Note: While adapting these transcriptions into an easy-to-read “interview” format, slight creative liberties have been taken.
AndrewWKMusic: Thanks for doing this again, I appreciate it. I have some more questions for ya!
Andrew W.K.: Ok let’s do it.
AndrewWKMusic: I’ve hunted down some backing tracks and some karaoke tracks, currently I have Ready To Die as a backing track and then three karaoke tracks; Party Hard, We Want Fun and I Love NYC. I’m assuming that companies have to contact you to use these?
Andrew W.K.: No not usually, they usually make their own version of it which they don’t have to get permission to do. When you say backing track I’m not sure what that would be for. There are definitely quite a few karaoke versions of songs that karaoke companies have created. I even saw one here in New York the other day for “Not Going To Bed”. Yea, even Long Live the Party, Not Going To Bed, Ready To Die, We Want Fun, Party Hard, and maybe even Never Let Down. In Japan there is a lot more.
AndrewWKMusic: Oh OK. The backing track is for Ready To Die but it supposedly came from a guitar book and it’s the actual song, it’s not a karaoke track. It has most everything removed, except the drums, bass and keyboard.
Andrew W.K.: Huh! I don’t know what that would be.
AndrewWKMusic: OK, so there’s definitely more tracks from companies out there making karaoke versions of your songs?
Andrew W.K.: Yes, it’s a huge business with karaoke.
AndrewWKMusic: So this is kind of an obscure question, I know. Have there been efforts of yours regarding recordings or projects that have been published but for one reason or another went under the radar? Or that you wished they had got more exposure?
Andrew W.K.: Umm, just so I understand the question. Was there anything I worked on that didn’t get put out?
AndrewWKMusic: What I’m really getting at is, are there other rare things out there that a collector might not know about but you think that they should?
Andrew W.K.: Oh yea probably, I don’t really know where to begin with that. There was a bootleg recording that came out early on like in 2002 or so. I didn’t make it but we found it on tour, it’s called “The Zen of Positive Partying”. Do you know about that?
AndrewWKMusic: Ok yea.
Andrew W.K.: OK so you do know about that. Do you have that already?
AndrewWKMusic: I don’t have it but I know about it and I know someone that does have it. (Upload it here if you have it)
Andrew W.K.: Ok yea there’s that. Hmmm… I can’t think of anything that you don’t know about, let’s put it that way. That was the only one that maybe I haven’t seen directly mentioned on your site. It’s a little bit hard to go through a list of what you may or may not know about. But I can’t think of anything too obvious at the moment. It’s a bit of a tricky question.
AndrewWKMusic: Yea sorry.
Andrew W.K.: No, no, no, I will always keep thinking though, if I think of something that maybe nobody knows about or you don’t know about I will try to tell you about it. I’m just not sure what you do or don’t know about.
AndrewWKMusic: There’s a lot of bands that I would like to confirm if you were at least in them. And then maybe we can fill in some of the details about some of the actual releases behind them. So in the past we’ve already covered Ancient Art of Boar, Artists Against Apartheid, The Beast People, Free Jumps, The Hercules, Isis and Werewolves, and Kangoo. But we haven’t talked about Kathode though.
Andrew W.K.: OK so that was a band I played drums in that originally started out being called “Abhorrence”, you know like “hatred”. Actually, since then there’s been a band called “Abhorror” that I’ve seen around. But we changed the name, I’m not exactly sure why but we changed it from Abhorrence to “Kathode”, after somewhat of a debate. Originally the band had started out with Aaron Dilloway who had met this guy named Eric Prozac. He had been in Detroit and was a guitar player and singer and was really into metal, specifically black metal and death metal and grind core. Aaron was really excited because this guy played well and was really enthusiastic and was from a totally different scene than the people we had normally met or hung out with. Aaron invited me to be part of the band, I believe playing drums from the very beginning. Aaron had been playing in a black metal band that he had made called “Nazgul”, like from Lord of The Rings. I think that kind of morphed into Abhorrence and when I joined on the drums I took it very seriously and was very excited about this and wanted to make this the band that I worked the hardest on. I had been in several other bands at that point and played with different friends and even made some recordings. But I had realized there was a more intense way you could operate a band, where you would play more shows and maybe even travel outside of your town. Or you could release recordings that a lot of people would get a hold of that weren’t so limited or obscure or hard to find. I really liked the idea of this band being the band that we would work really hard on. I think it was a bit weird because Aaron who had sort of came up with the band to begin with lost interest in it because I think he thought it wasn’t fun anymore. So he ended up leaving and it wasn’t on bad terms or anything, but he ended up leaving after maybe a few weeks.
