From the ground up

Over the weekend we caught up with pro skater Kenny Anderson in Huntington Beach, CA, to chat about his new Converse KA-ONE sneaker, the Coastal Carnage skateboard competition and more.

So tell us about your new Converse shoe – what was the process like for you?

I wanted to do a cupsole because I was inspired by a shoe called the Star Player and I wanted to do something different to kind of test the old archives of Converse and found this classic trainer from the 70’s, and it has the one cup that skates like a vulc. Of course aesthetically I like the shoe, but for a cup, to be able to skate it right away like a vulcanized is great. So that was the initial process and from there I worked with Brandon the designer to make it more skateable while keeping the same classic Converse aesthetics.

Continue reading for the full interview and a look at the Holiday 2011 KA-ONE sneakers.

Photography: Pete Williams/

Converse Kenny Anderson KA-ONE Holiday 2011

How many different iterations did you go through to get it right?

A little bit, not too much. The main thing was getting the shape right, just how it fits on your foot, how it looks. Everything else was pretty basic, I wanted it as simple and basic as possible.

What are your top 3 skate shoes of all time?

Chuck Taylor. This is growing up. Chuck Taylor. Actually I guess Star Player, and this [KA-ONE]. I don’t want to name other brands but I did grow up with Chucks and that’s why I ride for Converse. I was that stubborn kid that only wanted to ride what he wanted to ride.

Did you wear Chucks on your time off when you weren’t skating as well?

Yeah. It was just everything about it. When I was Am.. Converse didn’t even have a skate program when I first I rode them. I rode for them in 97, 98, 99. But I was a stubborn kid, I would get offers from other shoe companies and I’d say “nah, I’m good, I can get Chuck Taylors from an outlet 2 for $20.” I’d rather do that. And that’s why I ride for Converse. It’s like a dream.

Can you tell us about your new commercial “LA to Vegas?”

Yeah. I was so stoked. When I first got back on – like I said I rode for them in 97, 98, 99 – this other video I did, I did the same concept. I did a kickflip nose wheelie from Vegas to LA. And when I got back on I thought it would be cool to go back home, where I’m from – Vegas – that’s where I was born and raised.

I wanted to do the same concept back to Vegas like I’m going back home. Like it’s a homecoming back to Converse. So you know, a bit of a deeper meaning. I wanted to do that right away but it never worked out. So when when the shoe launch came we thought “oh let’s do that” and it turned into this big production.

The ideas kept going and it got bigger. So I started to think of ways – like a Forrest Gump type of feeling – of people joining. I wanted everyone in the film to be relevant to my existence here. Whether they’ve influenced my through skateboarding or just life. So anyone you see joining me or sitting on the side, 99% of them are people who influenced me or helped get me to where I am today. So there’s a deeper meaning behind it. Hopefully the main thing is – it’s fun to watch and funny – but if you ask me like this you get the bigger story.

All in all I just wanted to show it, but when the whole process takes on a deeper meaning everyone gets more involved. It was hard. There were a lot of troopers out there doing it. All in all it was like a big reunion at the same time. Friends who haven’t seen each other in awhile; from the new Converse team to the original, back when I first rode for them. It was awesome. I’m super, super stoked on the way it came out.

Kenny Anderson cruises through the Coastal Carnage Bowl

What’s up with Coastal Carnage? What are you doing out here this weekend?

Yeah it’s cool. I’m not going to skate in it. I skated the bowl a couple times. It’s really fun. I’m more here for Tom [Remillard] and everyone else, but it’s awesome. I came here to support everything: the whole event, support the team, support Converse, see all my friends skate and so on. I’m actually a little hurt. These guys are on fire always. I don’t think I’d stand a chance healthy…

Who are your favorite riders in the event?

In the bowl right now you’ve got Tom Remillard who is one of the raddest dudes to watch, Converse or not. Zach Miller. This kid Robbie Russo, he doesn’t ride for Converse, but he’s really rad to watch too. I watched him grow up over in San Pedro skating. And to see him come from a kid from San Pedro to skating this bowl.. Everyone’s going “man, he’s like a wild card out here” and I feel like a proud uncle. It’s just rad to watch everyone do their thing here, figure out their lines, do what they can. It’s really hard to skate this bowl.

Kenny, Tom Remillard, Robbie Russo (and a ton of shirtless fans!) watch Rune Glifberg.

We got to see Lance Mountain earlier.

Yeah! That’s like.. I’m a huge fan. That’s like one of my childhood heroes.

We hear Tony Hawk is out here as well.

Yeah we had a little private session yesterday. I was making a joke like “no big deal I’m just skating with Tony Hawk.” He was ripping too.

That’s one good thing about this competition: like you have Tony Hawk and Lance Mountain and then you have someone like Tom Remillard, Robbie Russo, Zach Miller (who is Chris Miller’s son) and they’re all skating in the same bowl at the same time. You never really get to see that. There’s these dudes that you grew up with as your favorites and then there’s these new kids that are your favorites.

Kenny Anderson and 13-year-old Kalani David skating the bowl together.

Some kids out here are so young.

It’s amazing to see that progression. It’s awesome. Like I said I looked up to Tony and Lance and Chris [Christian Hosoi] growing up.. and then to see these new kids, nowadays I look up to them just the same. They’re above and beyond. So to see the generation gap… and they all skate together. It’s funny too because tricks are still the same. There’s some new modern stuff, but it’s still the same. You can’t beat a solid Smith grind.

Is there anything you can tell us about the future of your Converse sneaker?

We designed this to do different variations of the it, so we’re going to keep the KA-1 and do different variations of it, offering premium materials and different panels and stuff like that. The silhouette’s going to stay the same but we’re going to change it up over the seasons.

Is it always going to be a low?

I feel like there’s been talk of mids. I’d be stoked to do one. I like a good mid top, it’s nice. I like em low but it’s nice to have mids.

Interview: Pete Williams

Sneakersnstuff x New Era Cap
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