People sometimes get confused by Andrew W.K.. He’s a fascinating figure full of contradictions – a hard-partying deep-thinker, clean-cut but physically dirty, classically handsome but obviously smelly, producing music that is sometimes incredibly clever, sometimes incredibly stupid, and often both at once. He’s surrounded by mystery, and sometimes mistaken for parody, but make no mistake of it: Andrew W.K. is simultaneously a genius, a hero and just a dude doing his best.
Let’s jump into 2001’s breakout single Party Hard, the first track on his debut album I Get Wet, for three and a bit minutes of big-ass, anthemic life-grasping.
Here he is, the man himself, clad in his trademark perma-grubby white t-shirt and jeans, combing his hair in a grimy, shittily-lit bathroom. It’s the first glimpse that the world had of Andrew W.K., and the shot is framed by a toilet. On the one hand we’re presented with a rock star, and on the other with a reminder of the most basic of human functions.
There’s a lot of white in his eyes, isn’t there? Also a (probably party-related) forehead injury, which showed up on the cover of the NME the week that the song dropped. Even though he looks pretty scary at this point, it’s clear he’s also got pretty exceptional bone structure – check out the symmetry of those cheekbones. Andrew toyed with modelling earlier in his career, but modelling’s loss was partying’s gain.
It’s all sinister, this intro, with jarring cuts to a dramatic-looking Andrew interrupting the shoelace-tying sequence. It’s an unusual decision, to preface a song about partying with this foreboding, menacing vibe, but there’s that contradiction thing for you. Several of the songs on I Get Wet have a similar juxtaposition, but lyrically, with choruses about partying surrounding dark, violent verses.