INTERVIEW: Andrew To Turn Entire City Into Nachos

Andrew W.K. Wants To Party Until Madison Turns To Nachos

Forty-two times in 30 minutes. That’s how many times “party” — or some form of the word — was uttered during our conversation with Andrew W.K.

In other words, 77 Square’s conversation with the raucous “Party Hard” rocker had a “party” ratio of 1.4 times per minute.

We talked about a lot of other things, too. Nachos, bacon, partying, bodily fluids, conspiracy theories — and did we mention partying?

The head-banging party philosopher brings his show to the Majestic Theatre on Sunday, Sept. 22.

You told the Majestic Theatre in a tweet that you’re going to party so hard you’re going to turn the entire city into a giant plate of nachos. How do you plan to accomplish that?

I’ve been trying to figure that out, as well. I have a few different ideas. It’s definitely not anything I can do alone. It’s gonna take some help. I’m hoping the folks that believe in partying, and also like nachos, will lend their assistance.

It’s gonna take a lot of chips. We could make very large, giant chips, or we could tape a bunch of smaller chips together. Or we could use whatever materials are around the city — the buildings, the concrete, the trees — and consider those the chips, and then just focus on the cheese. I think it’s a mind over matter situation.

Now I’m hungry. Can you tell me more about the tour? Why is it the ‘Party Messiah’ tour? Are you the Party Messiah?

I am not, actually. It’s more the idea of partying being its own messiah, and a savior to whomever is partying. This idea that we each can be a messiah to each other — we can be our own messiah. Joy and fun itself has the ability to save your life over and over again.

Partying is its own saving. It has a healing power unto itself.

You have such an intense show, but the Majestic is a pretty intimate space. Why did you choose smaller, more intimate venues for this tour?

This whole tour is a continuation or an encore of the tour I just did a few months ago. It’s a special tour. I play with my band all the time; we’re playing some concerts coming up — but I also like to play by myself, where I just have my keyboard and drum machine and play songs from all my albums, but do it with a different tone. It becomes very clear that it’s a party and not a show.

What I found is that that venues where I can be very close to everyone else — it creates this feeling that the whole room is the stage, the whole group of folks together are the band that night. It’s more like hanging out with your friends singing along to these songs you’re excited about. It’s a big sense of camaraderie, versus a more traditional concert where there’s a divide and the band is playing to the audience. I want the feeling that I’m an audience member as much as anyone else is.

I’m able to take away a lot of really good feelings from these shows. It kind of fuels me for all the partying we’ll be doing in another form. It’s the first time I’ll be playing a show quite like this in Wisconsin.

Your first album was called “I Get Wet.” Since you’re playing in such a small space, should the audience be worried about any fluids hitting them?

I mean, yeah. I wouldn’t be worried about it, but I would definitely be prepared, at the very least, for sweat. If you’re gonna be hit by some fluid, it’s most likely gonna be your own sweat. Or maybe your own mucus or your own blood. Maybe from your scalp, it might drip down into your eyes, which can sting. That could make your eye water, and then you’ll have tears flowing from your eye, which could drip down onto your arm.

I would tell people, definitely be prepared for some moisture. And there’s nothing wrong with bringing a small washcloth or hand towel to dry yourself. There’s no shame in being wet or in drying off.

Good words to live by. What other creative endeavors are you pursuing when you’re not touring?

I don’t really have any other interests. It all kind of focuses back on partying, one way or another. There’s many tools and mechanisms we can call upon to develop that kind of celebratory excitement. That’s my focus.

I want to be able to reach everybody in one way or another … to get that excitement about life conjured up in them. Any method counts, if it’s going to get that joyful spirit conjured up.

If you’re going to conjure that spirit at the Majestic, off the top of your head, what are your top five party tips for the people of Madison?

Well, let’s see here. These are a random sampling, not the top three in order.

Party Tip No. 3: Be very nice.

Party Tip No. 2: Please wear socks. If you want to. I found that at concerts, you might get your toenail ripped off or something if you’re not wearing, at least, socks. Some people might wear flip-flops because it might still be warm enough, but it’s very delicate to expose your toenails in that kind of dark, high-energy setting. So I would say, at least put socks on with flip-flops.

Party Tip No. 1: Party as hard as you possibly can. Embrace the possibility that you might not ever get the chance to party again. I hope that’s not the case for anyone. But really embrace this time right now.

You had a huge hit with “Party Hard,” but a friend of mine said he’s still not sure exactly how to do that. What are your instructions for partying hard?

