10 Questions With Andrew W.K. – 92.3 Xtreme Radio
(WXTM Cleveland) April 8th – 2002
Ann Arbor’s Andrew W.K. takes feel-good role at Ozzfest
Andrew W.K. doesn’t just talk the talk, he shouts it at the top of his lungs from the rooftops through a 40,000-watt megaphone. And he doesn’t just walk the walk, he full-on sprints and breaks into back flips, somersaults, roundoffs and back handsprings.He speaks in hyperbolic rants that are at once hopeful and laced with doomsday paranoia. “It could all end tomorrow!” he says more than once during a phone interview while en route to an Ozzfest date. He’s twice as big and four times as loud as a Jerry Bruckheimer summer movie extravaganza. He earnestly compares his music to a milkshake, calling it “thick, soothing, cool, refreshing and filling.”Andrew W.K. is like wrestling promoter Vince McMahon, loudmouth comedian Sam Kinison and burly metal icon Glenn Danzig all rolled into one. He’s extremely polite, and he’s currently reading Steven Pinker’s “How the Mind Works.” And no one recognizes him at the gate of the Mars Music Amphitheatre.”I’m Andrew W.K., and I’m playing at 12 noon,” says Ann Arbor native Andrew W.K., a.k.a. 23-year-old Andrew Wilkes-Krier, to a security guard as he tries to get into Ozzfest in West Palm Beach, Fla. The security guard informs W.K. that he must go around to a different gate.”OK, sir, thank you, thank you, sir,” says W.K., every bit as wholesome as an Eagle Scout.Andrew W.K. is not your typical Ozzfest performer. Whereas Down, Otep, Drowning Pool, Hatebreed, System of a Down and most of the acts on the bill of the all-day metal extravaganza — which stops by DTE Energy Music Theatre Wednesday and Thursday — aim to pulverize and brutalize their audiences into oblivion, W.K. has a different approach. Namely, hugs.That’s right, hugs. If you’re in the audience at Ozzfest, Andrew W.K. wants to hug you. In fact, he’ll stick around until the end of the day to do so if that’s how long it takes.
“I usually hang out for about eight hours after the show, and I’m there until the last person leaves,” says W.K., who spends the time writing letters, meeting friends and sometimes acting as a one-man Make-a-Wish Foundation between fans and other bands hanging out backstage.
“I’ve just been trying to do things that I’d want somebody to do for me and trying not to be afraid to cross lines of comfort or familiarity in order to make people happy.
“I will never waste this or abuse it or disgrace it and take it for granted,” says W.K. of his opportunity to make people happy, even though some are worried that his up-close interaction with fans could be dangerous. “There’s always a million reasons to not do something. A million. But all I need is one reason to do this, and that is because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s that clear.”
W.K.’s first major label album, March’s “I Get Wet” — which features an image of a bloody W.K. on its cover, a look that was reportedly achieved by W.K. smashing his face into a cinder block — is every bit as supercharged as W.K.’s breathless quotes. The album is a hyper, loud, rock ‘n’ roll birthday party that’s been embraced by advertisers (Coors and Nintendo chief among them) on an almost Mobylike level. W.K., who now lives in Florida, hopes that the album “comes in and wraps its arm around (listeners) and shows them things that make them happy and excited and does everything they want it to before they could even know they want it to do it.”
Not bad for a son of a U-M law professor.
“You only live once,” says W.K., who considers himself an “employee” of his fans. “I wanna do stuff. When you do nothing, nothing happens. I wanna do stuff so that stuff is being done, you know what I mean? Instead of saying no, I want to say yes.”
Playlouder.com – The Grand Old Puke of (New) York
Andrew W.K. is the freshest, biggest, noisiest, and most overhyped thing to cross the pond in a very long time. And in a year that brought us The Strokes, The White Stripes, and Planet Of The Apes that is no mean feat. His debut single, the exhilarating ‘Party Hard’ went top twenty, and the album, ‘I Get Wet’ should be tearing up the nation’s speakers right now. PlayLouder caught up with the human dynamo to talk about noise, dead babies and new frontiers…According to various reports the W.K. in your name stands for White Killer. Is that true?”Well, it’s my name! My parents gave it to me! Your own name always seems like the dorkiest thing, and rock ‘n’ roll people all have these cool names, you do, but I spoke to my parents and they were like, ‘that’s the name we gave you, that’s who you are, what have you got to hide?’. And they’re right, of course. I’ll say the same to my children.”Do you have children?”Now is not the most important time to get into having children is it? Think about it… a BABY… it’s a PERSON! The BIGGEST deal! Bigger than ANYTHING and you owe it, you owe it to give it everything, to be right. I’m gonna have kids, sure, loads of kids… I think I’ll adopt though. There are so many kids out there with nothing, so many, and they deserve everything, you know? So I’ll adopt a load of kids and maybe have one of my own.”A bouncing baby boy?
“Yeah. But I’ve been bouncing all over the place myself. Last week [Andrew W.K.’s debut UK show at the Garage] I bounced offstage, right into someone’s head, then I bounced into the hospital, then I bounced out again. Actually, I did get really bouncy, like really… I am literally bouncing. You see, sometimes when I get excited, or just sometimes… I’ll get a little shock, urgh! So I should get that checked. But hey, things could be a lot worse! There are people out there who can’t even…”
“Yeah! See, I’m just doing the best I can right now. What we’re doing here, all of us, we’re discovering new frontiers… We have this responsibility to all those that can’t. I’m really fired about these frontiers, this new horizon. We’re working hard. Harder and harder. It is NOT acceptable to be down, ever, not when we are healthy and can do this. As long as I have food and a roof over my head I can never be down. Anything else, ANYTHING is just the icing on the cake. What I’m trying to do… what I’m doing, is being unconditionally OK. To be unconditionally OK is the real beauty. If you’re unconditionally OK, you can never be hurt! You know, I was thinking about that in the bathroom just now. If you’re unconditionally OK, you can never be offended by anything that anybody says. Say somebody says something about my family, says something about my mother… Perhaps I’d be upset, but if I’m unconditionally OK… see, I know my Mom wouldn’t mind, because she is unconditionally OK! She strives, and we should all strive to be strong. These are new frontiers! Strength! No weakness! I mean, that’s what I’m trying for myself. But you should just see it work! All of us… we work. Yeah, we work hard.”
Were your parents encouraging about you getting into music?
“They inspire me, my parents, they really do. And my friends too. I’ve learnt everything from my friend Jimmy over these past two years, he’s an incredible person…”
What else inspires you?
“You know, when I was in England, I read this terrible, terrible story, I’m sure you did too. There was this beautiful six year old girl, whose stepmother abused her and pretty much beat her to death and her father didn’t do anything. I read that story, and all of a sudden everything became very clear, and every single thing that I have done since has been for her. But I’m motivated by the expenditure of energy, true beauty, the human ability to do so much good and so much bad… It moves me that I have all these advantages, hate moves me, jealousy moves me, love moves me… Yeah, I’ve been in love, heh heh. A few times, but that’s what I’m on man, not making things conditional, doing what you want… jealousy, boundaries, that’s not how it should be. I have trust, and I have faith.”
Things must be pretty mental for you right now…
“You mean mentally? Fuck yeah, my brain… Oh, you mean like crazy? Yeah! Right now it’s just such an exciting world! But it always has been. It’s very intense, but the background of it all is comforting. I have my friends, my family, all these wonderful people… I’m lucky. But there were always things going on, and there always will be. If this finishes I won’t finish… I will always rely on myself. And yeah, there’s hype, but man, this is just the tip of the iceberg! You are in for a treat. Just you wait ’til the second album. The next album delivers on the promise that I have made! There is the potential to do anything, and it’s gonna be amazing.”
You ever heard of the Manic Street Preachers? They made a lot of promises in the early 90s that they never followed up…
“I’ve heard of them, sure. But you know what? I will fucking follow through for all the faggots who gave up! And for the shows, well, we’re just gonna have the full on deal! Who knows, and what an exciting theory! This is OURS! We’ve got the whole world! Anyone who hears this, gets this, comes, it’s all ours, theirs, everybody’s! It’s great, it’s exciting and we’ve got the whole lifestyle! I believe in this, I truly, truly do, I want those that are believing too to know that it’s there for YOU! It’s yours! And I promise, I PROMISE that I will NEVER let you down. This is what we are doing. We have here is the ability to change their minds, give them freedom… The point is we’re in something so vast, so, so vast.”
You talk a lot about vastness and frontiers… do you believe in God?
“Yeah, I believe in God. A higher being, definitely. But the point is, God is in me, and he’s in you… He’s saying, you go! God is unconditional! Love! Unconditionally OK, heh! But not God in the traditional sense. Hell does not exist. Here, let me ask you something, see if you believe this… Where I come from, many people believe that if a person kills themselves they go straight to hell. That upsets me! Of course they don’t go to hell. Those poor, sad, lonely people. They die, and someone takes their hand and says, ‘Hey, it’s OK, we’re sorry… come with us, it’s going to be OK’. Those fucking people… God’s looking at them, shaking his head, going ‘Oh man…’ But the truth will out in the end.”
Are there any bands around these days that you like, or respect?
“I respect everybody that’s doing what they want to do, bands, people, in music, with optimism. All these people are trying to do is express themselves through what they’re doing… even if they’re only motivated by money, they’re expressing themselves through money! But it’s not my responsibility to judge them, so long as people are passionate that’s great!”
What’s your favourite childhood memory?
“That’s a question! There are so many, I couldn’t say one… it’s not fair! But the first time ever heard really loud live music… I think it was at a classical concert with my father, and it was overwhelming – this impossibly big room, this immense sound, it just gave me butterflies, you know that feeling in your stomach? Like being on a rollercoaster. That, that’s a glimpse into something vast, the feeling of being in contact with That… To be truly brave is to face that vastness, to look right into it.”
What do you want from all this?
“To make music! I’ve made some giant leaps in music – how it affects me and all you have to do is to tap into more. Get stronger, get better, know more, learn more… But let the unknowns be just that – you should never want to know and understand everything, and you never will…”
“People should do whatever they want. Drugs are great for that, they let you into new things, new horizons… Oh YEAH I’ve done drugs, but it’s down to the individual people. Some come out better, stronger, and some are destroyed, but I trust that people can make their own choices, bad or good in life. It’s all good! Basically, I want people to know that to be unconditionally OK is the best thing. No matter what, you’ll be OK. And I guarantee that whatever happens I will not go back on any of this. I will never let you down.”
The single ‘Party Hard’ and the album ‘I Get Wet’ are both out now on Mercury Records.
Playlouder.com – 24 Hour Party Person
Andrew WK, we’re glad to say, continues to polarise opinion and cause fights in PlayLouder towers. The girls just don’t get it. The boys just totally do. Last time we spoke to him we came away feeling like we’d just been Saved, in the evangelical Christian sense, which was odd, so we were a tad wary of meeting him properly, in the flesh, la. But we needn’t have. Reclined on a sofa in his net publicists’ office on a grimy Sunday afternoon in London, drinking water and worrying about food, we found him to be just as we’d hoped – charming, joyously excitable, and of course, unconditionally OK. As ever Andrew asks the questions.”What did we talk about last time?”We were talking about being unconditionally OK. Mainly.”Yeah, that was good,” he beams, leaning forward and scuffing a dirty trouser leg. “That was when I first realised that. You know, as we talk about stuff, we’re learning things, realising things, but sometimes I just forget the most basic stuff. But one of the first things I ever realised was Fear Based Decision Making. And how that’s not good, and I just remembered that a few days ago. I was like, fuck, I’ve been DOING that a little bit lately, I’ve been worrying about things because I’ve been afraid, definitely in my time here… so Unconditionally OK, yeah, I was definitely on that when we were talking. Did you think about it?”PlayLouder always said “just get on with it”, actually. We want that on our headstone.”Clearly! Yeah, that’s a good way. Another good thing is, you know, the power of sleep, the power of going to bed with a problem and waking up and saying, you know what, I feel better about that now, although sometimes you wake up and it’s like, oh no… Do you sleep?”Not much.”You should, but I know… It’s hard, I need to more. You eat?”Not much.Andrew looks concerned, then grins. “You know what? It’s very frustrating. I’ve really gotta eat more. I’ve not been eating on this tour, and it’s a struggle, that’s the biggest challenge, knowing to find the time to eat the food, know what I mean? It’s a challenge, but I’m taking the challenge, heh. See this is the first big tour, and I’m learning lots of things, making mental notes, so when we come back again, it’s gonna be better.”Andrew gets up and shakes his arms about a fair bit at this point. “We’ve gotta have exercise stuff, we’ve gotta have good food… I bought food, thank god, I bought a whole suitcase full of tuna fish. So that when we’re on the bus in the middle of the night, I can eat some tuna. Yeah. It takes an hour to eat the can cos I’m so fucked… you know if you drink beer with tuna the beer’s so acidic and carbonated it dissolves the tuna, into just, goo, which is good. If you get a big can of tuna without beer, you’ll be munching it for ever.”You should mix it with butter.”Butter? A bit of butter?”No, a whole load of butter. Then you can eat that shit all day long.
“Really? Wow. With beer, you’ll be chewing and chewing, then you take a tiny swing of beer and it goes – whtchooo – so it’s good. And tuna’s good for you. It’s one of the best things to eat.”
That’s what Hobbes said.
“Hobbes? Oh yeah. Hey, did you see that show at the Garage?”
“Good. You gon’ come tonight?”
