For the first time in history, skateboarding is in the Olympics. In order to commemorate the occasion, skateboarding icon, Jim Murphy interviewed Skateboarding Olympian, Andy Anderson.
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 his outlook on what can be done on a skateboard. We think he looks for more things that haven’t been on a skateboard, so he can do them on vert, street or freestyle with no holds barred. With massive respect for skateboarding history, he will always tip his hat to skateboarders like Bill Danforth, Stacy Peralta, Grant Taylor and Rodney Mullen, as well as Canadian heavies like Colin McKay, Ryan Decenzo, Kevin Harris, and his first skate sponsor, Hippie Mike, and his 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 not only been seen by George Powell, but by everyone he has come in contact with around the world, constantly inspiring everyone’s imagination when it comes to skateboarding.
Jim Murphy, is not only a legendary skateboarder who rode for Zorlac, Alva, Toxic and Shut, but he is also the founder of Wounded Knee Skateboards and the Skateboard Programs Director for the Stronghold Society, as well as being the Skate Editor of Juice Magazine. Jim Murphy is 100% East Coast ripper. A true gentleman with a big heart, an artist who paints with his pick and shovel, a humanitarian who backs it up with action and a skater who rolls with gnarly commitment and passion. If you doubt any of this, get in a car and drive to the Pine Ridge skatepark on the Lakota reservation in South Dakota that Murf was the catalyst in building. Murf is a true beast from the East, with skate heroes like Steve Herring, Brad Constable, Jef Hartsel, Tom Groholski, Jeff Phillips, John Gibson, Craig Johnson, Reese Simpson, George Draguns, Dan Tag, and every kid on the Pine Ridge Reservation that picks up a skateboard. Murf is one of a kind and has become one of skateboarding’s greatest ambassadors.
As skateboarding is making history again today on the Olympics world stage, this talk between two skaters proves that the multi-generational impact, culture and influence of skateboarding can change the world.
ANDY ANDERSON INTERVIEW BY JIM MURPHY
MURF: Andy, it’s Murf. How are you doing?
ANDY: Yo, what’s up, Murf? I’m doing good.
MURF: Cool. Tell everyone where you were born?
ANDY: I was born in Vancouver BC Canada in 1996.
MURF: What was it like growing up there?
ANDY: I grew up in a suburb called White Rock and I pretty much lived at the skatepark there.
MURF: Was it a concrete skatepark?
ANDY: No. It’s a funky park. It’s got concrete obstacles with asphalt in between. There was a bowl there that was built in ’89 without coping. The same guys that built the snake runs in Vancouver built it.
MURF: Oh, okay. At what age did you figure out that you wanted to skate?
ANDY: It was when I was three. My earliest memory was looking out the window and seeing a dude pushing down the street. I was like, “I want to play in the middle of the street!” I begged for a skateboard and my parents got me one for my fourth birthday. The salesperson told them, “Get him a board early so he quits and he’s over it by the age of six.”
MURF: [Laughs] Yeah. Right. Did they hook you up with a good board set up?
ANDY: No. One of my first boards was a Walmart cruiser. It was like a Penny board, but made of wood. I was in the cul-de-sacs and driveways pushing around and trying to stand up.
MURF: Were you rolling solo or did you have other kids skating with you?
ANDY: My sister skated, when I was a kid, so that was really cool. She would do axle stalls and feeble stalls. She’d kill it.
MURF: Were your parents supportive of you and your sister skateboarding?
ANDY: My parents are total gems. I feel like they are one of the first generation of parents that was like, “Oh, wow, our kids are having fun? Let’s help them out with whatever is helping them have fun, even if we don’t understand it.” It was an awesome environment. I couldn’t ask for better parents.
MURF: Nice. By the time you were five, you were riding at the skatepark?
ANDY: Yep. Then I signed up for lessons at age seven and that’s when everything really started.
MURF: Between ages five and seven, were you getting boards with trucks that turned?
ANDY: I would ride cracked boards that the older guys were nice enough to hand down to me at the skatepark. When I was taught by Hippie Mike, he was like, “You need to ride Indys.”
MURF: Hardcore. What was he teaching you to do? Was he an old school skater?
ANDY: He was very ‘90s. He’d drop in from his roof and ride off the end of it Jaws style and he’d put trucks and wheels on a 2×4 and skate that. He taught me a lot about lines. When you’re a kid, you want to learn tricks and he taught me how to carve the bowl and roll into a pocket from the top.
MURF: Do you remember the first time that you started carving where you didn’t lift up your front trucks and you just stuck to the wall? Did you just sync right in?
ANDY: That took so long. I always had to tic tac around the corners. My dad and I were learning together because he never skated before. He didn’t skate with me, but we were both like, “How do you go around this corner without lifting up 100 times?” We were both puzzled by it.
MURF: Were you in tune with the skate world and looking at skate magazines?
ANDY: Yeah. I was really intrigued with skate mags. My sister introduced me to that stuff and we used to draw all of the skate logos and try to get them right. Now, whenever I design a logo, I try to make it so that kids can draw it. There was this one photo of Jamie Thomas doing a wall ride to fakie on a tree and I remember that as a kid. Flipping through the mags, I remember seeing a kickflip over a handrail and it just didn’t turn me on. Then I saw Jamie Thomas riding a tree and I was like, “Whoa. You can ride trees? There’s no ramp!” I don’t know if I even knew it was Jamie Thomas at the time. It was just a dude skating a tree. Later on, I was like, “That was Jamie Thomas. He’s legendary.” When I was a kid, I was just hyped to see that.
MURF: Right. By the time you were nine, where were you at with skateboarding?
ANDY: My dad was so supportive and he started taking me out for two weeks a year on road trips around Vancouver Island and we’d hit up all the parks. At one of the parks, a dude offered me a sponsorship so, by the age of nine, I was getting free boards.
MURF: Was it a shop sponsorship?