Think about what you enjoy about life, which is usually different for everybody. It’s always nice to leave room and freedom — and do that with all your might and all your energy. In some cases, it’s so easy, that can be what’s challenging about it. There are no rules as long as your mode of partying doesn’t directly infringe on someone else’s ability to party. The song doesn’t tell you how to party. The song is there to act as a soundtrack and an energizer.

Everyone has different styles of partying. My grandmother, who lives in Wisconsin, she parties very much differently as a 95-year-old lady than my young niece who’s barely 18 years old. There’s different ways and different times for different partying based on what you want. I would never tell someone how they should party.

Why do you think partying hasn’t been accepted as an Olympic sport yet?

I don’t know. I did make that t-shirt about it to rally people toward that cause. It takes a lot of physical energy, and can be a very athletic endeavor. There’s going to be a time for it someday. There’s a lot of great athletic events that aren’t recognized as Olympic sports yet. Someday we’ll get there, if we keep working at it.

In the meantime, we can have our own Olympics in our mind that we’re constantly winning.

Do you ever get tired of partying all the time? Do you ever feel like you need a break?

No, not so far. It’s only been… I don’t know, like, I guess, 15 years since I decided to only do this, only party and nothing else, just cancel out all the other parts of my life. I’ve actually had more energy the more I’ve done it, more energy and more desire to continue to party as it’s gone on — which I guess I didn’t expect. A lot of people at the beginning said I’m going to get sick of this, I’m going to want to stop. That hasn’t happened yet. It’s only been growing.

Do you think the 2008 economic crisis could have been prevented by partying harder?

I don’t know. It depends. I think it’s to each person unto themselves to decide how to party and how to work it for them. There’s some people that were completely unaffected — some people caused it, some people benefited from it. It’s hard to group any phenomenon too tightly.

No matter what, we have to keep our heads held high, we have to keep close to joy, and stay grateful for the good things. Those experiences make us realize what is most important, and maybe certain material experiences don’t give us as much happiness as whistling a nice tune and hugging a person who’s soft.

That’s very sweet. I hate to go negative from there, but in July, you tweeted a link to a website that you said is definitely NOT party. It’s a page that discusses the ‘Steev Mike’ conspiracy, suggesting that you’re not a real person but an elaborate piece of performance art. What’s your response to people who think you’re not the real Andrew W.K.? What does that even mean? Why do you think those theories have been so hard to shake?

I appreciate you asking about this, in a way. It’s more that I’ve been a bit frustrated and let my emotions run away with me. I’m not proud of that at all. Those moments, I just got so angry about other people’s efforts to get me angry … I’ve had to deal, like anybody, with all different kinds of situations … It’s something I’ve dealt with since the beginning of doing Andrew W.K.

I’m not proud of that. I just have to keep going forward and trying to encourage people to not buy into that, and that I am a real person and that if they just ignore all the other lies and are able to easily identify what’s not true, they can keep with me and focus on partying and having fun. The problem is that a lot of what those people are saying, half of it could be true and half of it they make up, or they take something that was initially a real phenomenon and they run away to a different conclusion.

I really do exist.

I’m talking to you right now.

It’s strange to read or have someone tell you that you don’t. I’ve had to defend my own reality.

Let’s talk about something more positive. I saw that you tweeted a while ago that partying is the bacon of the soul. Now, I really love bacon, and that’s a statement I feel like I could maybe identify with. But could you explain what it means?

Oh, that makes me really happy. Well, there are certain foods, flavors of life — tantalizing life experiences that feel so good and undeniably pleasurable that you just want to be saturated in it. If there was a way to extract the pleasure that you and I and so many people get from foods, for example, like bacon, if we could extract just the joy of what is that doing to our mind and our brain … Why does that work? Why does this exist? That’s the feeling of partying. You couldn’t be happier. You couldn’t be enjoying yourself any more. And to be really thankful for those things. And always be seeking out that feeling as much as we can from whatever way we can.

Sure, that makes sense. So what does the future hold for Andrew W.K.?

Lots of partying.

I can’t say I’m surprised by that.

There’s a lot of excitement coming up, a lot of fun. I really feel like this has still just begun. It’s getting bigger as it grows. This is a group effort. Everybody who’s been standing by me to have a party life, it’s working. Let’s just keep it going.

Excellent. Is there anything else you’d like to share with the people of Wisconsin?

Yeah, my dad’s family is all from Wisconsin. I spent a lot of time there. He grew up in Watertown. Wisconsin is always a very special place for me and my heart and I always look forward to coming to visit.

We’re looking forward to having you. Any last words of advice before you get here?

Never give up on pursuing the stuff that makes you feel good, even if it seems unlikely. If you get a physical sense of joy from anything in life, never let that go. Protect it and cherish it and hold onto it with all of your might. And party.

By Jessie Opoien | The Capital Times