Renegade Training: First of all Andy, I wish to thank you for joining us at "The Code." I know the readers will enjoy the opportunity to hear from not only one of the great skateboarders of our era but one of the finest ambassadors for it as well. Andy's accomplishments are sick really:
- 7 X Games gold medals
- First place in the 2000 Gravity Games
- A U.S. Postage Stamp modeled after his likeness
- Policy related appearance and speech at the White House with former President, Bill Clinton
- Spokesperson for The Partnership for a Drug-Free America and ONDCP
Nothing much to add after that (hey a stamp?) so welcome aboard Andy I go to the skateparks and see kids just ripping it up (usually over my head), when they are barely taller than they're boards. So at what age did you start skating?
Andy MacDonald: I started when I was twelve years old. In 1985 that was about the age most kids got into skating. These days kids are starting younger and younger.
RT: I understand you built a ramp at home when you were growing up, that's so sweet. So you basically fell in love with skating and just made sure you could skate constantly. Growing up in the snowy confines of Mass must have made for some exciting wintry conditions.
ANDY: We built quite a few ramps around the neighborhood because there was nowhere else to go. In the wintertime we'd shovel off the snow and light the flatbottom on fire with kerosene to melt the ice and dry the plywood off. Then we'd have a pair of extra large galoshes sitting next to the ramp so that when your board flew off into the snow, you would wade out and get it without getting your skate shoes wet. Then a hair dryer on the deck would dry you grip tape. It was a bit more involved than skating is on the West coast but that's all we know and we were happy to have something to skate.
RT: Who did you used to skate with?
ANDY: My older brother got a board soon after I get mine and of course my three best friends had boards too. It was all about trying to keep up with my older brother around town.
RT: So in the beginning it really was a family thing, an experience with family.
ANDY: My family has always supported my skating. When I was in Junior High School, my father took my brother and I on a road trip down the East Coast from Michigan to Florida and back. We stopped at every skatepark and backyard ramp we could find. I dubbed it the A.K.R. tour, after the first names of the tour members. Andy, Kyle, Rod (my dad).
RT: That's pretty amazing Andy. I have been saying for some time now that Skateboarding besides being an extraordinarily underappreciated art/athletic form is also one of the great social situations where people get together. You have taken an extraordinary position as one of the great role models not only in Skateboarding but the entire sporting world. In an era where role models are so rare I hope people realize what you have done and what you exemplify.
ANDY: Skateboarding and skateboarders have long been kind of pressed to the outskirts of society and I think that is part of why you see such a brotherhood among skaters. It's also just the nature of our sport. As a skater, you are always psyched to see other skaters doing well, learning tricks and having fun. Skateboarders have always been among my closest and dearest friends and I'm just glad I've had a chance to show others what a great and positive thing skateboarding is.
RT: Any favorite skaters growing up?
ANDY: I always appreciated the trick wizardry of Tony Hawk, the style of Chris Miller and Lance Mountain always seemed to be having more fun than anyone else.
RT: What were your strong influences growing up?
ANDY: When I was very young my mother introduced me to Mohandas Gandhi. He was an amazing individual that to this day has had a profound effect on the way I live my life. I've also always looked to my father and mother growing up as I think any kid should be able to do.
RT: You are one of the few multi-discipline athletes there are victorious in both street and vert-any preferences?
ANDY: I'm a skateboarder plain and simple. I try not to limit myself to any one aspect of the sport. To me, skating everything makes you a better skater. If you get too specialized, I think you tend to miss out in the same way as if you only listened to one kind of music. There's so much out there to try.
RT: Skateboarding has gotten such an undeserved bad rap, which is such garbage. I don't know... I see it as a great expression of artistry and individualism and encourage people to get on a board young or old-any comments?
