Missed the first interview? Check it out here: Party #1 – April 12, 2011
Note: While adapting these transcriptions into an easy-to-read “interview” format, slight creative liberties have been taken.
Party #2 – June 10, 2011
AndrewWKMusic: This time I would like to just run through previous bands that you were in. You were in a band called “Ancient Art of Boar” right?
Andrew W.K.: Yes, and one of my good friends that was in the band “Lab Labotomy” was also in that group with me. He wasn’t always, but at the beginning he especially was. His name is Jaime Morales. Yea so it was “Ancient Art of Boar”, he came up with that name and then I changed it later when it became more of a solo project, to “AAB”. But also there was a time when Aaron Dilloway [owner of Hanson Records] was in the band as well. We recorded a cassette tape together called “She’s a Professional” [SIC, it’s actually called “She’s A Perfectionist”]. He released that, I think it was on Hanson Records. It was on cassette only. Pretty much after that I decided just to do it solo. That lasted for another six months to a year or so.
The first band in high school I was in was called “Lab Lobotomy”, or at least it was the first band that played shows and tried to do whatever we could do. But originally it was supposed to be called “Lobotomy”, but I spelled it wrong with an “a”, “La-botomy” instead of “Lo-botomy”. Of course I probably made t-shirts and a whole bunch of stuff before I noticed it was misspelled, which is just amazing. So I think the way we as a band kind of covered that, was deciding to embrace it and call it “Lab” and then spell it correctly after that. That’s how that band got named that ridiculous name. Lab Labotomy had Jaime Morales in it playing guitar and a man named Alex Goldman played trumpet, guitar, and sang as well. Also, a man named Allan Hazlett who is a philosophy professor now at NYU I think, was in the band. I got in touch with him not so long ago through email but I haven’t seen him… [looks him up online]. OK, this is saying he’s in the UK now, it’s gotta be the same guy. So now it’s saying [the internet] that he lives in England, I wonder if he’s teaching… he’s really fascinating. After High school I really lost touch with all of those friends to a small degree and then I was blown away when I heard that he decided to go and become a philosopher. He’s at the university of Edinburgh. That’s pretty amazing. So anyway that was Lab Lobotomy.
AndrewWKMusic: So what can you tell me about “Artists Against Apartheid“?
Andrew W.K.: That was recorded in 1997 or so in my apartment. The first time I lived on my own was when I moved to Ylipsilanti, Michigan. Which is about 10 or 15 minutes from Ann Arbor, they’re right next to each other. But it’s a very different vibe and it’s an amazing town. Most of my friends throughout these years we are talking about lived in Ypsilanti. They had already graduated high school and some of them were going to college at Eastern Michigan University which is in Ypsilanti. It’s a much smaller city and very, very, very strange and I just loved it. We all loved it, I still love it. I would still in some ways rather live there than Ann Arbor, just because it has such a strange tone to it. So it’s one of my favorite towns and I just can’t get over it, it’s a very bizarre place. There is a band called “Harry Pussy“, have you ever heard of them?
Andrew W.K.: You should look them up, it’s worth it. We were all blown away by them and they had been around for a few years at that point. There was a connection between them and my friends in Michigan through Tom Smith, the guy from To Live and Shave in L.A.. He recorded with them and was friends with them in Miami, where they are from. They came to play a show in Ypsilanti, it was a really big deal. I was so excited, I was just beside myself. The show was absolutely increadible, it was one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen. It was an unbelievable peformance and had great sound. Then the guys in the band turned out to be really nice. Of course I was shy and you’re always curious about the people you look up to if they’re going to be nice. They were very, very nice and so nice that they came over to my house with all my other friends. That was because I lived right down the street from where they played, I think we just walked over there probably. Then we recorded.Twig Harper–who is amazing was there, Aaron Dilloway was there, and a man named Andy Roach who is an old friend of all of ours (who is also from Michigan) was there. There could of been someone else but I think that might have been it. It’s very possible there could of been a few other people, but those are the ones I clearly remember.
We just started recording, I actually had a pretty good recording system setup in that house and was able to just start recording quickly. I had tons of stuff [recording equipment]. I haven’t listened to that recording in years and years and years, I have no idea what it sounds like. Adris Hoyos is the drummer and singer from Harry Pussy and she was definately there playing stuff. She kept saying “give me something to ride on man, give me something to ride on”. I think we had a full drum set setup and all kinds of stuff, we definitely had a guitar and bass. So it was all recorded live and then released sometime later as “Artists Against Apartheid”.
AndrewWKMusic: So obviously you didn’t have a band name picked out while you were doing it, since it was a spontaneous thing.
