Andrew W.K. isn’t your average rock star. Sure, he tours around the world playing high-energy music and singing about partying, just like many others. But the real twist to Andrew W.K. is that he’s just so damn positive about it all. None of his songs are brooding, overtly dark, or depressing. He doesn’t have time to posture or look angsty. Instead, his songs are all pure, uncut fun. Titles include “It’s Time to Party,” “Party Hard,” “Party ‘Til You Puke,” and “Party Party Party.” It’s as if the man is personally high-fiving every single one of his listeners every second of every song.
I recently talked to the artist behind the hit album I Get Wet and its subsequent follow-ups about his upcoming record, side-job as a motivational speaker, and how Mercer can party even harder. Read on.
Eric Brown: On your Twitter and everything you have this amazingly positive persona. Every day it’s just “Party hard. Do everything to the fullest.” How do you do that? How do you go 100% all the time?
Andrew W.K.: Well, I think it’s either how I want to feel or how I have felt at the best of times, or how I imagine I will feel in the future in the best of times and I just try to be there thinking about it promoting it, thinking about it, just being as close as possible to that feeling at all times. And I realize that that feeling allows for quite a wide range of emotions. But to sum it up, I guess, it’s just sort of taking life by the horns and embracing the intensity of the whole experience.
EB: Speaking of embracing the intensity of the experience, you’re sort of a renaissance man, in that you do about a million projects at once. You have the TV show [Destroy, Build, Destroy, currently airing on Cartoon Network], you have your music, you were a motivational speaker for a long time, you have the nightclub that you operate in New York City—
AWK: I don’t know about renaissance man. They’re all related to entertainment in some way.
EB: That’s fair enough.
AWK: I mean, I’d like to do other things as well, but at some point… I mean, I learn every day about how valuable time is and how valuable your own energy and attention and focus is, so I try to keep it at least to a point where everything relates, so that’s been a real blessing, versus where I’m getting into science on one hand or working in politics or something. I try to keep it very focused on this party attitude.
EB: So, what was it like being a motivational speaker for a while?
AWK: Actually, I have a lecture coming up this week.
AWK: Yeah, in Montreal. Yeah, I love it! I can’t believe I get to do it and that people show up, but I’m so grateful for them showing up that I do my best to make it a worthwhile experience in as many ways as possible. It’s just a chance to be in a room together and try to amp each other up.
EB: So, to bring it back to music, you had, aside from the two experimental releases [Gundam Rock and Cadillac 55], your last big record was Close Calls With Brick Walls, which was released in Japan in 2006, but not in America until last year. What have you been working on in the meantime? And when will that see a release date?
AWK: Yeah, I’ve been working on a new album, and before that an EP, which will come out in Japan, but I also want to release some version of it worldwide. [The EP was recently announced as the Party All Goddamn Night EP, on sale in Japan March 30]. It’ll have new songs which will be part of the new album Raucous, and also some other special songs that are unreleased, things people haven’t heard before in Japan, and I think elsewhere for sure. But that is all leading up to the new album, which I hope to get out this year, but I’ll get it out when it’s done. That’s for sure.
EB: And how does the tone of this record compare to the stuff you’ve done before?
AWK: Well, I mean it’s the most exciting music I’m able to come up with. I’m trying to apply all of what I’ve learned, all that I’ve already learned from the albums I’ve made and that I’ve learned since, and take it song by song and just ask how we can get that feeling of excitement going. There are many ways to get there, but I’m really trying to dial it in and just use the most direct and powerful methods that I’m equipped to use to get people going crazy. I want to get that feeling of just real intense excitement.
Raw energey. I guess that’s what… Well, I guess that’s not what everybody wants from music. There’s music that’s soothing, music that’s scary, music that has all kinds of emotions, but real intense is always what I’ve tried to go for. When you get a proper Andrew W.K. rock album, you know I’m trying to go for that in one way or another, and I’m pretty excited about this new stuff. I think it’s gonna get a party going really, really, really well.
EB: Are you planning a big tour to support it?
AWK: Of course. I’ll tour as much as possible. We did a whole tour last summer with the Warped Tour. Then we toured all around the US in October, and we just did a three-week tour in Australia about two weeks ago. We’ll be going to Japan in April. After that, as soon as the album’s out, I’d just like to tour as much as I can everywhere.
EB: So, if you could create the perfect, fictional tour lineup, what bands would you take on the road with you?
