Andrew W.K. on Ottawa, Partying, and Figuring Out “How Not To Be Dead” | Ottawa Life | By Kimberly Lochhead
We should probably make Andrew W. K. an honorary Canadian — he’s a singer-songwriter, multi-talented instrumentalist, author, motivational speaker and on a mission to unite the human race through the power of positive partying. Describing his shows as loud, chaotic or electrifying really underestimate his performance. Once he pushes himself past the point of expending so much energy and almost puking, he continues until he’s collapsed backstage, drenched in sweat and gasping for breath. For him, the idea is to give everything he has and if you’ve seen a show, you know he never fails to accomplish this. Of interest to many people is Andrew W. K’s partying philosophy. Contrary to regular thought which sees people working hard through the week to then let loose on the weekends, he says we should all be doing what we love, since success is derived from being motivated:
“To me, partying and partying hard is doing what you love to do every day and that’s the way life should be. So to me, it is absolutely possible to party 365, 24/7.”
On March 27, the Party God is coming to Ottawa’s Mavericks where he’ll be performing in a similar style to last year’s Party Messiah Tour, playing a solo show in an intimate venue. Using his keyboard, drum machine and mega microphone to play songs from all his albums, the show promises to be a more personal version of his heavy metal rock n’ roll music. Taking a break from writing his first book, The Party Bible, Andrew W. K. had a candid conversation with OLM about his many visits our great country which then turned into philosophizing about life, naturally.
OLM: How were you inspired to come up with this solo-model show?
This type of show at Mavericks is a show that I sort of created in Canada — it’s just me by myself. It was a chance to present my material in a whole new way that is more intimate. I love playing with my band, but in this way, the audience becomes the band — their energy, singing along, commradery and just feel-good vibes fills up that space. I’ve fine-tuned and really improved it since I first started touring like this. I’m really excited to come back because I feel really indebted to Ottawa and Canada for helping me come up with this whole new type of show. I love concerts but when you’re on stage it can feel like you’re just presenting something to a group of people who are very far away from you. What I’ve always tried to do is create a sense that we’re all somehow participating and building it together in that space. And what I’ve come to realize about Canada is that there’s just a common enthusiasm for having fun.
OLM: What’s the most chaotic show you’ve ever played?
London, England at a venue called the Old Blue Last. I was performing one of these solo shows and it was just complete pandemonium. I’m used to chaos and blurring the line between the audience and stage, but this went into a whole other realm and it actually became quite violent, which was very intense. In those situations I certainly want to make sure everyone is O.K. but interestingly enough, although there was a lot of blood, people still had smiles on their faces. It was a humbling and overwhelming experience but definitely memorable and meaningful.
OLM: To maintain your incredible energy during your performance, is there anything in particular that you eat?
Nothing, really. One thing I’ve learned — and most people can relate to this — is not to eat too much, especially too close to when you’re about to expend that kind of energy. You do require fuel for energy but when you have too much fuel too close to when you explode that energy, you may end up exploding that fuel in the form of vomit. I’ve learned to really bide my time so I can go for maximum impact and not waste my energy. A lot of people told me I would be sick and tired of playing these songs over and over again but I find it the opposite. I really just enjoy it more and more the longer I’ve gotten to party like this. The music really does the work and the more you give yourself over to that, the people and the experience — there’s just so much adrenaline and power to be alive and it’s just one of those moments (and this is why people like challenging sports and things like that), it just takes you out of all your other thoughts besides the thing that’s actually happening. Music is a great tool to get in that present moment.
OLM: How did you transition into motivational speaking and how do you stay positive? Do you find it challenging to maintain your own level of positivity while helping others be positive?
