Andy Roy's Favorite Problems

We spoke to the professional skater about his top-six good problems and how he uses them to balance things in an unstable world.

by Andy Roy; as told to Kevin Wilkins
Sep 28 2017, 9:30pm

Andy Roy is, in many ways, the prototypical skateboarder. A tatted hell-raiser born and raised in NorCal, his approach to skateboarding—and life—has always been gloves-off, full-throttle, and fuck-you. Bystanders beware.

Growing up skating in Santa Cruz, California, Roy professionally repped the town's local manufacturers, first with Santa Cruz Skateboards and then Consolidated (with a stint on Christian Hosoi's Focus between the two). By his early 20s, he'd escaped to San Francisco and was granted tenure with Anti-Hero Skateboards for his full-tilt, ATV efforts. Once on a team with dark artists like John Cardiel, Julien Stranger, Sean Young, Tony Trujillo, and Bob Burnquist, Roy became legendary for consuming all SF had to offer. He was a known force at local skate haunts like Jake's Widow Maker, Jim's Ramp, the Berkley tennis courts, and, of course, a little bit of the hills and streets San Francisco is famous for.

But into each life, some problems will fall, and in the midst of it all Roy developed a life-consuming drug habit. In and out of jail for more than a decade, Roy swore off both his heroin and California Department of Corrections problems in 2008 and has been a free man ever since—skating, coaching, odd-jobbing, and bringing his bastard style of hype MCing to the scavengers of Thrasher and VICELAND's King of the Road.

Skateboarding is often referred to as an addiction among skaters, and all things considered, it's a good problem to have. Breaks, bruises, and occasional run-ins with the law are infinitely better than the shadowy alternatives Roy wrestled with. That idea in mind, we called Roy, the subject of last night's Epicly Later'd on VICELAND, for a rundown of his top-six good problems and an explanation of how he uses them to balance things in an unstable world.

Watch Epicly Later'd on VICELAND Wednesdays at 10 PM.

Collecting Problem

I just was all about holding on to shit. I don't care what it is; I'm collecting it. Anything that deals with skateboarding, even if it's the toy that comes out of the Cracker Jack box—if there's a dinosaur on a skateboard—I'm saving it. My mom got mad at me because I was taking up space in her garage. She was like, "What are you doing? We can't even park our cars."

It's a problem having all this stuff, and figuring out where to put it. The flip side of it, the good problem of it, is I got too much cool shit. I want to start a museum. That's what my life goal is now. It's amazing for me to know that I got all this stuff, and one day I will make it happen. Even though I'm a broke motherfucker, I will make it happen somehow,

San Francisco Problem

I grew up in Santa Cruz. It's a real small town. Everybody knows what you're doing. Basically, with the shit that I was doing, bugging, pestering people, and being a shithead, I was getting paranoid that someone eventually was going to try to hurt me real bad. So I moved to San Francisco.

San Francisco was my outlet to get away from Santa Cruz—go skate and get away from it. It's just one big, huge skatepark. I was lucky to have San Francisco so close to me. It's my second home. So it's a pretty goddamn good problem to have: a lot of homies who have your back and a place to get away from all the bullshit that I used to run into in Santa Cruz.

Friends Problem

I've caused a ruckus with so many people, but my friends have always been there for me—always had my back. I got these good friends who bring out the best in me. I get fired up when I'm around them.

Before, I was so closed-minded. I hated everyone. I was such a dick. I was an asshole to everybody. Then, you know what? Man, you get older, you start mellowing out, there are good people everywhere, and you just open your mind. Hey, man, people aren't so bad. It's better not to be a dick, nowadays. It's cool to have some fucking good friends around the world. Instead of trying to beat me up, they want to give me a hug or something instead.

I totally flipped from being a fucking asshole and having a hit list and wanting to fuck up everybody, to, "Man, everyone's all right. We're all in this together. We're all one big family." It's a fucking good problem, having so many homies.

Fired-Up Problem

We've skated with the gnarliest of the gnarly, and it's fucking rad to see who your heroes are or people you've seen in magazines and videos, but what really stokes me out is going to a park and running into some kids or even my friends who don't really skate… the smile on their faces when they're getting a grind, and they've never done it before… it's the raddest thing ever. It gets me so fired up. It stokes me out.

I love skating so much, dude, and I've been around it so long… when you watch someone skate, you know what they're capable of doing. So I'll see someone and be like, "Fucking try this," and then they try it and make it!

You only live once, so get it while you can. Your clock's ticking. I try to let these little kids know, "You get one shot at this, man. Have a blast and have some fun. You better get some." Or if my older friend's slacking and drinking a beer on the hill, "Come on, put that beer down! Let's fucking skate." I try to fire people up, and it fires me up. It's like, I just love that.

Tattoo Problem

I'm addicted to the tattooing deal. My mom hates it. "Oh my gosh, you're going to regret this." Like, "It's a little late, Mom. I've gone a little too far, so I'm just going with it."

When I was a kid, I was skinny. All my friends were bigger than me. So I said, "Screw it. I need to get tattoos to cover up my little fucking weird body." I wanted to distract people from tripping on my little getaway sticks—my legs. I tried to cover them up with tattoos. And I had a tiny head. So I went and fucking got a spider web tattooed on my head.

Now that I'm getting older, I'm getting wrinkles. I've got these crow's feet around my eyes. I gotta think of something. Maybe a black-eye tattoo. When I was a shithead kid, I would get a black eye, and that was like a trophy to me. And if I got two, I was like, "Dude, I'm a winner, winner. I got two trophies." So maybe I can get a black-eye tattoo, and that will cover some of those wrinkles.

Skateboarding Problem

Look, man, I did almost ten years in prison. Near the end of my going to jail, I was getting Thrasher, and just like seeing Julien [Stranger] and [John] Cardiel and Coco [Santiago] still skating. I was like, "Man, I'm a skateboarder. I'm not some fucking junkie. I'm not some convict."

My ex-wife talked me into hitting Julian back up. I was so embarrassed of what I did by bailing out on them—taking drugs and doing crimes instead of skating with the raddest dudes in skateboarding. And it's worked out… even though you could get in trouble for hopping a fence, emptying a pool, getting a trespassing ticket—there are so many different little problems—skateboarding is doing the reverse now: It's keeping me from doing those crimes.

I'm telling you, it saved me. If I didn't have skating, I'd be in prison for the rest of my life. But because of skating and how rad all the fucking skateboarders are, that's what I'm picking right there. I want to be a fucking skateboarder.