At only 25 years old, Paul Rodriguez, has established himself as one of skateboardings most unstoppable forces. Since his early days as a young upstart riding for City Stars, Paul’s gone on to accomplish practically everything any pro skater could want and more. From major contest wins to countless big money contracts, to video game characters, to big screen movie roles. If P. Rod isn’t already a household name, then your household is simply misinformed.
What’s most remarkable about Paul’s limelight success is his undeniable core credibility. His superhuman innovation and talent as a street skater continues to unfold to this day, giving him the ammo to silence any would-be hater, time and time again. Just watch last weeks release of Paul’s Itunes Plan B part, Me, Myself and I and you’ll be rendered fully unhateable.
CCS caught up with Paul to talk a bit about his nickname, motivation, his signature SB goods and those insane nollie late kickflips he does. Read on and get inside the head of the one only, P. Rod.
So, how did you get the P. Rod nickname? You know what’s funny is, I actually kind of gave that nickname to myself. When I was younger I used to hang out with Spanky all the time and I was like, ‘That’s so cool, you got a nickname. I want a nickname, no one ever gave me a nickname when I was a little kid.’ So I was all into it and I was watching TV and I noticed people were calling Jennifer Lopez J-Lo. I was like, ‘Ok, J-Lo, I get it. That’s your first name and your last name.’ I thought, ‘How would that work with my name.’ P. Rod, I thought that sounded funny. But everyone started calling me it when I was on a City Stars trip. When I got to the hotel the guys were all, “Yo, P. Rod’s here!” We were laughing and that was our inside joke, our inside name for me. And one time I was doing a signing in a mall and some kid came up to me and goes, “Hey P. Rod, what’s up?!” I don’t know how he found out but then all of a sudden everywhere kids were calling me P. Rod. And that was it. So I kind of kooked-it and gave myself my own nickname (laughs).
I feel like someone in your position could easily chill for a bit, but it seems like your constantly working and racking up coverage. What keeps you driven all the time? I just love to skate. This has been my dream since I’ve been a real little kid. I’m finally living it in this sort of fantasy world with all these opportunities and it just drives me. And when you get some good coverage out and you feel good about it, your confidence is up and you want to continue doing it. I just want to keep the momentum going as long as I’m physically able and still young. I feel like I’m still in my prime and I want to leave skateboarding knowing that I put my all into it. I don’t want to leave knowing that I took advantage of every year of my prime skate years. I want to leave skateboarding with my head held high, like I was given this opportunity and I did my best with it.
Yeah, there’s been a ton of guys that just sat on their talent and let it all dwindle? I’ve seen a lot of that happen as well. When you’re working so hard as a little kid and you finally make it to the pro level and you get a shoe and whatnot, you just feel like the work was just to get you there. When I turned pro and all that, I felt like this is when the work is just beginning. You spent all those years to get noticed but the real work is just beginning. It’s like if you went into the NBA and you were just like, “All right, I’m in the NBA now, I played my heart out in college ball but now I’m just gonna chill.” To me that just doesn’t make any sense. This is what I’ve always dreamed about. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life and as long as my body can physically skate, I just want to skate, whether it’s at a pro level or not, I just want to have fun. The day I can’t physically ride a board, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m going to go crazy.
I feel that you could have easily stuck with certain tricks throughout your career and you would have be just fine. Instead you’ve progressed and continue to progress so rapidly. What inspires you to push yourself to learn new tricks? New tricks inspire me to learn new tricks. It’s like when you learn a new trick it’s like, “Whoa, I can do this now!” You sort of get that dialed and for me that gets my curiosity going and it’s like, “Ok, well I can do this…maybe I can do this now?” It’s like a building block, you just want to keep building up and see where you go. And lucky for skateboarding, there’s no end. There’s no, “Ok I learned everything there is to learn.” You can’t beat the game, it’s just a never-ending game and while I’m physically able, I want to see what I can do, what I can become.