We were practicing at my parents house and then we sort of moved the band to Detriot to Eric Prozac’s house. Then the band added a couple of singers, one of the singers was a man named Jeff Rice who sang in a really incredible band called “Ottawa”. He was also in another band called “.Nema”, both were really influential and respected in this scene. I don’t know how you would describe this scene, like crust-grind-core, or crust-punk, or something. He was an amazing singer and a really fun guy to hang out with. And then another friend of ours named Sean Gates, he played in a band called “The Jacks” from the Ann Arbor—Ypsilanti area. I had become friends with him bit by bit over the years and was really excited to be in a band with him. He is an incredible drummer, he’s one of the most amazing drummers I have ever seen still to this day! But in this band he was singing. So we had two vocalists actually and it was a very, very fun group that we worked pretty hard on for about a year straight. I didn’t really know much about how to make a band work or how to make it successful. We just did all that we could and recorded what we considered a demo, I think six songs on a cassette. We recorded at a studio and had a few other tracks that appeared on 7-inches or compilations, vinyl compilations mainly. It was actually a big portion of that time of my life. We did play quite a few shows, it was all very intense because it was in downtown Detroit where we spent most of our time. Which always has an exciting edge to it. Other than that the bass player’s name was Mike who’s an excellent guy. Mike and Eric both lived at the same house on Calumet Street in Detroit, I would drive there every time we were practicing. He let me practice there at least two or three times a week if not more. At that point I had stopped going to school because I had enough credits so I could finish a year early. This is while I was living in Ypsilanti around the same time as Artist Against Apartheid.
AndrewWKMusic: There could be more but I have three different releases under them; a split with Void, We Are Anti-Nazi Anti-National War, and Keep Your Dogma Out of Your De-Kathoder.
Andrew W.K.: Yes and then there’s a song that also appeared on some of those releases already but we also put it on a “Food Not Bombs” compilation LP. I think it was “Fools Die” which we had already released but as a slightly different version. We did a version that had keyboards in it.
AndrewWKMusic: So did you have any releases under “Abhorrence”?
Andrew W.K.: We made T-Shirts actually, that was all we ever did for that version of the band. We had a logo, I’m trying to remember if I drew it or if Eric drew it or if we drew it together. But we did make T-Shirts and you can see that shirt design on the back cover of the Pterodactyls CD, I think Pete is wearing it. I don’t even remember where we printed them or how, I’m trying to remember who printed that. I might have even printed it, I don’t really remember. The funny thing is that we never made Kathode shirts but we had shirts for Abhorrence, which only existed for a couple of weeks with that name.
AndrewWKMusic: What can you tell me about the Malt Lickers?
Andrew W.K.: I don’t know if anything was ever recorded or released by that name. That was something I believe that I was doing with Jeff Rice and the singer of Kathode and maybe another guy named Jaime Subuda. He might have been involved in that, but nothing much came of it. It was going to be more punk songs, like more melodic sing-a-long songs. It was similar to the Portly Boys, but we did have a recording of that [Portly Boys]. I don’t know where that is though, but I think I met someone who has it. It was just [singing] “Portly Boys Bounce! Portly Boys Bounce! Portly Boys Bounce! Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!”. It was just chants [sings a bunch].
AndrewWKMusic: So Jeff Rice and Jaime were in the same band?
