By Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag September 2007
Jeez, how do you write an intro for someone like Paul Rodriguez? I mean, he's one of the best, right? He's come so far in such a short while, and he's only 22. One can't even begin to imagine what the next ten years might be like for Paul and what he will do for skateboarding.
I did some snooping around… trying to get dirt on Paul, and Chet Childress summed it up best for me:
"To be honest, I don't have any dirt on Paul because he is such a good kid. I mean, the level that this guy is at would give anybody else and ego the size of this planet. Then add his skating to that… the kid lands bolts every time. Every time I go on the road with Paul he basically gets enough stuff for a video part."
Was it difficult growing up with a famous father? Or did it help prepare you for your career?
It's definitely helped me in certain aspects. I see how he carries himself. I definitely was privileged in the aspect that I got to be on movie sets and meet some famous people, but that was pretty much it. I only saw him once a month or something, but I would have liked to see him more growing up. We're so much closer now.
I remember listening to the Howard Stern show like, 10 years ago, and he was on and shouted out DNA for sending you free stuff.
Oh yeah, I remember that!
Were you raised privileged because of him? How does money change things now that you have your own?
I definitely didn't grow up living in no mansion—just a nice, regular house. I was never to the point where I didn't have nothing, so when I finally get it I just go overboard. Now I'm taking care of the family, my mother and stuff. But I don't like to get too focused on it. Money's great, don't get me wrong, I love buying cool shit and being able to live the life I live, but I don't want to get too sucked into it.
Do you ever feel too grown up already… finances, managers, agents, real estate, etc.?
There's definitely those aspects, but I'm glad to be learning it sooner than later so I can get it dialed and learn how to manage myself. It's definitely challenging at times, and I get lazy as far as answering emails and returning phone calls. Sometimes its like, "Damn, I just want to skate!" But it beats the hell out of any other job. You've got to become a man someday, so I might as well get it over with.
People are always like, "Oh, Paul Rodriguez is the best skateboarder…" Do you ever feel any weird pressure from that?
Yeah, sometimes. I don't even think there can be such a thing as a "best skater," you know? I can't compare myself with Tony Trujillo. It's like total different worlds. And if there was a best skater, it'd probably be Daewon (laughs). But it definitely bugs me out sometimes. I go to demos and I'll just realize I'm nervous 'cuz sometimes people expect so much. I'll start just missing the basic shit, like kickflips and crooked grinds.
You won X Games in '04 and '05 and then last year it seemed like you weren't having a good day at all.
Yeah, I was definitely nervous about that. I wasn't going in and expecting a third win. I can't believe it happened twice, but I definitely didn't want to suck that day, and I think putting pressure on myself from that, I was definitely more nervous that contest than most other contests. But regardless, fuckin' Chris Cole was skating insane that day and everybody was skating really good.
When you left éS for Nike, it was pretty much the biggest and most talked about shoe deal in skateboarding. How did it feel to be in the center of all that? People talking shit and whatnot…
Yeah, I never heard anything in my presence, you know? The Internet was going off and all that, but I never actually felt attacked or anything, so, I don't know, it was just normal to me and I knew there was some controversy over it, but I'm happy with my decision.
As a kid, Koston and Penny were your idols. You end up on éS and Girl, then you leave éS for Nike and Girl for Plan B. Were those tough decisions for you?
Totally. I didn't want to disrespect Eric in any way, for basically hooking me up with all the sponsors I had at that point. I was super grateful, and still am. But certain situations come and it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. And you gotta think for yourself and be your own person. As much as I wanted to be Koston and Penny, I wanted to be myself. You can't just fully take someone's identity. I wanted to be them because they were who they were without being like anyone else, and I respected that.
What dude on Nike gets you really psyched?
Omar, of course! He's like the fucking… the hype man. He runs around getting you psyched. Just a super happy attitude. He's a good guy to have around.
Are there any pros that you still fan out on?
Yeah, when I see Koston, it's just like, "Fuck, there he is!" Penny, for sure. When I first met him I was like, shaking nervous. I turn back into like 15, 16 when I see Reynolds, all excited.
As far as ability and talent, does skating come natural for you? Danny Supa told me you're an example of "practice makes perfect."
I definitely wouldn't say that it's natural. I dedicate a whole lot of time to doing a trick. The way I see it, talent isn't necessarily some unforeseen ability that a person has. Talent isn't in your arms or your legs. It's the way your mind views it. I was just so obsessed with skating as a kid, it's all I thought about. When I wanted to learn a trick, I would be in school thinking about it all day, so by the time I got to do the trick, I'd been planning it all day. You just feel it in your body as you're thinking about it, and then it just kind of helps when it comes to life.
