Andrew W.K. is a puzzle wrapped in an enigma, shrouded in mystery, swathed in a bloody white t-shirt. After recording the soundtracks to countless parties with the massively successful party rock albums 2001's I Get Wet and 2003's The Wolf, Andrew W.K. was suddenly plagued with bizarre conspiracy theory accusations. Difficult to trace sources accused the musician variously of being a front for a massive media corporation, of having stolen another's identity, and even of not actually existing!
The rock wild man didn't seem to help clear the air with his resulting actions which included releasing albums in Japan only, becoming a motivational speaker, and even claiming that the Andrew W.K. of 2010 was physically a different person than the Andrew W.K. of 2001! Recently, Andrew W.K. has reinforced his concept of the "Party" as a method for living life to its fullest, hosted the successful TV program Destroy Build Destroy, and is working on a new album for 2012. To get to the bottom of these quagmires, staff writer John Gentile put on a black t-shirt, jeans, and shoes and partied with Andrew where they covered the concept of "the party," his new album, working with the legendary Lee "Scratch" Perry, and whether he actually is the same physical entity that told us to "Party Hard" in 2001.
You often tell people to "party hard." When I think of the term "party," I think of drinking and hanging out with girls. What's your definition of party?
Hanging out with girls is a big part of the things that I've enjoyed until this very day. Also drinking things is fun, but also crucial to staying alive, be it water or juice or alcohol as well. We need fluids to live.
These are great ways to party. I've tried to make it as broad as the things people are doing, so long as people don't hurt each other. What I enjoy is that- you get to do it the way you choose. I'm sure just like you. Even my own idea of fun changes over time. In whatever way people want to have fun or party, then I encourage that.
I see a comparison to that with the concept of one of my favorite emcees, KRS-One. He has been pushing the concept of Hip Hop as a religion. Are you trying to make partying a religion, philosophy, or discipline?
I could see how someone could define any sort of discipline or style of life as a philosophy or as a religion. There are certain things about those ideas that are great, and there are somethings that are not so great. I don't think of it as philosophy beyond having fun. Otherwise, I think it might start to suffer from having rules, or ways that you are "supposed" to do things, which is in contrast to what it is all about.
So the concept of partying is beyond definition?
Other than celebrating being alive. If you party on Friday to celebrate the end of the week, or you celebrate another day, or you celebrate another year. But, I thought if you celebrating the thing you're happy about, I'm happy to be alive, everyday.
You just wrote a song for the international snowboard championship. How did that come about?
It was written for the championship specifically with that great group of people. So, the release is a song writing partnership I did with the members of WSC.
You are rumored to be working on a new album, your last LP in the states was a series of piano improvisations. In japan, you've released a couple of covers albums in the Japanese language. Will the new album be more experimental, or will it be a rock album more akin to your earlier works?
Well, I am working all this winter on finishing my new album, so I would like to think that would be done soon after that. It's a rock and roll album, so it will have full guitar, drums, bass, keyboard, and vocals. It will be a great soundtrack for a party. It will be a party album.
It's interesting that your next album will be upbeat, because, recently, youâve said that you were influenced by Napalm Death, particularly their Harmony Corruption LP and by grindcore in general. How so?
For me, personally, I have listened to their music a lot, probably more than a lot of other groups or recordings. It just worked out that way. Certain albums in your life you just spending a lot more time with. Napalm Death- many of their albums that I've enjoyed over the years. The Harmony Corruption album, when I got into them specifically, that was when I discovered Obituary and the Florida Death Metal scene. Napalm Death had sort of moved to Florida and recorded that album. A lot of Florida death metal in general, has a lot of musical excitement. It's just a really strong record that i get a lot from it- to be able to revisit it and not only still satisfy me as it did before and hear even more things than i did before. It makes me want to have other people hear it. There is no other band like Napalm Death. They have established an intensity at a level that hasn't been reached many times.
On the other end of the spectrum, you worked with seminal Jamaican producer and recording artists Lee "Scratch" Perry, who wrote "Punk reggae party!", you produced and co-wrote his album Repentance with him a few years ago. How was that experience?
It was absolutely life changing. Not just to working with him on the album, but to just be in his presence and to learn from watching someone who has been working at a very high level and following his vision for more than 45 years. He has the energy and spirit of a young person but was also very wise. It's not every day you get to be around someone who has such a strong vision of their own. He's someone who has removed all the obstacles of life that would keep his artistic vision from coming into being. It's alway exciting to see someone be able to create exactly what they heard in their head.
Youâve been accused as being part of a conspiracy of mind control. Are you trying to control peopleâs minds?
No, not in any way that would be bad. I think if you are singing a song, you have to engage them in a certain point of mind control just by singing. The beautiful thing about entrainment is that the person chooses to give you their time and attention. For me, that that is why i'm always so grateful.
Still, though, there are a lot of conspiracy theories that seem to surround you. Why do you think these far out suggestions seem to stick to you more, than say, someone like Sting or The Jonas Brothers?
Well, I think a lot of it started early on. For example, The Jonas Brothers, they had developed their career over many years and people got to watch them for many years, at least through TV and music. But, when I first came out, there wasn't any sense of development or coming up. It just appeared out of nowhere.
I didn't tell a lot of people about how I got started. I didn't think i mattered. I think a lot of that was unknown at the beginning. Some people just got crazy ideas and twisted the truth. It doesn't really, interact or stand in the way of what I do on a day to day day basis. I've tried to ignore it or work with it, and address the more intense things.
It seems that a few years ago, one of the ways you addressed it was by claiming that the Andrew W.K. of the first two albums was different than the one who recorded the latest album. So my question is this, was the Andrew W.K. who recorded the first album the same person as you genetically? Perhaps you were speaking metaphorically?
Well, that was one of the ways we tried to handle some of these accusations. For years, 2000 to 2005, we worked very hard to ignore them and I would deny things about my past and tired to gloss over some things, and that started to make these things worse. So, then I tried, based off advice, I tried to flip and go along with what they were saying, and that actually just made it much much worse. Rather than dodging away, put a bigger spot light on it. That and a few other approaches from denial to acceptance, none of its really worked and made it gone away. I don't know what we'll try next and I guess just focusing on doing work instead of just getting freaked out by accusations.
Any last words for Punknews?
Thanks always for the support! I have done interviews with Punknews over the years. That is something that means a lot to me, that you wanted to have a talk. Keep the spirit of excitement and possibility alive, thats what punk has been to me. Go out into the world and attack it in a in fun and exciting way. There's limitless freedom and possibility.