“Good, good. It’s come a long way. We always knew it would… It takes a lot of time, but we’re there. We didn’t have a keyboard player last time, which was dumb. Keyboards is at least 50% of what we do. So I’m very excited and the reaction has been truly life changing, to play to people who wanna hear songs, that’s what we’ve been doing, meeting people that really like it and that means so much, and again, I always think of these things… the reason it’s so exciting is not that someone comes up and says, your music means so much to me… when they say that it’s a complement right to the heart, and I’m like, well, that music means so much to me too- It’s like if you love birds, and you meet someone that’s devoted their whole life to birds, that’s the best thing! Something you spend all your time on, every waking moment, what you do with all your energy, and to have someone else feel the same way about it is the greatest, and to do a show for people is an honour, truly, an honour, and if I look out into the audience and see just one person singling along that makes my night, and if someone comes up after… Oh my God, I spoke to this one girl who’s like, because of this music, it’s given her the inspiration and the courage to live out her dreams. She’s a college student, and she wanted to become a writer, and now she’s having a shot at doing that… That alone makes everything I’ve done worthwhile, you know what I mean? That’s the greatest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”
Bless him. Andrew’s enthusiasm alone quashes all those “it’s a joke, it’s irony, it’s yadda yadda” claims made by the non-believers. Not that he’s worried about them.
“Well, its my responsibility to make clear what the truth is. And you know what the truth is? The truth is this is wide open. And people are going to hate it with a passion, and people are gonna love it with a passion, and all it is is saying this is what it means to be alive, and this is what we can do with that information. And it’s for anybody, doesn’t belong to me. It’s way bigger than me. I just hope that I can give people the strength to have faith in anything they truly love and are truly passionate about, and to let those things stay huge and big and mysterious and blindingly bright and explosive, and so that they don’t need to feel driven to tie things up small enough that they can stand above them and always look down on them. Know what I mean?”
“But that’s talking about this music as well, the reason it’s so big, and so huge and so loud is simply to match or come close to an excitement in side that truly is, and that from that height there’s nothing to afraid of… BIG THINGS in this world are not to be scoffed at or laughed at in intimidation, but are meant to be worshipped and feared. Not feared, in awe, held in awe… because if we as humans can create something that inspires us in size, and its divine proportions, let it be as big as it can, that excitement… that’s the best thing in the world. That’s why I use big drum sounds instead of small drum sounds. Itâs the easiest thing in the world! We’re not gonna be this tiny little thing. That’s ridiculous to me. It’s amazing to be intimidated. Humans are so smart, have so many answers, and have such powerful minds, they can analyse and question things, but sometimes it works against us and we should feel privileged to be able to feel in awe at times. I am.”
And he is. And, as ever, he’s learning things, amassing information, like the proverbial great big sponge he clearly, and refreshingly, is.
“Lemme think what I’ve found out recently,” he murmurs, scratching his head. “Well, I’ve been learning that there’s no wrong reason to like this music. Actually, here’s a big thing, let’s try this. It’s, it’s, the strength to believe in what you believe in, resizing no matter what any one else tells you, or does, that can, and they can never touch you. So, if I say, I like your bag, right, I don’t know what it is. I have no idea what that bag is. All I can see is that it’s white and black and says ‘creative’ on it. So I like that bag. And someone says, ah, ‘that bag is really stupid and it’s about this and the person who made it is about this’. THAT DOESN’T MATTER. I still like the bag. That information doesn’t matter. Just like, if I truly believe in something, and think something about something, no one can say anything that’s going to change that. Think about the times, I know I do, OK, I’m not going to be this, because this, and that reasoning is fear, and intimidation, and a lot of that’s how we humans got on, learned not to put ourselves in bad situations, but a lot of it’s bad, just limits the potential size.”
Like if I said Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are shit, and expect you to take that as fact because I’m a journalist.
“Yeah. That is the most amazing Homer Simpson tattoo.”
“On a basic level, then on a big level, nobody… You make everything what you make of it. Nobody can stop you and make you feel anyway, it’s all you. If someone makes you feel bad it’s YOU that makes you feel bad. It’s all you. And that’s a lot. That’s gonna take you your whole life to work through.”
“It’s cool though. But this music its for people to own on their own terms, not the way I want them to, the way the record company wants them to, but the way the music wants them to, because as far as the music is concerned, if they like it at all, that’s good enough for it. There’s no wrong reason for someone to like this, just like there’s no wrong reason to smile, and if I can make someone smile, and the music can make someone smile, for any reason, then I feel like that’s a great achievement – on their part, because it takes courage to smile, be happy… And it’s no small feat, its no triviality. This music was designed, a lot of effort put into it, to be simple and pleasurable, and immediately addictive and immediately satisfying, and not a challenge…”
“Yeah, that’s good. Actually crack has too many negative sides. Hmm. Tell you what, it’s like really hard, um, sex. Truly, in the best scenario, in the ideal scenario, whatever that may be, it’s the most satisfying, beautiful, moving thing, and at the end – life comes in! A miracle! So the cool thing with this album is it’s always there now. I just hope you can wake up every morning and know it’s there, maybe not listen to it, but know it’s there, for you, that it doesn’t change.”
And again, it doesn’t. ‘I Get Wet’, despite an utter hammering from our stereo, remains fresh, as fresh as when we first heard it. It has retained that initial punch in the face.
“I won’t listen to it a while, then I’ll put it on again, and you know, it brings tears to my eyes, you know, and, oh! Argh! It truly is my favourite thing in the world, this music, and I can not wait to make the next album, and that’s the thing, no one can stop this but me! And I’m not going to stop!”
A rumour currently doing the rounds suggests that Mercury have been testing Andrew on these shores. If he does well, he gets to have a crack at the US, otherwise, he gets dropped. ‘I Get Wet’ hasn’t quite gone platinum. But Andrew and his press officer both rubbish this theory, and point out that the worldwide launch happens in march. So he ain’t stopping.
“No no no no,” he almost cries, eyeballing us crazily. “I will never stop. I can’t. You know, there was a time when we were in Minnesota recording this record and me and Jimmy the guitar player were driving around at night talking non stop, and I was like, I can’t imagine 100 people buying this. 100 people buying this record because they love it. So to me, the expectations were so… whatever, it’s been nothing but a success in my mind. The people that like it love it so much, I couldn’t ask for more. And it’s so worldwide. It’s so bizarre how things operate, how fast and this is just the beginning of the beginning! I’m gonna be here for years. Years and years and years, at least 40 more years, and that’s the beginning still, and I’m gonna make sure there’s people carrying on what we do, and they will…”
He pauses a minute, and smiles. “These are new frontiers. This is our time, to do what we want, and er, explore.”
He beams. Then his press officer appears and informs us that our time is up.
“This conversation is going really well, I think we’re really getting somewhere,” he notes then suggests we hook up for “at least four hours” soon. Which is nice. And since it looks like he’s going to be around for a good while yet, there’s no reason why not. So look out for more of Andrew’s refreshingly optimistic musings in the future, dear reader, and if you don’t have ‘I Get Wet’ yet, then really, what are you waiting for? Cease these fear based decisions, kindly, and just get on with it.
Adam Jan Alphabet
The album ‘I Get Wet’ and the single ‘She Is Beautiful’ are both out now on Mercury.
GSU Signal – Andrew W.K. proves himself as the rock star for the 21st Century
by Chris Martz
Associate Perspectives Editor
April 30, 2002
While most people might see Andrew W.K.’s video for “Party Hard” and get the wrong idea about the entertainer, he is genuinely one of the nicest people I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and talk with.
S: You were outside for hours after the show last night meeting fans and signing stuff for them. Do you do that every night?
A: Of course.
A: Because I love doing it. I don’t want to hide from my fans, I’m really grateful that I’m able to do what I do, and that’s the best part of being on the road, getting out and meeting new people.
S: Now, you’re a pretty young guy, and your album [I Get Wet] was just released, yet you’ve received a lot of attention and publicity in a short period. Has it been a little overwhelming?
A: Um, I wouldn’t say overwhelming because that might be a little negative, but I’ll just say overwhelming in a positive sense. I’m very happy that people are paying attention to what we’re doing and I’m totally grateful for being able to be seen by so many people.
S: In addition, were you a little scared playing on “Saturday Night Live?”
A: Not at all. I just went up there and did my thing, and people reacted positively.
S: So how’s the tour been going for you?
A: It’s been great. We’re having a great time, and I think the fans are having a great time. It’s fun to go up there every night and just play. We never know what to expect. I mean, if one kid shows up and knows who we are, then we’re happy. But the tour’s been great. People have been showing up, wearing shirts they made, singing along. It’s been a lot of fun.
S: Do you think you’ll have any problems maybe playing to a different crowd there?
A: Naw, I don’t think so. I mean, we just want to come out and have a good time, and we want the fans to as well. We’re just trying to open ourselves up to as many people as possible, and I think that’s what most people who go to the Ozzfest go for, to hear new music.
S: Now, something I wanted to ask you about is your influences. I mean, you don’t just wake up one day and walk on-stage and rock the way you do. How did you develop such a stage persona?
A: Well, it basically goes back to when I was in high school, there were a lot of bands at my school who went crazy and did the most outrageous things when they would play. I’ve never forgotten that and I have kind of taken some of the things they did and use them in my show.
S: Something I’ve come across on the Internet is that some people don’t think you’re serious, that your act is some sort of a gimmick. What would you say to that?
A: First, I’m glad there’s people out there that are supporting what we’re trying to do and reacting positively to it. We’re going out there every night and giving 100%, and I’m glad there’s people that are into what we’re doing.
As far as the people who think it’s a joke, all I can say is that we’re going to work twice as hard to try and convince them that what we are doing is real. All we want people to do is have a good time, nothing more.
S: Yeah, for the people that have been saying that, I’ve just been telling them after last night, “If you don’t believe, just go to the show, it’s the best time you’ll ever have.”
A: Wow, thank you. We’re just trying to be positive.
S: O.K., I’ve got one more question for you.. This is our last issue before the summer, so do you have anything to say to the students of Georgia State?
A: Of course! All I can say is that we only have one life to live, so go out, have fun, party hard, and just live life to the fullest.
S: Wow, that’s great. Thank you so much for everything.
A: Oh, no problem.
A very generous, well-mannered and polite man, his appearance and gruff voice might hide the fact he is a great individual who has the talent to become one of the biggest names in rock music. Hop on for the ride and party hard along the way, because Andrew W.K. is a man who knows how to deliver and is only on his way to the top.
Jessica (TinyDJ) with Andrew W K at the 9:30 Club in DC – WNRN 91.9FM
In case you want to know more of what happened at AWK: Andrew WK: Thursday March 21st, Washington DC.
OK, so I am backstage with Andrew WK at the 9:30 Club in DC:
TinyDJ: You just put on a great show- how many shows have you done so far on this tour?
AWK: Oh well, let’s count: uh San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, and here, DC-
TinyDJ: The show was even more entertaining than I expected- but I was surprised by the lack of mullets in the audience- I was a little disappointed by that–no silly hairdos and not a whole lot of moshing going on!- what’s your take on that?
AWK: I am a little confused, but if you were disappointed, that s not good! I am not sure what kinda haircut you’re talking about, but it just looked like good people to me, and I saw some of my good friends I had not seen in years, and that was excellent, and it made my night wonderful. You never know what to expect at a show, but you hope for the best and that s what we work for.
TinyDJ: I read an Article recently in the NME about your tour in the UK with Lost Prophets and BRMC- I would have loved to have seen that show- You played with Saul Williams tonight- an interesting choice- was he yours or the labels?
AWK: It was a collective choice- we were able to have access to him, and he was able to have access to us because of the record labels, and it’s great for me- I wish we could have more rap bands playing with us- he was really awesome and really kind I have never heard anything like his music. I am excited by it, and I hope to play with him again.
TinyDJ: How the hell do you get all this energy for the show? Is all this Red Bull yours (table in the back room piled high with juice, water and empty red bull cans) or do you have some sort of special breakfast brew?
AWK: Breakfast brew is partially made up of egg, uh, egg cheese oatmeal base, with a sauce coating which usually crusts over- you cut through it and it and gets all crumbly- I don’t drink a lot of soda pop at all, a lot of juice, water, milk, and cream and melted butter!
TinyDJ: So your mom wasn’t an aerobics instructor or something of the sort- you were making some brilliant moves out there on stage- very limber!
AWK: well she would never buy a lot of soda pop- so MOM NO TOOTH ROT HERE!
TinyDJ: Yes, I will witness that for those of you listening out there, he has brilliant shining white teeth! Very nice and I am sure they could rip through anything.
TinyDJ: The UK single, “She is Beautiful” –is that written about anyone in particular?
AWK: Many many people. My first girlfriend, beautiful girls I’ve never gotten the chance to talk to, but you know, no regrets here, it all paid off in the end cause I got a good song out of it, so I can use that song to talk to them in the future!.
TinyDJ: So, is “Party hard” a single in the UK as well?
AWK: yeah, actually party hard came out before she is beautiful in the UK and around the world- and I hear that Party Hard is currently #1 in Japan!
TinyDJ: Congratulations! It’s working hard on our station too-
AWK: Fantastic! Well it’s a big miracle and who knows what and how, but we are all very thankful and excited and we will do the best we can to make the most of these amazing things we are involved in. To make as many people as happy as possible.
TinyDJ: So what is your favourite track to play on the album?
AWK: they are all my favourite- to pick a favourite of anything- person, colour, favourite pet, favourite kinda mouse, things like that. It puts one above others that I might really really like as much and how and why if there is no need to, pick just one thing, I have many favourite things!
TinyDJ: what was the first live show you attended?
AWK: Wow, my first concert? Uh live, hmmm, it was a classical thing for sure- an orchestra- that was amazing- I remember having like a soaking soiling, uh rumbling kinda of feeling in my belly, troubling- no roiling — a roiling in the gut that saturated into the stomach lining- it was very emotional!
TinyDJ: actually that sounds a little unpleasant- I hope your intestinal distress has minimised over the last few years!
TinyDJ: “I love NYC” was that written before or after the attacks?
AWK: It was written almost 2 years before. When I was walking down the street there- I lived there for many years- I was walking down Prince street- it was actually at the corner of Prince and Broadway. I got in to my head and was talking to my friend about it, and then it just all came together, and then I had to sing it in my head all the way home so I could get it all down. I have to see how it works on the piano- all the songs are written on the piano in the end.
TinyDJ: What are favorite bands to listen to listen to on the road?