When you're not skating. What are you up to?
Yeah, I don't really got much of a life otherwise, I hang out with my girl. I love watching TV and eating ice cream. But I gotta do a lot of other shit…meetings, sometimes I gotta film stuff. When I have the time, and I'm not skating, I just love to pile out.
What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
I'm gonna have to say either chocolate chip cookie dough, or rainbow sherbet.
What's the gnarliest thing you've ever seen done on a skateboard?
As far as gnarly, like "I can't believe this guy had the balls to do that," gnarly, is obviously Danny's Great Wall, Bob jumping off the Grand Canyon, grinding the rail to the air dive. But as far as, like, "Oh my God, I can't believe they did this trick," fuck, it probably has to be something that Daewon did. I think it was the DVS part where he does switch nose manny across the whole crazy wash, like forever. Not your average skater could do that, you know? He does so many tricks that are just not feasible. He's the dude that could do anything.
Are there any tricks that you can't do?
Oh, for days! Frontside noseslides—it's almost like they're easier down rails 'cuz you don't have to worry about locking in and holding it. The rail takes you down.
In the City Stars days: Herman, Spanky, Mikey Taylor, Devine Calloway—an incredible group of kids were on that team. Did you guys ever imagine that little am squad would have the impact they had on skateboarding today?
No, man, but I knew all of us knew we wanted to try our hardest to be the best at what we do. I knew everyone was gonna make it and have a career at it. But just to see how we are really all doing, it's pretty awesome. I'm glad to see everyone doing well.
Is anyone ever gonna learn what that SHS means?
I don't think so. I think we're taking that one to the grave.
What's the story behind "P-Rod"?
I was in Slam City Jam in Vancouver, like '01 or '02, and for some reason I just had been hearing a lot about J-Lo, J-Lo, J-Lo. I was like, hmm, I wonder if I did that with my name how would that work? And I was like, "P-Rod," and I would giggle.
We were in the hotel room and Caine Gayle was talking to me and I said something like, "The P-Rod would be down for that," and he was like, "What?!" And he started laughing. So he was calling me it for a little bit. Then one day kids at a little demo were calling me that and I was like, "How the hell do they know?" And it kind of just stuck.
I also heard you used to sleep with your skateboard?
Yeah. Pretty much anytime I got a brand new board, or new skate shoes, I would sleep with it. I was just so stoked. The first time I started getting packages I slept with my product. It was my tradition.
How about something you dislike in skateboarding or the industry?
I wish skaters would see for themselves. Instead of just being told what is cool or what isn't. There is no right or wrong answer to that, even if everyone in the world thought you were a nerd for doing what you were doing, if that's where your heart is, just do it. Whatever, it's your life, and I just wish people would just think for themselves a little more.
I find it interesting when somebody does sort of break the mold, and they do their own thing, it usually ends up working out really well.
Yeah, it's like the guy in the room who just says what everyone is thinking. Sometimes you've got to go for it.
Tell us about the RV wheel coming off and getting choked by Lee Smith.
Yeah, City Stars trip, I was sitting in the front passenger seat of the motor home we had rented to drive to Canada, and Lee was asleep in the seat right behind me. And the front left wheel just snapped off the axle, and we just started skidding out. As the motor home was grinding to a halt, Lee just woke out of a dead sleep—it was like 4 or 5 in the morning, just barely breaking light—and he grabs up in front of me, more or less protecting me, so I wouldn't fly out the window. But in doing that, not realizing it, he was choking me out.
You've been pretty open about your beliefs in God. Is there a certain religion you adhere to, or a certain God, or is it just an interpretation of your own?
I suppose all our images of God are definitely out of our own interpretations, but I believe in Jesus Christ and the things that he spoke about and taught about. I believe there was a lot of wisdom in the way he lived his life, and I respect it. God the Almighty looks after us, you know?
What imprint do you hope to leave on skateboarding?
Man, I never really thought about it. It'd be nice to be respected later on down the line. I'm sure that Alva and all of them appreciate that they're still respected and whatnot.
What's the most valuable lesson that skateboarding has taught you?
I look at the world as a skateboarder. It's taught me a lot of patience and discipline. Sit there and try a trick over and over and over for hours. It's kept me in shape, it's brought me all over the world. I've seen different cultures and a lot of places on this Earth that not a lot of people get to go to.
What's the best advice anyone's ever given you?
My dad told me, "What got you there, will keep you there." That's what I always remember. Basically, no matter what goes on around in this career, or where this career takes me, skating is what my foundation is.