Interview: Andrew W.K. | Brightest Young Things
Andrew W.K.’s I Get Wet was released in 2001. Metalheads recommended it because the drummer was in Obituary. In 2014 Andrew W.K. hosted a children’s television show. And wrote an advice column for The Village Voice. In addition to releasing a highly influential metal/party album and working with kids and giving sound advice he’s also opened a successful venue in Manhattan, put out a record of piano instrumentals, lectured at Yale and irked negative people around the world.
Next month, Andrew W.K. will do something he’s never done: perform on a cruise. Andrew W.K. will be on 2015′s Shiprocked. We’ll be there too. So we began with an obvious question…
Brightest Young Things: What are you currently wearing?
Andrew W.K.: Boxer shorts, socks and a white t-shirt.
A.W.K.: This is correct.
BYT: How often do you two have to do laundry?
A.W.K.: She’s more vigilant about, like, washing in general. Washing her clothes, washing her hair, washing her teeth. washing the dishes. I do not have a very good washing track record. I just washed my teeth for the first time in like two weeks. I’m not proud of this, it’s rather disgusting. I haven’t washed my body in three weeks, which is not something I’m proud of. I haven’t washed laundry or dishes in ages. Again, I’m ashamed by these things. Not deeply ashamed, but I’d like to wash myself and the world around me a bit better.
BYT: Are you more worried about picking up a disease due to filth or activity on stage?
A.W.K.: I’ve never been worried about picking up a disease. I actually find the filth has bolstered my immune system. I think wallowing in bacteria has actually increased my ability to withstand more threats to my health. I guess I am proud of that. I’m very proud of that. I’ve traveled around the world, knock on wood, and am pretty hearty due to the amount of filth I have or I’m just riddled with it and the bacteria can’t get a foothold.
I have had some injuries on a stage but I’m not worried about it. You heal up.
BYT: We’re talking right now because we’re both going to be on Shiprocked. How often do you say no to things?
A.W.K.: From time to time. It has happened. It’s not my usual go-to. You have to trust your instincts. You also have to learn when not to trust them and that’s much harder.
BYT: What is something you’ve said no to that you regret? You willingly played The Gathering and that didn’t go well but you don’t seem to regret that.
A.W.K.: No, that was one of the high points for me in terms of an intense and memorable performing experience.
That’s exactly why I’m glad I say yes to things. Those are the life experiences that change you. That was a tremendous experience.
(Long pause) I try to block them out so I don’t have to remember them.
One time this girl at a venue, actually at the venue my friends and I opened, Santo’s Party House, I was DJing and this woman asked to give me oral sex and I said no. I guess I don’t really regret it because she looks like she could have had a disease. But again I’m so bolstered by the bacteria I might have been fine.
BYT: I don’t know how you’ve managed to stay so relevant and loveable for the last 15 years. I remember going to the 2002 Warped Tour in Cincinnati just to see you and I couldn’t tell you one other band on that bill.
A.W.K.: That’s very kind of you although you have a selective memory…
BYT: Of course! That’s not a knock on any other act and I’m sure they’re all very nice people but none of them have a Village Voice column or TV shows…
A.W.K.: In your eyes, and I appreciate that very much, but there are other people that would say these are signs of pure failure. I’m glad you interpret those as a good thing.
I have no answer for you. The only reason why I’m still here is because of partying. That’s the only logical explanation. Every other explanation falls flat.
BYT: Yes, it’s partying, but it’s also a very reasonable approach to humanity. You seem like a realistic humanist.
A.W.K.: I have heard that word before. Is being a humanist just liking humans and supporting their efforts not to die?
BYT: Pretty much.
A.W.K.: Hey, how can I not support that? Take care of your own. I guess I always thought it was good to help humans not die.
BYT: But it’s also weird because you’re aging well. You don’t look like shit and you have a growing fan base and the more they know about you, the more they like you. You’re no longer just a kid from the hardcore scene in Michigan or a New York artist. How do you view yourself? When you think of Andrew WK, what comes to mind?
A.W.K.: Sometimes I think about it, how I exist in the world, but there’s too much to do most of the time. I think about my tasks. Right now I’m thinking about this interview. Tasks. Doing what I’m told to show. Showing up and doing the best I can.
After a month or so you look back but most of the time it really does feel like I’m being pulled along by a per-ordained destiny or plan that I don’t know about.
I used to think I had control. I had my vision and all that, going way, way back, going 17, 18 years ago, when I started working on this.
But the more I do it, there’s no way I can plan these things. More amazing things are happening, things I’m really excited about, that I never even had the nerve to dreamed about. I wouldn’t have said those things are possible but they’re happening. I’m a big believer of showing up to the party and the party will throw me where it’s supposed to go.
I believe that destiny is not in my power.