AWK: All my friends bands! I don t have a cd player on the road, but Donald, our drummer made a really good mix tape, and we have been listening to that. We have been watching a lot of movies, we watched Deuce Bigalow, male gigolo, Ace Ventura I and II, Planes Trains and Automobiles, and the movie Blow- and Who is Harry Crumb? Joe Flaherty s role in that is really great!
TinyDJ: Thanks for chatting with us tonight!
AWK: Hey, no problem!
The Road Ragers
Entertainment Weekly: May 30th, 2003
At first, Andrew WK seems a litttle too metal and way too disco for the punky Warped Tour. But it’s all about the attitude. He describes his upcoming cd as “pure unadulterated triumph, unmitigated glory, absolute complete euphoria, melodic ecstasy, and true human victory.” Now that’s punk rock.
Who’s the best-dressed rock star in history?
ZZ Top and Michael Jackson. Stevie Nicks had cool clothes– all those gowns and stuff.
CDs/movies/video games you’ll bring on tour?
Two Towers, Sorcerer’s Stone, Leslie Nielsen movies, Seinfeld, Simpsons tapes. The new TranzWorld cd.
Favorite things about summer festivals?
It’s a whole day completely and perfectly organized to facilitate fun. Everyone’s there with one goal in mind, focused.
Favorite concession stand?
I like to watch people get their tongues pierced. Mine’s not pierced, but it’s crazy to watch. Their eyes get all watery.
The Underground Newspaper – Double Issue 3/4
Either you know him and love him, or you think you know him and you think he’s just dumb noise. The former can start reading the interview now; the latter should be warned that, once they’re done, they’re going to hate themselves for being dumb At any rate, I don’t believe I’ve ever had a better 25 minutes in my life. –Jon
Jon: So obviously partying is a pretty big theme on the record. What’s your style of party? Substances?
I think people just always do what they like to do. I guess there are people who are trying to start a movement of more people doing something that they like or not, meaning if someone really doesn’t like drinking they’re gonna try and get other people to not drink too. But I really don’t want to do that, I want people to do what they want. So I drink, when I want. I do drug [sic], when I want. That’s the whole point here: to have a party is to find things that make you happy; to party hard is to find those things that make you happy and do them a lot. Whether it’s eating corn on the cob, or melting butter in a pitcher of milk, anything like that, even if it sounds weird, doing that, and doing it all darn day, that’s a hard party.
J: You party hard very physically, too, on stage. Does that take its toll?
I’m not injuring myself, I’m expending myself. So, if I try and whip my arm around real fast, and keep a pounding pulse on the beat, and do my dances as best I can, then as a result of that, sometimes injury does come across. People don’t tend to get hurt, though, and even when they do it’s with a smile on their face, so we’ve been pretty good.
Reviewers, whenever they talk about your music, like to say “it’s like this plus this plus this.” Who do you say your musical influences are?
I think it sounds like a piano being played by 80 people, and they added 20 more keyboards on top of the piano, so it’s a big huge piano sandwich, and then they built a big drumset inside the piano that’s triggered by different keys being pressed, and then you put a marching band inside the piano and then rolled it around in the middle of a big oil tanker, which is in the middle of the ocean so it’s got a lot of room to breathe, and set it loose and got a bunch of people to dance around. It’s a combo. If it had to be a combo of anything, throw some food in the mix like if you hadn’t eaten in two days, some pizza would be quite appealing.
J: 20 keyboards; how does being a classically trained musician affect your composition and style?
Well piano was the first instrument I played when I was really young, so kinda my whole way of music, for better or for worse, comes from piano, and I was just realizing now, talking, that whenever I’m thinking about a song, I’m thinking about the melody, for the first time even, I’m thinking “Okay, now where does this go on the keyboard? Where’s that on the scale?” And it’s really visual. I mean, piano! Visual! Black keys, white keys laid out in an order. You can see the notes. That’s cool; not all instruments are like that. It’s very tactile too. And on piano, you don’t actually have to make the note, you just have to play the note, you just have to press the key, and the note is made. There’s all kinds of things. It’s certainly given me a great foundation on which to appreciate music for music’s sake. And that’ what this is: this is not really about a message or an idea beyond the fact that these notes, played in this order, sound really, really exciting. Whether it’s C-G-E or E-F#-G, it sounds really good, and then you build it from there.
J: This is the attitude that makes NME, Vice, and Teen People (he laughs) say that you’re the man to save rock. How’s that coming?
Well as far as I knew, rock and roll and music, they were never broken. They seemed like they were doing just fine, and they don’t need a repairman to come in and make any changes. I’ve just found a nice little plot of land that nobody has built on, and I’m going to build a nice little farm house. We’ll have some horses and some sheeps [sic], and we can sell enough milk, and enough pony rides around the place, to save up enough money to build an addition on that barn. And in that addition we’ll have a pipe organ, and on Sundays we’ll have a little pipe organ musical thing. I don’t think I really want to fix anything, but if people need something repaired, I’m sure they can find me and I’ll help fix it for them. But I think music’s fantastic, and this is not a reaction to music being bad, or things being bad, or the world is crummy, or we need to go back; this is not a return to the good old days. We’re here right now. Far too often, our minds are occupied with where we’ve been and what we’re going to do. We should be thinking “What’s happening this instant?” It’s very hard, because that second that you’re thinking has already passed, and all of a sudden it’s become the past. And the second that’s about to come is still the future, so the actual second that you’re living in, it doesn’t even exist. Isn’t that amazing? The present doesn’t exist, but we’re trying to live in it.
J: What’s your favourite episode of Who’s the Boss?
Let me think. When Samantha started driving, Tony had a real good deal on some old used car, and he customized it to be as safe as possible, the biggest and hardest to crash, and painted it yellow and put little shiny reflectors all over it. She was bummed out, you know what I mean, she was embarassed.
T: That’s not cool.
I was trying to think whether or not I would’ve been excited to have that car, and I thought that I would’ve, but her friends had Porsches and convertibles and things like that. I liked Mona, really attractive, enthusiastic older woman.
J,T: Older ladies?
Yes I do, I like older ladies and red-heads both.
J: Well then, let’s see here. Is there a special someone?
There are some people that care a great deal for me, and I care a great deal for them. My only real girlfriend was when I was 15 until I was 19 or 20. Since then, I’ve met and known and been with many wonderful girls, but it’s something that still evades me. It’s hard, I know what I desire, and I have so much to give, and I almost want to hold out. Is something better than nothing, or is nothing better than something if that something isn’t ideal? So many times we’re turning down something good in hopes of holding out for something better, and ending up with less in the end and it’s better just to take something instead of nothing because life is so short. But with love, I almost feel it’s disrespectful of love itself not to wait until you really feel it. This is all really good because I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I made some pretty big choices lately, thinking that I wasn’t inspired enough, that I wanted to be driven to the depths of my soul, to give anything for this person, and I don’t know if I’ve found that yet. There’s this song by Chicago that I really like, just because it’s so heartfelt and moving, it says (singing) “You’re the meaning in my life/You’re the inspiration/You give feeling in my life”. And I was thinking that I want that so badly, but you know what I realized? People who love this music, that are coming to the concerts, are the meaning in my life. They’re the inspiration. And that’s who I am right now. And if a woman comes along that can be a part of that, I’ll wait for that, because right now I have all the inspiration and love being given to me that I could ever hope for.
J: A lot of reviewers like to talk about a Def Leppard influence in your music, so I thought maybe I could read you some lyrics and you could see if you know what song they’re from.
Okay, I like that.
J: Alright: “You’re too much/you’re the only one I want to touch”
Oh, I don’t know…
J: It’s “Photograph,” but I can’t really blame you for not knowing.
Well I wish I did! There are all these gaping holes in my musical knowledge! They were before my time. When I was a teenager growing up I was listening to Napalm Death and SOB and a band called Ottawa, actually, a really cool power violence band (Thomas starts laughing), and I didn’t really follow Def Leppard. I’m going and trying to expand my musical knowledge. My knowledge is all musical right now, in terms of I know notes and things. I gotta learn a little more about bands; I know a lot about a little, I guess…
Jon, do you ever think about something that you did, and you think that you didn’t do all that you could have, and you feel sorta regretful?
J: Yeah, I’ve felt that way.
I just felt that way today, and I’m trying to figure it out. We just did this TV thing, and they made this milkshake with all this food in it, and I was thinking that maybe I should’ve pile-drived the table it was on, or clotheslined the blender, to make it more exciting. I mean, it was exciting, it was good, but I could have done more. But you can always do more! So it’s a tough call. I mean, I want people to feel that I’m their friend, because I am, and I want to make that clear, so I’m constantly trying to work against things that hide that.
J: Well, we’re getting the cutty throat motion here, so we’d better wrap up…
Yeah yeah yeah (laughs, continues to sign my shirt).
J: Well, thank you so much. This has been such a pleasure.
Oh it’s been such a pleasure for me, too. Here let’s take some pictures. That’s awesome.
Andrew W. K. – August 21, 2002
1. What is your main inspiration?
My main inspiration is the possibilty of a challenge. My main inspiration is trying to do more than I think I should. I want to make people feel O.K. I want them to feel O.K. about themselves, the people around them, and me. I want people to feel good about doing, thinking, and feeling things that they might not normally feel O.K. about. Like having fun and being happy. I want to take from life everything it has to offer. I like to just work on things. I like to have a constant goal – a goal that can never be achieved, one that you have to work on everyday – the goal itself is to work with out the satisfaction of completion. I’m inspired by how hard other people work – by how much they put into what they do. Even more, I’m inspired by how much people put into other people. I am not alive for myself, no one is. We are all living for eachother. I am inspired by everyone else and the potential we all have to do true good. This life is so short – I want to fill it up with absolute ecstacy and delight for as many people as I am able. As I always say, my inspiration is life.
2. How much more touring will you do to promote this album?
We do not tour to promote, we tour to have a party! We will be touring non-stop through the end on November. As of right now we are going to tour the U.S.A. in the Fall. I’ve been on tour for almost 9 months. We’ve been around the world 3 times. It’s already been more than I ever could’ve imagined, and there is still so much to come!
3. Do you know when you’ll begin recording the next album?
It depends on the touring, but as of right now I would like to begin recording in December or January. The recording takes me a very long time, so I’ll need to have a nice big chunk of open space that I can pile drive. I would like to record it almost non-stop and then come back to it after a little while, and finish it off.
4. Have you written any songs for the next album?
I have about 15 songs right now. Some of them are completely written, others are particle pieces. I have a lot of parts and I need to organize them and assemble them into whole songs. You know? Most of the album is ready to record, it’s just a matter of fine tuning.
5. What are some titles?
There’s going to be a song called “I’m Totally Stupid”. It’s a song I wrote before, and there’s a lot of new parts that I’m working with too. It’s a complete slicing shredder about not being brought to your knees. It’s about what goes around comes around. You know?
6. Are there any plans to have a headlining tour?
The October/November tour of the U.S.A. will be a headlining tour. It will be us and 3 or 4 other bands. The whole concert will be a barn-burner, break-blaster! A non-stop night, so get ready for it. Here it comes!
7. If you had to choose, what is your favorite song on your album?
I’m so glad that I don’t have to choose. I’m very thankful that I don’t have to make choices like that in life. For me, I think it’s unecessary and limiting. Why would a person feel the need to put one thing above another? Isn’t it enough that you love that thing very much? We have this desire to organize things into “best and worst” when it’s really all the best. We don’t need to simplify – the richness of life comes from a love of many things – many favorites! I love all the songs on “I GET WET”, it just depends which song I feel like listening to at that time. That’s the great thing about life: you can like it ALL.
8. If you could put together a tour lineup who would you choose?
There are lots and lots of bands that I would love to play concerts with. It would be amazing to play with different bands every day, different people, different places. I’ve always felt like I could play with anyone – that we would fit in or not fit in equally no matter who else we played with. I feel very lucky that we can do that – we’re everything and we’re nothing. Bring on the bands, we’ll play with them. Anything!
9. Do you have any preshow rituals?
I don’t rely too much on rituals. I think of it as a hold-back . If I have a ritual and I don’t do it, then I might trick my mind into thinking I can’t play well. You know? The more free and open things are, the more freedom I have. I don’t want to be stuck in some kind of superstisious set of tasks. Before I show I like to be with my band. I like to sing and yell a little bit. I like to stretch out. I like to kick around and lash out. And I like to get wet! Give me those simple things and I’m good to go!!! PARTY HARD!!! This whole thing is just about getting out there and doing something. Don’t worry if it’s right or perfect or cool. Just try pure-punching and see what you get. You should believe in what you’re doing simply because it’s what you want to do. That’s all that matters. And it matters a lot.
The Chunklet Celebrity Advice Column:
Ask Andrew WK!
by Henry Owings & Garth Johnson
Upon having his remarkably catchy songs burned into our collective consciousness at Chunklet, we decided that there’d be nobody better to ask to be our love advice columnist for this issue than the beefy-t’d Andrew WK.
Although his two tour managers (!?!) were of zero help at either getting us in to the venue or assisting us with an interview during Ozzfest, once we met up with Andrew he was signing autographs for the fourth hour in a row under a baking Georgia sun. Upon mentioning the interview, he was more hospitable and friendly than we’d expected — he proceeded to ask us to write the questions down and promised to e-mail his responses within two days which are featured below.
All you playa hatas out there can say what you will, but the man keeps his word and it doesn’t hurt that he rocks really, really hard. So without further ado, let’s get this party started!
Dear Andrew WK,
I was dating a girl and thought everything was fine. One day I decided to prank call her. The call involved vandalizing her car, and both Taz and the Taco Bell dog being airbrushed on the hood of her car. I should also mention that she’s a nuclear biologist. After the prank call, I never heard from her again. What did I do wrong?*
If this girl didn’t know you too well then it’s possible you could’ve scared her away. Maybe she thought that the prank call was real, or she might have figured out it was you who did it, especially if she didn’t give you any reason to think otherwise. From what you’ve described here, you placed the call, and ever since you’ve never head back from her. Have you tried to call her? She might not be interested in the same type of humor as you. Her being a nuclear biologist should have nothing to do with it. I mean, maybe she’s more of the serious type and this really upset her, but I doubt it. If she’s a nuclear biologist she’s got to be smart, and maybe she decided that this prank call was not cool. I don’t know. The only thing that you seem to have done wrong is to not have called her back. You should apologize, unless you did, and she never answered your calls, or returned your messages. Who knows? I guess you did nothing wrong, and neither did she. Maybe she has caller I.D.???
