ESSAY: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Party Hard

Andrew W.K. or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Party Hard | By Jordan Noton

Since releasing his debut album I Get Wet, Andrew has been a singer, songwriter, pianist, guitarist, drummer, television host, motivational speaker, advice giver, column writer and ‘your friend’. Beloved and controversial, he has taken his brand of positive partying across the world and attracted a major cult following. But what is it that has garnered the entertainer so much attention? What is it about this wide-eyed, white-clad frontman that makes him so endearing?

If Andrew is a party warrior, then positivity is his battle-axe. I Get Wet races through its tracklist in a frenzied sugar-rush with no room for subliminal meanings. Andrew lays it out on the table and roars his mantra into your ears. It’s Time To Party. Party Hard. Party ‘Til You Puke. It’s not a suggestion, it’s a command. Songs merge and blend together until the album essentially becomes one long track with a simple message – hop aboard his wild ride and let it all go. It’s infectious, it’s contagious and it’s just as relevant over a decade later. Though the tempo may change, the breakneck speed never dies and Andrew rocks through rousing numbers like Got To Do It and She Is Beautifuland by the end of the album you’re left shellshocked and inspired, confused and empowered. If the blood-soaked album cover grabbed your attention, the sensory assault of hyperkinetic sound refused to let it go. It’s over before you know it, but the impact leaves its mark.

Although his sound has grown more experimental and increasingly off-kilter through the years, his romping-stomping thumbs up attitude remains the same. Andrew W.K. wants to have fun, and he wants you to have fun too. Seeing him live and in concert is an incredible experience that words alone cannot capture. Celebrating the tenth anniversary of his debut album, Andrew brought his wife Cherie Lily and his rock-solid band to Manchester to play at the O2 Academy. The setlist rattled through all of I Get Wet‘s tracks in album order before playing more fan-favourites from his discography. Closing the night with We Want Fun as his second encore, fans climbed onto the stage and partied with the man himself. I waited to meet him outside the venue where I got my ticket signed and a picture taken with him. He recognised me from Twitter and asked if I’d enjoyed the show. Since then he has followed and directly responded to me and many others over the social media network, strengthening that intensely tangible connection he has with his fans and supporters.

Despite the particularly shady and absolutely baffling ‘Steev Mike’ controversy that follows him like a shadow and very public struggles with his former record label Def Jam, Andrew has shot through the tunnel of mainstream fame and come out relatively unscathed. Despite hosting major shows on MTV and Cartoon Network as well as being a Fox News and Conan O’Brien regular, Andrew has this air of mystery that allows him to step back into the shadows. Much like music icon Prince, Andrew can step into or out of the public eye as he pleases. One minute he’s touring with punk legend Marky Ramone or firing music-powered electricity at David Blaine, the next he’s off the grid – pouring his time and creativity into advice columns or new material. Andrew is currently working on a television show aimed at children with Maker Studios. Meet Me At The Reck sees Andrew interact with a variety of guests and young people in an educational manner. Being pitched as Sesame Street for a new generation and featuring Jack Black, Zach Woods and Eric Koston, Meet Me At The Reck could introduce Andrew W.K. to a whole new audience.

But Andrew W.K. is much more than a single man. Andrew W.K. is an idea, a concept of freedom and liberation in the face of oppression. Andrew W.K. is empowerment. Andrew W.K. is a feeling, a mindset, a whole belief system with just one command, one single mantra – party hard.