Everyone Is Perfect:
A Few Words with Andrew W.K.
He's the full-on, unashamed, no-apologies Utimate Party Guy. He's a Renaissance Man who dabbles in visual art, fashion, photography, music, and whatever the hell else, to the point where he seems to never need sleep. He's a rock philosopher who's crafted his own all-encompassing doctrine of fun and joy, one that he applies to every aspect of life. He's a motivational speaker, a supremely talented multi-instrumentalist, a commentator for Fox News, a gourmand, a noise-rock/reggae producer, a nightclub-owning entrepreneur, a children's book promoter, an advice columnist, an interviewer, a Global Angels
charity ambassador, an art lecturer, a performance artist, an emcee at comedy awards shows, a fastidious pen pal, a radio personality, a really, really nice, friendly guy, and -- most of all -- a totally enigmatic puzzle.
I'm talking about Andrew W.K., obviously, the guy who's single-handedly launched thousands (millions?) of badass parties at clubs, bedrooms, and frat houses across America. He's been praised, vilified, adored, dismissed, practically worshipped, heralded as a true-life musical Horatio Alger, and accused of being a colossal fraud, all in the span of less than a decade making music and spreading his do-what-feels-good philosophy around the globe. And yet, for all the exposure, the guy still feels like a mystery, at least to me -- the first time I heard "Party Hard", the question that immediately came to mind was, "holy shit...is this guy for real?" There's a fine line between fun-poking satire and honest love for Big Rock, and if he's the real thing, Andrew W.K. straddles it like nobody else, not even The Darkness. But how can anybody be all of this, do all of this, not to mention successfully, and stay sane?
Needless to say, I'm mystified by the guy -- and, okay, I'll admit it, there's a bit of a man-crush thing going on there, too. Andrew W.K. is like the cool buddy you always wished you had when you were a kid, back when things like parties with your friends, playing loud music with the windows rolled down, and breaking the rules seemed like the most epic things in the world. (Hell, maybe they actually were.) So, seeing as he's finally coming to town, I thought now'd be as good a time as any to try to make contact with the man himself. I fired off a pile of questions, not really expecting an actual response, but lo and behold, he responded.
UPDATE: Andrew W.K.'s appearance at the Keene St. Warehouse Party
at Keene St. Warehouse (1620 Keene St.) on Saturday, July 5th, has been cancelled, unfortunately. Excellent bands The Octopus Project, Winning, Andy Dixon, Bring Back the Guns, The Watermarks, The Riff Tiffs, O Pioneers!!!, Papermoons, American Sharks, Limb, Welfare Mothers, B., Lisa's Sons, & Blackie will still be playing.
SCR: When I've played your music for other people, the most common reaction, unfortunately, seems to be that they don't think it's at all serious. I typically hear comparisons to Weird Al or Spinal Tap, which is a shame because I think it totally downplays the quality of the music itself. From your standpoint, though, just how serious is this? Is this some kind of elaborate joke, or is this really you trying to make the music you love, with no self-referential humor intended?
Andrew W.K.: I'm serious about having fun, and I'm serious about creating exciting experiences for other people. There's absolutely no way I could've done all I've done so far in my life without being serious about doing it. It just happens that what I'm serious about is having the best time, all the time. At the same time, I think some people's confusion about me has come from them believing that life is either serious or a joke -- and for better or worse, I don't think life is that black and white.
I realize that some people have thought that "being serious" meant you weren't supposed to smile, or laugh, or dance around, or be happy -- being serious was supposed to be about how the world is a hard place, and how life isn't always about having fun. I totally understand that thinking, it just hasn't felt right to me. I want to have no sense of what is serious and what is not -- I want to have no sense of what is real and what is not -- and I want to have no sense of what something is and what something isn't.
I want to create a feeling of happiness, possibility, total freedom, and most of all pure joy, and some people experience joy through laughter, some people experience joy through crying -- some people like to dance, and some people like to sit still. Some people like life to feel fun, and some people like life to feel hard. All of these preferences are valid. Sometimes when we've been faced with intense emotional experiences, we've felt threatened and needed to distance ourselves from them by declaring the intense experience to be, "a joke", or "not serious", or "just funny". I understand why some people have wanted to laugh at me, and that's okay, because that might be how they feel most comfortable with me, or that might be how they experience their joy. Each and every reaction to Andrew W.K. is valid, and no one's opinions about me are wrong. Everyone is perfect.
What the heck happened to the release of your latest album, Close Calls with Brick Walls? I'd heard there was a dispute that meant you could only release the album in Asia -- is that the case? If so, are we poor Western Hemisphereans ever going to get a chance to check it out?
Yes! Thanks for asking! It's very easy to check out the album, no matter where you live in the world, thanks to the Internet, and to import CDs. You can easily get the Close Calls album on my website, and any number of other retailers online. It's easy! Did you try? Plus, we responded to the USA demand by releasing a special USA vinyl edition in 2007.
Regarding why we could only release the CD in Asia, I'm not really able to comment on it, due to a legal agreement between me and one of my partners, but I can say that the agreement made sense for everyone involved, and it was in place some time ago, so we made the Close Calls album well aware that the terms of the agreement would only allow for the Asia release. There's much more music coming!
I should note that I dearly loved "You Will Remember Tonight," at least as released on the Masters of Horror soundtrack -- it reminds me of some kind of twisted prom-night theme where everyone ends up transformed into an otherworldly being by the end of the night. But that's just my skewed take on it; can you give any insight as to what it's really about?
Actually, a friend of mine thought the whole song was about turning into a werewolf! I hadn't thought of it that way before, but I like that idea. Really, the concept of the song was to make an exciting emotional feeling. That's all. As far as the lyrical concept, I was trying to cover every aspect of the experience of time: past, future, and present. The title actually covers all of those in one line: "You Will" = future. "Remember" = past. "Tonight" = right now, present.
Andrew W.K. MySpace Page
I Heart U Productions
Since it's apparently been a while since Close Calls was actually recorded, what do you think of it now? I read something not long ago where a musician commented that his audience was always 12 months behind his life, because that's how long it takes to write, record, and release an album. In this case, though, it's been more than two years -- have you already totally moved on?
All music is perpetually new -- it's not old just because it was recorded before right now. Once I listen to it, it's brand new again. All experiences in life are new, all the time, always, all ways. I really mean that, and I try to approach every aspect of life as being new -- at least when it feels fun to think that way -- and with music, it's been most fun to have all music be new, all the time. So that it always feels like the first time. And since I've never really sang about "my life," my audience can never be behind me -- they are perpetually ahead of me! I'm always catching up to them...they're fast! END