Dear Andrew WK,
I am dating an amazing girl, compatible with me in every way — except one. She’s incredibly jealous of any time I spend with my friends. How should I deal with it?
Two people who are compatible with each other share more than strong feelings of love and affection. They also can share interests and ideas and feelings about all kinds of different stuff. But, compatibility is not only about what you share and agree on, it’s also about accepting what you don’t agree on. You know? It’s about supporting each other through all the different directions that your individual lives will take you. It’s about being gentle and careful about each other’s feelings when you do disagree. It’s about understanding each other. My Mom has a little metal button that she keeps above the sink in the kitchen and it says “Being a friend is a fine art.” I have read this scentence [sic] for many years, every time I was doing dishes or washing my hands, but it wasn’t until the other day when she explained it to me that I truly understood. Love, in all it’s different forms, whether it’s romantic, friendship, or family, is all based on compassion and acceptance. While this is very simple and easy to imagine, it is one of the hardest and most difficult things to actually do. To accept someone, for everything they are and are not, for everything they can and can’t do, for everything they like and don’ like, and to have compassion for what makes them the way they are, to understand them — that is to truly love them… and that is not easy. Being a lover and a friend is very hard.
If this girl you are seeing considers herself a friend of yours, then how could she ever give you a hard time for spending time with other’s who are also your friends? She needs to accept that these other people make you happy, and if she truly believes that you love her, she should not be threatened by it. At the same time, maybe she’s not receiving enough from you in some way, and that’s leading her to feel less important than your friends. You should talk to her about this. Ask her how she feels, and be sensitive. Tell her why you like your friends and why they make you happy. If you really get along with this girl you should just talk with her, it’s bound to get figured out somehow. Communicating is not overrated. You know?
Dear Andrew WK,
I have a serious dilemma. I’m a pretty confident and successful guy, but I have a supremely difficult time talking to girls. Or rather, introducing myself. I just hate the cheesy pick up line crap and don’t want to get grouped in with these assholes. What should I do?
I can completely relate to your problem. This whole topic is very vast and really complex. You’re wondering how a nice guy is supposed to meet a nice girl. There is no easy answer there. You’ve also pointed out that there’s a difference between being bad with girls and being bad with meeting girls. From your own self description it sounds like shyness is not your problem. You say you’re held back by the fear of making a bad first impression. Like most people, I have had to wrestle with shyness, and often in dealing with my own fears I would make up reasons to absolve myself from trying to talk to anyone, let alone a pretty girl. We should be sure that our fear of the bad first impression isn’t just shyness in disguise. If you are confident then you should also be confident, or at least hopeful, that the girl you meet will see you as you truly are. The risk of being “grouped in with these assholes” is up to your real personality, and her own. And while you can’t completely influence what someone thinks of you, you can be honest and straightforward and kind, and I don’t see why anyone would think you were an asshole, and if they did, would you really want to talk to them anyway? You know? It’s easy to think in terms of “me” and “them”, but there can be times where your own fear of being perseved [sic] as “them” can stop you from even just being yourself. I don’t know… I would take a deep breath and gather up all my spirit and talk the girl if I wanted to talk to her. Put the best of what you have out for her to see. You don’t need to impress her or sweep her off her feet with one sentence, just talk to her. I know that’s easier to say than to do, but just say something, even if it’s as simple as, “Hello, my name is… and I really wanted to meet you.” Let her do some of the work too. Who knows? We’re all running around looking for something, and we’ve got to try and find it. Life is short.
Dear Andrew WK,
I am so in love with my current girlfriend. More in love than ever in my life. Yet this passion is countered by an equal vengeance when things are going badly. If I love her so much, how can I hate her so much?
Wow, this sounds intense. You say that you hate her when things are going badly — do you mean when your own life is going bad, or when your life with her is going bad? Even if your relationship was having it’s worst day, are you really feeling hateful feelings towards her? True love and acceptance for someone leaves no room for true hatred, so I’m assuming that you’re just very angry or frustrated. Maybe you love the relationship more than you love her, and when she threatens the relationship you get mad. Maybe you’re attached to her more than you actually truly love her. Maybe you have become dependent on the day to day ups and downs that the relationship brings — from the amazing highs, to the hateful lows — and maybe you’re amplifying your emotions to offset how happy you are. Maybe you need to even out, so that when you are feeling so much love on the good days it doesn’t need to be countered with hate and rage on the bad days. Also, your feelings of anger could be justified and you should look at why you love her in the first place, and what makes you loose those feelings so quickly? How is your temper normally? Do you feel a lot of hate to other people too? Do you hate your friends? Do you hate your family? Do you have a love/hate relationship with the things that you’re passionate about? Sometimes your life takes your emotions to extremes, and if it’s hurting you and others, maybe you need to change. Just take a good long look at the whole thing. With a wide crystal eye.
FOOTNOTE*This question was rather abbreviated given the amount of space and energy I had to devote while roasting to exhaustion under the less-than-hospitable Georgia heat lamps. The more accurate story is a bit more complex. This past May, I reacquainted myself with a girl that I knew from my tempestuous summer of ‘96 which was punctuated with me losing my posh university job, breaking up with my long-term girlfriend, sleeping on the Olivia Tremor Control’s floor, and touring the United States for two solid months with a band of robots. Needless to say, I was emotionally unable to invest in shit at that point, but when I saw her again at the 40 Watt this past spring, it was like the six years since the last time I saw her never even happened. Without going into terribly great detail about how awkward our initial make-out sesh in her car went, things started off on the right foot. Hell, she gave me the number to her laboratory which I still think was a rather significant step in our relationship at the time. So, after going out on three progressively awesome dates with this girl, I decided it was time to issue a prank call on her. After giving my immediate counsel a call — Mssr. G. Johnson, Esq. — he gave my plan-of-attack his unquestioned blessing.
It was a Wednesday afternoon, sometime after lunch, and the call went a little something like this… Me (in the thickest Andy Griffith-esque Southern accent I could muster): “Can I speak to a Jennifer Halston (this wasn’t her real name, duh), please?” Her: “This is she.” Me: “Miss Halston, this is Darrel Howell with the University of Georgia Police Department. I’m down here in the parking lot with your car and we have ourselves a bit of a problem on our hands that I need to tell y’bout before you come downstairs.” Her: “Oh no, what happened?” Me: “Well, we caught a gentleman in the midst of vandalizing your car.” Her: “Oh no.” Me: “Yes, ma’am, it appears as if the suspect was airbrushing a giant Taco Bell dog across the hood of your car.” Her: “Oh no (she’s muttering to herself).” Me: “We caught the gentleman as he was almost finished writing ‘Drop The Chalupa’ across the bottom of the painting.” Her: “Well, how big is it?” Me: “Oh, it’s huge. I’d venture to say it’s about five feet wide. The painting actually goes off the sides of the car.” Her: (muttering) Me: “Now that’s the bad news. The good news is that he is willing to paint over it free of charge in return for you not pressing charges against him. And well, the guys at the precinct and I are looking at the hood of your car and we’re thinking that Taz….busting through the Taco Bell dog would look particularly nice.” She: “I’ll be right down.” Me: “Jennifer, it’s Henry.” So at this point we both start laughing, but I quickly sense that she’s got to get back to work (unlike me) and we agree that she’ll call me when she gets off work later that night. Anticipating her call that night, I never hear from her again. Now, although every friend of mine (and many who barely know me) thought this was the mother of all prank calls, only Ted Rall stood out to say that I’m too old to be doing prank calls period. Regardless, I didn’t want to be known as ‘that guy’ who just wouldn’t let her be, so I only called her once again about 2 weeks later, left a message on her machine, and most obviously, never heard from her. As lame, and as mildly irritating, as it felt at the time, I still really, really enjoy retelling this prank call.
NCCU Campus Echo
MTV at NCCUArticle & Photos by Jennie Alibasic, Echo Online Editor
Had anyone told me two weeks ago that I would soon be spending the weekend interning for MTV, I would have rolled my eyes and walked off grumbling that it was too early in the day for bad jokes. Well, this joke actually came true, and it was anything but bad.
On Friday, Sept. 20, Rainah Simmons from the N.C. Central University Public Relations department told me that MTV had picked NCCU as a locale for a taping of an episode of the “Crashing with” series.
Simmons said they wanted a student intern. I said ‘yes,’ and was rushed off to join the crew as they were filming a class in the Edmonds Classroom Building.
If it hadn’t been for the two men with cameras circling a quiet, long-haired young man in a plain white T-shirt and jeans, I would have never assumed that this was the rock star in question: 23-year-old Andrew W.K., famous for quirky rock-anthems like “Party Hard.” Andrew W.K. was listening intently to a student giving a presentation.
Lisa Harrison, creator of “Crashing with,” explained that the purpose of the show is to put an artist into an unfamiliar situation for a weekend while they are touring.
For the next 48 hours, I was part of a small MTV crew documenting every move Andrew W.K. made as he got to experience life as a college freshman at NCCU.
Andrew W.K. was introduced to a group of freshmen students living in Eagleson dorm. They all got along quite well, though there was one controversy: Andrew W.K.’s peculiar grooming habits, or rather lack thereof. In short, he smelled. The students felt the need to spray him with Lysol.
Andrew W.K. took everything in stride, greeting each new situation he landed in with enthusiasm and an open mind.
It was fun to watch students who weren’t sure who Andrew W.K. was transform into fans after meeting him.
I, too, was won over, especially after he took it upon himself to make the introductions.
During his visit, Andrew W.K. and the MTV Crew experienced a step show, a slumber party and got a new tattoo. He also had a couple of practice sessions with the Sound Machine, culminating in a joint performance of Andrew W.K’s “She is Beautiful” in the Saturday night football game half-time show.
I had a blast. Andrew W.K. and the MTV crew had a blast. The show airs on MTV, Saturday, Oct. 26 at 2:30 p.m.– I know I’ll be watching.
While You Were Sleeping: Issue 17
By Chris Nieratko
Being a freshman in high school you don’t get invited to many parties unless you have tits. Big tits. So instead of waiting to become sophomores, my friend Dave and I stole a beater ‘76 El Camino from our friend’s backyard and drove that bitch to the mayor’s son’s party like we were straight seniors. The only problem was the car had no steering, no brakes, no lights, no coolant, and worst of all no radio. When we pulled up to the Mayor’s house we ran over three bushes, two small trees and hit an oak to stop, which made the hood pop up and pour out gray and black smoke. We got out of the car like Cheech and Chong, to a round of applause. We were the hit of the party and every girl wanted to get in our pants. That might be my favorite high school memory and I think about it every time I listen to Andrew W.K.
What have you stolen in your life?
At every job I ever worked at, all I stole was cash. The best scenario was a parking garage I worked at. There were two guys, one working on each end. You’d organize with the other guy to take a four-hour break. You’d take whatever you could during those four hours. Most of the time it would work like gold. He’d be gone for four hours and I’d get about $100, $200 a day and then go to the fanciest restaurants downtown, and then I’d go play pinball at the arcade.
Did you have long dirty hair and look like a suspicious person?
No, I didn’t look quite so suspicious. The earlier jobs, I was a borderline skinhead. The parking garage job, the reason that it all worked was that it was corrupt. The city contracts companies to work the parking garages and the companies are stealing so much money from the city. I would get a call like, “Your drawer was $100 short.” I knew that it wasn’t ‘cause I would be so careful. Other people in the office would just take it. People would take entire bags of deposits. The city shut it down.
Were you ever taken downtown?
No, never. I’ve done such bad shit, straight up mail fraud, check fraud, forgery. I’ve spent hours making fake checks. Then I’d mail them from Michigan to California, hand canceling the stamp with the wavy lines over the stamp. Then putting it in their mailbox. I’d write legal letters threatening to sue. I forged baseball cards and sold dozens of them to a local antique-asshole-weird guy that I was friends with for a long time.
How did you scam Expedia.com into using your song “It’s Time to Party?”
You’ve got ad agencies and they go around saying that they need a song to go along with a certain idea. A good buddy of mine knew someone who worked at the ad agency and we gave them a CD and it worked out great. In my ad there’s a dad with his family around him and he’s typing, planning a trip for his family on expedia.com. He types in ‘two adults.’ Then starts thinking for a minute. It flashes to his teenage son and it’s a really good use of the song. The house is getting torn up and he types in ‘three adults.’ I’m happy, I don’t give a fuck, give me money for my songs. They keep sending money every month. It’s insane how much you can make.
