ANDY ANDERSON INTERVIEW BY BILL DANFORTH
Andy’s individuality and unique outlook on skateboarding all around drew George Powell’s attention as someone whose expression needs to be seen and heard. He’s as passionate about freestyle as he is vert and he rips both. Andy knows no bounds in his skateboarding abilities and it seems that he looks for more things that haven’t been done on a skateboard, so he can do them on vert, street or freestyle with no holds barred. With massive respect for skateboarding history, he tips his hat to Stacy Peralta, Rodney Mullen, Grant Taylor and Bill Danforth as well as Canadian heavies like Colin McKay, Ryan Decenzo, Kevin Harris, and his first sponsor, Hippie Mike, and Red Dragons mentor, Sean Hayes. Andy reps Powell Peralta as well as his Mind Control helmets and wears his jean vest covered in patches in honor of his longtime shop sponsor, PD at Skull Skates, representing the hardcore scene and attitude in Vancouver. His creativity has been seen by everyone that he has come in contact with around the world, constantly inspiring everyone’s imagination when it comes to skateboarding. I interviewed Andy as he was on his way to the Olympics, and posted it at juicemagazine.com, just as he arrived in Tokyo. Bill Danforth then followed up and talked with Andy about Canadian skatepark history. Read on for more from Andy and Danforth! – INTRODUCTION BY JIM MURPHY
Andy, how the hell are you?
I’m doing good. How are you, Bill?
Good. I wanted to ask you about some of the old ‘70s skateparks that are still being utilized in Canada, especially in the Vancouver area. I understand that you grew up in White Rock. What are your opinions on the White Rock Skatepark?
That White Rock bowl is one of a kind. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the last bowl built without coping. I think it was finished in ’89. Monty Little and this other guy, Nelson Holland, were working on all of the snake runs in Canada together. They did Seylynn, Griffin and China Creek too. Monty Little told me that he was away out of town, so the other guy took over on the White Rock project. He was more experimental with it and steered away from the snake run and tried to make it more current, so there’s a halfpipe in there. The deep end is like a China Creek pool and there’s a ditch in the front. It’s less snaky.
Yeah. I’ve had some good times rolling around in that. It’s definitely a cruise.
Oh yeah. I think it’s one of the deeper ones, when it comes to pools.
You can tell that it was built after the other parks. It’s a blast and it’s unique.
It is amazing. It got me good at fly outs. It has this great 13-foot roll in to an 8-foot launch. There is no way you’re not getting there.
The Canadian fly out! Hell yeah. What are your thoughts on Seylynn? When it was designed, it was mathematically perfect. You can see in the movie, The Seylynn Story, they used math skills to design that.
The Seylynn park is a work of art. It’s absolutely amazing. I think they did exactly what they set out to do, which was to make a bowl that beginners could experience and ride down the flat bottom. It’s not really flat because it all slightly turns, but you can get better and then start carving the five waves in it. The most experienced skater could have a blast doing that and they can also pump over the hips. When you’re going over the hips, you’re cooking. You’re going up and down so fast.
It’s hard pumping up that thing, but some folks kill it pumping up from the bottom.
Oh, it’s so sick that it’s a downhill that’s made to go back up. Imagine if there were pump tracks next to hills that you can bomb. You could bomb the hills and pump back up. You wouldn’t need a car to tow you.
It’s Canada’s oldest existing skatepark.
It is. There is one older park, but it’s buried. It’s in West Vancouver, but apparently it was much more rigid and weird to skate. Seylynn was the good one.
Seylynn almost got destroyed when the river next to it overflowed and washed out the foundation of the park. It was sticking out of the ground five feet and the concrete didn’t crack. It was built amazing.
Yeah. I just think the river was jealous of all the skaters. It wanted to feel that flow.
[Laughs] Yeah. Give me some thoughts about Canada Day at Seylynn.
Canada Day at Seylynn is the ultimate gathering of bowl skaters. It’s a blast. It’s a kick off for the Bowl Series, which is an awesome series of contests that happen at all of the old school bowls at Griffin, Seylynn, Whistler and White Rock. Every year they kick it off with Canada Day at Seylynn and it’s just insane. Everybody is coming together and they’re making slushy martinis at the top. At the bottom, everyone has their lawn chairs out and photographers are there.