A lot of the times, I’m just trying to figure these things out for myself and then share that or even discuss and learn fromAndrew W.K. – photo by A. Strasser other people as well. It’s never really been, or felt that I had something figured out that people were asking me about. It was more I wanted to try to get cheered up and be involved in that, which is why I got into music and I wanted to talk about getting cheered up in general, ya know, what is that all about? It’s good to have a lifelong journey to try to feel good as a human being or even contemplate what it is to feel good. It’s always evolving for me and I’m always trying to find new ways to think about something. Sharing is important for me to get others’ views and ask if they have any insights that I haven’t thought about before. To me, it’s a group effort to get to the best feeling place we can and it turns out, talking and words are very effective for that. Motivational speaking is also really cool because I get to meet a lot of people I wouldn’t normally because they don’t listen to loud music or go to concerts, but they’re alive and they’re thinking about how to feel as good as they can in life, so I can relate to them that way. Just like there’s an infinite amount of ways notes can be arranged in a song, there’s an unlimited amount of ways we can think about this. I’m just an adventurer along with everyone else.
OLM: In crossing over from music to these other areas, you’re really giving people insights into who you are. Some performers have a stage persona that they separate from in real life. Are there any other things you want to do with your artistry?
It’s come to a point now where I’m doing things I never would have dreamed of. I always like the idea of who knows what will happen next. What I’m focused on is this very basic idea of an adventure in what it is to exist at all and trying to tear away at what it is to exist. Creative arts and culture are a really effective way to do that and figure out what it’s like to not be dead. Besides the book, I’d like to get another album done and do more touring but I’ve also learned that just seeing what happens can be most exciting. I like to be surprised and I see things continuing that way.
OLM: Has the fact that you’ve really opened up yourself and gone into these other avenues made you feel a sense of vulnerability?
At first, maybe a bit and also I had a lot of people that I trusted and very much do, tell me that it was a big mistake. One painter that I really admire said everyone human only has so much energy or light that they can focus on one spot and if you take that light and diffuse it on many different areas, then it’s going to be weaker as opposed to focusing on just one. It was really funny coming from him because he has a lot of diverse artwork. I understood what he was saying, but I told him, well my one thing that I’m focusing my theme of light on is being everything every day and the thing about that is that you can do anything within it and be consistent. I wanted to be a person who could do anything and make a space for myself and others where that was not only felt possible but was the whole point.
The Prince of Party | Ottawa Citizen | By Shawn Hill
Where: Mavericks, 221 Rideau St.
When: March 27, doors open at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $20, spectrasonic.com
Andrew W.K. likes to party.
Now, we’re not talking lamp shade on the head, stumble down the stairs party. Andrew (Fetterly Wilkes-Krier) W.K. embraces party as a transcendental way of life, a movement, a manifesto wherein by partying at a constant level, one can find an emotional state akin to true happiness. On March 27, Andrew W.K. brings his solo party extravaganza to Ottawa where the concept for this stripped down arrangement originated just a few short years ago.
“Ottawa is a very noble place” explained Andrew briefly during a phone chat with the Citizen from his residence in New York City. “In Ottawa, my shows were more reliably unhinged. There is something about Canada [where] I don’t have to explain why the party is happening.” Instead of getting on the bus with his band, Andrew’s solo touring gear includes not much more than a microphone, a keyboard and a drum machine. The lanky frontman invites the audience to essentially become the spectacle as evidenced by a rollicking YouTube post of the musician being swallowed up by an adoring crowd in Portland. “There is one on one potential with my show, it is up to the people that fill the room. The room is the stage, everyone is performing, even the staff. It is up close, personal and intense. I like the pressure.”
Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan is about as middle America as it gets and, as Andrew pointedly commented “It’s good to have a box to break out of. I felt I could do something with music, then it became part of my life. I am not surprised at getting surprised. Like walking, music is a part of my life. I used it as a centrepiece and, by age 20, I was a professional partier.”
Hold the phone, how can one party professionally?
“Well,” explains the 34 year old dynamo ,”once you set down a path, it will take you where you want. I try to use every tool in the toolbox to achieve a party state of mind. I always had jobs to pay the rent, work 9 to 5 and then party. I moved to NYC when I was 20. Everything is so much more accelerated here. I just said to myself ‘What is the most fun thing to do?’ and then the party became all encompassing. Alot of people said I couldn’t become a professional partier. That was 14 years ago.”