Flaunt – April/May 2002
By Aidin Vaziri
The Daily Cardinal
By Nathaniel Grotte
Listen up, pussies: There’s a new face in rock ‘n’ roll, and that face is framed by wet black hair and covered with an unnatural amount of blood. It’s Andrew W.K., whose first single, “Party Hard,” is currently making the lucrative crossover from MTV2 to the big leagues and inspiring drunk college boys to pound their fists wildly; sometimes at the expense of a low-hanging lamp.If it’s not obvious, I’m speaking from experience: Two Thursdays ago, Cardinal Arts hosted a little get-together, and I unwittingly sent shards of glass showering over many of those in attendance. I tried to apologize to everyone, but no one would have it; the general consensus was that it was absolutely the thing to do at the time. That’s just one of many possible examples of how appealing the W.K. philosophy is; namely, partying hard, partying till you puke and it being time to party.Even the songs on I Get Wet that aren’t exactly about partying really are: “She is Beautiful” and “I Love NYC” are delivered with the same four-guitar, piano-pounding assault that just lets you know that there’s nothing optional about headbanging. It’s a nearly perfect hard rock album. I dare you to do homework with it in the background.Through a number of fortuitous coincidences, I got to meet Andrew over Spring Break. He was supposed to play The Annex last Friday night, but due to flight cancellations, he was unable to make it to our fair city. The tour manager made an appealing offer to the dwindling audience of single high school boys (quite obviously there to see The Apex Theory, go figure) to drive to the next day’s show in Milwaukee and have dinner with Andrew, who I’d previously assumed to be powered completely by meth and pure electricity.If you’ve got a column coming up and nothing to write about, this is not one of those opportunities you turn down.Turns out that my editor, our driver and I were the only ones willing to make the trip, because for most of the night, Andrew, decked out in the same stained shirt-jeans combo he rocks in the video, gave us his undivided attention. Upon initial meeting, he whipped out his wallet and reimbursed us for gas, offering no time for polite refusal; he was already soundchecking. A pleasant dinner at a nearby Thai restaurant followed, where we discussed the modernist aspects of Judas Priest’s Ram It Down and many fish cakes were consumed, which “kicked the crap” out of otherwise rocking lead guitarist Jimmy Coup.They taught us time-killing tour bus games, and we gave them cheese fudge, the Wisconsin delicacy available at I-90 attraction Mars Cheese Castle (A.W.K: “There’s nothing cheese about it, it’s just really good fudge.”) Further debilitated by some curry, Jimmy was unadventurous about the cheese fudge, causing Andrew to slam his hand down on the table and declare, “Godammit, Jimmy, this bothers me because I know you would like it so much.”The show that followed was an unqualified success, and as my editor observed, A.W.K. must be the best opener in the world. He thrashed through most of I Get Wet with even more energy than he exhibits on TV, swinging and stomping, diving into the crowd and, getting wet. By the end of the set, he’d obviously won over many of the people who have no idea who he was an hour before. He met and conversed with absolutely everyone who wanted to, after which he took us back to the tour bus for beers and attempted to give away his CD collection, officially surpassing Evan Dando in my mind as the nicest musician I’ve ever encountered. As we made our way off the bus, Jimmy Coup offered his salutations from under an American-flag blanket as Andrew wildly made plans to do an interview at a Marquette radio station after spending some time with some folks with an “Andrew W.K. Rocks!” banner hanging outside their window.The most frequently asked question about Andrew W.K. seems to be, “Is this ’80s-vintage rock ethos a joke?” I can’t say “no” enough. A.W.K. is the real deal, and while he may call interviewers “sir” and appreciate good fudge, he’s nevertheless 100 percent grade A pure rock, and I Get Wet is the proof. Long live rock, and long live Andrew W.K.
By Helene Ravlich
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Andrew WK, but got all I bargained for and then some. Incredibly sincere, gentle and charming, this guy is either the Second Coming or he’s just very talented at royally taking the piss. Or quite possibly, insane.
“I’ve always been working really hard making music” he says over his lunch (a chicken burger – without the bun), dressed in his trademark white jeans and t-shirt. “I’ve been playing piano since I was four and always had music as a default. By this I mean it’s like reading – if you have been reading since you were young you are always reading – you almost can’t help it. I’ve always had melody and a piano to make notes on, so melody and music are things that are always in my head, that I am always hearing”.
When he released the music in his head to an unsuspecting world in the form of his debut album I Get Wet, the world went nuts. The usually cynical NME called him the “Saviour of Music”, The Face weighed in with ‘musical genius and the world’s biggest selling rock mag Kerrang! dubbed him ‘most likely to succeed’. How did this happen? How did a former gumball machine salesman who would do gigs for change at Starbucks end up on the edge of being the great white hope of rock? Apparently, it’s all down to his mum. “I owe her everything” he says, fixing me with an intense stare. “Simply because of the fact that she bought music into my life. Music wasn’t bought to me with any rules, she never told me what I should or shouldn’t like… and I liked all of it.”
He was discovered by a friend of a friend of Foo Fighter Dave Grohl, who after hearing Andrew’s demo tape flew him to LA to open for his band to an audience of 10,000. After years of solo shows where he would sing karaoke style over his portable cd player and “riding 8 hours on a bus to play for eight bucks” W.K. finally hit the big time. Very loudly. “The more I worked with music, the more determined I was to make more exciting songs. I’ve always tried to make songs that have a physical feeling of explosive energy”.
That energy means there was only going to be one sound that Andrew W.K. wanted to make: a loud, heavy, screaming celebration of life. “There was no other option” he says. “It wasn’t a choice; it was a realisation that this was the sound that makes me most happy. It’s all based on piano and it’s all about not denying things, not being afraid. Its always about making it more, more of everything – the biggest drum sound I can create, adding guitars that scream not whisper, adding as many keyboards as I could. It all about me being excited about how big and powerful life is and creating that as a sound. That is why it sounds the way it sounds”.
Then he adds for his critics, “I’m not a very good singer, but I try and sing as loud and hard as I can”. He is not afraid of dance music either; a recent rumor had drum & bass outfit Bad Company remixing Party Till You Puke. “To deny technology would be to deny the truth” he shrugs, starting on his next course (chicken satay-without the rice).
“It seems to make people feel the way that other things have made them feel” he says later, talking about the effect his brand of rock has on people hearing it for the first time. “Like a certain band that made them really happy or excited once. I feel honored and special that I could make them feel happy at all”.
Moving on to dessert (a bowl of tuna and an OJ) he describes the power making music gives him. “Once you find something you like and have that inside, no one can touch you and no one can take that from you. That is how music is for me – it’s unconditional”.
My lunch is long finished, and as Andrew WK picks the last of his tuna from his teeth I ask him if he’s really happy in his role as this month’s main event in the rock n roll circus. He drops his fork, gives me another intense stare and thinks.
“All I’ve ever wanted, and all I think anyone ever wants is their chance – their chance to do something’ he says. “I feel like I’ve been given my chance and I’m not going to waste it or take it for granted or mess it up. I am thankful for every breath I take that allows me to continue to live this miracle. It’s uncanny to be alive in the first place, to have food and shelter, health and safety. But to have all that and then be able to do what you want? I am just completely overwhelmed with thankfulness”.
With extremely high expectations I went to see Andrew W.K. play on June 10th at Richard’s on Richards in Vancouver. Those expectations were not only met, but exceeded to such an extent that mere written language cannot possibly convey the experience… but I’ll do my best.
My enthusiasm and love for Andrew’s music is boundless, immeasurable, unquantifiable. From the moment a friend played me Andrew’s “Girls Own Juice” album I knew my life had changed forever, and for the better. This was the music I had been waiting my whole life to hear; this was music I couldn’t wait to share with everyone I knew; this was music I could soundtrack my life with. Not since early childhood could I remember being so excited just by music, by melody, by its power to affect me, to make me feel. It was like electricity moving across my entire body, a feeling of pure joy, pure energy. This was music that loved me unconditionally, music that would never let me down, and I knew I wanted more.
I was astonished to discover that the huge rock anthems that comprised “AWKGOJ” were entirely produced by one person, the then twenty-year-old Andrew Wilkes-Krier. Each song was constructed piece by piece, by Andrew playing all the guitars, drums, piano synthesizers, etc. Even more amazing was that he had printed his home phone number on the back of the CD, area code included, with a demand that you call him. We tried to work up the courage to make the call, but in the face of the total intensity of the music, we had no idea what we would say.
The release of Andrew’s next album on Bulb, “Party ‘Til You Puke” was delayed when news broke he had been signed to Island Def Jam. My response to this information was not my typical cry of “sell-out” but “Yes! Yes! This is exactly what needs to happen, everyone in the world must have the opportunity to hear this music!” The songs on the album (“Dance Party,” “I Want To Kill,” and the three versions of the titular “Party ‘Til You Puke”) showed Andrew experimenting, fusing “AWKGOJ’s” huge anthemic rock sound with driving techno-like beats. The result… another triumph, another album that gives you a firm handshake, a bear hug and puts a big grin on your face every time it hits the turntable. On the album Andrew also paid homage to his past with a cover of Couch’s “Old Man,” which, while being true to the spirit and melody of the original, transforms it into a massive sonic attack.
More than a year later, Andrew’s first major label album “I Get Wet” was released, to rave reviews in Britain, and decidedly mixed reviews in the U.S. The NME dubbed Andrew the “saviour of rock music,” while others wrote him off as either a hedonist headbanger idiot, or some kind of self-reflexive joke. Many rock reviewers, in their cynicism and fear, sat on the fence, embarrassed that they liked the album so much, and afraid that some kind of joke was being pulled on them. Andrew’s response to all this has been to say that there is no wrong reason to like his music, that “nothing is too good to be true” and that “the music is big enough to love even the people who think it’s a joke.” He has also said that he’s just going to have to try even harder to make everyone feel included the next time around.
To my mind, “I Get Wet” is, without a doubt, the most important album ever released, and I play it every day. It’s there for me when I get up in the morning, and there for me when I go to bed at night. The song “Got To Do It” has become a mantra, a constant reminder to “never let down”, to realize what a precious gift life is, to appreciate what it is to be a human being, here and now, to have boundless energy, endless potential, and to always, always “do all the stuff that you love.” The title track, “I Get Wet,” is simply the most exciting three minutes and twenty-three seconds of music ever recorded.
So without belaboring the point any further, when I went to see Andrew perform at Richard’s on Richards, I went with the highest possible expectations. Friends and acquaintances, some of whom I had not seen in several years, traveled from locations as far as eight hours apart to attend the show. Many of them had to work extra shifts at their places of employment in order to take a week to prepare for what was to be the most glorious night in all our lives. One friend almost blinded himself when, in a moment of sleep-deprived adrenaline-soaked excitement, he splashed liquid bleach in his eyes. Most of us didn’t sleep for days before the show, nor could we sleep for days after, as we buzzed with hyperactive energy. As for myself, I spent the week before the show drinking orange juice, doing sit-ups, and painting a large canvas banner emblazoned with a portrait of Andrew.
The crowd who turned up to see the show were the predictably unpredictable blend of metalheads, punks, frat-boys, hipsters, and every other conceivable subgroup of people, proving that Andrew is right when he says his music is for “people of the world.” Many wore home-made T-shirts created in loving tribute to Andrew and his music. I have never seen such a diverse group so ecstatic, so exhilarated and so united in excitement.
Andrew’s stage performance is phenomenal. The level of energy he puts out is immeasurable, his enthusiasm infectious. As much as possible Andrew breaks down the barrier between audience and performer, hurling himself into the fist pumping throng, grabbing the hands of anyone within reach, putting his microphone into the audience, hoisting audience members onto his shoulders, and even dragging people onto stage, putting them in headlocks and making them sing along with him. At one point during the June 11th Seattle show while Andrew was crowd surfing, one fan, capitalizing on the opportunity, hurled himself off the stage, and while falling onto Andrew, snapped photos of him in mid-air.
The band Andrew has gathered around him are a mixed bunch, each one a unique presence, each one chosen to help create the biggest possible sound. It is his hope to make the band even larger for his next tour. It is a far cry from the “Girls Own Juice” days when Andrew’s live performances consisted of him playing karaoke style with his music on a ghetto blaster, while he accompanied himself on a Yamaha keyboard. (Though by all accounts those performances were also fantastic.) The band puts out a huge wall of sound, one that picks you up off the floor and demands that you express yourself physically. The audience sings each word in chorus with Andrew, or at least do their best approximation of what they think the lyrics might be, as they are mysteriously absent from the album sleeve.
During the last song “Don’t Stop Living in the Red” Andrew becomes a whirling dervish, furiously thrashing around the stage, leaping into the air, flailing his arms around and shadow boxing/headbanging while the audience goes wild. By the end of Andrew’s set he has given it his all, his T-shirt is shredded, he is drenched in sweat and water and so is the audience. It is the closest experience to a giant shared simultaneous orgasm I have ever experienced. Complete strangers smile at each other, shake hands and hug, flushed, totally spent, and totally elated. It is an absolutely transcendent experience, a watershed moment in one’s life.
And yet the best is still to come. Although the show ends at 11:30, Andrew joins the crowd until well into the morning, hanging out with his fans, talking with them, posing for pictures, and writing novel length messages on posters, T-shirts, albums, sweaty towels, body parts, prosthetic limbs, and anything else offered to him. Many people stood for hours in heavy tour-bus exhaust fumes (Andrew suffering the fumes with them) in order to get a chance to speak with him, and afterwards, many of us had tears in our eyes. One friend was rendered literally speechless by the event, either too overcome with emotion, or too hoarse from screaming during the show to be able to communicate coherently. Each individual is given as much time as they want or need with Andrew, and he does his utmost to make them happy.
One of the many incredible things I witnessed after the Vancouver show was Andrew signing the digital side of a girl’s CD (she’d asked him to, saying she’d buy herself another copy.) After signing the CD, Andrew went onboard his bus and came back a moment later with fifteen dollars which he gave to the girl so that she could replace the album he’d just signed.
After the Seattle show on June 11th Andrew spent time teaching the kids how to party hard, leading a group of encircled fans in some impromptu dance/exercises out on the street. It is this kind of enthusiasm, this kind of care and attention that sets Andrew apart, and proves that he is breaking new ground. He is completely obliterating the traditional relationship between performer and audience, ‘rock-star’ and ‘fan.’ Andrew is as excited about the music as you are, and he is doing it for you, for me, for all of us.
Like so many others who attended the show, we came as fans of Andrew W.K. and left as his friends. It was, in Andrew’s words, “single handedly the greatest night!” and it left me moved beyond words. It is my ardent hope that everyone who reads these words who hasn’t already heard Andrew’s music will go and seek it out immediately. It can only make your life better in every way. It’s Andrew’s party, and you are all invited, so do yourself a favour and come on in and join the fun.
Blender Magazine – April 2002
Andrew W.K. – Reared on self-help books. Hellbent on partying
by Nick Duerden
It is midmorning in Tampa, Florida, and rock’s latest great white hope, Andrew W.K., has decided to gargle with mouthwash, but inadvertently swallowed. “It burns like hell,” he says, attempting to smile and failing.