Andrew W.K.: Jamie Subuda was an old friend of Jeff Rice and he didn’t play in bands until a little later. He was playing bass and then Jeff started playing drums and they went on to both be in other bands over different times. I just remember we were all hanging out during that era, so I should give them credit to some degree.
AndrewWKMusic: I know that you were in Mr. Velocity Hopkins but if you can just fill us all in with that band…
Andrew W.K.: Well I had met Pete Larson, as I think I’ve described, through the time that he was going to the University of Michigan. And basically through my dad. I had been aware of Pete because of the band “Couch”. Which was really my favorite band from the minute I discovered them or was introduced to them by my other high school friend—Jaime Morales. He was really the one who introduced me to all kinds of crazy music during my first year of high school. He was a year older than me and we played in a Jazz band together. After school we would go to the record store; “Schoolkids Records”. They used to own three stores right next to each other, just a huge record store. There was one part of the store called “The Annex” where Jim Magas worked and he was the other member of Couch. So it was really exciting to go to this record store where the singer of Couch worked. That’s when I first became friends with Jim and then through him I sort of became familiar with Pete Larson. But I was too afraid to really ever talk to Pete whenever I would see him on the street or around the town. It wasn’t until many months later, maybe even a couple of years later that I found out he was aware of my dad somehow. Or my dad was coming into the grocery store where Pete worked and somehow they had talked and realized that my dad and his son [Andrew] was friends with Jim—or something like that. So finally I went to the grocery store with my dad and saw Pete at the checkout doing the register. He was very nice but it was also a little awkward though with my dad there, he was making weird jokes. That was the first time I was ever able to talk to him and he was very nice and it wasn’t too long after that he invited me to start playing with him in different capacities. That was all around the same time I joined the Pterodactyls. He had his solo project “Mr. Velocity Hopkins” which I played on one recording. Aaron Dilloway also played on the album as a drummer, so there were two drummers on the recordings.
AndrewWKMusic: For the Mr. Velocity Hopkins S/T album I have the tracks “Sad Wings of Destiny”, “Get Out”, and “Two Heads, One Door” you played drums on.
Andrew W.K.: Ok cool, yea maybe. It’s not clear which songs I played on. I mean, I can tell usually if I hear them, but there’s a lot of songs where it’s not really clear who’s playing and I don’t know if it’s formally labeled.
AndrewWKMusic: Awesome, those are fun CDs to listen to every once in awhile. OK, so actually I just barely got these tracks and I have no idea what they’re about but they’re labeled as “Sam The Butcher”.
Andrew W.K.: Oh OK, wow you have those songs?
AndrewWKMusic: I have three tracks and one of them definitely sounds like you singing but the other two tracks don’t really sound like the same band so I don’t know exactly what it is.
Andrew W.K.: Wow yea, I would probably have to hear them. But yes that was basically the first band I was ever in, or the first time I had ever played or recorded music with someone for fun that wasn’t piano lessons or by myself. It was with a man named Toby Summerfield and he has gone on to be very successful and played with all kinds of people both as a guitar player and a bass player. He went to my high school as well, toCommunity High School. He was sort of my first best friend even, we became friends in elementary school. Our first band was called “Flam”. That was just me on keyboard and the drum machine and him on guitar and we would both sing and I think that tape is somewhere. I’m pretty sure I have it someplace, I wish I knew exactly where. But I’ve been pretty good at keeping most stuff, so I think that exists. Then eventually that band morphed into “Reverse Polarity”. Then we had a drummer, I believe I started playing bass at times but probably usually still played keyboard or piano. Around the same time as Reverse Polarity we used the name “Sam The Butcher’”. I did sing on one song and even tried to play drums, we kind of traded off instruments quite a bit. But that was the first band where we played shows or at parties, where people could come and see us play. I remember the first show very clearly and I couldn’t believe how exhausted I was afterwards, that was my main memory. It was a really chaotic and intense experience. It’s amazing how tired I was afterwards considering how much we’ve gone on, but you know, you build your endurance and your capacity as you go. That first show was such a huge moment just to get up and play music for other people.
