In Conversation with Andrew W.K. | Clash Magazine
Since his emergence with debut ‘Get Wet’ at the start of the millennium, Andrew W.K.’s name has come to be synonymous with joy, enthusiasm and, of course, partying.
Such is W.K.’s overriding commitment to the concept of ‘partying’ that he has almost transcended music, like a party Jesus ascending to a higher realm of speaking tours, book deals, mental health support accolades and podcasting. The last record he released that could be properly described as an Andrew W.K. record was way back in 2006 (‘Close Calls With Brick Walls’), and so you could be forgiven for assuming he had elected the Scroobius Pip path of becoming a ‘figure in musis’, rather than a mere musician.
But now the forces he calls ‘the party gods’ have led W.K. back to the mortal realm of music with ‘You’re Not Alone’. It’s a record that’s as dedicated to partying as ‘Get Wet’ and the other recordings he made as an energised youngster, but its content is informed by his a mature and considered definition of exactly what ‘partying’ entails.
For 2018’s Andrew W.K. to party is to embrace life to the maximum degree, to take your insecurities and dark thoughts and mould them into something life-affirming with the help of ‘the party gods’. Talking to him is not unlike talking to a preacher, or possibly even a cult leader… an individual hellbent on using every ounce of their charisma to help people see the world as they do. But for him that religion, that world outlook, is based around that intangible desire to celebrate our shared humanity and build a more party world.
CLASH: Over the past years you’ve become a published author, Oxford Union lecturer, respected mental health authority and a cartoon (in Adult Swim’s Uncle Grandpa). In many ways the Andrew W.K. of 2018 is much more than a musician. Were you always sure you’d release another album?
ANDREW W.K.: I was sure that I wanted to but didn’t necessarily know if it would ever happen! I had accepted the possibility that it may be beyond my control. Even a great deal of the activities you just listed there were the result of me relinquishing control to a destiny that brought about those sorts of opportunities. I didn’t dream that many of those things would happen, so turning over my own ambitions to follow a more mysterious path has allowed all these things to unfold.It’s been, at its worst, distressing and frightening and, at its best, completely surprising and delightful… but always interesting and meaningful.
CLASH: What brought you back?
ANDREW W.K.: Finding time to record and getting a record deal! It was just really practical issues. I’d been working on the album for many, many years, so it wasn’t as though there was any intentional delay. It was all quite chaotic and disorganised and there was no conscious plan to do anything, which is probably why so much time passed. When you’re partying very hard in a number of different directions or in an unlimited, explosive variety of methods, time can kind of go into a vortex! But all of a sudden there was an opportunity and it was time. Before that I would try to carve away time and then some incredible offer would come in to do something I never even dreamt of doing and it would be very hard to say no! I felt obligated to follow this path wherever it led me, even when it led me in a direction against my own rational, logical view of life for myself. It’s been very fulfilling and I’m thankful and don’t take for granted at all that it finally led to an album.