Tall and broad-shouldered with the face of a precrucifixion Jesus, 22-year-old Michigan-raised Andrew W.K. has already made something of a splash throughout the world with his debut album, I Get Wet (released in the United States this March). A ferociously energetic 35-minute record that extols the virtue of partying (tracks include “It’s Time to Party”, “Party Hard” and “Party ‘Til You Puke”) and living life to the fullest, I Get Wet sounds like a Meat Loaf-fronted Ramones, while mixing bubblegum pop, early Beastie Boys-style hedonism and death metal theatrics to gregariously winning effect.
“I’m constantly thrilled and surprised by how the world has taken to my music,” he says with disarming politeness, “but the U.S. is the big one. It’s my home. I really want to make it here.”
Andrew W.K. (his surname is Wilkes-Krier, but the initials are rumored to stand for anything from White Killer to Women Kum) spent his early years studying classical piano. Puberty brought alienation. “I became very angry,” he remembers. “I was violent.” But by age 18, he had relocated to New York and weaned himself off such negativity by reading self-help books and concentrating on his first love: music.
“Sir,” he says, “it’s simple. Despite the shit going on in the world right now, there is absolutely no excuse for me not to wake up happy as a clam every day. My songs sound happy because I am happy. I’m alive, fit and well. I love life. And my music celebrates that fact.”
He frowns, but it isn’t sudden doubt — merely the lingering effects of the mouthwash. He leaves us with this bit of advice: “Don’t swallow.”
Interview by Marc McFinn, Dorian Morgue and Big Tony O’Farrell.
Andrew W.K. is a mystery wrapped within an enigma ,and I mean that in the classic sense . How many of you have looked at him confused and asked yourself ,”why he always singin’ about partyin'” or tried to describe him to a friend and they ask you “you mean the white guy ,with the dancing “? Your impression may be of some sort of party cave man guy . I told myself there has to be more . For God’s sake, the guy wrote a tune called “Girl’s Own Juice” . On top of all these questions ,we had the connection of having all gone to the same weirdo, alternative high school (Tony and I were gone by the time he arrived ,and Dorian knew him as a peer, if you’re wondering) .
On Friday the 13th december 2002, Rock Fiend attempted to get to the bottom of this mystery ,after the Aerosmith show at Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan .
(Special Thanks to Trevor Silmer , and Paul Monanghan for all the hook ups)
(AWK=Andrew WK, M=Marc, D=Dorian, BT=Big Tony)
M- How do you go from Wolf Eyes, Pterodactyls, Isis and Werewolves, Lab Lobotomy, etc (local Ann Arbor area noise bands that Andrew was part of –ed.) to what you’re doing now? I remember those groups being around and what happened in the missing time when those groups were happening and…
D- What is the missing link, if there is one?
M- Yeah, what happened in the lost years?
AWK- Well, there’s not even such a missing link, it’s actually like this. It’s not what happened from “there” to “here”, it’s what happened from “there” to “there”. How I got to there actually really explains how I got to here and that all again goes back to piano. And getting into music initially, on my own. And not being in bands and playing with people but just having to learn piano and taking lessons and scales and stuff. That’s where those bands came from.
M- Because you thought that would be sort of anti-musical?
AWK- No, no, no. I just wanted to play in bands. I wanted to do stuff, you know? I wanted play concerts. I wanted to record. And these are the people that I knew. These are the people at my school. These are people around the town that I knew and seemed the most exciting and the most intense. Having come from classical music and stuff, yes, there definitely was…not anti-music but just like an intensity that wasn’t anywhere else. You know what I mean? When you’re sitting at your piano alone, that’s not as crazy as being in the basement of someone’s house seeing 30 people play. But it was just seeing people do stuff together and just being productive.
D- So you always wanted to be big then?
AWK- No, no! I just wanted to do stuff. And that was the thing, just seeing people more or less my age who were doing things without anyone else’s help, without parents’ help really. Doing things that I didn’t even consider possible let alone could think of.
D- So you were attracted to the D.I.Y aspect of the whole thing.
D- It’s like that for a lot of people, too. I remember this interview with Steve Severin from Siouxsie and The Banshees talking about how Malcolm McLaren took him to go see the Sex Pistols. And he said, “that was great. That was one of the best things I’ve ever seen but I can do that!”
AWK- Right, right, right. Well, that’s what I said. Here’s something I can be a part of. Instead of maybe bands that were on TV or on the radio. I didn’t have cable and I didn’t have an older brother so I didn’t have people feeding me stuff other than these older kids at school. So, that’s who I looked to and that’s who inspired me. That’s who I wanted to be like. That’s the first people I ever idolized.
D- That’s kinda what happened with me, too, when I started going to Community (The high school where Andrew, Dorian, Marc and I all went to school. –ed.)
M- That was such an exciting scene. I remember being so frustrated that I didn’t have a video camera cause I totally wanted document that whole Unitarian Church thing.
AWK- Scheme was the most influential band of all, I think.
D- I’ve got a tape of them at Nakamura Co-op opening for Cold As Life of all people.
AWK- Oh, wow! I’ve got a tape of a show at Rick’s where there’s like 25 people. So, anyway, then there was just doing a lot of stuff. Trying to play in any friend’s band. “Hey, you wanna play drums in this band?” “Sure! I’m also recording stuff on my own and playing piano and drawing comic books and making a magazine and going to school and playing in three other bands.” You know what I mean? It was doing whatever. I was 16 in the Pterodactyls. That was for three weeks and then they kicked me out. That was OK cause I was in two other bands also with some of the same people.
D- Where did you find all the time to do all this and graduate early no less?
AWK- By realizing really early on that I don’t want to ever be bored. I don’t want to ever be sitting around going “what should I do?” I want to never waste a minute because I just thought of it as killing life. I wanted to be exhausted at all times. Plus, I was so driven just by seeing these people who were doing it. They were living on their own when they were like 16 in this house. I mean, these weird weirdos around town like Jefferson house. If they could do this, I just wanted to be around that and be like that. And then from there, from doing all that to this was just a continuation. The only thing that really changed was focus.
And instead of doing 20 things at once, I said, what if I just put everything I knew, all that stuff I learned from doing this stuff, which wasn’t a lot but all my experiences, all the weirdo stuff, all the intensity stuff, all the music from piano way back then and just put it into this. And this to me is like a combination of all the intensity of what was going on in high school and my training from piano and what I know now and just making the most exciting songs I wanna make. That’s what attracted me to all that stuff was excitement. Energy and excitement. Whether it was from a noise band, from classical piano or whatever, it was exciting. And this to me is the best exciting music that I can make now.
D- Someone said if your stuff was a little less produced, a lot of the punks would accept it more.
M- It would be Oi!.
D- A band like The Business could easily take “Party Hard” or “She Is Beautiful” and totally turn it into an Oi! tune and it would be huge.
AWK- People say that a lot, yeah. I know it’s not the question but that leads us into the thing of having issues, you know, like anybody, I have stuff too, hang-ups or whatever that keep you from liking stuff because of these reasons that don’t seem to be good enough reasons to not like something. And in fact you’re going to let your world be that much smaller by not including something based on things like “Oh, it’s recorded too well” or “it has this instrument in it that I don’t like” or it has this or that. Now, granted if you like something, you like something. If you don’t, you don’t. But melodies are melodies and I’ve been able to like songs by all different kinds of stuff. Like everyone in this room, we like what we like because of what it is. Not because of what they’re trying to say or how they looked or what instruments were being used. It’s the spirit in which was made.
D- Or as it’s said, there’s no wrong reason for liking something.
AWK- Exactly. And that’s what this is all about.
D- I read interviews with you and you always seem to find the good in everything.
AWK- Or try to.
M- So where did you go off from Ann Arbor to New York?
AWK- Yeah, when I was 18. I lived in Ypsilanti for a year, from 17 to 18.
M- When you moved to New York, did you know anyone there?
AWK- No. No, I didn’t. I knew two people from Michigan but I had never met them before. I just knew that they were from Michigan and they knew friends of mine. So that was like the only connection. It was insane. It was very intense but I had this blind drive. I didn’t see any of the threats or the scary stuff or the things that would’ve made me freak out. I just saw “I can do this”. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t move there to make a record. I didn’t move there to do this, I just wanted to be somewhere else. I wanted to be somewhere where I didn’t know anybody or where it was more intense. I guess within that first year is when I felt this anticipation that something was going to happen. That I was gonna do something. And it took me, like any time when you get into a new place, that year to get my footing. To get a firm stance. And I said, you know what? I’m gonna try to do this. I’d seen so many people doing bands and I saw so many of my friends or people I knew not going for it. And I would say, what if we just tried to really do something? And they’d say, oh, we can’t or we shouldn’t or this or that and I said, you know what? If they can do it, we can do it.
M- That was my experience at Community. I was in bands at Community from October of my freshman year until the end of senior year and none of them wanted to play out. I’d be like “let’s play in Detroit” or something and they’d say “Aw, no we can’t do that”.
AWK- Yeah, exactly. I never would have done that either. I didn’t even know you should. It was all from seeing other people do stuff. Having a friend that would say “we’re playing in Detroit tonight and you should come and open”. And I would just go and play keyboard or something. Just being in the most scary atmospheres, where I wasn’t used to it, where it wasn’t comfortable and it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t my natural thing. It was outside of my realm of comfort. That’s what New York was after I got comfortable in Michigan. So New York made me all freaked out again in a good way and forced me to step it up another notch. Again, I didn’t know anybody. I didn’t have a band, I had these songs. So how did it get to that point? Playing shows by myself. Doing whatever I could. Whatever it would take.
M- Did you do it like karaoke or something?
AWK- I never thought of it that way. I had a drum machine and a keyboard and a microphone. I’d record stuff onto a CD and play along with that sometimes. Sometimes just sing. Sometimes just play guitar. It was whatever I could do that was exciting. I’d just sort of run around on the stage. It was very frustrating…and stupid! But it was doing something. Again, that was the whole point, not to sit at home.
D- What were early reactions like?
AWK- A lot of stunned, you know “what is this? What the heck?” Or “this is awesome!” Or “this sucks.” And all those reactions make sense to me. Instead of sitting and waiting like, “in two months I’ll be able to get a band together and then we’ll practice for another three months and then we can play our first show.” No. Let’s go right now. I’ll do the opposite way. I’ll meet people as I’m playing concerts and they can be in the band. That’s how I met people.
D- At what point did Dave Grohl enter the picture?
AWK- He’s a great guy and one of the people that have helped me. And I don’t know exactly why except that he liked it and I was so honored. I’d give out CD’s at every concert. Everything I played by myself. Tapes, CD’s to as many people as I had for free. And one of those dudes knew him. They gave it to him and he called. “Do you want to open for us?” You know? It was just random. Just two random concerts. Still I had no band. That was like two, two and a half years ago now and I played at concerts in Belgium for this other guy that called out of the blue. Random stuff. That’s how I got the drummer from Obituary cause I sent him a CD. People were excited about this and I think people react to people trying. People react to people being passionate and trying. Not doing it half-heartedly. Putting it all out on the line. And the way I was doing it, for better or for worse, could not have been more out on the line. Ready for rejection, for humiliation, for embarrassment, for anything. But also with that comes good so people responded to it.
D- So, it wasn’t Dave Grohl so much as a lot of different people.
AWK- It was a lot of help from a lot of people. Yeah.
D- So, it’s not like you necessarily got over because of Dave Grohl?
AWK- No, but it certainly helped. Everybody helped. That’s what was so awesome.
D- Speaking of those early CD’s, on the “Girl’s Own Juice” EP, that phone number was really yours?
AWK- Yeah, that was my number in New York. I still have that answering machine. That’s where Dave Grohl called. That’s where those people from Belgium called. That’s where Donald called.
M- What were you saying about age or something?
AWK- One thing that’s always frustrated me, and I’m young so…age has always been the thing. You’re too young and you can’t do anything and then maybe there’s this “prime time” where everything’s great or whatever. Then they say you’re too old. I’ve heard horrible things. Punk bands saying “If you’re over 40 you should get the heck out of here because you’re not allowed to be part of this anymore. You’re too old. You and your wife should get the heck out of here.” Horrible. Anything that eliminates, to me is no good. Anything that puts up rules and boundaries. That’s the whole point Punk is not supposed to be. It’s not about that. They say “it’s for young people, it’s of young people”. It’s of people. That’s what it is. It’s the music that anybody can make that cared enough to try. It’s music that anybody can like if they cared enough to believe in it. And that’s the beauty of anything. The whole world should be that way. You know what I mean?
M- That’s what I dig about your stuff is it’s so inclusive.
AWK- I don’t want people to feel left out.
M- You know, I was thinking about something the other day as I was trying to write the intro. I was thinking about how inclusive you are in your message that you give in interviews and the music itself. And I was thinking about Bob Seger. Because Bob Seger is also from Ann Arbor…
AWK- Yeah, he’s a Michigan boy. Bob Seger System.
M- Bob Seger System is an awesome band. But in some of his ‘70’s hits he would always be trying include people.
AWK- Like what would he say?
M- Like “Rock & Roll Never Forgets”, right? “Now sweet sixteen’s turned 31, you get to feelin’ weary when the workday is done…”
BT- You can always come back. Rock & Roll’s still there.
AWK- It’s always there. Always there.
D- As you said, if you don’t like the music, it’s OK cause it’s still gonna be here for you when you choose.
AWK- Yeah! Exactly. You know when you call a friend and you haven’t talked to them in five years? It’s either gonna be “well, you haven’t called me in a long time. I don’t really wanna talk to you.” Or it’s gonna be “How ya doin’!” like not a day has gone by. That’s what music is. Every morning. Every night. All the way through the day. It is a flawless and perfect thing and there’s very few things in the world that are perfect.
M- I’m feelin’ you, positive brother.
D- Where did you learn to dance? Where does the dancing come from?
AWK- Again, high school…there was a lot of great dancers there. Seeing these dudes who cared so much and they didn’t care. You know what I mean? The dancing’s just me trying to use as much effort as I can, you know? Never stop moving. I want it to just look exciting and fun and something that anybody can do.
