Glenn Beck and Andrew W.K. on Their No-Rules Partnership | By Paul Cantor
When it was announced in late April that Glenn Beck was giving Andrew W.K. a talk show on the Blaze, his radio-TV network, both sides of the political spectrum cocked an eyebrow. After all, a cagey conservative and left-leaning hard-rocker make for strange bedfellows.
But Beck is long-removed from his perch atop Fox’s cable news kingdom, and in March, he even left the Republican party altogether — a telling move. W.K., meanwhile, now pens a compelling Village Voice advice column. Whether it’s discussing depression, tackling atheism or coming out as transgender, the “Party Hard” singer has the answers. Last year, when he advised a liberal-leaning son to deal with his “right-wing asshole” dad by not picking sides of a political party, Beck invited him to appear on his show. A series of guest spots later, the idea for Andrew’s own show, America W.K. — Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. — was born.
We caught up with the unlikely pair to discuss their budding bromance, the challenges of turning a rocker into a talk radio host and parties of all sorts.
Glenn, what made Andrew W.K. and all that he’s about so appealing to you?
Beck: I saw Andrew as a guy who believed in some basic principles that I thought we always believed in: We have to be decent to each other; we have to start seeing people as people and not as political parties or policies or anything else but people. I saw him as a force for good and it’s the same thing that I’m trying to do. I’m trying to correct the error of my ways just as Andrew is trying to correct the error of his ways. We all make mistakes and now let’s move forward in a positive way and try to find people that are not basing everything on how you feel about the Keystone Oil pipeline or were you for or against the Iraqi surge
Have you been listening to his music?
Beck: [Laughs] I have listened to one song of Andrew’s, but it’s not. . .I’m going to be real honest with you: No, I haven’t. But I’m not going to him for his music. I’m going to him because I think he’s a very inspiring guy. And I don’t think Andrew’s coming to me for political philosophy. And that’s fine. The CEO of the Blaze is a woman who was the CEO of the Huffington Post. The President of Mercury Radio is an Orthodox Jew. We can sit here and talk about the things we don’t have in common all day long, but they’re decent, they’re smart and we actually like each other.
Andrew, you’ve had other offers to do radio. What made you want to do this show with the Blaze?
W.K.: Some of the other talk radio opportunities, they were with similar networks that people associated with a certain point of view. I was expected to maintain or not go against that point of view too hard. They didn’t want to tell me what to say, but there was an understanding: “This is the theme we’re working in.” All this was, was Glenn saying, “Do you want to have your own show?” I said, “I guess, OK.” He said, “All right, great.” That was it.
What was your initial reaction?
W.K.: I was just really surprised. More that he would associate with me. I sometimes feel like I bring [people] down. [The reactions were] not all positive, including from his audience, who were very skeptical. “Who is this guy? He looks like an idiot. He’s not educated.” Which is all true, including looking like an idiot.
Glenn obviously has a reputation himself. Did that concern you?
W.K.: I would have to literally stay in my bedroom with my door locked if I didn’t want to associate with people who might be different than me. Like the members of my band, I didn’t grow up with them. I met them for the first time at the video shoot for “Party Hard.” You can’t help but interact with people that are different than you if you really want to live in the world. I want to be where I’m not supposed to be. If I have anything to offer the world, it’s going to be more valuable in places where it doesn’t already exist.