ANDY: It was this dude, Lincoln McLennan. He had a little company called Ego Skates and they sold boards online. They had a website called BoardPusher.com and you could go design your own board. You could add camo and text and then they would send it to you in the mail with your own graphic on it.
MURF: Sick. Was there a team that you got involved with or were you flying solo?
ANDY: I was flying solo. I’d hit him up every few months with an email like, “Hey, can I get another board?” Then I started riding for Coastal Riders, this cool graffiti street vibe skate shop. I thought it was cool, so I sent them a sponsor tape.
MURF: What was on that tape?
ANDY: It was a lot of Canadian fly outs, a lot of White Rock park. I was doing big old airwalks and blunt melon fakies. That was my shit. I would go up on any ramp and blunt and then melon grab and pull it in.
MURF: So they called you and said, “You’re on.”
ANDY: Yeah. It was crazy and totally unexpected.
MURF: Was it a situation where you’d go to the shop and hang with the crew?
ANDY: No. I was a dorky 11-year-old still wearing full pads. The whole team was all g-ed out grown men. Some of the guys were like, “What the hell? Why did you put this kid on our team?” One of the guys vibed me super hard when I was 12. He showed up at the park and was like, “You ride for my team? That’s weird because you suck!” I was too young to handle that and I ghosted them and never called them back after that. That’s one of my biggest regrets. You gotta let people know what’s going on. Ignoring people can be so much worse than a diss.
MURF: Was the guy being sarcastic or serious?
ANDY: I don’t know. Nowadays, the same dude, we’re tight. When I was 12 and he was 15, he was just a dude ripping on a little kid at a park. It happens.
MURF: I get it. As little kids, it all depends on what we do when we’re confronted with negativity. You could channel it and get aggro and skate even harder. Was that the vibe that you were going with?
ANDY: I was like, “Fuck those guys. I’m going somewhere else.” I found Skull Skates and I was like, “This is cool – jean vests, skulls and Bill Danforth. That’s what I’m about.” I had the Danforth Trackers with Mini Cubic wheels and Ninja bearings.
MURF: Sick! How did you meet PD?
ANDY: Some kid I was hanging out with took me to the shop and I was like, “This is the coolest.” I just remember PD being his hard ass self, but he was very accepting and super helpful. I was introduced to Sam McKinlay, who was the shop manager, and that’s who I talked to most.
MURF: Did you start riding Skull Skates boards?
ANDY: Yeah. It started out like I was a kid in a candy store. He’s got every shape that I’d never seen. Before Skull Skates, I was used to popsicle-shaped decks. Skull Skates was my introduction to what came before the ollie. Those guys really know the history of skateboarding.
MURF: How did it feel to go from a popsicle shape to riding bigger boards?
ANDY: It felt badass. When you look down at your board, you see a shape that makes you stoked. It’s like wearing your favorite shirt. You have got more confidence to talk to people or not talk to people. One of the best feeling boards to ride was the Steve Olson Skull Skates board with the fat pointed nose – the punk point! Doing a frontside slash grind, you’re just watching it knife through the air. I was doing the same trick, but then it was so much cooler, because I was cutting through shit.
MURF: At what age did you start riding for Skull?
ANDY: I’ve been riding for Skull Skates from 14 to now.
MURF: How were you progressing from there? Were you learning more tricks or was it more carving, speed lines and blasting airs out of the bowls?
ANDY: I had an extreme addiction to skateboarding as a young child. It was very hard to not skate, which makes it hard to not progress. I’ve always been extremely focused on learning new stuff. When I’m at the park, a lot of my homies would just be there smoking and chilling. I’m like, “I’m going to learn backside airs. I’m going to hammer out backside airs until I’m dead.” Then I’d go home and come back the next day and try something else.
MURF: I know it well. When I was learning, I was trying to figure out tricks by looking at pictures in magazines.
ANDY: Yeah. I have been watching Grant Taylor recently. That’s been helping me the most with my airs, just watching Grant do airs.
MURF: Sick! Once you learn a backside air, all of a sudden, you’ve figured out the pop and the pump and you’re golden.
ANDY: Yep. The pump and the pop, once you’ve got those, you’re chilling. Then it’s just tying those together. Once you realize that you can do it, you got it.
MURF: I’ve watched a lot of video of you lately, and there is definitely freestyle influence, street style influence and bowl influence. You’ve got it all dialed in such a creative way. It’s hard to explain how gnarly it is. How old were you when you decided you wanted to do it all?
ANDY: Thank you. There are a lot of nice things that you just said and I appreciate it. So I started with freestyle before I started skating the bowl. I was doing tic tacs and kickturns in the cul-de-sacs and just learning. Footwork has always been a passion of mine. A lot of people don’t consider a tic tac a trick, but I did. It’s learning how to generate speed without touching the ground. That’s the shit. In the old Tony Hawk games, I loved the secret tapes and watching Rodney Mullen skate. That’s where I started getting into primos and pogos. With the seasons in Vancouver, I can’t skate outside in the winter. It was bowl all summer and, when you take that away, I gotta keep skating. I have a two-car garage, so I’m going to do boneless finger flips to casper and call it an invention. There was definitely a thought process of building on tricks but, when I was younger, a lot of it was just feel-oriented. When I was a kid, I thought wall plants were the coolest. I was like, “Wow! You can ride into a wall and put your foot on the wall without touching the ground and land it!” That’s the kind of stuff that would stoke me out.
MURF: That’s interesting. I saw you in videos doing killer nosewheelies and 360s. Were you in the garage doing stuff like that?
ANDY: You’re totally on the money. I was trying to count my spins and I was really big into shove-its and big spins without popping. I was pivoting stuff, not bringing my board off the ground and just having it kinda glide around. With manuals, I always did this thing where I put my front foot on my tail and I’d push around like that. People thought it was mongo, but it was my front foot. I’d balance on two wheels and push around. One day I was like, “I wonder if I can one-foot manual?” I had it first try and I could one-foot manual across the whole park. I’d been practicing that without realizing it. I was doing manuals and all that balancing shit and trying the flat bar. My dad always helped me build mini ramps and rails and there were always a bunch of kids over at my house.
