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.