AndrewWKMusic: So Toby was one of your first best friends and then it went from “Slam” to “Reverse Polarity” to “Sam The Butcher”?
Andrew W.K.: Yea, yea more or less. By the time we were in high school we even played a show or two. Because I remember a flier that I drew that I made with our name on it along with some other bands from high school. So it lasted at least into my freshman year-somewhat. Then I think I went and did Lab Labotomy and that was sort of the end of my friendship with that band; Toby and Reverse Polarity and Sam The Butcher we kind of went our separate ways a little bit. We were still friends and on good terms and still are but that was sort of the first time I had met this new group of people which was Jaime Morales and Jim Magas and Aaron Dilloway.
Andrew Wilkes-Krier playing drums in Lab Labotomy
AndrewWKMusic: Yea I can’t remember which song it was maybe “Bloop” or “Sibley’s”. At first I didn’t think it was you and then I realized it had to be you.
Andrew W.K.: Yea “Sibley’s” is the one I sang on. Yea wow, I was probably like 14 or 15.
AndrewWKMusic: Oh wow you were that young?
Andrew W.K.: Yea at that time, yep it was right at the beginning of high school. It was probably even the summer before the first year of high school.
AndrewWKMusic: Can you confirm if you were in “The Sucking Coeds”?
Andrew W.K.: That was really the name of a recording sessions of a group that was assembled by Tom Smith in Ann Arbor for just one day of recording really. It was then released a long time later. Yea I played some drums and organ maybe. It was a whole bunch of folks.
AndrewWKMusic: So that was a recording of “To Live and Shave In L.A.” or it was its own thing?
Andrew W.K.: Tom gave it its own name. This is the first time I had met Tom Smith, I had already been a huge fan of “To Live and Shave In L.A.” and he had become friends with Aaron Dilloway. I think it was just sort of through the mail, or over the phone or something. Then Tom made plans to come to Ann Arbor just to record with us. I was so blown away, I can’t even really begin to try to sum up the many hours of memories. The basic plan was he was coming to Ann Arbor to record with Aaron and his friends. I was just beside myself that I was going to get to meet Tom Smith, let alone maybe get to play on this recording. He decided it would be called “Sucking Coeds” or “Miss High Heel”, that was another name that he was working with in some capacity. But I think “Miss High Heel” kinda belonged more to Jim Magas. Sometimes those can get crossed or confused. But yea, it sort of was like “To Live and Shave in L.A.” in a way, but it wasn’t the line-up that Tom had normally used. I think that’s why he gave it a different name. It was just him wanting to come and record with these young people in Ann Arbor.
AndrewWKMusic: So you’ve also performed on some stuff with “To Live and Shave in L.A.” correct?
Andrew W.K.: Yes, years and years later, over ten years later. I got back in touch with Tom and asked if I could play with him again. That started a couple years of activity. It was much more recently.
AndrewWKMusic: And you played drums?
Andrew W.K.: I played drums and keyboard.
AndrewWKMusic: Ok cool I think that’s most of the bands that I know about. I know that you were in Wolf Eyes…
Andrew W.K.: I was in a very early version of Wolf Eyes. A lot of times these names, it’s sort of like the same group of people but in different orders. Like what’s the difference between Isis and Werewolves and Wolf Eyes or even Mini Systems? Or even the early version of Andrew W.K. or AAB or Hercules? It was this group of anywhere between 5 and 15 people that all did different things together from music to other kinds of projects like videos and artwork and clothes even. It was just a very tight group of creative friends. I’ve got to say, most of us are still in-touch if not still occasionally working together and some of them have never stopped working together. So it’s been very rewarding friendships.
AndrewWKMusic: So you mentioned Mini Systems, I think that’s on a compilation you were on?
