Andrew is pleased to announce his brand new weekly column for VICE. Starting today and continuing in the tradition of his beloved advice column, Andrew’s new writing series will tackle singular celebratory topics revolving around the endless mystery of the human experience.
His first essay on “PRESSURE” was officially published today, and can be found below or by clicking HERE.
Andrew W.K. is a party rocker and motivational speaker whose advice column at the Village Voice touched millions of readers. Currently he’s traveling to all 50 states like some kind of rock ‘n’ roll Tony Robbins,giving speeches about his revolutionary Party Power philosophy and helping people work on the most pressing in their lives. Starting today, each week Andrew will write about a singular topic for VICE, distilling it to its essence and examining it in total. Here now, Andrew W.K. on pressure. #AWKon
When I was a child, performing piano recitals made up a large and ominous part of my musical training. Naturally, there was a tremendous amount of pressure to play my assigned piece perfectly, or at least to not make a blatant and embarrassing mistake. This pressure manifested itself as fear, and I would obsess over the potential horrors awaiting me—the terrifying possibility of a flubbed note or, worse yet, going totally blank and sitting at the piano in dead silence, unable to remember who or where I was, or how my piece was supposed to go.
This pressure to not mess up came from my piano teachers, from the other students in class, from the audience, from my parents. But most of all, it came from some obscure place inside myself. I dreaded those recitals, and I nervously anticipated them with more intensity than I did trips to the doctor’s office, or talking to girls I had crushes on, or big year-end final tests in school. I took the stage with hands so sweaty I struggled to keep my fingers from slipping off the piano keys. I experienced that strange combination of red-hot cheeks and ears and icy-wet feet and toes. But I still performed at every recital, year after year. I was compelled to by a bizarre inner drive I couldn’t explain.
As soon as the annual recital ended, there was a small window of relief. No matter how poorly I had played, at least I had gotten through it. I enjoyed that euphoric feeling of accomplishment and relief for about an hour, while my parents and I took part in a post-recital ice cream shop ritual. But as soon as I finished my sundae I felt that familiar pressure start to creep back in. On the way home, while looking out the car window at the passing houses and trees, I’d realize it was already time to start learning and practicing a new piece, inevitably counting down to another recital. The pressure started all over again.