Andrew W.K. likes to have a good time. And it's no secret that he was our favorite at this year's Warped Tour. The musician, entertainer, and professional partier ripped through a killer set in the middle of yesterday's sizzling afternoon, placing the mic down the front of his acid washed jeans when he wasn't using it. W.K. not only had people (including underage kids, it appeared) screaming, "We want fun, and we wanna get wasted!" along with him, but he also had the crowd draining every last bit of sun soaked energy they had in them to dance and scream along with his songs.
Though his antics may appear frivolous and over-the-top to some, there's something about his shows that are not only endearing, but horribly enjoyable.
Yes, quote me on that: horribly enjoyable.
It should also be noted that after W.K. was done playing, he spent over four hours hanging out in his "Party House Tent" meeting fans, signing autographs, and taking pictures. And he did it happily. He was kind enough to take a few minutes to catch up with us, in between partying on and off stage.
NT: You haven't been to Phoenix in while...you only come here in the summers though, right?
AWK: ...We must have come here back in 2004/2005, after the Warped Tour, but certainly it had been at least five years. I believe we've come here in the fall before. It was beautiful. Just really beautiful. I have a lot of friends or I've heard about people that come here in the fall or winter months that maybe live up North. And that makes a lot of sense. The summertime here is very, very intense, but as long as you have a room, like this one for example, where you've got some air conditioning or some shade, it seems manageable.
NT: Are there places in Arizona or in Phoenix that you like to hang out -- where you like to party?
AWK: I don't know that I've ever been anywhere other than the venues that we've played. For example, today we got to visit the beautiful Wigwam Resort. Now this is a beautiful four-star resort. It was originally built by the Goodyear tire company in 1929 for its own employees. So it's sort of a private operation, but a private operation done on a very large scale, for this very large and legendary American company. And then I guess it turned more public when they began to expand it, and expand the grounds. And it's beautiful -- it's incredible. So getting to stay there was a little slice of Phoenix that I hadn't seen before. And we also went to a fantastic Persian restaurant right next to the Wigwam called AJ's Persian Grill [and Café]. Very casual, very relaxed, fantastic service, and excellent food. I mean truly fantastic Persian food. The best yogurt that we've had in ages. Everyone that ate their agreed. We all enjoyed the meal, and the mood. The koobideh was excellent. Again -- very thick yogurt. Just - fantastic.
NT: Do you know a lot about Persian food?
AWK: No, not much. My wife is Persian. She was born in America. Both her parents are from Iran originally. But they of course have taught her all about Persian food, and she has a very high expectation when it comes to that. And she was impressed, so we gotta hand it to AJ's in Phoenix for delivering high quality Persian food.
NT: A lot of bands have been canceling show here because of [SB 1070]. I saw you at [the College Music Journalism conference in New York] last year, and I remember that someone asked you if you felt any kind of obligation to work on social issues, or to use your spot in the public eye to talk about social consciousness. I remember that...you said that some people feel an obligation to do that, but as long as you serve your own purpose...that's all you can do. Did you have any feelings about that?
AWK: I think the immigration issue is very, very tricky. I don't feel one way or the other about it. I feel passionate and understand both sides. It's very, very, very complicated. Because on one hand, I think this is the greatest country in the world, and I've never been to a place that I like more, so why wouldn't more people want to come here? That's very understandable to me. And we gain so much -- the country as a whole has benefited so much from the people who have brought their skills, and talents, and efforts here. At the same time, the whole country itself is immigrants. I mean it's all made up of that. That's the spirit of the nation. Then on the other hand I understand people who want to organize the process of immigration. I understand the people that feel like they're getting jobs taken away, that they would be happy to work. I understand the whole other side that feels like it should be controlled, or that there's not enough legislation that keeps it in check. So it really seems like a very tricky issue to me. I feel people have very valid cases on both sides.
I don't know that I'm someone who's supposed to make a judgment about it, and I'm very grateful for that. I don't live down here. Maybe if I did I'd be more wrapped up in it. But I just figure that they're gonna work it out, and people are gonna work it out, and I just gotta party in the meantime. And everyone has their own obligations and their duties to do, like you've mentioned. And I do feel like my duty is to come here, and for all the people that are good and loving people, to party with them and put on a show that makes them maybe forget about this stress of the whole legislation issue in the first place. I think it's valuable to be able to enjoy yourself, and I would never want to keep the other people who don't necessarily even involve themselves in these issues from having a party.
NT: On a completely unrelated note, you're a pretty charismatic guy. People do what it is that you ask them to do. Like you ask people to circle pit when it's 115 degrees and they tend to do it, and they tend to bust a move. Have you ever considered starting a cult? Because I feel like people tend to listen to what you say.
AWK: How do you define that? How do you define a cult?
NT: I don't know. Maybe you already have one.
AWK: I haven't thought about -- I mean if it's like a club where you -- I feel like a cult is a name that people give to a club that they don't like...I don't know that I've ever heard it used in a good way. I mean, if you're part of a movement...I think it becomes a cult when someone declares it a threat to something else. And then maybe that -- but I don't know. That's why I asked. 'Cause I've heard it defined many different ways. I'm just one of many people who wants to have a good time, and puts a lot of energy into doing so. And if that's a cult, or a club, or an organization, then I'm proud to be a member of it.
NT: So after this you're gonna go over to the "Party House Tent". There will be some partying happening over there.
AWK: Oh yes. I would like to think there already is.
NT: I'm sorry to inform you. There's not. I think you have to be there for the party to happen. I walked by before, and there were these kids that looked kind of pathetic and a little bit heat stroked just sort of sitting down on the ground.
AWK: Well can you blame them? You've been in the A/C all day.
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AWK: ...I guess it depends on how you define "party".
NT: How do you define party?
AWK: Well these young men sitting on the ground, to me, sounds like a great party. I would love to be sitting in the shade on the ground if I was outside in that sun. That to me sounds like the most natural thing you'd ever want to do. The thing that's most appealing, that's most enjoyable at that moment. That's what partying is. Doing what you feel like doing. Not what some other person says, "Oh -- you're not partying hard enough. Oh, what. You're sitting on the ground? You're a wimp. Get off the wall. Do this. Do that." I only want people to do what they want. Even when I say, "Hey -- you guys make a circle pit," [if] someone didn't want to make a circle pit, you think I'd say they were a loser or something? No. I'd say, "Of course. I wouldn't want to make a circle pit if I were you either." So don't make a circle pit if you don't want. Sit on the ground if you do want. Have a drink. Don't have a drink. Do what you want. [Don't] what you don't want. It's all about what appeals to the individual and giving them and each other that freedom to do that. That's what partying hard is. So those kids were partying.
Andrew W.K. also said that he and his band would like to come back to Phoenix next year after the release of their next album. We'll be partying in the shade until then.