“I feel very much like I did back in 1998 / 1999 I’m still climbing the same mountain, maybe I have some new tools I certainly think that through practise and continued effort you develop additional skills and refine your approach to get into that peak but I still haven’t gotten to that climax and in way I’m thankful because I feel like the party’s only just begun.”
From Release: Andrew W.K. has lived a life built on a belief that to reach a state of grace and acceptance, one must embrace both the shadow and the light, the pain and the joy, all that is known and unknown, the stability as well as the chaos, its speed and torpor. Understanding this, Andrew W.K. suggests, is the foundation of what partying eventually transmits to us. And by harnessing the revelatory power of partying – by celebrating the puzzles and pressures of life – we find the key to change and evolution comes from both inside and out, when we’re together and on our own.
Andrew W.K. gave us a call to discuss his new album ‘You’re Not Alone’, time away, touring, advice, eating contests, and much more. When it’s time to Party we will Party Hard!
Where do we find you partying today?
I am partying in the great mid-western region of The United States.
It’s been a long time between albums, why was now the right time to release something to the world?
It was simply by the decree of the party gods, I am at their mercy, I am here to do their bidding and they are in charge of my schedule whether I like it or not. Only they know what is in store for me and for this party quest. I have relinquished control and have complete faith in their plans which I know not of, so I can’t tell you why it’s taken this long, only they know and they’re very hard to reach.
After so long was this an album created quickly and songs written specifically for this record or were there songs you’d had for some time that finally got to see the light of day?
It was a combination, there is material on here that goes all the way back to 2005 often times that I just couldn’t find the right lyrics, there were no lyrics for the songs or there was just placeholder words where there was a whole section missing and all of a sudden after all those years of struggle the song was just done, like it had already been finished in all that time. It was strange why can’t it always be that easy? Then there was plenty of material that was written extremely quickly, almost spontaneously, there was even a song on this album the song ‘Total Freedom’ I heard in a dream, actually in a nightmare, I had an anxiety nightmare about my total life falling apart in the distance of the nightmare I heard this song playing on the radio and I thought it was an amazing song and kind of punctuated how dismal my own life was in this nightmare. I asked my manager in the nightmare what this song was and he said oh it’s the new single from this supergroup. In the nightmare I told myself why can’t I write a song like this? Why has everything gone so bad in my life? Then I woke up and remembered the song and went and immediately recorded it and it made it on the album. So there was all different sorts of ways that songs came together, I’m just glad they finally are together and being released.
You’ve always motivated and portrayed such positivity within your songs, what do you want to try and get across to the listener through your music?
First and foremost just a feeling of physical energy, just raw, physical power, not thought, not ideas or emotions or even moods, a sense that your body has physical energy but an optimistic energy like a feeling you could go and take on the entire world, that’s the message. I think it is a life affirming message but it’s a physical form of a message.
What are your feelings like around album release time? Do you get nervous? Do you get excited?
Both, it’s both, it’s very similar actually and I hadn’t thought of this until you just asked it, it’s similar to right before I go on stage for a concert, it’s nervous excitement and a strange set of contradictory impulses, part of me wishes that somehow the show wasn’t going to happen, then a part of me wishes nothing more than the show to happen, part of me is very excited to set foot on that stage and part of me is completely terrified. It feels very similar to this album finally on the verge of release, when you’re in the midst of recording especially the way I record which is quite tedious and quite solitary there are times when I even forget that all this work is going towards an eventual release and eventual presentation to other people and that is scary but it’s also deeply satisfying.
I have to ask, when do you think we might see you back in Australia?
I really hope soon, I mean we’ve been talking about coming back actually over the past year so I hope that 2018 will see us playing full band concerts in Australia and certainly if not this year then the next but we’re ready to go.
Looking forward to it and finally meeting your guitarist Dave Pino I’ve followed and known for a long time now!
Oh that’s fantastic, well he is tremendous, a tremendous individual on so many levels, not just an amazing guitarist, and amazing gentleman, extremely competent and consummate in just about everything he engages in. Having him by my side is probably one of my greatest achievements; I don’t know what I did to get lucky enough to have him be part of this.
Now I grew up with all sorts of collector cards and artworks from Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell and you’ve now worked with them on your album cover, what was that experience like?
