More Than Just A Party With Andrew W.K. | Frank Magazine | By Mike Gorman
“I get a lot of rejuvenating power from these kinds of events” says Palo Alto-born punk-rock singer/musician Andrew W. K. of his up-coming show at the Marquee. “It’s thrilling of course to play at big festival stages, and every mode of performance and every place has it’s own value, but for me personally I can walk away after a show like this with a certain kind of adrenalin, a certain kind of rush. I don’t know if it’s just that it’s staying close to my roots, or if it’s just something this music is meant to do, but there’s a certain magic that comes from these shows that is valuable to me, and keeps me going.”
This will be far from Andrew’s first foray into a Halifax venue. He’s been here so many times, even he’s not entirely sure what the final count is. “It’s gotta be more than three… maybe closer to the sixth or so. I’ve certainly been to Halifax more than any other part of Canada, let alone many other place sin the world. To me it’s familiar enough to remember and certainly to look forward to coming back again.” He reckons he first rolled into town around 2002, and then in 2004, before deciding that the city worked as proving ground for his typically social performances.
“I sorta started to develop a show, specifically in Canada, came up with it there and tested it there, thanks to the open minded and very party-people in Canada. Now it’s fully developed, and I’m bringing it back to Halifax in all it’s glory.”
He returns once again to the Marquee on the evening of March 28. It’s at least his third time to the Gottingen Street cabaret, which has gone through a handful of name changes in the intervening years since he first and last passed through. Andrew himself wondered if it was the same location he was returning to. “You see that all over the place, different owners or what not, but if it keeps it fresh, then I’m glad that it’s the same place as last time, because it was a very good vibe, and very celebratory atmosphere.”
“It’s not a concert” he said, speaking of the up-coming one man show. “I of course still play with my band, and I really enjoy that, but since the beginning of my career, I also played solo shows, where I was in complete control, without other musicians there, and for various reasons it stayed important to me to continue that style of performance. I think it’s made me better as a front man with my band, or without, and I certainly like the spontaneity that can come with that. There’s certainly a lot of vulnerability there, but it’s important that people understand that, like, I still have my keyboard, I still have my drum machines, and I’m still playing loud, high energy versions off all my albums, so it’s certainly not a quiet show, or less intense show. It’s just more like a party.”
Video shot (likely against club rules) during his last appearance at the then-Paragon show an earlier version of this very-much Maritime-esq party, a chaotic mess of bodies dancing and shouting, the stage as it is mostly invisible, with only the all-white dressed, long haired figure of W.K. standing a few feet above their heads, blasting a rendition of his song “I Get Wet”.
“It’s very interactive, when it’s at it’s best, and very up-close and personal, and I’d like to think that the people who came to be in that room with me that night are so inclined that they can sort of feel like they’re my band, that we’re all singing the songs together…. there’s nothing wrong with a more traditional set up, where you’re presenting things to an audience from a stage far away, but the ideas of these shows in particular is to get that party energy up, and feel like the whole room is a stage. Then I’m an audience member as much as anyone else, and everyone else is a performer to a varying degree.”
In conversation with punk-rock singer/musician Andrew W. K., you get the sense fairly early on that the best most people expect out of him when speaking to the media is a gruffly grunted “party” and little else. It is, after all, both his joie de vive and reason d’etre, elevated from a noun or verb describing a group of people engaged in a social activity to a five letter life affirmation. It is both the answer and the question, and for some, that’s where their knowledge of the life of Andrew Wilkes Krier begins and ends.
“There’s a lot of folks that were familiar with what I do, and were expecting an advice column to really just be the word “party” written like 600 times, and that be an answer” says Andrew of his weekly column in the legendary New York City publication, the Village Voice, which has been printing his work since early January. “In a way that would count” he jokes, “that would be just fine and probably say just about as much as I could ever say… but hopefully what the column actually is gives them a similar sense of excitement or optimism or energy they can apply. It’s been very fun, very thought provoking for me. I mean, the fact that people come to me with any thought, any question, let alone what i consider to be very personal and intense questions about their own life, it means a lot, and I do just try to take it as close to heart as I can.”
“I don’t know if I have the authority to tell anyone what to do, let alone myself, but sometimes it’s just about reaching out to someone and having them respond which can be very helpful.” He says that the column process has been helpful to him as well, lending a hand to get him into the head space to write his first book, a “non fiction, hopefully very stimulating book about partying”. Of course, he’ll get to that when he has time, what with the column, an up-coming safari documentary (aptly named Party Safari), his busy tour schedule, and just coming off touring with Black Sabbath as a guest Metal DJ. Add on that over a decade of guest appearances on various televisions shows and films, along with a few starring roles himself, such as host of the Cartoon Network program Destroy Build Destroy, and a short lived MTV2 talk show Your Friend, Andrew W. K.
Oh, and that time he was announced as cultural emissary to the nation of Bahrain in 2012, a decision by the US State Department that was reconsidered just two days later. He’s kept himself so busy with side projects, that he hasn’t had time to get into the studio and release a new album in five years. Says W.K. though, he doesn’t regret how busy his life has become beyond his music.
“No one is more amazed at what I have gotten the chances to do than I am. Most of the examples we’ve talked about were wonderful examples of things that found their way to me, and I owe it to all these people that extended these chances and opportunities to do stuff like this. I never would have set out 10 years ago and said “okay, I want to have an advice column, and I want to go on a safari and have someone film it, and write a book”, I just wanted to party! And this adventure, of partying, or rather this career of partying, becoming professional at it or whatever, it has allowed all of these things to happen. And it really does seem quite unlimited at this point.”
“In a way, I could say that it all falls under the category of entertainment, or culture to some degree” says Andrew, “and while I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting goals, or being very particular about what you want to achieve, but my goal now is just to do everything and anything I can that comes my way… and hopefully it’s entertaining for other folks, and entertaining for me. No one is more entertained by all of this than I am, and I think that’s important. I think it’s important for all performers, people who do what they do, that they don’t lose the joy and fascination and surprise, even shock, at their daily life.” For W. K., life doesn’t look to be slowly down any time soon.