MURF: So you got to evolve on a mini ramp and learn a lot of lip tricks?
ANDY: Yeah. I was doing all the stalls and blunt to feeble combos. I learned blunt to feeble rock n rolls. Combos are a big part of my deal. When I need to learn a new trick, I’d just put two together.
MURF: When I look at your skating, I see some old school influence. Was there any old videos that you were watching or any old school tricks that you’d see and want to take to a bank or a mini ramp?
ANDY: For sure. When I was a kid, I never thought that I could skate as good as the pros of the day. I started skating in 2000. When I started noticing who the pros were, it was 2006, and I couldn’t do that stuff. Then I saw Dogtown and Z-Boys, that Stacy Peralta movie. I was like, “Whoa! Those guys are pro and they’re doing that stuff!” I wanted to be a ‘70s pro. I wanted to do that stuff. I wanted to be good enough that I could be pro in the ‘70s.
MURF: What did you like about ‘70s skating?
ANDY: I liked the fact that I was going back to the origins of skateboarding and I liked how different it was from what everyone was doing. I was like, “How the hell did that come from this?”
MURF: Do you find that old school skateboarding has a different rhythm and soul to it where it’s less mechanical?
ANDY: Yes. It has rhythm and soul to it. I feel like old school skateboarding was way more intuitive and now skateboarding is getting away from that and it’s getting super scientific. One is not better than the other, but I like that raw style and power. That original attitude of, “I’m better because I think I’m better” made me try more stuff. Nowadays, a lot of skateboarders are like, “I’m better because I skate for this long and I eat this food and I do these stretches and I learn these tricks.” Back in the day, it was way more raw.
MURF: When I see you ride banks and transition, you’ll mix in a freestyle trick. Was there a point in your skating where you wanted to represent freestyle in a way that you thought was badass?
ANDY: Exactly. I feel a grand responsibility to represent freestyle. I think that there are a lot of skaters out there that have never tried freestyle skating because they’ve never heard of it and they’d be so good at it. Maybe they never wanted to skate anything else. Maybe they look at a vert ramp or a set of stairs and they don’t want to skate that. Freestyle is perfect for them. It’s a full thing to do, but no one treats it like it exists. In Canada, we’ve got freestylers like Ryan Brynelson, Dillanger Kane and I and a few others that represent, but that’s all we have in the whole country.
MURF: You’re riding a 9” wide board with a 15” wheelbase. Are those dudes running the standard size freestyle board?
ANDY: Yeah. They all rock the standard. Everything on my board is designed for freestyle. The nose is for truckstands, the tail is for pressure point flips, the rails are for primos and the nose and tail have the perfect curve for primo flips. My board is so freestyled out. My biggest influence in freestyle is not Rodney. It’s Kevin Harris. Kevin has amazing style. He’s a foot master. He doesn’t do truckstands or primos or caspers. When you think of freestyle, you think of truckstand, primo, casper… Let’s see a freestyle skater that doesn’t want to learn those tricks. What does that look like? That’s the shit. It’s that whole flow. Riding on one foot backwards and doing spacewalks and spins can be easier on a bigger board because it has more mass and more hoist.
MURF: Did you ever see Kevin Harris in person?
ANDY: Yeah. I watched his videos growing up. At the Oceanside contest 1986, he skated to “Hells Bells”. That’s the best. I had a Skull Skates Kevin Harris board and I showed up to this freestyle contest in Vancouver that he was hosting. That’s when I got to meet him for the first time. He laughed at me and he said, “I can’t believe you’re riding this contest on that tiny little board.” He was blasting me for riding his board. [Laughs] Kevin Harris’ freestyle board was like the smallest freestyle board that ever came out. For the first few years, I had the smallest board in that freestyle contest and then I started riding the biggest board in the whole contest.
MURF: These are flat land freestyle contests?
ANDY: Yeah. These were the World Championships. They are the biggest freestyle contests in the world. It just happens to be right near me.
MURF: How well did you do in those contests?
ANDY: The first year, amateur division, I came in fifth, which was sick. In 2017, I won the pro division in Japan. In 2020, I came in eighth in the pro division. Now there are so many freestylers and I’ve got so much competition.
MURF: I remember traveling to Japan and the locals really treated us well. Were they stoked on you?
ANDY: Oh yeah. One of the Canadian freestylers, Ryan Brynelson, moved to Japan and he has a ton of Japanese friends, so I had a community that I was welcomed into through him.
MURF: Is there a cool skate community there?
ANDY: The freestyle community in Japan is popping. They’ve got so many freestylers. You go to the skatepark and see freestylers. It’s so sick. One of the things that I always loved about Japan is that, when you fall on your ass, everybody laughs at you. In the championship contests, if someone bails their run, all of his family and friends start laughing at him and he starts laughing too. It’s all about fun.
MURF: [Laughs] That’s the right attitude. Let’s backtrack. Explain the evolution from starting to ride for Skull Skates until now.
ANDY: So I’ve ridden for PD since I was 14, but I didn’t always ride Skull Skates boards. I ride for the shop, rather than riding for the board company. At age 16, I was sponsored by Protest for boards. Protest was a company started by Hippie Mike. The first few boards I got from him, I didn’t design. Then he started making boards through a local guy named Andy who owned a shop called Folk. They were making boards out of Vancouver and they were good. They were heavier than your average board, but they were way stronger and the pop would last. Hippie Mike was like, “You gotta come up with your own shape.” So I put together a salad of all the Skull Skates boards I rode. The first board I designed had a big rectangular block tail and it was an inch longer than it needed to be. It was like a 7” tail with a 6” nose.
MURF: From that first design to your last design, what led you to switching it up?
