An Interview with Andrew W.K. | Media Mikes | By Eric Schmitt
I have been listening to Andrew W.K.’s music since “I Get Wet” was released in 2001. The music has such a positive vibe and energy to it, that I would almost call it “addictive”. Much of the time, people attribute negative connotation to addiction, but I feel in the case of Andrew WK, can you really be faulted by forming a habit for music and messages that bring you up from the darkest places and make you feel alive? Notoriously fan friendly, motivational and a seemingly endless fountain of “life”, Andrew W.K. is someone that I have long waited to meet, and I finally got my chance before his full band performance at the State Theater in St. Petersburg, FL, on January 29th.
Eric Schmitt – When did you decide that your music should take a positive approach in the hard rock and metal genres?
Andrew W.K. – It’s a great question. Even more so than lyrically or ideologically, the big question for me early on was whether to use major or minor keys. I like all types of music, both major and minor chords, but I was always, in terms of energy, really driven by chromatic minor music. Like traditional heavy metal, especially very brutal heavy metal. It was very aggressive and I always drew great energy from it’s power. I wanted to do that, but I never felt I could do it as well as the masters. I had this strong feeling, like a pinpoint where I could use this major key, but I didn’t know if people would like it. I had these doubts that it somehow wouldn’t work, or the metal community wouldn’t like it. I remember very clearly coming back from this family trip, where I decided “okay, I’m just going to do it. I’m going to make this music that’s in my head.” I could hear how it sounded, and I just had to believe that I could do it. And it all formed from that, the major key is a cheerful sound, and everything just formed from that cheerful sound.
E.S. – How have you seen some of the positivity of your music manifest in your fan base and other external areas?
A.W.K. – I never initially thought it would be a positive thing. Music itself makes you feel good. Music of all sorts, even if it’s a sad song, angry song; I don’t think anyone would listen to music to feel physically worse. It has a good feeling – it’s magical really. I feel that any music you put out there has the ability to generate that feeling in people. Certainly, when you can add to that already positive feeling in music, a positive message, or specifically focus on getting motivated and powered up, feeling good about life, then it gets amplified by a billion times! You fuse these two things, cheerful music and positive mindset, and it goes through the roof. So I was really excited and very influenced by people reacting to the music I was putting out early on – finding positivity in it. So I said, “okay, I’m going to commit to this”. A lot of the lyrics aren’t positive in a blatant way, they’re kind of all over the place, so it was really people finding that in it. I definitely wanted to be cheered up myself, so when I saw it was working for other people, it sort of became a team effort. We were using this music and a Party mind-set as a centerpiece to build around.
E.S. – Describe your mentality when writing music – specifically when piecing together the Wolf, which ventured into more serious territory than “I Get Wet”. For instance, “Never Let Down” is a significantly different song than anything that was on “I Get Wet”.
A.W.K. – Well, there wasn’t a whole lot of rhyme or reason to it. A lot of the songs on the second album, “The Wolf”, were actually written at the same time as the “I Get Wet” songs. Some of them before. I guess I just chose to make the first album, like it will be these types of songs. Then the second album I would open it up to more tempos. But also, I think the first album started this party, then the second album was almost like singing about how that felt. Again, I didn’t intend for it to be that way. A lot of the lyrics and feelings that I got across on the second album were my amazement that any of this was happening, and recognizing it and trying to amplify it. It was “here’s the party starting“, and then “this is what it feels like”.