. I guess the only weird thing about it is her having to deal with me snoring.

Who has nicer hair? You or her?
I don't know. Her hair is pretty nice. She has pretty hair. She's a pretty lady. She's blonde, I'm brown haired.

That has to be tough for you to deal with. Usually wherever you go you have the nicest hair, it's got to be tough getting used to not being #1 anymore.
Yeah, it's like when I play shuffleboard; sometimes you got to let the lady win, you know? It just makes things smoother around the home-camp.

How are things going with Creature?
Creature is excellent, man. It's great. I'm psyched. Our video is done now. It was a lot of fun making the video and just traveling and going to all those places with the crew. That was all time. The last couple years have been epic.

I invented a drinking game for the Creature video called Frontside Chug. Whenever someone in the video does a frontside grind or a front blunt you have to chug.
Nice. Wow. You're getting hammered when you watch my part.

There's about 2 or 300 hundred frontside grinds in the Creature video.
That's epic. Who has the most frontside grinds in the video?

Probably you.
Whoa! I thought it would be Hitz. He's frontside grind, Smith grind guy.

Maybe it is him. There's so many that we lose count. Why all the sludge metal in that video? I'd expect speed metal from you guys.
That's compliments of Sam Hitz. If it was up to him the whole video would be completely just metal. When we were editing he was throwing a fit because he wanted every dude's part and every section just metal.

Is there any chance that Creature might use a color other than green in the next decade?
We got some new stuff coming out.

Not green?
There's green involved. We're keeping the green.

I thought I might have had an exclusive that Creature was going not-green.
We've got a couple new reoccurring themes where the main color isn't green but there's always going to be some green in there for sure.

You got any good recent tour stories?
We went out to Arizona and we were staying at this rad hotel called The Congress in Tucson. We're coming out of the bar and I'm the last one to pay my bill so the crew started walking up the block. So I run up after them and my homie Noah is holding his face. He was like, "These dudes ran up and hit me in the head with a beer bottle." He thought it was me running up and it was some random guy that hit him in the head with a bottle. So I ran up to the guys that hit him. I wasn't looking for a fight I was just like, "What are you guys doing?" One guy is going to the bathroom on a truck, another guy starts yelling at me, "We do this for fun! We do this for the rush!" All of a sudden a third dude rushes out from behind the truck and smashes into me and tries to take me out but as I'm going down I grab the one dude by the neck and whip him on the ground. The other guy jumps on me and the other guy flips over me and here I am now fighting three dudes. I fought them off, scrapped these dudes by myself and kind of won. It was pretty hectic. That story sucked. We don't ever fight.

Maybe you shouldn't leave Portland.
No, I need to be on the road. I'm hyped on getting acquainted with my lady and doing the whole married thing but I definitely need to get on some tours and skate. That's mandatory. Darren [Navarrette] and Emanuel Guzman, Raven Tershay, Brendan Klein and Noah Daft are coming up for 10 days and then we got Saints and Sinners tour again this summer at the beginning of August. It's from Philly to New Orleans with Ron Whaley, Justin Strubing, Nilton Neeves, Neil Heddings, me, Sam Hitz, Darren, Mikey Curtis; just all the Santa Cruz and Creature dudes and maybe some guests. Another good story from that trip is we Fed Ex'd P-Stone [Thrasher magazine's filmer] a roast beef sandwich from Jimmy Johns' [a famous Arizona sandwich shop]. Noah gave us the wrong address so he got the sandwich two days later. And yes he still ate it.

Don't you have a Nike shoe coming out?
Yeah, I'm stoked on that. Creature did these graphics called "The Vikings of Hesh Law" by Todd Bratrud and I love those graphics so I had him do a graphic for me this season called The Origins of Hesh Law; it's a hesher dude with a jean vest, wearing Nikes, sitting on a hesh car. It's pretty sick. So there's a Nike Blazer coming out that's going to match it and the graphic will be the sock liner. And it does have a touch of green in it. Shoe comes out in October, board comes out in September.