There is a huge presence of Surrey Boys. They are Surrey proud. It’s just amazing.
Oh yeah. Hippie Mike comes up with his Surrey stake and sticks it in the ground and it’s on with Surrey Stu and all of them.
They are great. Let’s talk about Griffin. It’s smaller than Seylynn, but it’s fun. What do you think of Griffin skatepark?
The deep end at Griffin has a couple of kinks that almost hit vert, if you know where they are. You can fly so high out of Griffin. When I was a little kid, me and my dad would go there and I would be doing the most tweaked out melons that I could, going higher than I’ve ever gone before. That was always so exciting for me. Then there is the section with the halfpipe where all the Plan B videos were shot. Danny Way and everyone was learning flip tricks out of there.
Sluggo ripped that place.
Yeah. I think Sluggo learned the back flip at White Rock and then went to Griffin with it.
“Stop bitching about the fact that you don’t have the perfect ledge in your town or whatever. Just go! Go harder!”
Let’s talk about the Whistler snake run. Whistler is such a chill super friendly scene. They have the honor system with the stick in the ground for everyone’s beers. That’s got to be a Canadian thing, the beer in the creek.
Yeah. Whistler is its own vibe because it’s up in the mountains where everybody is there to mountain bike, skateboard or snowboard. I don’t know what Seylynn used to be like, but now it’s around some big buildings in an area where it stands out. Griffin is at a community center in a more posh neighborhood. Whistler is exactly where it should be next to the mountains and the creek. There are bike paths all around and everyone is super active. You could be riding on the bike path and see the bowl and take a spin and then get back on the bike path. It just makes sense. I think it’s the largest skatepark as well. It has the most sweeping waves of all.
When they made the addition to the other side of the park, that really added to it. You either rode the snake run or you rode the new park. That was one of my favorite places. It’s just such a cool scene.
It’s great. Snowboarders and skateboarders kinda own that town, so there is so much love there for skateboarding. That’s why I love coming down to Venice or Oceanside and those places because, when I skate around, people understand what I’m doing. They’re like, “He’s skateboarding. That’s his sense of getting a wave or his sense of expression or zoning out or zoning in or whatever.” Sometimes you’re in an area where people don’t get what skateboarding is and people just want to yell at you like a dog. They see you and they’re like, “Hey! Hey, stop! Hey! Stop!” They don’t understand it and they get angry. Whistler is the opposite of that.
It’s funny that you mentioned Oceanside. When I moved to Oceanside in ’84, we were getting chased by cops for riding the curbs at Ralphs. Times have changed and now skateboarding is accepted.
Okay. I think we’ve covered everything but China Creek. It’s a Jak’s dominated area and a fun place to skate. It’s not in the Bowl Series because they have their own contest at China Creek.
Yep. The Jak’s contest at China Creek sets the tone for the year and it’s one of the best contests. It’s so fun. You get all of these gnarly skateboarders with their jean vests and patches and blood and sweat all over them, but their intention is to stoke out the beginners and the little kids and the dude that doesn’t have enough money to buy a board. They put that dude in first place and give him first choice at all of the winnings.
That’s some true dedication.
100%. They are truly dedicated to skateboarding. The last time I went, I won the Advanced category, but my trophy said Intermediate on it. I was like, “What?” I found out later that they gave all of the beginners the Advanced trophies. It’s my favorite trophy. It’s the only trophy I’ve ever kept because of the presentation. That was just so rad.
That’s cool. I love that Canada has fought long and hard to keep the old skateparks. Growing up in Detroit, I used to go to Sarnia and ride that ‘70s concrete bowl. To this day, they are still ripping it. I gotta give props to Canada for keeping the tradition alive. In America, they pave over paradise to build a parking lot.
Joni Mitchell! She’s Canadian.
She is. If you care about skateboarding history, Canada is the place to go to ride some of the stuff that nobody is ever going to build again.