ANDY: Initially, the board was narrower in the back and wider in the front, which looked super good. I couldn’t primo it, so I had to figure out a way to get the side cut in there, while still being able to primo. The big block tail, as sick as it was for bowl, it was holding me back for street. I couldn’t get good pressure points. Every time I’d pop, it just went straight because you’re popping off a square. If you look at my board now, it looks like it should be a full square tail and then I just chopped the corners off the square. It’s kind of a distinctive cut. Without that, you can’t do the same stuff. It helps with impossibles, pressure flips and scooping tres.
MURF: That’s sick. Let’s talk about how you got on Powell. How did that happen?
ANDY: I was at the World Freestyle Roundup contest, which is run by Kevin Harris and Monty Little. Monty is in his 70s now, but he ran the Vancouver Expo 86 and he’s the guy who designed all of the old snake runs that everybody loves in Canada.
MURF: Nice. What year was this contest?
ANDY: 2015. At the contest, I was riding my board that is totally freestyled out and I was so hyped and I won the amateur division. It turns out George Powell had flown in to watch the contest. It’s the biggest freestyle contest in the world, but I didn’t know that. At that contest, George came to pick up Isamu Yamamoto who is the number one freestyler in the world right now. Actually, he got beat this year, but, in general, he’s at the top of the food chain. George picked me up after I won the amateur division in that contest. Hippie Mike was making my pro board for Protest and it was going to come out in less than a month, but then George put me on Powell.
MURF: What did George say at that contest?
ANDY: He presented me with the trophy and we took a photo together and shared a few words. What happened next was that I was doing a lot of freestyle demos at fairs and elementary schools. Hippie Mike and Kevin Harris and I had finished up a demo and Hippie Mike was like, “Bro, I’ve got bad news. I’m kicking you off Protest.” I was like, “Whoa. What?” He was like, “You’re off Protest because Powell is going to put you on!” I was like, “What?” George had talked to Hippie before he talked to me to make sure that he was cool with it.
MURF: Wow. So Mike was stoked for you, right?
ANDY: Mike was super stoked. That was the plan the whole time. He helped build me up and get me in the public eye so that one day I could get on with a bigger company and then it happened.
MURF: That’s righteous. That’s a good friend.
ANDY: Yep. He’s a lifelong friend.
MURF: What was your reaction when he said that you were riding for Powell?
ANDY: I was so hyped. I was kinda concerned because I was so used to my own board and I knew that no other company was making a board that was 9” wide with a shape that you could primo, so Hippie made a deal like, “You can take Andy, but you have to make sure he gets to design his own board.”
MURF: Then did you go to Powell and say, “Here’s the shape I’m riding. Can you cut me one of these now, so I can put some Powell stickers on it and run it?”
ANDY: I love that we’re getting into this. This is so sick. Andy from Folk was making my boards at the time, so he sent George one of the boards. I wanted to slightly tweak it, so I went to PD’s house. This was the first time I went over to PD’s house and we had a whole session of tracing the board on a big white piece of paper and drawing it out and doing all the measurements to send to George.
MURF: How stoked was PD for you?
ANDY: Oh, dude, he was stoked. He’s such a hard ass. He has a hard time admitting that he likes Powell.
MURF: [Laughs] He can’t say that. All his boards are black and death and skulls.
ANDY: Yeah. Well, he didn’t say it. [Laughs]
MURF: [Laughs] I’m just joking. I know PD. He’s helping out a bro skater.
ANDY: Yeah. It was just the level of respect, inviting this kid over to your house to work on a project. It was grassroots, but also a very serious aesthetic of being in a room with someone you respect and going, “What do you think? This is what I think.” Being able to bounce ideas off of PD and talk to him about skateboarding, I loved that whole thing.
MURF: What feedback did he give you?
ANDY: He was for making it a little more streamlined, where I had it a little more boxy.
MURF: Then you sent that to Powell Peralta and what was the reaction?
ANDY: Everybody was like, “What the fuck is this?” George was the only guy who was like, “Yeah Andy!” Everybody else was like, “Who is this kid?”
MURF: [Laughs] During that time, who was your point person at Powell?
ANDY: George. He was the only guy I had actually met. He was the homie. Deville, the TM, is the shit and I lived with him a bunch later but, in those earlier years, I didn’t know him because I wasn’t in Cali, so I just called George.
MURF: Right. Were they turning you pro or were they thinking that you were an amateur, that was going to ride your own shape?
ANDY: Well, they had done a handshake deal that they would make me my own shape and George loves product design and innovating. What he hates is putting out stuff that is already out there. He really appreciated my mentality towards the shape like, “This is for this and this is for that and you need this to do that.” That kind of logic speaks to him.
MURF: Totally. Did he articulate how he saw you working with his company?
ANDY: No. I feel like he knew more about me than I knew about me. George and Stacy wrote a paragraph or two about me before he’d even met me. Stacy just saw me through video and understood my whole outlook. I was like, “Okay, this guy is deep.”
MURF: Do you think, because Stacy rode freestyle and pools, he saw the evolution in you that the ‘70s were born from?
ANDY: Totally. Stacy and Kevin Harris have 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. I got to meet Stacy when we went on the Powell tour in 2015 and that was so heavy.
MURF: Did they fly you down?
ANDY: They flew me down and I met the Powell team in Wichita and we did a whole Midwest tour. That was hardcore.
MURF: What did Stacy say when you first met?
ANDY: I met him in San Luis Obispo, California. They’ve got a sick park there and Stacy met us there. Stacy was like, “I want to watch you skate, Andy.” He was watching everyone skate and he’s really good at giving time to each individual and giving you his full attention. He was like, “Let’s go over here.” There was this little 4-foot deep cruiser bowl with a round lip. It wasn’t like he wanted to see the most progressive tricks. He just wanted to take in information. I was like, “That is so interesting. I have to do something he’s never seen before.”
MURF: What were you thinking that you wanted to do to blow his mind?
ANDY: I wanted to do a truckstand on the lip and a dual citizen and some handouts and some vibey shit. It was just a great experience.
MURF: What was his reaction when you finished?