Andrew W.K.: Yea, we never even really told them we were going to record. It was just real spur of the moment. I think Aaron was like “dude we should just start recording”. So it was one of those instances where the way that apartment was, being setup very well because it was a huge room, you could just play and record easily. I remember the spirit that night, everyone was really excited and wound up after the show. Whatever that scene was, the setting was natural and it was an obvious thing to record and I’m so glad we did.
AndrewWKMusic: So the album is called “Unit + Peace = Strength”?
Andrew W.K.: Yea, I guess that’s the album title, it was just more of a way to get that out as easily as possible. I don’t know if I even have a copy of that. I hope I have a copy of that someplace. Was in it in a hard-shell case or was it in a paper sleeve? I’m sure Aaron has it.
AndrewWKMusic: I only have a digital copy of it, I think Knox [long time noise & Andrew W.K. fan] has it.
Andrew W.K.: Oh yea, yea, yea—-Knox is good at keeping that stuff. Aaron Dilloway definitely would know and probably remember even more about the recording than I do.
AndrewWKMusic: OK, it says it’s a CD-R. I have it up on the site if you can’t find it for some reason.
Andrew W.K.: Yea, yea that makes sense. OK cool, great, thank you.
AndrewWKMusic: Alright, so how about “The Beast People“, this one can be confusing to me.
Andrew W.K.: Yea there’s a whole bunch of recordings that band has done and I was included in some of them. There’s a lot of stuff. I was in it at a certain time. There were shows of them in Detroit, Michigan and there is footage of that somewhere… it may be on youtube. But there is a couple shows I was a part of. Some of the shows were very strange because it wasn’t really evident it was a show at times. There would be a house party going on and Aaron would say “let’s do the Beast People”, so there wouldn’t be a formal plan. But we wouldn’t really perform necissarily where the bands were playing. We might just be walking around the house doing stuff and performing all over the place.
It was a very confrontational group, they would grab people and it was meant to be very frightening. Aaron was a very aggressive performer, I learned a lot from him. He’s very confrontational and he would get right up in peoples faces and then encourage that. The same goes for Twig Harper who has also been in that band a lot more than I have. He’s also extremely advanced when it comes to that style of performing. Nate Young of course, who also would get aggressive but not quite as intense, but in a good way. Everyone sort of had a different character and attitude when they would be a beast person. I never even dressed up as a beast really, I would always be a human, but I would sometimes where a mask or something like that.
There’s one recording that I worked on really hard with Aaron. It was during that brief time when Aaron and Nate Young moved to New York and we all lived in my apartment. So that was in ’97 or ’98 or whenever I had first moved out. It was probably right around the time of the second year or at least year and a half of moving there. For those months they lived here, we did so much work, we did tons and tons of stuff. We recorded that Wolf Eyes 12″ that I did with them for that split on Bulb. I also recorded a Beast People song which I believe was released as a 10″, yea I think it came out on vinyl as a 10″. It’s probably on the Hanson site somewhere. It was very limited though, I don’t even know if I have a copy. I probably have one copy somewhere. But anyway, that was a recording we worked on really, really hard. I think it was called “The Beast People Opera” or that’s how Aaron would refer to it. I don’t know if that was actually the title, it might not even have a title. But it was a multi-track recording that we worked on very, very hard with keyboards and percussion and many, many overdubs. We recorded it all in one night. It was probably 90 degrees on a really hot and humid summer night in New York. You know how hot and humid it gets at night?! I was living in Brooklyn at this point where we were all living together. I don’t remember Nate being there, so he might have been out that night or something whenever we recorded this. It was just me and Aaron and I had built this vocal booth in my closet, that was actually extremely effective. The apartment building I lived in had paper-thin walls so that even me playing the keyboard with headphones on, the tapping on the keys would make people knock on my door and be like “ANDY WHAT IS ALL THIS TAPPING, WHY ARE YOU TAPPING?”. So somehow it was a miracle that we soundproofed this tiny little closet well enough. We had all these layers of blankets and foam and it had to be rubber and all this stuff. It really did work, you couldn’t hear it in the hallway at all and Aaron would just sing and scream his heart out for about five hours all night long. He was just dripping sweat. All he was wearing was his underwear–it was so hot. There was no air conditioning in this house and not only that, but he was in like a box, insulated with tons and tons of blankets with a hot light on inside. Which eventually he turned off, it was just too ridiculous. It was probably like 130 degrees in that room. He was completely delirious.
AndrewWKMusic: [Laughter] That’s hilarious! So this is all different from “The Birthing”?
Andrew W.K.: Well, “The Birthing” was the name of one of the moments during that Beast People recording but he might have also used that title for another release. That might be the Birthing, it’s possible.