You nailed it. In Montreal, the Big-O pipe was made for the Olympics and they wanted to pave over it and put in a parking lot. Instead, they put it on a crane and moved the whole thing somewhere else. It was going to get demolished, but somebody said, “Let’s not demolish it.” They figured out how to pick up this giant piece of concrete and move it. It was an insane amount of effort that went into saving it. That’s the mentality that you’re talking about.
Marc Tison and Barry Walsh wrote the book, “Pipe Fiends”, about that place. Credit goes to them for saving the Big-O. It was those guys and countless others. They preserved a huge part of skate history. Montreal has Cherry Park and all these skate spots. It’s seen better days, but it’s still there. I love how Canada looks at things. They preserve it. It’s amazing. It’s been really great talking with you about Canadian history. Do you have any shout outs that you’d like to give?
Well, my list is too long for me to name everybody, but I want to give shout outs to Hippie Mike for meeting me when I was seven and helping me out and teaching me how to do the mini launch and the Gravitron at White Rock bowl where you’re rolling on the deck and you roll straight into a carve in the deep end. I want to give big props to P.D. at P.D.’s Hot Shop and Jeff Cole and Sam McKinlay and all those guys. They are so rad, giving me the grit that I’ve got today and introducing me to the whole world of the Jak’s. Thanks to Michelle at Antisocial for being the best. Thanks to Rick McCrank and shout out to Alex Chalmers for being an inspiration and teaching me how to skate a bowl without ever meeting me. I was watching his part in Flip’s Sorry video and he was just killing it and showing what can be done. Thanks to Ben for hooking me up with wheels back in the day and putting me on Rollerbones. Thanks to Sluggo for showing me what a real true professional looks like. I ran into Sluggo at the Hastings Bowl, when I was super young, and he was telling the gnarliest party stories ever. I was like, “Is that what happens when you get good at skateboarding?” Thanks to George Powell and Powell Peralta. George is the reason that anybody noticed me. George had blind faith in me. It was literally him helping me out as a homie and seeing that I wanted to integrate freestyle into other things and him wanting to push the same direction. George is the best in the world at making the best wheels, the best boards, the best bushings and the best bearings. He loves product design and innovating and he really appreciated my mentality towards designing the shape of my board like, “This is for this and this is for that and you need this to do that.” That kind of logic speaks to him. I feel like he knew more about me than I knew about me. George and Stacy wrote a paragraph or two about me before Stacy even met me. Stacy just saw me through video and understood my whole outlook. I was like, “Okay, this guy is deep.” Thanks to Kevin Harris too. Stacy Peralta and Kevin Harris had various conversations about how they both think that the future of skateboarding is bringing freestyle into other things. Through my connection with Kevin, I think Stacy saw me as a way to help represent freestyle, and Kevin has been cheering me on, from behind the scenes, for a while. Then I got to meet Stacy when we went on the Powell tour in 2015 and that was so heavy. Props to Deville [Nunes], the Powell TM too. He is the shit. I also want to thank all of the RDS guys, especially Sean Hayes, for helping me. He’s been my guiding light for the last four years and he’s turned me from unknown to world renowned. I have to give a shout out to my parents too. I grew up in White Rock, but in the first six months of my life, I was in North Vancouver, and my parents would walk through the forest and take me to Griffin. They didn’t skate, but they would sit with me and watch the skaters when I was a newborn.
That’s so cool. Thank you, Andy. I enjoyed talking to you. All the best of luck to you.
Thank you, Bill. I have to give a shout out to you. So much inspiration for my skateboarding has come from you and your early era of street skating. Without fully relying on the ollie, you were doing bonelesses and finger flips and no complys and jumping up walls and picking up your board and doing fat acid drops off picnic tables. That style and soul and street skating style is skateboarding to me. I’m not going to spend 80 million hours perfecting one trick because one guy does it really well. I’m like, “No. I want to skate that.” You just point at something and figure out how to skate it. That’s what I got from you. Your inspiration to me has been to skate whatever you’ve got in front of you. Stop bitching about the fact that you don’t have the perfect ledge in your town or whatever. Just go! Go harder!
I really appreciate that. I can’t wait to skate with you again. We’ll go out and do some old school street style tricks.
Hell yeah! I can’t wait.