WALL STREET JOURNAL: Andrew’s Oxford Speech And The Philosophy of Partying

Andrew W.K. to Speak at Oxford | The Wall Street Journal | By Tad Hendrikson

College campuses across the country are emptying out for summer, with inspiring speeches sending graduates off into the real world.

It remains to be seen whether the pop-metal singer Andrew W.K.’s lecture, “Andrew W.K. and the Philosophy of Partying,” scheduled for Friday at the Oxford Union, will be one of them.

The debate society’s past speakers include Winston Churchill, Richard Nixon, the Dalai Lama, Albert Einstein and Michael Jackson.

“Andrew W.K.’s break into the public consciousness came via his recording career, but only hinted at what was to follow,” said Nick Fowler, who spearheaded the booking through Oxford’s Rock Society. “The shock waves of energy and positivity that it created have permeated the globe ever since. An incredible musician, and public speaker, his appearance at the Union makes absolute sense.”

While technically not a commencement speech, Andrew Wilkes-Krier, who has called himself Andrew W.K. since he was a boy, said the coming keynote for about 450 Union members (which is made of students and alumni) and their guests will be his typical party-positive message.

It’s not his first time at the lectern. Mr. Wilkes-Krier’s first such talk at New York University in 2006 lasted four hours.

“It was a life-changing experience,” he said. “I realized that talking with people could be just as powerful of a way of connecting as music.”

Mr. Wilkes-Krier, 35 years old, said he struggled with depression growing up and battled it with the most positive word he could think of: partying. Now living near Bryant Park, he arrived in New York City at age 18 with a willingness to play any gig offered. By 2001, he made his major label debut with “I Get Wet,” whose catchy anthems included “Party Hard,” “It’s Time to Party” and “Party Til You Puke.”

Whether celebrated or attacked, the album stood out. Originally giving “I Get Wet” a 0.6 out of 10, the music website Pitchfork has since changed its tune, awarding the 2012 reissue an 8.6 and a mea culpa.

Other albums followed, but Mr. Wilkes-Krier has also become a talking head, with a weekly “Ask Andrew” advice column in the Village Voice and frequent media appearances in places like NPR and the Cartoon Network. Along with a steady stream of tweets, he has a book on the way, “The Party Bible.” He also continues to perform in his band and with others, and he co-owns Santos Party House, a downtown nightclub.

“At one point people who I respected said I needed to focus on a single point of light and it would be more powerful that way,” he said. “But I am focused on one thing: Being me. My role model, in a way, is Santa Claus, in that he has this really good feeling about him, and there is no one else like him.”

Photos taken at the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue on May 23rd by Philip Montgomery.