It was another high point of my party career, like you just said I’ve admired their work for a very long time going back to my early teenage years and you barely have the nerve to dream of the possibility of working with such titans, the king and queen of fantasy art and yet the party gods made it so, and getting to go through this painting process with them and see how gracious they were, and how generous, how open minded, and how imaginative really was one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve ever had, not just in my career but as a person.
I collect vinyl and I can’t wait to pick up the album on vinyl just so I’ve got the artwork in my hands.
Oh well thank you and we definitely took full advantage of that and I think it’s the most beautiful and high quality gatefold I’ve ever gotten to do.
So it’s somewhat easy to say what’s changed over time, but on the other side of that what’s the one thing you would say has stayed the same in your time making music?
Well certainly my goal is the same and I’m very thankful that it’s a goal that’s rewarding enough but also challenging enough to keep me focused on it. The goal of conjuring up this type of euphoric feeling, I suppose if it was easy to get to we wouldn’t devote our whole lives to pursuing it that much is the same. I feel very much like I did back in 1998 / 1999 I’m still climbing the same mountain, maybe I have some new tools I certainly think that through practise and continued effort you develop additional skills and refine your approach to get into that peak but I still haven’t gotten to that climax and in way I’m thankful because I feel like the party’s only just begun.
So was there one piece of advice you were given when you started making music that’s stuck with you to this day?
Lots of bad advice that I intentionally did the exact opposite of that’s probably most of the advice. A lot of naysayers, a lot of people telling me not to do this that or the other, and some of that was challenging to deal with or painful, but there was enough clarity and not necessarily within me but clarity within the work itself or within this mission this sense of calling that I had to allow me to set aside often times well-meaning if misguided advice that people were giving me. The best advice I ever got is the advice that came out of my heart. I’ve had a lot of amazing and teamwork and could never have done this without the assistance of others but sometimes it’s best to just keep your vision to yourself and not look to other people to validate it or not, you have to be able to trust that almost compulsive instinct especially when it seems irrational or unlikely.
What do you like to get up to in the maybe twenty three minutes a day you aren’t partying?
There is no such time that exists, I am partying at every waking moment, if I wasn’t I would be dead but for all I know that’s when the party really begins.
What do you still love so much about what you do?
Always introducing new challenges, it’s always introducing new rewards, I think the most fulfilling aspect of course and I think anyone would say this is to think that something you’ve done, something that you’ve worked on and something that you began as a very personal endeavour, some way to make yourself feel better can someone reach someone else and give them a good feeling. That’s the most rewarding part of it, that someone else out there, someone that you won’t even meet or have the chance to meet somehow is made to feel good by your effort.
I put the word out for questions and got this one and had to ask it for its sheer awesomeness! – So if the local newspaper announced an eating competition and the categories were 1. Yogurt, 2. Taco Bell, 3. Popcorn, and 4. Banana Splits, which category would you enter?
Wow, well I have a lot of experience eating all those items and enjoy very much all of those items so this is a great problem to have because no matter what I feel like I win, but, in terms of quantity I think that Taco Bell just by the nature of the food even if it’s just from the beans is going to fill up space more quickly. I’d say the same goes for the banana split, there’s a limit to the richness that your body can withstand. Popcorn I have eaten tremendous amounts of popcorn and managed to put even more of it into my body once I thought more could not fit. I think in terms of pure eating ease I’m gonna go with yogurt.
That was from Dave Pino by the way.
*laughs* That’s amazing because Dave and I were just talking about this because he has an affinity for popcorn and he was recently told by me that I like to eat a lot of yogurt, we’ve always both loved Taco Bell, and just the other day I sent him a nice picture of a beautiful big banana split that I had ordered for myself. He hit all four nails right on the head.
Lastly let’s look ahead to the future, finish this sentence for me, by the end of 2018 Andrew W.K. will…
Be partying. Yeah that’s the only thing I can be sure of.
Well we hope you’ll be doing it down here in Australia that’s what we want!
Yeah me too, the good thing is there’s been a lot of very productive discussions, there seems to be a lot of enthusiasm from those folks we’ve been discussing tours with in Australia, so it’s looking promising and I wouldn’t say that unless I felt confident that we’d be there sooner than later.
Latest Release: You’re Not Alone (Out March 2 – Red Music / Sony Music Australia)