Interview by Nick Engvall (@NickEngvall)
Paul Rodriguez Jr. is better known to most of the world as simply P-Rod. After his father, actor/comedian Paul Rodriguez, gave him his first skateboard at the age of 12, P-Rod's life purpose became much more clear. P-Rod was meant to skate. He's regarded by most as one of the best street skateboarders in the world, and he does it with a style that is much different than the stereotypical rebelliousness that is often commonly associated with (and the downfall of) many legendary skateboarders.
From his Rookie of the Year award from Transworld back in 2002, to his fifth X-Games gold last summer, P-Rod remains one of the hardest-working and most humble people in skateboarding. His success is no surprise and neither is his long term partnership with Nike SB. Now on his seventh signature model from Nike, the Nike SB P-Rod 7, we found out what the process of creating a new shoe entails for him, the pressures of being one of the biggest names in skateboarding and which of his heroes he wants to collaborate with more than anything.
What is the process for you like when it's time for a new signature model?
The process starts off with me sitting down with the shoe designers and those guys picking my brain and asking me what I'm into, from anything — from books, to movies, to music, to cars, anything and everything. They pick my brain and try to get into my personality. From there, they take that information and somehow incorporate it into to different drawings. They make a whole bunch, a series of 10 or maybe even 20 drawings of all kinds of different things. I go through them and say, 'Wow, this one looks sick." Or, "The sole from that one would look sick on this one." "Can we try this and that?" We whittle it down until we get the final, final drawing. Then we sample it. I skate it. Depending on how it feels, we take away things or add things, tweak things. You do that for about two or three rounds of samples until we get to the final one usually.
In that process, is there a particular part that you're more concerned with? Maybe pieces from the previous model, or does that all happen after you've skated in the new model?
If I have a specific idea from somewhere, or an idea from a shoe that hit me I'll get it to them beforehand, but usually I wait until the sample comes out. I know the designers know how to make a shoe look good. That's what they do. So for me, then of course, once we have the design and look of the shoe that we like, my main involvement with the shoe is making sure it skates right, feels right, and it's what I want, to make sure that it's up to my specifications as to what makes a good skate shoe.
With the new P-Rod 7, is there anything in particular that is your favorite part about it?
Yeah, it's the toebox. I really like the toebox. It reminds me of a Dunk or a Jordan I. To me, in my opinion, that's just like a perfect toe. Perfect fit, not too pointy, not too round and then this time we don't have the smooth toe piece. We have the layered toe piece and I'm glad to have that back.
The Dunk is one of those shoes that everyone collaborates on. The 7 really does have a classic feel and now with Nike SB partnering with Street League, there's a lot of potential for more global awareness. Are collabs something you're thinking about doing?
Definitely. With a shoe, we always want to do that special collab or next-level tier, to get that hype and get the sneakerheads excited about it, a quickstrike type of thing with it. So, definitely be on the look out for that. I don't know if we can get too deep into it, but yeah.
With Nike involved in Street League now, does that put any more pressure on you being the main guy for SB?
No, you know, luckily Street League itself is already pressure-filled enough, it ain't gonna get any more. Once there's enough pressure, that's just all that there is. I put enough pressure on myself to want to do great. Nobody can want me to do better than I want myself to do better. It feels good. I'm happy that Nike is now the face of Street League and I'm very grateful to be in a position with Nike where I'm going to be the one they are pushing the most during this time. It's a huge honor and huge blessing. But once I'm there at the contest, it's all business. I'm not thinking about none of that.
OK, last question. It's gotta be awesome having your own shoe, you've had one with Nike for a while now but is there anything that you could imagine happening sneaker-wise, maybe seeing someone you look up to wearing your shoes, or something like that, that would really make you feel like this is it?
Yeah man! I don't know how or in what way it could ever happen, or if this person would ever be interested, but Jay-Z is my biggest hero on this planet alive right now. So obviously the dream, collab, or even just wearing a pair would be like, it would be enough to make me feel like I did everything I needed to do on this earth. I don't know how. If I could just let my imagination roam, that's it. That's what it would be.
That would be awesome. Thanks for your time. And you're headed to Kansas City next for Street League, so good luck out there.
Yeah, man. Kansas City this weekend. Thank you.