Andrew W.K.: Music Is a Tool for Partying
The are many sides to Andrew W.K. Omni-present is the bloody nose image that adorns his major label debut I Get Wet. There's also his well known propensity to party hard, a lifestyle he's constantly promoting. These two ideas for the basis for a musician who's found an angle that people can latch on to, an idea that resonates powerfully even when the music doesn't.
With the holidays upon us, W.K. is bringing his solo tour to the Valley for the first time. The show will feature Andrew W.K. alone with a piano and drum machine. The audience, he says, will in essence be the rest of the band. Experience tells him it should be a "rewarding" night for all.
Up on the Sun caught up with Andrew W.K. recently while the rocker had some downtime in Austin, Texas to discuss his solo show, the recent supporting tour with Black Sabbath, his new book on partying, and upholding the party lifestyle.
Up on the Sun: I've seen this tour being billed as an intimate party tour. But the intimate part sounds more like a Jack Johnson sing-a-long around the campfire type thing, which doesn't fit your metal/hard rock edge. What kind of party will we get? Andrew W.K.: Jack Johnson's a great songwriter, but most of his music is with the acoustic guitar. I play keyboards. That's how most of my songs are written. These shows work really well in that they are keyboard versions of songs from all my albums. The energy is as intense as I can get it.
The main difference is that I have a drum machine instead a live drummer. I'm really occupying the stage with all the energy I can muster out of the songs. It's a different method of performing. It's more vulnerable and exposed, but those challenges are rewarding also. It adds an exciting kind of tension. I rely on the keyboard to fill that room and the audience is my band and we create the magic of the moment together. I get quite a jolt of lasting energy from these shows that I can take with me. There's also a lot of room for spontaneity and I can adjust the show depending on the energy in the room.
I think a lot of people are surprised with the improvisation aspect you can bring. When 55 Cadillac came out, it showed there was more than this loud, bombastic guy, and it showcased your improvisational abilities. You can definitely do a lot with the piano, and if you can create an atmosphere that allows that sort of freedom you can surprise yourself. That's what I hope people get out of the show. Not only do (the audience) not know what's coming next, but I don't know what's coming next. That certainly entertains me and I think it's important to be entertained inside your own experiences. As much as you try to entertain other people it's important to entertain yourself. It's kind of what keeps me going. I don't know what's going to happen, so I can't take anything for granted. It keeps me engaged, which is really important. It's kept me partying and going for the last 12 years, pretty much.
Why is it so important to keep partying so hard? That's obviously a major theme in your music, and the persona you give off. [Partying] is the one important thing and everything else just supports that mission. That's just what I was born to do. It took a little while to figure that out, but I was fortunate to figure that out relatively early in life. Once you get that clarity, you commit 100 percent to it and I use whatever methods I can to achieve that goal and keep that celebratory feeling.
I mean, I never would have guessed it back in elementary school or something, but it's got a strange way of revealing your destiny to you even if you'd never have been able to predict it.
That said, I've seen you called the "Party King" and "King of partying," etc. It makes me wonder what your parents think. Your dad's a well-respected law professor. What do they tell people about you? That he's a musician or the King of Partying? The King of Partying; I'd hope that would be first. Partying is the main thing I do. I'm not even focused on being a really good musician. The focus has always been the partying and music is a tool for that. It's a feeling of really basic physical joy that can hopefully last indefinitely. It's a mindset. I'm more interested in that than anything.
I'm just trying to take whatever I have to work with and make it into that electrifying cheerful feeling. That's how it all began. I just wanted to be in the best mood I could and I thought maybe other people would want to get cheered up by the same feeling. That started the ball rolling on this professional party adventure. One hazard of heavy partying is the hangover. Do you have a hangover cure you can share? It depends on how people party. I don't specify what people are supposed to do for fun. It's something people should develop on their own. Partying is a mindset where you're celebrating what you're thankful for. You can carry that party mindset with you at all times.
It's a state of awareness. I thought, if I could find a word to express this feeling of gratitude and joy, what would it be? Party seemed to sum it up quite elegantly.
You have a book coming out next year, The Party Bible. What can we learn from it? It's a non-fiction book about the idea of the party mindset. It's not a memoir; it's not about my life per se. It's a discussion on the vocation of partying. Basically, filtering the entire world through that lens, that mode of perception.
Working on any new music right now? I've been mostly touring this year. I got to do all kinds of shows with all kinds of people I never thought I'd get to play with. I want to take all that energy and put it toward a new album after the book is done. Really, I want to just keep the party going. No one is more thankful than me that it's still going. I'm shocked it even happened in the first place.
You were on the Black Sabbath tour when it rolled through Phoenix. I was asked by Black Sabbath to DJ, to play my favorite heavy metal songs and get the crowd all hyped up and generate excitement. It was very surreal and fantastic. It was amazing being around those guys and facilitating the atmosphere of the night. I'm still blown away it ever happened.
Was there much partying happening? Oh, yeah. They were very kind people, and better focused. They were truly professional. It was one of those moments where you're pinching yourself wondering how it ever happened, how I got there. It was really magical.
It seems a toss up whether people recognize you for the bloody nose album cover on I Get Wet or your bevy of party-themed songs. When you're dead and gone, which do you hope you're remember for--the image or that attitude? Either one; just to be remembered at all would be nice. I would just like to have any kind of good impact on anyone's life that's worth remembering in any regard.
Still have that brick? Maybe it should be slated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Wow, no. First, it wasn't mine. I assume it was the photographers; it was in his studio. I think about that all the time. It would be very painful to try and accumulate and save all the facets of your life, and at the same time it would be very stressful to try and realize all the stuff you didn't save--things you wish you did or realize you couldn't.
You're also known for wearing white. Why is it your color of choice in all of this? I never get tired of wearing white. I was lucky to come up with that outfit--it's not even coming up with it. It's just enough to have something I like wearing that I could count on. It was also very easy for me and also easy for other people to wear if that wanted to dress up like that.
White is all the colors combined. You can shine any color light on it and it becomes that color. It's useful and versatile. Friends of mine have outfits that have to be dry cleaned after every show. This worked out to be very easy. I can stay focused on the partying instead of the laundry.
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