Blowing up in 2002 with his massive I Get Wet record, Andrew’s blood-soaked face resplendent on the cover became an instant icon for the party generation. The previously released Party Til You Puke EP and Party Hard EP set the tone for his brand of histrionic rock and roll mash ups.
“Over the last six years, things started getting very unusual.” One such partnership involves Lil Bub, a decidedly strange looking feline with whom Andrew has been collaborating. “Everybody loves Lil Bub,” enthuses Andrew. “We worked together when I sang at her birthday party. Then Lil Bub came to my 24-hour drum marathon in Times Square and we did a holiday special together. I am open to opportunity.”
Currently Andrew and Lil Bub can be seen on YouTube performing Star Party to a trippy background, some wailing saxophone and a space fish. Google it and watch the action for it is indeed quite odd.
Showbiz aside, this workaholic is also the owner of Santo’s Party House in New York (“an architectural manifestation of partying”) and a budding author currently working on his first book, The Party Bible.
“I like a challenge, keeping myself surprised” states Andrew on staying so busy. “I put a lot of good energy out, I lecture about partying and I pull energy in from the audience. It is a group effort to party and that yields pure, encouraging energy”
“I’ve been working at partying for so long. It is the easiest activity, yet it is vast. I am having fun doing my thing.”
© The Ottawa Citizen
Andrew W.K. Talks Pizza And Bodily Fluids | Apartment613 | By Jean McLernon
I knew well in advance I was going to talk food with Andrew W.K. during our interview. He’s known for two things: being the King of Partying and loving Pizza. The rock musician is known for his fast paced singles like Party Hard and She is Beautiful, and his concerts are typically a blur of dancing, head banging and of course, partying.
“The pizza guitar!” W.K. laughs, surprised I had picked up that detail from Pitchfork. The guitar has many toppings, and I wonder if W.K. would like it less had it only come with cheese and pepperoni. Apparently W.K. will eat anything on pizza except pineapple. “No more sweet things,” he says, noting that while he used to really enjoy sweets he now prefers spicy.
Pizza is W.K.’s post-show snack for all of his concerts, but he never eats before a show. With the amount of physical activity he does during a performance, he would definitely get sick if he ate more than two hours beforehand. For some reason, drinking is fine as long as it isn’t carbonated.
“I’ve never puked, but I’ve been puked on before” W.K. says, “But it’s not the worst bodily fluid to be covered in. I’d say diarrhea is worse.” He immediately lists off bodily fluids from least offensive to be covered with to the most offensive: “Sweat, spit, then puke, then diarrhea, then blood.” Having been to several Andrew W.K. concerts, I’m no stranger to his comfort with bodily fluids. His most recognized insignia is a portrait of himself bleeding from the nose. With the fan base that likes to gets rough, W.K. insists it’s all in good fun. I start mentally picking out a disposal outfit to wear to the concert.
Thankfully our conversation turns back to pizza. “I tell people this all the time, but Canada has the best pizza,” he says, telling me we have better pie here in Canada than some better known destinations, and he’s toured them all. He asks for my recommendation for after his March 27th show at Mavericks, and I immediately scramble. Ottawa has no shortage of amazing pizza restaurants (Zazaza’s being a favourite), but what was going to be open at 2am on a Thursday night when his show finished? Ottawa was a government town, and one that didn’t cater to the weeknight partiers.
I explain this to W.K., which leads me to my second question: how to get Ottawa to party. Sure, we’ve all got a friend who can party longer than we can. But can they get down as long as Andrew W.K, The King of Partying? I ask him how he prepares for his concerts, looking for pointers. After all, he turns the majority of his shows into giant blowouts, and an intimate space like Mavericks bodes well for that kind of atmosphere.
“This show is different – it’s without my band. I love touring with my band, I love playing with them but this is a different kind of show.” W.K. will be performing solo on stage with a drum machine and his keyboard. The best part for him is that he almost gets to be part of the crowd, which is what really feeds him as a performer. He plays off the energy of the people in his audience as much as they get into what he’s playing.
Maybe that’s the secret to great partying: pay attention to the people around you and feed off their energy. You’ll have to see for yourself this Thursday night. And for God’s sake don’t eat too much pizza beforehand.