Do new tricks come to you in the middle of the night? Yeah, sometimes you just get a spontaneous idea. Sometimes it’ll happen in the midst of a session. You’ll just be trying a trick and you accidentally get into a different trick. Or sometimes you just get a spontaneous urge. It all happens differently. But some tricks you dwell on them and think of them for weeks, months even years. And some of them just happen on the spot. Those are great feelings when that happens.
Are you happy landing tricks and being done with them, or would you rather get tricks on lock? There are tricks that I’ve just done once. Filmed them and never done them again because they were super hard. But I do get OCD sometimes where I don’t want to just learn a trick and just do it once. Then it’s just an accident, like you keep trying it until you accidentally land it and that’s it. Sometimes I want to actually learn the trick and know how to do the trick. I’ve gotten some tricks on a level that I can do on a consistent basis and I’ve got other tricks that are super hard for me, that I’ve sat and tried for hours and maybe landed one. In general, I definitely try to be consistent because then when you go out and skate you just have a session. It’s fun to keep flowing.
For the longest time the nollie late flip consisted of a nollie and a janky spazzed-out kick down of the front foot. And then you came around and started flicking it like a real kickflip. How did you learn them like that? I remember when I started doing them exactly. I had just left City Stars and I was at the Northridge Skatepark. I had seen it done the kick down way and I was trying it like that and I couldn’t do it. And I was just f#@%ing around too, I wasn’t trying to seriously learn the trick. I was kicking down but couldn’t do it. Then I had the thought in my head, ‘I kickflip all the time and this is how I kickflip’, so I just tried it as if I was kickflipping, just to try to get my brain to understand the motion of the trick. I didn’t plan it, it just evolved because my foot was used to making that flick motion. My foot was used to flicking, not kicking down. I just tried it with that and it was working. It was kind of a cool little thing because I didn’t see people doing it like that with the flick, so I could kind of put my own little twist on it.
Did people trip when they first so you do it like that? A little bit. At first it was just kind of a novelty trick that I would sometimes whip out in a game of SKATE. I never thought about taking it any further until a couple years later.
Let’s talk a bit about the Nike SB P. Rod IV. What went into the design of it? Basically for me, I wanted the shoe to be simplified. Just nice suede, that’s my favorite material for gripping, and a nice sole that will protect your feet but isn’t too thick so you can’t feel your board. I never skated vulcanized shoes until my P. Rod 2.5 and it feels good. But for me, if I want to jump down stairs I don’t feel safe in vulcanized shoes, I feel safer in a good cupsole that’ll protect my feet. So that was my idea for the P. Rod IV.
So will you go back between the 2.5’s and the IV’s depending upon what you’re skating? I will. Some days I’ll end up skating a gap in the vulcanized but I can tell the difference in the way my feet feel when I’m done skating. I don’t like to switch it up too quickly because if I’ve been skating in the 2.5 and I’m all used to it and they feel good at the moment, I won’t switch it up right away.
The Nike P. Rod Apparel line. What inspires the clothing designs? Skateboarding. Really, the way I look at it, Nike is an athletic company. They’ve always built shoes and clothes designed for specific sports. And for me, skateboarding, even though it’s not always considered a sport, you are an athlete. It takes athleticism to skate. I look at it like, the Lakers, they have their uniform. My jeans, my t-shirt, that’s my skate uniform, if you will. I just took the clothes I like to wear and add little things. For instance, all the shirts are dry-fit so when you sweat, the shirts mat all the sweat away from your body. And even the chinos have stretch in them. I hate when the crotch is too tight on a pair of jeans. Even though you might like the way they feel, the crotch might be too tight. I just like to add functional parts to the clothes. Ultimately it’s just your street casual wear that’s mixed in with a bit of function.
So what’s up for you next? Any plans? Just staying healthy, staying on the board and just trying to became a better skateboarder, little by little. But I don’t have a specific plan, I’ve been fortunate enough to reach every goal I’ve ever wanted of myself, so at this point I learned that if I keep focusing on skateboarding and doing what I love, opportunities will keep coming. They’re just a byproduct of my loving what I do.
All Images Courtesy of Plan B.
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