ANDY: He had the same face on before I started. He did tell me early in that first year, “I really want to turn you pro, but first you have to make yourself popular enough that it makes financial sense.”
MURF: Did he offer any suggestions?
ANDY: Nope. He’ll just point you in the right direction and see what you do. What you do says a lot about you.
MURF: What did you think when he said that? Did you think that you should go on the contest tour and get popular that way or were you thinking that you had to do more online stuff or travel more?
ANDY: I just kept it in the back of my brain and it became a goal to become well known. Deville, the team manager for Powell, is the funniest too. Sometimes the skaters on the team get swellheaded because we think that we’re the shit because we just got a dope trick or somebody asked us for an autograph at the skatepark. Then Deville goes, “Hey, Alexa, who is Andy Anderson?” Alexa says, “Summer of The Cure” or some shit. Then Deville goes, “If Alexa doesn’t know who you are, you ain’t shit.”
MURF: [Laughs] That’s funny.
ANDY: Yeah. I always wanted to make it. I want to have a voice that people listen to and there are messages that I want to get out there, but you can’t do that if nobody knows who you are.
MURF: Well, it seems like you’re giving back to skateboarding what skateboarding gave to you and you just want to inspire people to feel the same way. Have you seen that conversion go down with people you’ve met in your travels?
ANDY: I have. I’m super blessed to be in the stage of my career where I see a lot of my boards in the wild. A lot of people come up to me and say that they started skating because they saw my videos. That’s the best compliment I could ever get.
MURF: Are they adapting a similar philosophy to skating everything including freestyle, street and transition?
ANDY: What is awesome is that a lot of people that I’ve talked to about this have gotten the mentality that now they can just go do whatever trick they want to do. Before, they felt like they had to do a kickflip first. Now they’re like, “I just want to ram myself into this curb for a bit.” That’s skateboarding. You don’t have to be doing a trick. You don’t have to go out and land a tre flip today and then, when you don’t get it, you’re bummed. Just go skate.
MURF: That’s the best attitude. Okay, after Stacy said that you had to get more popular, what did you do that year?
ANDY: I started traveling more and filming more. A huge thing that helped me organize my life is that I got a skate coach. His name is Sean Hayes and he’s one of the Red Dragons.
MURF: Explain the Red Dragons because people need to know.
ANDY: The Red Dragons are the gnarliest, most heavy skaters and there is so much hijinks. It was a total Jackass vibe before Jackass. The Red Dragons are also known for their ghetto gowns and frontside nose slides and they held it down for Canada. When you see the Red Dragons, you know they’re Canadian.
MURF: So you’ve got a Red Dragon coaching you. How did that come about?
ANDY: It was another thing that came about through Kevin Harris. Kevin has been cheering me on, from behind the scenes, for a while. When the Olympics started coming into question, he was like, “Andy Anderson is going to be in there.” He was talking about me enough that it caught Sean’s attention, so Kevin made that relationship happen. It’s been the best decision. One thing you should know about Sean too is that he was the TM for Plan B when Danny was doing the Great Wall of China.
MURF: Gnarly. He’s a serious, legit dude and he’s like, “Okay, you’ve got to kick ass. You’re from Vancouver. Let’s do this.”
ANDY: Straight up. A lot of the stuff that he did for me was shit that I just wouldn’t know. If there were two contests going on, like Tampa Pro and X Games, I’d be like, “Which contest do I go to?” He’d be like, “Go to Tampa. You’ll make so many good friends there and everybody is there.” He points me in the right direction of where to go and who to talk with. He’s like, “There’s the Etnies TM. You should go introduce yourself.” He’s in the industry, so he knows everyone. He took me on a European tour to Mystic Cup with Double D announcing. The European contest tour is so good. Pat Duffy came one year. Sean and Pat are tight, so I was traveling around Europe with Pat Duffy. It was too good.
MURF: How sick is the skate scene in Europe?
ANDY: It’s so dope. All of Europe is the size of America so, instead of going from AZ to Cali, you can go from Italy to Slovenia or wherever. There is so much diversity and so many different languages. Everybody is fun and forward and it’s awesome. They love art too and there is a lot of good art out there that you can skate and they respect the art form of skateboarding. My favorite city in the world is Prague in the Czech Republic with the parties that were going down there and the Mystic Cup. I got to skate Stalin Plaza with Pat Duffy and see him do the sickest backside bigflip over this garbage can and it was so sick.
MURF: Classic. Was that your first trip overseas?
ANDY: No. I have done a lot of travelling my whole life, but that was my first time in Europe. I had already been to India and some other random places.
MURF: What were you doing in India?
ANDY: I was doing skate demos. Kevin Harris sent me there to check out this skate company that he was thinking about investing in. He wanted me to come back with numbers on how many skaters are in India. I came back and I was like, “Dude, there are less than 500 skaters in India.” There are way more now, but when I went, there were so few.
MURF: When you got flown to India or Europe for skateboarding, did it trip you out?
ANDY: Yeah. When you’re traveling for skateboarding, there is no better feeling because skateboarding is the best feeling and traveling is the best feeling. If you’re traveling for work, sometimes all you ever see is the office building that you had your meeting in. With skateboarding, you run into skaters and you’re going to the sickest local coffee shops and getting street food and it’s so easy to integrate. If you have a good attitude and a skateboard, you’re going to make friends with other people with good attitudes and skateboards.
MURF: Did that surprise you or did you have a feeling that it would go smooth?
ANDY: I had a feeling that it would go smooth. It was probably beginner’s luck, but I was confident that I would make friends. My dad did a lot of traveling and he’s always said that it’s very important to travel and I’m stoked to get to go.
MURF: Did your parents see you becoming a pro skateboarder as a possibility?
ANDY: It had been a goal of mine since elementary school. Teachers would say, “Draw a picture of where you’re going to be in five years.” I was like, “I’m going to be a sponsored skateboarder. In ten years, I’m going to be pro. In 20 years, I’m going to have a skate shop.” It’s always been something that I wanted to do. It was surprising when it did happen, but it wasn’t out of nowhere. I wanted it to happen and then it was happening.