AWK: Well, it’s interesting, because the bands that I’d want to see, and that I enjoy watching and like their music, wouldn’t necessarily be the best bands to tour with. So, I actually don’t ever feel too strongly. We’ve actually been blessed to tour with some amazing bands like High On Fire, Aerosmith, The Locust, The Casualties. And those are our own tours, not to mention festival tours we’ve done that have just been tons of bands.
I’ve always just enjoyed all the bands we’ve had, to be honest. There’s never been a band we’ve toured with that we didn’t like. Sometimes there’ll be a band that I hadn’t heard of before or didn’t know much about, but it’s always memorable. We always learn something. I think the more diverse bands, the more I don’t know about them, the more I learn. So, there’s some people that I haven’t gotten the chance to study or haven’t been exposed to, but I’m pretty open minded when it comes to who I play with.
EB: That’s a pretty diverse group of bands that you listed there.
AWK: Well, they’re mostly rock bands.
EB: Yeah, but I mean, The Locust does this crazy grindcore stuff, and then there’s Aerosmith.
AWK: That is true. That is true. You know, there’s many that I’m sure I’m forgetting, like Die Trying, lostprophets. Who else did we play with? There’s so many I’m forgetting. Oh, there’s Fireball Ministry, Hoobastank. You know, I know we’ve played a few shows or festivals with a bunch of others. It’s great because they teach you a lot, you know? What to do better, what not to do. What really works, what’s effective. All kinds of stuff.
EB: What would you say your favorite tour experience has been so far?
AWK: Uh, this most recent one. I’ve enjoyed every tour more and more and more. I love it more now than I did when we started. When we started, we would play a show, and I couldn’t believe, I mean I could not believe, we were gonna play one 24 hours later. I mean, it came out of nowhere. I’d played lots of shows, but had never toured until I was the frontman of a band. I’d never really had anything like that. It was just so intense and overwhelming.
But I did love everything about it. I love the idea that you did this really impressive thing, and the next thing you know, you’re leaving it behind you and heading towards a chance to do it again. That became the best part about it, and now I love the traveling and being with the band. I mean, we all became best friends, but when we started, I didn’t know the band. I’d never spent more than a few hours with some of them. That was a very interesting experience, but now I feel so lucky just to have so much more to give. I’m just so thankful that I’ve gotten to keep doing it after 10 years. It’s just crazy to me. There’s a lot of inspiration that just comes out of the gratitude of knowing that you’re still there.
EB: Well, to sort of wrap the whole thing up. Mercer, the school I write for is a smaller liberal arts school in the middle of Georgia. We’re not in a huge city, and there’s not always the most going on around us. What can we do to party harder?
AWK: Well, a bit part of it to me is a removal of fear, a removal of doubt. It’s a removal of a type of attitude that you can get wrapped up in like anxiety or stress. In my experience, there’s pressure, and then there’s stress. I think we can all thrive under pressure, which brings out our abilities that we didn’t realize we had, but when it gets too mixed up with stress, it starts to eat away at our abilities. It wears you out, it makes you tired, and it’s just a bunch of wasted energy.
So, the real attitude of partying is to realize how awesome everything is. Even the things that don’t seem awesome are actually awesome in some roundabout way. With that kind of focus, you can look for the awesomeness around you, and that is the reason to party. It’s not something that you need to reserve for the weekends or your birthday or a holiday or spring break or any particular event. We always have been taught that we celebrate something special. Well, being alive is special, and we can celebrate that every day.
That should take the load off. We don’t have to take everything so seriously once you realize that life can be a big event of fun and games. That being said, you can choose which games to play. You can choose the game of studying for classes. That’s a perfectly fine and good game, and there’s a lot of things to be won. There are also other games that require a different type of focus. So, don’t forget about them.
If we’re gonna participate in this version of society, let’s just really remember how absurd it also all is and celebrate that, because it’s so ridiculous to be alive at all. We have no idea what is really going on in the grandest scheme, but that should not be depressing; it should be liberating. It should allow us to say, “Hey, we’ve got a pretty decent organization set up here. Let’s take advantage of it, and let’s make the best of it, enjoy the fruits of it, and strive to improve it.”
EB: Alright. Well, it’s been fantastic talking to you. Thank you so much for your time.
AWK: Well thank you for your excellent questions and for your time and wanting to do this.