AndrewWKMusic: But it could also be some type of “opera”?
Andrew W.K.: It had all these parts and all these different sections and movements. It did tell a bit of a story in a very abstract way, but it created this arc at different moments that made it very cinematic or a theatrical listening experience. Which is why we referred to it as that, but it might not of ever been released with that title. Neither of us had ever really recorded anything like that. Where we mapped out this whole drama where it starts with one thing, we set the scene and it rises up and then there’s a conflict and then there’s a resolution and then it moves on its way. It’s a slightly more conceptual Beast People recording.
AndrewWKMusic: There’s a band called “Free Jumps” which is obviously a song of yours too.
Andrew W.K.: Yea, first it was the name of a song by a band I was in called “Kangoo”. The members of that band had a lot of people coming and going but those sessions I remember very well. People that were there (and I apologize to anyone I’m not remembering who was there) were Steve Kenny. He was the original drummer of the “Pterodactyls” and he was also in the band “Isis and Werewolves” and also played in a bunch of other bands. He is amazing, he’s one of my friends and favorite people in the whole world. He was definately in “Kangoo” and playing on those recordings we made. I think that the song was called “Freejumps” at that point. But it may have broken off into a band, a lot of times we would come up with a band name that we would end up turning into a song title or the opposite where we would have a song title or an idea for a lyric that we then used for a band name. That’s because we liked it so much.
AndrewWKMusic: So there wasn’t any actual releases under this band name?
Andrew W.K.: Not that I can remember, no. The thing that I remember the most was that it was definitely related to Kangoo and it was probably a song that we had.
AndrewWKMusic: Were you ever in “Galen”?
Andrew W.K.: I was never in Galen, that was Aaron Dilloway’s band. It was probably his first really successful band. I mean, he had done a lot of bands before and projects that he had released. However, Galen was a real big step in terms of everything; quality, how often they played shows, they were a real performing band and made releases that looked really good. I was just so impressed by how good everything looked that they did. Not to mention the music, which was just incredible. Just the artwork and the packaging and the design, I was very impressed. I was like “who the hell is this guy? who are these people?”. Because it’s a smaller town and just when you see someone who can make a good flyer, it really catches your eye because most of the flyers look like shit. He lived in Brighton, Michigan which is quite a ways away. It’s still southeast Michigan, it’s like an hour or 45 minute drive, in an even smaller town than Ann Arbor. So it was so amazing that I didn’t already know this guy and that I hadn’t met him, it was all really exciting. Then he ended up moving to Ann Arbor and that’s when it all unfolded over the course of a couple days. I got to finally meet him and then go over to his house and become friends and then the next thing I realized, I was playing in bands with him. It was like meeting my idol, it was really exciting. So Galen had a huge impact on me and that was all Aaron Dilloway–of course other people were in the band. Also, there were other versions of the band, I played in a version called “Galen Via Hercules” and than that turned into a band called “The Hercules“. I played drums in that.
AndrewWKMusic: So “Galen Via Hercules” wasn’t a split, it was its own band.
Andrew W.K.: Yes exactly, that was the title that they used for a short time. They had other names, like there was a time when I think the band was called “Galen Via Remember I Was Vapor”. Aaron is very advanced and brilliant man. The thinking he would put into band names or the idea of what a band name is. I mean, I was very confused by it too but those were the band names. They would split them off and then one would turn into the other. He kept changing his own band name all the time and constantly formed new ones and sometimes he would join them together and stuff like that.
AndrewWKMusic: It’s really hard to find information on some of this stuff, especially for a person like me who is unfamiliar with this scene. I’m sure though Aaron and few others know about it and own it.
Andrew W.K.: Aaron and Knox are the best people to go to for all of this stuff. Aaron, on top of all his other talents and gifts is also an extremely, extremely gifted archivist. The nature of his personality makes it so that he keeps track of everything. He has doodles we did on napkins at restaurants from fifteen years ago and has saved, filed and organized them. Not to mention transferring every video of every show onto DVD, he is a real master-archivist. Again, his personality lends itself to doing that, I think he gets a lot of personal pleasure, even like a good feeling of security from it. I certainly have been grateful for it and benefited from all the stuff he’s been able to keep track of and remind me of. These are things I would have never have been able to remember, he’s influenced me hugely. I try my very best to save almost everything now, but I’m not nearly as good as him. That’s with all the stuff I have, I don’t really buy a lot of things. I have stuff from what I accumulate from doing what I do and what I make; and that’s enough stuff as it is. He’s definitely inspired me to be more responsible by trying to keep track of everything. The things that I have lost, like I had the entire “I Get Wet” album documented on video for the “Making of” stolen. There was a video camera and all the tapes were in that bag. So that was painful and it really means that much more to me that Aaron puts the time and energy into ensuring that kind of stuff doesn’t happen.