MURF: I understand that you have a big online presence on YouTube too. Is that true?
ANDY: Well, it’s the craziest thing. Here is how my YouTube stuff started. I’m finally in LA and I’m staying at Deville’s house and I’m trying to get some footy and he was busy one day. I was like, “I’m feeling it. I’m going to go skate.” He was like, “Okay, here are some photographers and filmers that you can hit up.” He gave me three names and I called all three. One guy didn’t respond. The other guy was responding, but he was kinda cool guying it. The third guy was Nigel, NKA Vids.
MURF: What does NKA stand for?
ANDY: It’s Nigel K Alexander. He doesn’t tell anybody his middle name. I heard it once, but I can’t recite it. He’s Native American, so it’s something rad. He’s a fuckin’ G. We linked up and hit it off right away. He was into the kind of shit that I liked doing when I’m filming, which is to film the entire session and the hijinks. I was caught in a rut where I was going out with filmers and they were setting up their camera and taking one shot of one trick the whole day and I’m like, “Dude, you missed it.” Nigel was filming the whole day because he wanted to do his YouTube blog style, so we just clicked.
MURF: Did he film that video at the Venice park where you worked every part of the park?
ANDY: Right. He’s catching the whole session and the real vibe of what it’s like to be at the skatepark. A lot of people don’t want to make their skating about them. They want it to be about their skating. For me, I have a lot to say so, when a camera gets put on me, I’m like, “Oh, I have an opportunity to say all of these things that I think you should know.”
MURF: Now you’re getting to film it exactly the way you want. So NKA kept filming with you and getting rad shit?
ANDY: Yeah. The videos that I was in were doing well, so he wanted to film with me more. I just wanted to film with him all of the time because all I had to do was skate a park, and then the content really started growing. All of a sudden, I’m arriving at a skatepark and kids know who I am.
MURF: When you got to turn pro, did Powell fly you in? How does Powell do it?
ANDY: They were like, “I think we might turn you pro soon. We should start thinking about a graphic.” There was no surprise. I was a part of the decision and I really appreciated that because I got to talk to Court, the artist, before he did the graphic and he got to get a vibe of me and we connected. That helped make the graphic a lot better than if he drew a graphic for someone he had just seen a photo or video of and had no idea who I was.
MURF: Did you show him sketches of your ideas?
ANDY: I did it over email. Since I do street and ramp and freestyle, I wanted a skull, a sword and a dragon.
MURF: Were there multiple graphics before you had what you wanted?
ANDY: That was 100% up to Court and he must have done 200 or 300 different graphics. Court is a mystic, so he sees people’s past lives and he’s very in tune spiritually. When I met him, he told me that I was the reincarnation of Will Rogers, the lasso cowboy. I was like, “Who the fuck is Will Rogers?” The first graphic that he drew was a skeleton ollieing through a lasso. It was cool, but I’m glad it wasn’t the final graphic. When it came down to the helmet that the skull is wearing, he did so many different helmets. It’s hard to make a helmet look badass.
MURF: Your graphic reminded me of a Per Welinder graphic with that Nordic helmet.
ANDY: It’s totally reminiscent for sure. At the beginning of the process, they asked me, “What’s your spirit animal?” and “What’s an idea for the graphic?” So I gave them my idea of the skeleton with a sword and a dragon. Then I told them my spirit animal is the blue heron. They are all over the West Coast.
MURF: Why is the blue heron your spirit animal?
ANDY: They are just so badass and they stand alone. They are always in solitude but, when they are in groups, they flourish. They work great together in a team, but they prefer to be alone. I like the way they fly and their neck control and head stability and overall glide. The way that they glide reminds me of a pterodactyl. They just catch air so nice. I feel like they blast twice as often as any other bird.
MURF: That’s a rad analogy of who you are. When you saw your graphic, what did you think?
ANDY: My first thought was, “That’s amazing.” My second thought was, “Where is the subliminal message?” Court always throws subliminal messages in his art, like the skull and sword, which is an ancient symbol for higher education. Court does all of this crazy research. It’s like the Lance Mountain graphic with the hieroglyphics. George paid for Court to go to Egypt and study hieroglyphics for months so that he could authentically capture the real vibe. I think Powell might invest more money in graphics than any other company.
MURF: That’s cool. Powell Peralta graphics are solid. Now your graphics are among the skull and sword that started it all and you are part of that whole evolution. You have to be stoked.
ANDY: Stoked is an understatement. It’s insane.
MURF: Do you get to bro down with Caballero or are you still flying blue heron style solo?
ANDY: [Laughs] I’m pretty blue heron at this point, but I’ve seen Cab a few times. I chill with Colin McKay when I’m down in California, and Cab comes over. There is a Canada thing with Colin McKay, Matt Berger, Ryan Decenzo and Mark Appleyard, so that’s just kinda where I find myself.
MURF: Those are some original Red Dragons. Is Colin still ripping and riding vert?
ANDY: Yeah. Tony Hawk had a contest on his vert ramp during COVID where everybody had an hour to film tricks while nobody else was there and Colin did a fakie frontside full cab flip over the channel. He won’t skate for years and then he will be in the gym training for a specific trick and then he goes and does it. He came out with that video part with Danny Way at Christmas called “Welcome Home”. It was all filmed in Hawaii at Danny Way’s ramp. It’s not a Mega Ramp because it doesn’t have the jump. It’s a mega quarter and Colin is doing nollie flip fakies on that shit. I’m like, “What?!”
MURF: Those dudes take it to a whole other level. Is there any part of you that wants to ride vert?
ANDY: I really want to skate vert like Mark Gonzales. Gonz is who I look to for vert skating with his styled out frontside inverts and big airs and having all of the basics so proper.
MURF: Cool. When you turned pro, was there a party where they did a presentation?
ANDY: Yeah. That was really nice. Part of that was Sean Hayes putting that together in Vancouver.