Andrew W.K.: I didn’t play in that version of it. I don’t think we ever released anything that I recorded on. Mini Systems was created by Tony Connelly, also known as Tony Miller or
“Dirty” Tony. He really came up with that with Nate Young so that was really their group for a long time. They were really good as always, they had amazing shows. There might even be videos on YouTube of that. Aaron definitely has a lot of Mini Systems videos. They might even be on one of the Hanson video compilations as well.
AndrewWKMusic: There’s a release of Wolf Eyes that’s a split, it’s called “Wulf Eys/Andy W. Krier” and it’s released on Hanson and Meatball Records.
Andrew W.K.: Yes, yes I am familiar with that cassette, I have one somewhere. Again probably in the same box of tapes (I have so many tapes) someplace. I’m not even sure what the music is on there by either artist. I don’t know what my contribution is, it might not even be me, but I am familiar with that release.
AndrewWKMusic: I don’t know for what reason but it’s spelled “Wulf Eys”.
Andrew W.K.: Yea I think the alternate spellings have something to do with designating the nature of those recordings. It could be possible that it was all just Aaron making the music, I’m not sure. He would be a much better one to ask as far as what’s on there.
AndrewWKMusic: Is there any other bands that you can think of from this early era that I might not have mentioned?
Andrew W.K.: [thinks for awhile] No, not that we haven’t discussed or that I can think of.
AndrewWKMusic: Here’s a question for ya, what has been your relationship between Fred Thomas and Westside Audio Laboratories?
Andrew W.K.: Yea, I met him at a show. OK, I think Jaime Morales, who was in Lab Labotomy and AAB and the Jazz band with me in high school. The guy who introduced me to Jim Magas in Couch. Jaime also had recordings by a band called “Chore” and it was really impressive to me. Just the way the recordings sounded, I really liked the songs and I was aware from what Jaime had said that this band and these guys lived in Ann Arbor or Ypsilanti or somewhere around us. Eventually there was a chance to go see them play and the show was at a venue called “Halfway In”. Which was sort of a University facility, sort of like a student center that had shows as well or it might have entirely been setup to have performances. We actually had quite a few shows there. It was a great place, it was right downtown on campus in Ann Arbor. I think the first time I went there, I don’t remember if I played or if I was just going to a show, but I definitely played shows at that place later. My only real strong memory this time when I met Fred, was that I had gone to the show there, Chore had played, I was really blown away, and somehow (probably because Jaime was less shy than I was) we ended up talking to Fred.
He was very, very, very nice. He had this really kind-hearted nature to him that had made him almost the nicest person that I had met at that point. I was really blown away. Because sometimes a lot of the people that I was hanging out with, I won’t even name names, but either I was intimidated by them, or I thought that maybe they were being mean, or they were mean, or unpredictable, or just sort of crazy. A lot of those people really were just crazy characters. They were hating in ways that made them seem even crazier, at least to me, I was just very easily freaked out. But never so freaked out that I wouldn’t still try to hang around them. It was more that I felt like I was on the out-skirts, like just this little kid who was just annoying all these big kids or adults. I just thought of them as adults I guess even though they were really just a couple years older than me, if not my same age. I mean, there were people hanging out that were 10, 15, maybe 20 years older because there was this music scene, so you would get all kinds of people. But in terms of the people around me, even though they were close to my age, they just seemed very far away and kind of mythic figures that I really just idolized.
Fred was the first person like that who was very, very, very nice. Just genuinely warm and easy to talk to and made me feel really comfortable. That had a huge impact on me, not just that he was nice but it also showed me how that’s how I would want anyone to treat me and how I should treat other people. Also at that point my role models and idols were sort of crazy in sort of a sociopathic way or a non-social way, that I thought was pretty cool. It was kind of this “punk” attitude where being mean or kind of nasty or weird was the coolest way you could be. Fred I really think, was one of the first people who inspired me with this totally different mind-set and attitude that was positive. I’ve never really thought about that until just now, I think he may have been one of the first people who presented the idea of just positivity to me at all. I had never really heard about positivity or even the straight-edge bands in punk that would end up talking about those ideas or positive mental attitudes. Or that you could even think different or even act different or choose to behave in a nice way. He really had a big impact not because he told me anything like that but just by watching how he lived and observing how he treated people. And then we became friends right away!
