Interview: Michigan-bred musician Andrew W.K. bringing solo tour to Planet Rock
Andrew W.K. brought party-rock to the masses with his 2001 single “Party Hard,” and he still loves churning out upbeat rock tunes and party anthems.
His high-energy, blissful persona makes people want to have fun, and that’s true whether he’s is releasing a new album, DJing or touring the country solo.
W.K., who Tuesday plays Planet Rock in Battle Creek, says his desire to make happy music stems from simply wanting to cheer others up.
“Like many folks, I’ve had different moods and different struggles and ups and downs, so I figured, if I was going to commit to doing something, I would like it to be something that made me feel good,” he said. “I always was able to find certain experiences or activities that got me into a cheered-up state, and I was able to identify that pretty early on as partying.
“Partying cheered me up, and it seemed like it cheered other folks up, so I said, ‘Okay, if I’m going to dedicate my life to something, I would like to dedicate it to partying!’”
W.K. has Michigan ties. He grew up in Ann Arbor, and his father was a professor at the University of Michigan. Growing up in Michigan shaped his desire to pursue music, and he takes that with him around the world.
He’s stoked to be back in the Mitten Tuesday.
“I’ve never played in Battle Creek, despite living in Michigan a long time,” he said. “I remember going on the Kellogg’s plant tour as a child around age 8 with my mom, and it was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had. So, I’m very excited about the show.”
This solo show is different from many of W.K.’s gigs. He describes it as a communal experience, where the lines between the audience and performers blur.
“It doesn’t have that feeling of a stage and audience and performers. The whole room feels like the stage,” he said of the solo date. “There’s this party feeling that spreads throughout the entire atmosphere, and the line between performer and audience is completely shattered, and I’m as much an audience member watching the audience perform for me.”
The rest of this year will bring more touring for W.K., including joining Marky Ramone of the Ramones on vocals for an upcoming North American run.
Recently, W.K. wrapped up a gig opening for Ozzy Osbourne-fronted metal greats Black Sabbath on tour.
“It was completely mind-blowing and soul-shattering in the best way,” he said of the experience. “To be on the tour with them, serving their concert with my presence at all was very humbling. I still can’t believe it happened. It’s one of those dream-like experiences that I imagine I’ll be trying to understand for the rest of my life.
“It’s as great an honor and opportunity as you could ever possibly get. I got to play my favorite metal songs and hype up the crowd, and we all got to watch the greatest heavy metal band of all time.”