ANDY: Skateboarding is one of the few sports that does not allow for prejudice. Any age, any racial, social or economic background-you don't even have to live near a mountain or near the ocean. Anyone can start skateboarding because everyone has a street right outside their front door. As for a bad rap, skateboarding has been almost proud of it since the beginning. We've come a long way in breaking down some of the stigmas attached to skating but we've still got a long way to go.
People just have to be open enough to see what a positive, creative and fun thing skateboarding is and then get behind it.
RT: Skateboarding seems to keep evolving. Where do you see skateboarding going in the future?
ANDY: I dream of seeing a public skateboard park next to every basketball court and we are well on our way. Three years ago in America there were around 300 skateboard parks. Today that number is approaching 2000.
RT: Ok fun story, did you really carve-up the marble foyer of the White House. I did a public service announcement for the Partnership for a Drug Free America. At the start of the campaign I did a speech at the White House and introduced then President Bill Clinton. When I walked through the front doors and saw all those marble floors I just had to set my board down and have a roll. The secret service men were not nearly as excited about it as I was.
RT: That's awesome, jeez I thought Central Park was fun-but the White House! I better slide over the Renegade lid to you now, haha. You have obviously traveled the world skateboarding. Anywhere special?
ANDY: I'd always wanted to go to South Africa and I was lucky enough to have gone twice last year. Japan, Brazil and Australia are also favorites.
RT: You've been involved with some extraordinary people in the business community, great names with integrity like Powell, Airwalk, Sobe and Swatch.
ANDY: When I was a kid all I ever wanted was to ride for the Bones Brigade/Powell Skateboards so when I got my first pro model Powell board it was a pretty neat thing. Powell has been making skateboards for twenty-six years and this year I'm lucky enough to be working with them on my own brand, Andy Mac Skateboards. I've been with Airwalk Shoes for over ten years and together we just launched Andy Mac Shoes this past Christmas. The idea is to bring a quality skate shoe to kids at an affordable price. You can get them exclusively at Payless. I have my own line of pads/helmets and clothing due out this spring as well. I also ride for SoBe Beverages, Swatch Watches.
RT: Great to hear of your new shoe line and er I better get the new helmet and pads given the amount of time I spend on the ground. Tell us more about the new series of AndyMac skateboards, sounds amazing.
ANDY: Andy Mac Skateboards are made by Powell so you know the quality is the best. Just like my shoe line, the idea behind it is to provide kids with a quality board at a good price. Andy Mac Boards will be completes for around sixty bucks. They'll be at sporting goods stores and offer kids an alternative to the toy skateboards that are just rubbish. I've tested all the components myself so if it's good enough for me it's good enough for little Joey.
RT: That's incredible and long overdue for young kids-will they be widely available?
ANDY: My boards will be opened up to a wider distribution simply because a large part of the skateboarding public today does not get their boards at specialty shops. Or if they can find a skate shop, they can't afford over a hundred bucks for a complete. You'll be able to get my boards and pads/helmets at sporting goods shops like Garts.
RT: Any instructional videos or DVD's coming out too-because I loved the Powell "Basic Training."
ANDY: My skateboard is going to come with a free DVD. On it kids will find everything from tips how to care for your board to trick tips starting with some of the most basic fundamentals. There is also "directors cut" footage from some of my Powell video parts as well as hidden bonus footage. Fun stuff.
RT: I hear you also like to Surf and Snowboard-sweet. Are you able to get out much (and please note either answer will likely lead to me plodding you come out Surfing soon!)?
ANDY: I've been snowboarding as long as I've been skating but my schedule doesn't allow much more that one or two days on snow per year these days. I surf even less and wouldn't really call it surfing. It's more like floundering around with a surfboard attached to my ankle. I'm really terrible at it.
RT: Well you're going to have to come flounder with me sometime. Or at least we can watch the groms rip by us.
Finally Andy, I can't tell you how great it is to see a legend of sport teaching young skaters for the simple love of the sport. It is an honor and privilege to have had you visit with us. Thanks from all of us at "The Code."