A Very Heady Talk with Andrew W.K. | Spike Carter | Vanity Fair
Andrew Wilkes-Krier better known as Andrew W.K.—defies even the most persistent attempts at categorization. A party-rock superhero, easily recognized by his filthed-up all-white uniform (picture a Robert Ryman painting after a debaucherous night out) and now infamous bloody nose, A.W.K. exploded onto the scene in 2001, with his debut I Get Wet (which included the massive hit “Party Hard”). Since then, the classically trained pianist’s career has splintered off into a seemingly infinite set of paths. He’s been—among other things—a motivational lecturer turned advice columnist (Village Voice), a children’s-show host (Cartoon Network’s Destroy Build Destroy), and a nightclub owner (downtown N.Y.C.’s Santos Party House). Least expected of all perhaps, the man recently accepted an offer to host a free-form radio show about life itself from none other than Glenn Beck on the latter’s conservative-leaning network, The Blaze. Two months after debuting America W.K. (Saturdays from 10 A.M. to 12 P.M. E.S.T., afterwards available in podcast form), episodes have covered a range of topics from depression to the human spirit to Andrew’s experience almost becoming U.S. cultural ambassador to Bahrain. I partied with Andrew by phone to talk about radio, the mind versus the heart, and playing Twin Peaks’ BOB . . .
VF.com: What exactly constitutes a “party” in your view? Have you partied yet today?
Andrew W.K.: Yes, I have today—I just took some vitamins. That constitutes a party for me. I would define “partying” as a very conscientious celebration of existence in all its aspects. A constant effort to remain aware of the overwhelming grandeur of that experience, and celebrate it as a positive thing, even in its most challenging or painful moments. Now, the word “partying” beyond that—or within that, rather—is free to mean everything that constitutes a celebration for that individual. So, that’s why taking vitamins counts as partying—and that’s a good example because you’re trying to formally extend the quality or improve the quality or deepen the quality of your physical existence. But I chose that word to fixate on many years ago because it was the simplest word that sums up all these feelings of excitement and joy very easily. And I felt that anyone could relate to it—even people who think they can’t relate to it. Not even liking partying counts as partying! The most basic premise—and this is how I’ve thought about it perpetually—is in your own life, the experience of having a life at all, trying to build from a foundation of believing that it’s good. And that’s probably been the biggest challenge for me, personally.
Your career as an “entertainer” is incredibly eclectic — was this expansiveness part of your initial design or no?
A.W.K.: Well, these kinds of areas have gotten harder for me to even sum up myself. If you’d asked me 10 years ago, I probably would’ve thought that it was all very intentional, and I had a plan and that I was setting goals and working towards them. But going back even to the very beginning 20 years ago with the very first inklings of how this started, I was never really in control of any of it! I was just present. There are some other forces at work, difficult to describe in and of themselves, but whatever they are they’re the ones that have been making this happen. Sometimes I think that those forces are just the desires and will of a lot of other people. A lot of other people’s wills combined are stronger than just mine.