I saw his band Chore play many other times and other bands that he went to be in and he ended up living at my parents house when I was going to high school. He was even taking some class I think at my high school as a senior. Because he’s like two or three years older than me. So there was a point when he was even going to Community for some class or for something. It was all kind of strange, just the whole thing, it seems like a dream I can’t even believe that it happened. It was just bizarre, somehow he convinced my parents that he couldn’t live at his parents house anymore [laughs], so my mom said “OK well you can live at our house” and we had a guest bedroom on the third floor. There was plenty of room and he just lived there and it was awesome because—my best friend is now living in our house! It was really amazing and I even remember other friends saying “well can’t, can’t I live at your house too?”. It was just the best, we had so much fun hanging out all the time. It was sort of interesting because I guess it would have been like if you had an older brother or neighborhood friend. But I never really had friends around my town so much, like literally next door where you would hang out with them day-to-day. I have a younger brother and two older half-sisters who didn’t really grow up with me so I spent a lot of time alone. I remember once Fred was living in the upstairs room, there was always something going on.
There was always someone to hang out with or ask a question or laugh about something or even just watching TV was ten million times more funny. It was like having a roommate at a very early age where they had their own space but you still had your parents there. I think that’s what made it possible for me to have a really easy time with other roommates with traveling on the bus and living in close quarters. Realizing that it makes life just that much more fun when your friends are around all the time. I’ve just been very lucky with all the time that I’ve spent with friends like that and we never got on each others nerves which is really, really good.
So yea, then Fred and I recorded music, we had a rap group called “Coffinz”. Fred is a very, very good rapper, an incredible musician, an incredible guitar player, and can play drums extremely well. He really can play whatever he wants. I think he was even learning some wind instruments or something, he was playing clarinet at some point or something like that. But he’s also just very good at making up lyrics on the spot or making up melodies on the fly and just rhyming. So I would make drum beats and keyboard parts and he would rap over them. They were really good raps that I remember to this day, I remember tons of them. Fortunately, he’s kept track of them quite well and I have some too. But we recorded doing that stuff for years, almost every time we would get together we would just record some song and it was just a lot of fun and a lot of laughter.
We recorded on AAB’s “Bright Dole”, an album that I did which he released on his record label the Westside Audio Laboratories and he also had Ypsilanti Records—which he may still have going. He was the first one that put out some of my really, really, early, early recordings on this compilation called “Plant The Flower Seeds”. It was a compilation of early recordings by children anywhere between six and twelve. It was all his friends and musicians where he would take recordings from that time of their childhood and take one of their songs and put it on that compilation.
Then just other things here and there, I learned a lot from the time we spent recording. We used four-tracks. I was really learning how to record music and I still keep in touch with him and look forward to seeing him soon.
AndrewWKMusic: Yea, he’s an awesome guy, I’ve bought a couple tapes off of him and he was really nice to me. So I can see what you’re talking about coming through.
Andrew W.K.: Absolutely, he’s amazing. He had a huge, huge and immeasurable impact on my life and on my way of looking at the world. Which is all you can to hope to have from any friend really. He made my life better that’s for sure.
AndrewWKMusic: Awesome! That was super detailed and really good, thanks. I didn’t know he lived with you so I’m sure you have lots of stories.
Andrew W.K.: OK good, well that was just skimming the surface. Most of the stories I didn’t actually have at that time, I ended up spending a lot more time with him after he didn’t live with me. Like later on in high school when he worked at different jobs downtown. He lived in many different houses in Ann Arbor, it was always awesome. It’s always cool to see someone’s life move so fast, he’s always got something going on or always living someplace new. He moves around so much, if he’s not moving he’s touring. He’s very, very productive, hardworking and prolific.
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