D- Nobody wants to see somebody stand still.
AWK- I like to see people go ballistic, yeah.
M- Do you have any side projects planned?
AWK- Well, I used to think, being in 10 bands that was what you’re used to. Always having something to do. Then when I got momentarily tired of doing that then I could go and do this, then go back to that. That was the whole point of focusing and saying, “what do I do best? What can I do best and what would be the best result of my efforts? ” And while there are so many things that I love, I think that other people can do them better and they are. So I still think that this is what I best do. And I think if I can’t do it all in this then I shouldn’t do anything at all. Everything that I really want to say, feel and do can be done in this. And things that I really desire and want to do, or that I like in terms of what other people are doing, can be left to them to do better than I can while I do what I’m best at. And I don’t think that’s limiting. It’s focusing and committing to something…wholeheartedly.
M- So the next question was who would you like to work or collaborate with?
AWK- So many people I can’t even begin. The thing I most want to do is get all my friends together and have them play in this band and record or do something. There’s nobody I want to be around more than the people who helped get this started in the first place. And I think it’s been happening.
D- How did you come to the decision to make one of the best Rock & Roll records ever? At what point in your life was this decided?
AWK- Well, that’s a very complimentary question so I don’t know exactly to…I wanted to make what I thought was the best. And that just sort of is about really trying. You know really, really, really trying to do something. And sticking your neck out. And trying to step it up a notch and knowing that it could go wrong. But knowing that the possibility of it being right and being good was worth the risk. And that who knows how it would turn out but if I worked on it long enough and hard enough and just gave it the best I could it would at least be worth a try. I don’t think of it as the best. I didn’t want it to be the best. I don’t think it is the best. I think everything’s the best. It’s just the most exciting songs I could make. And I’m gonna keep making them over and over and over again. Each song is supposed to be the best song I’ve ever made, you know? That’s the goal. Each song should be the most exciting song I could possibly come up with. Not like “I’m gonna make a song like this and then I’ll have one like this and then there’ll be one that’s totally different from those.” I want each one to be: let’s pretend I’ve never written a song in my life. What’s the most exciting song that I can write? And just keep doing it.
BT- And that’s one thing I noticed about the album, is that the energy level is constantly high. Like, most albums you listen to, they’ll go down toward the middle and get mellow and go back up. It’s like it’s constantly in your face.
AWK- I didn’t want there to be any moment where you had to skip a track. I wanted the mood to be like if you came home and you wanted to just spin around in your room and create mayhem, you could put this on.
D- Yeah, well, it’s the first thing in the mainstream in a long time that I got really excited about. And the fact that I knew you made it even better.
AWK- Yeah. I was really excited when you came to the concerts. I was so happy!
D- I just remember you looked in my direction and you went “Dorian!” and just started laughing cause I remember the last time you saw me I was pretty much all about punk and nothing else.
AWK- Yeah, but you always liked Devo and things like that. You were into stuff and to see you there really, really warmed my heart. It really did, Dorian. It really, really did.
D- Aw, I’m gonna cry.
M- I’m disappointed when I’m flipping around the stations and I’m listening to RIF (Detroit commercial Rock station -ed.) and you are not on there. Because, it seems like the RIF listeners and that type of mainstream Rock & Roll stations, like you would fit in with that stuff. Even though it doesn’t really sound like what’s on there, it seems like it would fit in.
AWK- Yeah, I don’t know. Radio’s a weird thing. I’ve had all kinds of weird discoveries and that was the thing I knew least about in this “music business” was radio. And it’s boggled my mind that I’ll go to radio stations DJ’s there have come to the concerts and love it and they’ll have posters and t-shirts and say “I really love the record.” And then they don’t play it on the station because they’re not allowed to. Because whoever’s the high, high, high, high, highest up there doesn’t want to do it. I guess cause it’s different, like you said, than other stuff they’re playing maybe or whatever reason. I don’t know. All I know is that it happens all the time. And if you look back over history, there’s been bands that have done so great and built their following one person at a time. Here’s another crazy thing: there’s bands that have sold millions of albums and have huge radio hits but they can’t get 500 people to come to a concert. Because they didn’t build it themselves. It blew up. This is being built. As much as this has had this larger than life exposure and has exploded like crazy, it’s also being built one person at a time. Like for real. With me spending time with people at our concerts and that’s why this will last.
M- And that’s really impressive, by the way. I saw you giving out shirts and I know you have to pay for those shirts. Like these 14 year old kids come up and say “will you sign this little piece of paper?” and you’re like “here, have a shirt”. That is so awesome.
AWK- Wanting to make things better. That’s what this is about. It’s not about being played on the radio. It’s not about selling any certain number of copies and it’s not about making a certain amount of money. It’s not about the size of the concerts, it’s about quality. And the quality doesn’t come from that. It comes from us. It comes from how people felt. And if people felt good, that’s good quality. That’s high quality. And if it was ten people that felt amazing, how can you get any better? Cause at the end of the day it’s all gonna burn up. Everyone’s gonna die and it’s all gonna disappear and the things that will be left, as I’ve said before and is often said, is just the way we felt and the memories we had. So if one person can leave from a concert saying “this was one of the best nights of my life”, that’s more valuable than a million records sold to people I could never meet.
D- Speaking of paying for the shirts, we were curious about how many commercial licenses you have? And was it a conscious effort like Moby had done with his last couple albums to make exposure?
AWK- Well, Moby’s in a whole different ballgame. He’s figured it out somehow. Because we don’t get played on the radio and yeah, to pay back. We’re trying to pay back all our money so we’re not in debt for the rest of our lives but…A guy came up to me not too long ago after a concert and I was hanging out signing stuff outside and just talking to people. And this one dude came up and said “MTV sucks! You’re a sell-out.” I think he’d come for the opening band or one of the other bands that was playing and maybe he’d just seen our video and seen us on MTV maybe. And I just started talking with him and I said, “MTV, the radio, commercials, magazines, whatever is not the problem. Those are just a means for things to get around. It’s all information. It’s up to you to decide what you like and what you don’t like. When don’t like someone or something and come up and talk to them rudely, that’s a problem.” And I said, “What if there was some kid, a young person, even someone my age, who lives in the middle of nowhere. There’s no other people around his age. It’s a very isolated place. How could he find out about this? Maybe he sees an ad on TV and says ‘Oh, my god, I like that song’. He doesn’t care about what they’re selling in the ad. He doesn’t care what it’s about or that it’s on TV. He says, ‘I like that melody’. That’s what this is about. It’s melody. How you feel, once again. So maybe that’s how he found out about our music and maybe a few months later he comes to the show and I get to meet him and he has a great time. Or maybe someone does see it on MTV and they say, “You know what? This is really cool. I don’t get to see stuff like this that often and I would never find out about this.” So maybe not everyone is so privileged to have record stores and cool friends and cool bands in their town and older brothers and sisters all this great stuff being introduced to them all the time. I mean, the only way they can find out about things is through bigger ways. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The only thing that’s wrong is when people get bummed out because other people are happy. And that’s what that dude was doing.
D- I gotta confess, Andrew, but back when the “Girl’s Own Juice” EP came out, I hated you. I remember being at Encore records looking for some Goth shit and they were playing “We Want Fun” and I was like “what the fuck is this?” And they said “Oh, it’s Andrew WK” and I said “Shut the fuck up.” And sure enough, there you were. I totally hated it and I didn’t know what the hell was wrong with you. But by the end of the week I found myself humming the melody so…
AWK- That takes a lot of courage to admit something like that.
D- If you like it, you like it. You can’t help it.
AWK- See, I wonder if there’s other people that really do like it but takes them aback. That’s why I think over time…It’s not an immediate thing. Well, in some ways it is but this is gonna be around for a long time and the longer it’s around, the more patience we have with it, the more people will find out that it’s not something to be mad about. That it just wants them to have fun.
BT- I find that a lot of people that I talk to, particularly really underground type, hip people, they all seem to think that you have some sort ulterior motive and this is all some sort of joke.
AWK- The day that we believe that something we like is too good to be true is the day that we might as well die. To not be able to give something a chance, to have an attitude that’s so “seen that, done that, been there, know it all” leaves us with nothing. How can we discover anything? How can we believe anything after that? You gotta give things a chance. It doesn’t matter. That’s why even if it was something weird or like who knows, if you like the song, that’s all that matters. It’s bigger than anything like me or what I’m saying or this interview. The song, the melody, that’s above everybody.
M- I was feeling that tonight when Aerosmith was doing that song that’s like their biggest hit of all time from Armageddon.
AWK- That song’s awesome.
M- See, it’s not my cup of tea but…
AWK- My mom likes it, too. My mom was like “I don’t know any other songs but I know that one”.
M- It’s a total mom jam. But what was great was I was looking into the crowd and everybody was feeling it.
AWK- That’s a special song.
M- But for me, I’m like (grumbles)…but I understand why it’s a great song.
AWK- I just like the way he sings on that tune. Here’s something that ties in with what you were saying and I agree. We were talking about underground and really intense stuff and really passionate people. It’s the idea that if a lot of people like something then it can’t be good. That is so backwards that I really question whether those people that claim to believe in stuff and like stuff that isn’t well-liked, really like it at all.
BT- Yeah, I wonder that myself a lot of times.
AWK- To say “Oh, those people just write those songs and all those people love ‘em and they’re just love songs” or whatever…Maybe their goal is to make money. That might be true, I don’t know and that’s not my goal. Even if their goal is to be huge or famous before everything else but no matter what, the only way they’re going to get to that goal is by touching people personally. By convincing them. By giving them something people can believe in and you can’t fake that. So, if people believe in it, it’s real. Even if that person didn’t mean it. Even if the person singing the song says, “I don’t like this song at all. I don’t believe in it.” It’s other people’s belief that makes something count. It makes it strong and it takes away from that person. And that’s when they say “I really like that band then they got really popular and I don’t like them anymore”. So the more that it made people happy, it made you sad? You gotta figure that out. There’s something very special about owning something of your own and believing in it and not everybody else knows about it. But you’re always going to own it. No matter who knows about it. Because it’s yours.
BT- So many people don’t understand that.
AWK- It’s hard. I don’t understand it all the time either. We’re all trying to figure it out. All these things that I’m talking about, I don’t know what the heck’s going on. I don’t know everything and I’m not talking from experience and on other hands I am. I’m the most jaded, pessimistic and bitter person as well. But I’m trying to not be cause it feels better not to be.
BT- Yeah, I’ve been noticing that myself a lot lately.
AWK- It’s more fun not to be sad.
M- I believe in the positive mental attitude. P.M.A., baby.
M- Lyrically and attitude-wise, you seem to be the opposite of this “therapy rock” that seems to be a big trend. You know like (singing in that horrible “alternative” style) “and then my mother left me” and all that sort of stuff. That seems to be the flavor du jour as far as aggressive music.
AWK- It wasn’t ever intended to be that, it just worked out that way. To be honest, I had never heard Limp Bizkit. I had only heard one snippet of the nookie song which I thought was so…I just imagined a whole crowd of people jumping. I knew they were gonna be huge and I thought “wow, that would be so exciting to be in that concert”. I don’t have anything really against their songs. I don’t know a lot about that band in terms of what they’re saying but I like what I’ve heard because it’s exciting songs. And the main reason they’re big is because they make people slam dance, you know what I mean? Like Slipknot or whatever else. But I thought I want to make songs that make people go crazy. And it wasn’t saying “all this music out today sucks. I gotta make real music”. Or “in the good old days music was about this and this”. It wasn’t a reaction to how things are bad. It’s not going backwards. It’s just saying here’s an exciting melody. I put it together on the piano. I’m gonna use every instrument, every recording technique that exists to make it as big and as loud as possible. It may sound like this previous thing from who knows where or whatever but it exists now.
M- It’s almost like a Phil Spector thing or something.
AWK- Well, he was thinking the same way, too. I don’t want to make a tiny song. This idea of making things sound huge is not from a certain time period. You can go back to Beethoven. He could have played a harpsichord and a fiddle and made a nice song but he wanted to use a choir and a million instruments all in unison and made this huge, overwhelming thing. Because it’s inspiring. Just like when someone builds a pyramid because they want to see the cumulative of efforts of more than one person to make a mammoth tribute to life. And that’s what a song can be. So, why record it on a four track and make it small if with enough work and enough time, we can make something huge? There’s nothing wrong with small sounding songs. It’s just a matter of what you like or don’t like. I just want something to be overwhelming. I want it to be bigger than me. I don’t want it to sound like it was played by a couple people. I wanted it to sound like it was played by you, all your friends, all your family, everyone you know in the neighborhood, everybody in the state, the whole country and in the whole world all playing this one song. You don’t even hear the instruments, you just hear this mess. By the way, this is one of the best interviews I’ve ever done.
D- No, you can hear the instruments, but the great thing is that I notice new every time I listen to it.
AWK- Yeah. There is a lot going on. And, I always say this, but so much time, so much time, so much effort, so much zero in, fine-tooth combing on these songs to the point where people quit. They said, “This is ridiculous. I’m not gonna work this way.” Then I said, “Ok, then I have to go find someone else.” And why put so much time to make it sound like it was done in one day. We’re so lucky to have been given this chance and I never forget that. Over and over and over again during each day I think I am so lucky to be born here, to be born now, with these parents, with these friends, with these opportunities, with this chance. I am not going to blow it. And that makes doing any challenge that I would think was hard, a breeze. Because to not do it would be a disgrace and an insult to everybody who has to get up and walk two miles to get water and who’s starving to death. Or even in this country where people don’t get to do what they wanna do and I get to. That’s not fair. But because of that I’m not gonna feel guilty, I’m just gonna (unintelligible).
M- You ever read any Buddhism?
AWK- No, I haven’t yet. People have given me a couple books. I gotta get into that, I know.
M- Are you intentionally vague about your party references in your lyrics?
