Diarrhea Planet’s, Um, Burning Questions | Willamette Week | By Matthew Singer
You may not have known it when you first laid eyes on him, disheveled and bleeding from the nose on the cover of his debut album, but Andrew W.K. is a man you can trust.
In the decade and a half since he headbanged and jump-kicked his way into public consciousness, the singer, songwriter and classically-trained pianist has spun his party-positive thrash-pop into a self-help cottage industry. He’s a sought-after motivational speaker. He’s written a book, called The Party Bible, about the search for “truth, wisdom and party bliss.” He hosts a radio talk show. He’s even starting a political party, called—wait for it—the Party Party. And he has his own advice column, which he writes for Village Voice.
He is a particular inspiration to bands that, like him, seek to live life as a never-ending kegger—like quad-guitar ragers Diarrhea Planet, who are also playing Project Pabst this weekend. We assumed the band had questions they’ve long been dying to ask him, and we were right.
JORDAN SMITH: Andrew, what is the very worst physical condition in which you have ever played a show (like being sick, injured, sleep deprived, etc…) and what was so specifically brutal about playing the show in that state?
ANDREW W.K.: Probably the most challenging show I ever played was right in the midst of suffering from severe food poisoning. It happened in Japan, around 2002 or 2003. During the tour, I was asked to attend an event after one of our concerts, and they asked if I would like any food set aside for me. They had gotten this beautiful, very large sashimi spread, maybe $300 worth of sashimi, enough for maybe four or five people. Unfortunately, I was three hours late to the event and didn’t realize this raw fish platter had been sitting out for all these hours.
I ate almost the entire tray, and at 5 am the next morning, I woke up with a nauseating illness unlike anything I’d ever had. I really thought I was dying. “This has to be what it feels like when you’re dying,” I kept saying to myself. The idea of continuing to live and feel like this didn’t seem possible—just an overload of pure physical and mental anguish in every direction, as far as I could see. I mean, I realize there are many people who have gone through much more pain and agony than what I’m describing, but for me, at the time, it was a whole new level of discomfort. I was hunched over a hotel toilet, vomiting nonstop into the bowl while blowing pure liquid diarrhea all over the floor at the same time. With each rib-cage contraction and convulsion of puke, I would spray power shots of wet waste out behind me. I ended up getting in the tub and just laying there in an ever increasing pool of my own filth. My world had literally become a diarrhea planet.
As I was laying there, with all my vital energies flowing down drain alongside half-digested lumps of fish and seaweed, I realized I still had a concert to play that night. Just thinking about the show took more strength than I really had. It practically took all my effort to just breathe. With the little power I had remaining, I ended up somehow getting to a local doctor’s emergency room. I don’t remember how I got there. My memory goes from being in the bathtub to being on a stretcher with an IV, staring at the ceiling.