My first album in over a decade, You’re Not Alone, came out earlier this month. As one does, I’ve been doing a lot of interviews to promote the album. I’ve been asked all the questions you’d expect—about my process, what the album means, what inspired the songs, and why it took so long to get a new album out.
That last question is easy. From the very start of my party adventure back in 1999, I had made it a conscious strategy to say yes to almost all opportunities that “felt right.” Even if a particular invitation didn’t make rational sense or even seemed like a bad idea, if my deeper instincts told me this was what I was supposed to do, I would follow the path where it took me. Over the past ten years especially, this approach took me to destinations far outside of music, and outside of my comfort zone. Those offers lead to more, and those to more still. They never really stopped. Over the last ten years I’ve written an advice column, had a radio show, made TV appearances, hosted a children’s game show, worked on a book, helped break a world record, produced other artists, played in other people’s bands, gone on a speaking tour that took me to all 50 states, and a few dozen other things. It’s been incredible. But before I’d even realized it, a considerable amount of time had passed, and largely unbeknownst to me, recording new ANDREW W.K. music wasn’t part of that time. In the middle of branching out into new and exciting adventures I honestly began to wonder if it ever would be again.
But the Party Gods pulled the stars into alignment, and jolted me with a striking bolt of mysterious inspiration, and after over two years of recording and mixing, You’re Not Alone is finally out in the world. And that brings us back to questions about the album, and my attempts to explain how it came to be, questions I’ve found extremely difficult to answer. But I’m going to give it my best, most noble and honest effort here about what the album is, what it means to me, and how I made it. And to do this, I have to travel back in time, to when I was five-years-old.
That’s when music really got its hooks in me. That’s when I fell in love with the feeling music gave me. It was a stirring of the soul so cataclysmic and so explosive, nothing else I’ve felt before—or since—has compared. This feeling was introduced to me by my piano teacher. I’d been taking piano lessons for several months, after having become more than passingly interested in the instrument about a year earlier. My dad had taken a few lessons and we had a piano in the house since I was born. Seeing and hearing him manipulate the large wooden machine with black and white buttons, entranced me.
My parents noticed this, and soon found a piano curriculum for young children called the Pedagogy program. The beauty of this program was that my main piano teacher was a student too, albeit one that was about 20 years older than I was. The Pedagogy program was run in cooperation with the University of Michigan School of Music. Part of their graduate student studies involved teaching young children piano. I was one of those children.