AWK- I think it’s pretty direct in the songs. Again, it’s about leaving people out. I didn’t want to talk about things that were gonna start drawing lines. And saying “a party is this.” No, it’s not. A party is a word. And it sounds exciting and it’s whatever you want it to be. “At a party you have drink, do cocaine, do pot and then sleep with eight women.” A party is what you want it to be. Remember at a birthday party when you were a little kid. There was no rule. There was no “if you don’t do this..” You know what a lousy feeling it is to walk into a room and have all these demands put on you about what you have to do to be right in this “party”? A party is the exact opposite of that. It’s where everybody has to do whatever the heck they want and that’s why it’s fun. So for people who don’t drink, I don’t want them to feel like they can’t be a part of this. I didn’t drink until I was 21. But people who do drink, I want them to say “these are my songs”. People who have a wife, I don’t want them to feel like “oh, god, I really wish I could go sleep with a stripper”. I didn’t want to name things that limited this. I wanted to leave it open. I wanted to make it nothing so it could be everything.
M- So it’s sort of intentionally vague.
AWK- I wouldn’t say vague, I’d say open.
M- By the way, I did participate in a party for a child turning three today.
AWK- That’s fantastic.
M- Good times.
AWK- The other day I was hanging out after the Aerosmith concert out with the people in the audience and there was all these young adults, probably mid-20’s and into their 30’s, and they were acting so weird, like so forced, so not being themselves. I can’t imagine anyone really being like they were acting. Most of them were women and they were just really forcing themselves into the situation. And then there was this 12 year old kid and I just started talking with him and it was just…
M- Wait, forcing themselves into the situation how?
AWK- Like it was all about just disrespectful to themselves and other people, swearing a lot for no reason. It seems real forced. I know they’re not like that when they’re around their mom or when they’re home alone. But they felt they had to live up to this expectation of what it was to go to a rock concert and be a girl. But you know, there was this young kid who was like my younger brother’s age a few years ago and I could talk to him like he was my best friend, you know what I mean? Cause he was just straight up and down, you know? Ready to go. And it was like- (rapidly recounts snippets of conversation with the kid). He was excited. The idea that it’s not cool to be excited is just all over the place. Like if you believe in something or you care or you’re excited or you like something it’s like “pfsh” (the universal sound of disdainful dismissal).
M- Like people who make fun of people who go nuts at shows and stuff…
AWK- “Oh, god. What’s that guy’s problem?” It’s not being afraid. It’s just trying to not be afraid. I feel that way, too. I feel stupid sometimes when I get excited cause I think I’m gonna look dumb. But you know what? It’s more valuable to be excited than it is to worry about looking dumb.
M- At what point did you realize this was really gonna happen?
AWK- It all happened so quickly in one way and also so step-by-step. There was never a moment when… I guess because the record took so long to record and was so work intensive on my own and so zeroed-in that that didn’t seem like anything was happening. That seemed like just the calm before the storm. I don’t know, I guess it’s never really set in and maybe it never will. And that’s why I don’t feel any different than I ever have except that I just feel happier and better. Like a better dude, you know? There was never a point like, “OK, it’s happening.” Because that was never the point. The point was to get up every morning and work on something and see what happened. And never for a moment even do an inventory of what has happened as much as “what am I gonna do today?” Am I giving all I can? Am I working as hard? It’s not working to get stuff. It’s working to make up for what you’ve already been given, you know what I mean? I’m paying off a debt. I feel like I’m in debt to the world for giving me this chance. So I’m not working to get the next concert, I’m working to say, “God, we’ve been given the chance to give this concert so I better not waste it.” And I better not be like a wimp and go stand up there, I better go nuts.
D- That’s a good attitude to have but don’t burn yourself out.
AWK- I think I’m gonna be OK.
D- Is “Girl’s Own Love” and “She Is Beautiful” inspired by your girlfriend in high school?
AWK- No, “Girl’s Own Love” was definitely not. That was after her. And “She Is Beautiful” was after her as well but also about her in that she was the first girl I ever had the courage to go up and talk to and my first girlfriend. I would never talk. Terrified. And even after her I was still really scared and blew opportunity after opportunity. Regret after regret piling up. And that’s what that song is about. It’s just whatever it is, even if it’s not a girl, it’s just whatever the situation to not blow it. Don’t let it slip by. Very, very basic thing.
D- Did it bother you to have to change the title of “Girl’s Own Juice”?
AWK- I didn’t have to, I chose to do that.
AWK- I added that new verse. I changed the verse around to make it better. I added more lyrics and more words. It basically became a different song. It is a lot different so I think of them now as two different songs. And no one told me to do that. In fact, some people liked the other title more.
D- So was it a conscious decision to follow “Party Hard” with “She Is Beautiful” as opposed to ” I Love New York City” after the WTC disaster. You really could’ve made some serious bank off of that.
AWK- I saw it as taking advantage of the situation. And that song was written before that. It wasn’t about September 11th and it ended being about that. I wrote that song and recorded it a long time before. And a lot of other people were doing it so I said there’s no need for it because there’s a lot of other people making songs and doing that. I thought of a lot of different ways that we could go about using it. We wanted to give the song out for free. Just gives CD’s out on the street. But still that was like promotion or something like that. So I said, you know what? The song’s on the album. People will find out about it. The people that need to hear it, will hear it and just let it be.
D- When was the majority of the album recorded?
AWK- It was spread out. The oldest song on there probably was “Girl’s Own Love”. And then “It’s Time To Party”, “She Is Beautiful”, “Party Hard”. The newer ones were like “I Get Wet”, “Take It Off”, “I Love New York City”, “Got To Do It”. “Don’t Stop Living In The Red” was older. “Fun Night” was newer. “Ready To Die” was newer. There’s songs on the next album that were written before any of these. So they’re all from different times. It was a work in progress.
M- What would the ultimate Andrew WK album be like?
AWK- “I Get Wet”.
M- Any chance you’ll tour with label-mates, CKY?
AWK- We were gonna tour with them. Our bass player and our guitar player, Payne, Payne and Gregg used to be in a band called Intoxicated and they used to tour with CKY before they were in this band. We were going to tour with them and we ended up going to Europe instead but we really like that band a lot. They’re friends with Gregg and Payne. I like that one tune that’s like…(whistles riff from “96 Quite Bitter Beings”).
D- “96 Quite Bitter Beings”. Everybody’s so infected by that song.
BT- That’s an infectious riff.
AWK- I like that singer. Yeah, I like that band a lot. I’d love to tour with them someday.
BT- Yeah, I think that’d be a great show.
M- Where in the world are you best received?
AWK- I would say it’s been world-wide and that’s been great. So, planet Earth has received me well. But, in terms of other countries, Japan is really ballistic about this and that’s very exciting. They really get into stuff, whatever it is.
D- A lot of people don’t realize Japanese audiences go nuts.
AWK- Yeah, they really do. And also Mexico, here and Canada.
D- And also there’s a lot of great music coming out of Japan right now.
AWK- Balzac. They’ve been around for years now.
M- What was the Ozzfest and Warped Tour like? How did they differ?
AWK- They both changed everything. The amount that I learned from doing those things. The challenge, the rewards, the payoffs were really intense. I could never have expected them to be so valuable as living through those things. Ozzfest, you have 20 minutes to play and it changes every day what time you play. And the rest of the day you can just sit around or hang out or whatever. My goal is to meet as many people from the audience every day as possible. So that was like a marathon and it ended up really intense. But so much was gained from doing that and getting to hang out with all those people. And the bands were awesome. I met cool people. And we really got better as a band during that period, too. Warped Tour just blew my mind because of the amount of respect and excitement and seemingly genuine love that all these people and bands and people at the concert had for us having never even seen us before. We only did five shows but this upcoming summer we’re gonna do the whole thing. But the first show, there were 60 people, all from other bands that were on the side of the stage when we played. I didn’t know any of ‘em. I mean, I knew their bands but I couldn’t believe it. They’d say, “we’ve been huge fans since we first heard the record” and “where did you hear about us?”. “The guy from Blink 182 played it all day when we touring with them and he gave it to me.” So it was the first time that we really saw this huge support from people liking it cause their friends liked it and cause they heard it was good. It’s like a punk thing. I was blown away. I never thought in a million years people at Warped Tour would like it so much. We’d go to the Furnace Fest, which is this huge hardcore and punk thing it was insane! Thousands of people said they’d been waiting for months to see us play. It blew my mind. It was one of the most moving…I had never felt more… I was just overwhelmed by it. I was so baffled cause I never would have expected that from these people. Having been in grindcore bands, having seen this stuff I never would have thought… And at the same time, these are people I respect and admire and I would want to like it so much. It just moved me so much and brought me close to tears. Ever since that, Ozzfest, Warped Tour and Furnace Fest, everything has been different. Everything has changed. The shows have been like, way, way more intense. People have heard about that. We come to a town we’ve never played before like Omaha, Nebraska and people are there with hand made t-shirts, confetti, banners, know every word, going crazy, dressed up in the same clothes, getting up on stage doing the dances. The amount of passion. That’s why this is the greatest thing in the world is because these people love it. And to have that in a concert the first time you play… I still don’t know. It’s baffling. It’s baffling. It’s awesome… Those people make me very happy. I just want them to know they make me very happy.
M- What famous people have you met that’s been really interesting?
AWK- Well, meeting Aerosmith was pretty intense. I didn’t really anticipate it to be and then when they’re right there it’s like “I’m so excited to meet you!” And I get all… I turn into a weirdo. People I was excited to meet: Eugene Levy, that comedian. Yeah, it was awesome. And he knew who I was! And that blew my mind! That was amazing. Meeting Rick Rubin was pretty cool. Yeah, that was really awesome getting to work with him. All the Jackass dudes. Johnny Knoxville was really amazing. I got to meet Jim Steinman, who I really love and admire and ahh…I know there’s other people. Rob Zombie. That was pretty cool. I mean, I’ll say I haven’t met as many people cause it really has been making choices and the people I most get excited about meeting are the people who believe in this. Not in me but in…here’s this thing that we’re doing and that we’re all doing, and if you’re a person going to the concert, you’re doing it too; this thing that we’re all excited about, these are the people I want to talk to. Just like if I was a carpenter or a cook and into food, I’d wanna talk to people who were into cooking. So I would choose, instead of going to a party and maybe meeting famous people and stand around talking about whatever, I’d rather meet people that believe in and are excited about the same things that I’m excited about. And that has led me to just make different choices and end up not meet as many famous people but they wouldn’t make me nearly half as excited as someone who came to a concert and likes the songs. Oh, I met the Rock, too. You better add that. That was awesome. He’s a big dude.
D- What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone asks you about your memories from this tour?
AWK- Well, that it’s just incredible. The first thing that comes to mind: exertion, I guess. Reaching physical limits. That’s what I always think of cause that’s really what it’s about. Trying to not have to stop, you know? I can’t pick out particular moments cause each day my mind is blown. It’s like “this has been the best day of my whole life”. Then I go to sleep and then I wake up and it’s like “whoa. It just happened again.” I can list moments but they’re not better than any other moments really. There’s defining moments and amazing ones but each day has been spectacular. Each day has been better than anyone’s day deserves to, that’s for sure.
D- Will there be a tour DVD?
AWK- Mm hmm. We’re gonna make a DVD hopefully around the same time as we’re making this record. I want to put all kinds of stuff on there.
D- What can we expect from you on the next album?
AWK- I’ve talked about this a lot and I want to make this very concise. All I can say is, there’ll be more and if you like this record, you’ll like the next one. Just put the two records together and the next one has 12 songs or whatever, then there’s 24 songs. It’s one album. It’s just gonna keep going. You know what I mean? It just keeps going. It’s more, more. It’s not gonna be the same, it’s just more. But it’s not gonna be different. It’s not gonna be, “well, we did that, now we gotta do this”. We are committed to doing this, not out of choice but because there isn’t anything else I’d rather do, or even could do. This is so much what I want to do and what I should that I can’t say, “oh, now I wanna do to this.” It would be a lie. It would be dishonest. This is everything I wanna do and that’s why it just keeps going. Because this is what we’re committed to doing. This is what we love to do and this is what we will do forever; make these songs. Make the most exciting songs we can.
D- Any other songs from the Bulb EP’s gonna be on it?
AWK- Yes. Yeah, there’s gonna “Make Sex”. There will be a new version of “Don’t Ever Stop The Noise” which might be called something different and changed around a little bit. Ah, what else from that?
D- “I Want To Kill”?
AWK- Yes. There’ll be that. There’ll be a new version of “Dance Party”…
D- Cause I love those dance remixes.
AWK- Yeah, yeah, yeah. “I Want To Kill”, new version of “Dance Party”, “Old Man” is gonna be worked into a medley with “Make Sex”, if it goes like I’m planning. These are all my plans, you know? Who knows what’s gonna happen?
D- Couch is gonna have to get back together now.
AWK- Oh, that would be awesome. Oh, you know that last song? I can’t remember. There’s just a lot of songs. I have 20 songs right now and I wanna have them all on there but…
D- When do you hope to have the album out?
AWK- When I have it recorded. My goal was to have it finished by May 1st and out sometime in summer.
M- All right, cool.
AWK- That was a great, great interview.
Table of Contents
- 10 Questions With Andrew W.K. – 92.3 Xtreme Radio
- Ann Arbor’s Andrew W.K. takes feel-good role at Ozzfest
- Playlouder.com – The Grand Old Puke of (New) York
- Playlouder.com – 24 Hour Party Person
- GSU Signal – Andrew W.K. proves himself as the rock star for the 21st Century
- Jessica (TinyDJ) with Andrew W K at the 9:30 Club in DC – WNRN 91.9FM
- The Road Ragers
- The Underground Newspaper – Double Issue 3/4
- Pheedback Music
- The Chunklet Celebrity Advice Column:Ask Andrew WK!
- NCCU Campus Echo
- While You Were Sleeping: Issue 17
- Flaunt – April/May 2002
- The Daily Cardinal
- Selector Magazine
- Offbeat Magazine
- Blender Magazine – April 2002