AndrewWKMusic: I was curious about the “Blow Your Bone” and “The Wolf” album. If they’re different or is it just a switched album title?
Fan’s rendition of album art
Andrew W.K.: It’s a switched title. I wanted to call it that and then I changed it to The Wolf. I remember the moment when I was in the airport and I had this flash going back to the “Wolf Slicer” magazine, which is a magazine I had made when I had first moved to New York. I guess it was three issues or something. The cover of that magazine is in real big letters; “WOLF”. I thought “you know what? that’s what I should call this album”. Because the sentiment to me on Blow Your Bone clashed with the emotional feeling that was coming through on that album. It was a very personal feeling and I thought “The Wolf” and that vibe, I just wanted to get that out there. I just wanted to acknowledge that word and Wolf Slicer and my whole fascination with wolves for all those years. So I called the album something that had a lot less power [than Blow Your Bone]. I thought the word was a lot more empty and I thought that would be better. Because the music was so strong and over the top and so dense, Blow Your Bone was too much. It’s too intense of a title and The Wolf had a power to it but was also plain and boring at the same time. I thought that would be better. I also really wanted it to clash with “I Get Wet” and be very different than that title, but Blow Your Bone was a lot more similar to the title of I Get Wet.
AndrewWKMusic: So there wasn’t any different tracks, it was just a switched title and that’s all?
AndrewW.K.: Yea, I mean there were songs that weren’t on that album that were recorded for that album. But no, it was just a switched title.
AndrewWKMusic: OK, so “62nd Sex Change” is a unique track that appears on a compilation. Can you tell me more about how it came about?
Andrew W.K.: Visonaire is a long running and hugely influential fashion publication and organization. It’s not really like a magazine, I mean it is but they do these very, very complex concept-based packages. They’ll do an issue called “Stars”, an issue called “Modern”, an issue called “Love” and then this was this issue called “Sound”. I was blown away that they asked me to be on this because there is a really, really, really pompous fashion world that’s very high-end. I have never really been embraced by that world because they thought my clothes were dirty, just ridiculous stuff. Even though I came from fashion and worked and studied in high-fashion, but I actually got out of it because I couldn’t stand how snobby the people were. It’s some of the most ridiculous people you can’t even believe, it’s just like the movies. So I couldn’t interact with the people because they were just being idiots. But anyway, there was still stuff I loved and Visionaire was always one of the coolest things that’s ever happened in fashion. It’s a really, really incredible magazine; just turning through it, looking through the pages, and the packaging. The whole thing is completely absurd and over the top and there’s nothing else like it. So when they invited me to do that, it was really exciting. It was because I had been in New York long enough at that point that the guy who curated it was into all kinds of stuff and knows all kinds of things; not just clothes. So anyway, I made that track and I think it had to be 60 seconds. I really wish I put that track on Mother of Mankind. I’ll have to put out some other things and have that as a bonus track. I didn’t want it to [only] be a 60 second song. I really like working with sound and sound FX, it goes back to the music I was making with Beast People or whatever. You don’t have to have a song, you’re just going to make something that when people put it on it’s going to take them to a different place.
AndrewWKMusic: Thank you so much! This stuff is important to me and I like to know and find out how everything connects and then get it documented.
Andrew W.K.: I really appreciate it, it means so much to me too, it really, really does. It’s incredible to me because it helps not just me but all these other people that might have had questions about the same stuff. No one has ever asked about these things. Interviewers just don’t ever ask about this stuff and if they do it’s like one in a million. So this is the stuff that’s more interesting for me to talk about anyway because it’s my life, not just like “ok what’s the new album about, what’s this thing?”. Let’s talk about these amazing people and these crazy things that they’ve done. So it’s really fun to talk about all my friends like this, they’re the best! It makes me appreciate it more too. Also, when you do a great job at this like you do–I’m reading this book right now about KISS called “Behind The Mask”. It’s essentially written by a guy who is doing exactly what you’re doing. He took his enthusiasm and interest in KISS to a point where he was able to interview them and work with them and make this amazing book. It’s one of the best and most detailed and documented books about any musical thing or anything for that matter. Like if you’re a fan of something this book is amazing, and that’s exactly what we’re doing here. Even if there’s just a handful of people who care about it, just getting it down is important. Who knows in ten or twenty years how valuable it will have been to have recorded and organized all of this. So I’m extremely grateful for you doing it, really. Thank you so much!
Stay tuned for part 3 of 4 – coming later this week!