MURF: What year was that?
ANDY: 2019. I was 22 and the party was on my birthday. The whole Vancouver family was there.
MURF: Nice. After you turned pro for Powell, what happened next?
ANDY: When my board came out, I did a video on YouTube for Braille. Nigel NKA introduced me to them and he said, “If we can get on Braille, they have got millions of subscribers and that could be a good platform for you to tell everyone about your board.” I made the decision to take Nigel’s advice and take a risk of going to a YouTube channel, which was super foreign, but it was a platform for me to express what I was doing, and that video got over a million views.
MURF: Did you have reservations about doing the YouTube thing or were you just open to trying to blow your board up?
ANDY: Oh, I was super worried at first.
MURF: What was your main concern?
ANDY: You lose street cred.
MURF: Why do you think that is?
ANDY: I think street skaters have survived all this time by just showing their tricks. They don’t need to show their personality. They’re so good that people want to be like them because they’re so good. Then it got to a point where everybody in the world is amazing on a skateboard. Then you realize that the one guy you did look up to is an asshole. Then there is this local guy at the skatepark that is way more inspiring to hang out with and he becomes popular through YouTube videos. It starts to steer away from how good you are at skateboarding and it starts to go towards how personable you are.
MURF: Well, it’s about looking at skateboarding in a different way, right?
ANDY: Totally. 100%.
MURF: When I think of how you look at Dogtown and Z-Boys and get inspiration from that, it shows me that you’re not looking at it like a sport. It’s a life philosophy to you and you pay homage to it with the way you skate. Watching you do 360s, it flashes me back to the Dogtown era of Stacy tricking out ten 360s in a row. There’s soul to it. When I see you skate, I’m like, “Andy is skating bowls and locking into a Smith grind on this ledge at 100 miles an hour and he’s doing daffys because it’s exactly what he wants to do.” You’re pushing to be more creative and I’m glad that Powell is supporting a dude like you.
ANDY: It’s all George. 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.
MURF: It’s pure organics. George is the brains. He is going to keep innovating and keep evolving. Most people would be like, “You have to come out with a shape that’s going to sell.” You don’t have to deal with that vibe, which is sick.
ANDY: Yeah. It’s unbelievable that I don’t have to deal with that vibe. George is the scientist. He is the best in the world at making the best wheels, best boards, best bushings and best bearings.
MURF: So you can just go out and have fun. You could be like, “George, put me on the road and I’ll do a contest a month and the rest of the time I’m going to be skating with the locals.” He’d probably be like, “Right on. When do you want to fly out?”
ANDY: Yeah. He’s so fun-oriented and so much about the love. That’s a plan that he would okay before I would. I’d be like, “I have to go do more productive stuff.” He’d be like, “Go hang with the locals.”
MURF: The beauty is that it is productive meeting the locals. In the long run, that’s going to help sell more of your boards because people will be meeting a guy who is stoked. Just watching you skate, I’m like, “Andy is from Vancouver, and he knows PD and rides for Skull Skates. That’s so punk!” When I talked to Danforth about you, he’s like, “I’m going to interview that kid too, Murf.” I’m like, “Fuck yeah!” We need positive skateboarders like you.
ANDY: [Laughs] Yes! It’s breaking down that boundary of what it means to be nice too. You can swear and get drunk and party and it doesn’t make you an asshole. Some people like to tie the two together. I don’t even mean to open that can of worms but, when you think of Danforth, you don’t think he’s a nice guy by his image. Then you meet him and you’re like, “This guy’s heart is huge.” He is Street Survival and you see how much he did to teach the youth how to skate. I don’t have enough fingers to count how many tricks I stole from Bill.
MURF: Yeah. You can’t judge a book by its cover. When kids see a guy like you do tricks like they’ve never seen before, it’s probably going to inspire them to skate and they could turn into lifers like you.
ANDY: It’s so sick when you’re at the park and you see a lifer and you just see it in their eyes. They’re in it. There is this little kid at the White Rock Skatepark and his name is Jackson. He’s eight or nine and he just started skating and he’s a lifer. He’s like, “Andy! Andy! Check this out!” He pushes full speed and then jumps off his board before he even gets to the ramp and then body slams into a quarterpipe and then he gets up and he’s like, “Yeah! Did you like that?” He doesn’t even realize that it wasn’t a trick. I’m like, “You’re addicted.”
MURF: Yes! So, over the last few years, where has skateboarding taken you?
ANDY: Before COVID, I was doing a lot of travel for the Olympic qualifying contests. World Skate sets up these contests and they’ll have bowl and street, the two disciplines. Each country can send three representatives for their country. There are a lot of logistics and I’m going to butcher all the rules if I get too into it. I just show up and skate.
MURF: Are you riding street and bowl?
ANDY: I really wanted to skate in both events, but the Dew Tour in Long Beach broke me because the street contest was during bowl practice, so I had to miss practice. I’d like to skate in both and work towards that. I’m ranked in bowl and street, but I’m a higher up for bowl, so I’m going with bowl.
MURF: Are you on the Olympic Skateboarding team for Canada?
ANDY: I am. I’m number one in Canada right now for bowl. I’m stoked. That’s a pretty awesome stat to be able to spit out at people, like security guards. “I’m representing your country right now!”
MURF: Yes! How do you view the Olympics when it comes to skateboarding?
ANDY: To me, it’s just another contest. Contests are just an aspect of skateboarding. You’ve got bowl, street and freestyle for the kinds of skateboarding. For the other parts, you’ve got contests, filming, soul skating and homie sessions. They are all different vibes. Some people only do contests and never go out filming. Some people only go out filming and never do homie sessions. Contests are just another aspect of skateboarding to love. I will start complaining when they start fucking up, but I’m not against another contest. It’s really important to me and I want to make it to the Olympics so bad. I know for sure that there is somebody in there that’s going to be having hella fun and maybe pull a Neil Blender and start spray painting the bowl mid-run or something. That has to happen in the Olympics. If that happens in the first year of skateboarding being in the Olympics, then everyone gets what skateboarding means.
