Growing up in the granola town of Ann Arbor, Mich., and nearby Ypsilanti was an inspiring experience for entertainer Andrew W.K. The arts community in both cities led W.K. down his “Party Hard” path.
“I wouldn’t be doing anything I’m doing now had I not had the experiences and gotten to meet all the folks I did in those formative years,” W.K. says.
“All the amazing musicians I got to meet, and different people and older kids in my high school that were very independent thinkers and real radical and very motivated and sort of self-reliant in their ability to make things happen. It was a lot of good role models from a real young age.”
Andrew W.K. could be called a multi-hyphenate entertainer. The singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, entertainer, motivational speaker and music producer is now opening for Black Sabbath as a DJ spinning heavy metal tunes. The tour comes to US Airways Center on Friday, August 30.
College Times: You’ve really done so many different things in your career. That’s quite admirable.
Andrew W.K.: I appreciate that. When these opportunities come up, it would be absurd to say no. If it’s something I haven’t had a lot of experience with or knowledge of, I can’t turn away this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You’ll figure it out as you go. No matter what, you’ll have some intense experience or adventure just trying it. I’ve been very lucky and never take any of these chances for granted. I try to always, always do my best to make the best of them — for myself and for all the other folks that would love to have these chances for themselves.
How is it to tour with Sabbath?
It’s like a dream. I can’t believe it’s really happening. We’re four shows in now and it still feels like an “I pinched myself kind of fantasy.” It’s overwhelming in the best way. It’s a life-changing adventure each and every time we get to do it.
What can fans expect from the show?
They’re about to see the greatest heavy metal band in the world and one of the greatest human achievements ever. I consider their music to go beyond music and affect the human race in general. There’s a palpable anticipation before the doors open — even days and weeks leading up to the show. People have been waiting their whole lives for this chance. I take that and ride it and amplify it. I feel the same exact way. I share the excitement with everybody there. I think they can tell that no one’s more surprised or shocked that I’m getting to do this than I am. I just play the best metal tunes that I can and Black Sabbath hits the stage. It’s a really, really crazy experience.
I’m assuming you listened to Sabbath growing up?
Absolutely. It’s one of the groups that is so fundamental to culture. Not that they’ve just had influence on music — rock or other metal. Their presence over all these years has an impact on human race in general. I really mean that. It goes beyond a kind of guitar tone or a type of vocal or rhythm. It goes into sensations that can come from music, that are just human sensations. They’ve changed the world — not just music.
Have you been working on new material?
Thank you for asking that. I have been working on a new album, but there have been so many amazing opportunities and offers and adventures that it’s not been hard for me to say, “I’ll record my album next month. This winter finish the new album and continue touring really heavily next year.” I used to feel I could plan out my life a lot more. In the earlier days, I sort of felt like I was in control of it and planning it out. More recently — especially over the past five years, maybe the last two — I’ve completely let go and there’s no way I could plan to have this life in the first place. It’s almost kind of arrogant to think that I have had any responsibility for what I’ve gotten to do. I don’t know what it is. It’s luck or it’s destiny, but I feel like it’s definitely out of my control. All that I’m supposed to do is show up, say yes and do my best. Whoever is in charge of this thing call “my life,” I bow down to them and let them take me on this path. I just embrace wherever the rollercoaster takes me next.
What else do you have planned this year?
Some of them will be surprises. Stay tuned. More adventures, more new experiences. As I continue down this party path I hope that many people will continue to travel the road with me. It’s certainly been a group effort and I’m very thankful to everyone who’s believed in it, stood by me and continued to extract some kind of value from this party profession.