MURF: What color spray paint are we talking? Florescent colors or some flat black?
ANDY: Flat black, bro! [Laughs] This is actually so unreal. With the amount of rules at the Olympics, it’s probably going to be the only contest where I could not sneak in a can of spray paint. The TV cameras will be panning the action and maybe you’ll see me there with a can behind my back.
MURF: That would be so punk rock! You’d be the hero. The Red Dragons would love that! PD would be stoked.
ANDY: Punk rock! That’s they way they roll in Vancouver.
MURF: As far as skateboarding goes, is it getting more and more popular in Vancouver?
ANDY: I’d say so. Vancouver was popping when Slam City Jam was going on in the early 2000s. Recently, Montreal took over with the Dime contest. Dime blew up and Montreal was the skate city for Canada. Since COVID, I feel like the skate essence is returning to Vancouver to represent Canada.
MURF: Are you getting any new skateparks built?
ANDY: We’ve got a couple of newer parks and a lot of the newer guys are refurbishing the older parks and now they’re new again. It’s better than getting a new park because you’ve got all of the heritage of the older parks and they skate like a new park.
MURF: You’ve already got the transition dialed. People will be traveling more soon and we’ll all get together and ride and it’s going to be sick.
ANDY: Yeah. I gotta get out to the East Coast.
MURF: Come to New York City.
ANDY: New York is my dream destination. I’ve been there a few times and I went to Times Square and MOMA and Central Park and I was hanging out at LES. I went out for the Damn Am contest that they had there. It was so good. I love Manhattan. I just love the whole vibe and the grimy ground and being able to skate around the city.
MURF: What are your plans for the next year?
ANDY: Well, the big product that I’m trying to promote now is my helmet. I have released my own helmet under my own company called Mind Control.
MURF: Who produces that?
ANDY: They are made by a popular snowboard company called Sandbox. I’ve been rocking their lids my whole life and I’ve been trying to do this helmet for years and it finally came out. That is taking all my brainpower right now, figuring out how to tell everybody how excited I am about it.
MURF: You’re one of the only street skaters, besides Mike Vallely, who runs the helmet. How long have you been doing that?
ANDY: It goes back to when I was a kid taking skate lessons. The other kids would wear helmets during the lessons and then take them off when the lesson was over. I was like, “That’s so wack that they have to be inauthentic and can’t be themselves during the lessons.” So I thought, if I have to wear it, I should get used to wearing it. As I started getting older and I’m still wearing my helmet, people are starting to be like, “Bro, you can’t do that.”
MURF: Are they in your face with that vibe?
ANDY: Well, they weren’t in my face when I was a kid, but it got gnarlier as I got older until I got old enough that it didn’t matter. I’d say that age 16 to 20 was hard. Even in these last few years, I still get people wondering why am I wearing a helmet, but it’s so important. When I skate, I don’t want to risk my personality. I don’t want to risk my thought process. My brain is not something that I’m willing to sacrifice for skateboarding. I value my brain more than skateboarding. It’s the thing that brought me to skateboarding.
MURF: Do you see a lot of demand for helmets?
ANDY: The demand is high. All of the years that I’ve been skating, I’m constantly being asked what kind of helmet I’m wearing. I have a hard time promoting things that I don’t know everything about, so I wanted them to be mine.
MURF: Do you have a custom design for a helmet that you think is better?
ANDY: I have a helmet design in my brain that would be the most badass helmet, but it takes so much money and cooperation from these big companies. I have to prove myself first. I don’t have a George in the helmet market that is just going to pour blind faith into whatever I do. I’m so blessed with George. Whenever I come up with something new, I think, “How did I handle this before?” Then I remember. George handed it to me.
MURF: Now you’re learning to run a business. Everything you’ve learned, you’re going to bring to the future.
ANDY: Yeah. I’ve got great resources that I can call upon too, like George and PD and my dad. My dad is an entrepreneur and very business-minded and he always has things to say that are helpful. I’m so blessed to have such a cooperative and supportive team around me. That is essential for success.
MURF: You’re putting in the hard work and you’re probably going to have even more people wanting to sponsor you.
ANDY: That would be dope. If that happens, hopefully, I’ll be able to hire more filmers and do more videos and get more messages out.
MURF: Totally. You’ll get the right people behind you with your spirit and your heart.
ANDY: Thanks so much, Murf.
MURF: You’re making me and Danforth proud.
ANDY: That makes me so happy. I’m going to be honest with you. Growing up, I thought that I had to pick street or freestyle or bowl and I thought that I had to pick the hardcore market or the family friendly market. I was really worried when I started doing YouTube and Braille and all of that stuff that the hardcore market would fade away even though I hadn’t changed. With people like Bill and PD and you, it just doesn’t even matter. You just have to be undeniable. You gotta be punk. Danforth did that cheesy Street Survival thing and I thought that was the coolest thing ever. He was himself the whole time. He didn’t put on an act.
MURF: You do what you have to. Just be yourself and keep doing what you’re doing.
ANDY: Thank you. This is the shit. I’m so hyped up right now. I’m so stoked that it’s not raining so I can go push somewhere after this.
MURF: Go ride! My final question is this. What is your duty now for the future?
ANDY: My duty is to learn lessons worth sharing and then share them effectively.
MURF: Yeah! You’re doing the right thing. I’m stoked for you. Thanks for the inspiration.
ANDY: Fuck yeah! Thanks, Murf.
ANDY: Peace. Much love.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 take place July 23, 2021 to August 8, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan, with the Men’s Park Skateboarding Competition set to air on NBC in the USA on August 4th, 2021.
Great read of a truly inspiring human. Love Andy’s view and journey he is taking w skateboarding it’s all the sport offers wrapped up in one. Very proud that he is being supported by Powell Peralta because he belongs there. Thanks Murf and Juice for always keeping skateboarding real!