No one has mastered the art of partying like Andrew W.K. For those who are unaware, he’s just released a compilation of his monthly advice column in Japan, has been featured in the January ’09 Esquire and is basically my new messiah. For those who haven’t had the pleasure, an Andrew W.K. party is truly a religious experience. Click here for tour dates.
What follows is our chat before the show, a photo gallery of winnebago/live shots and a full transcription of the interview (yeah, we’re starting to actually do some work around here). Enjoy!
If the picture browser is taking too long and you’re dying to see the rest click here for a raw gallery.
The transcription is after the jump!
DJ: Hey, everybody I’m DJ and with me as always is…
Roy: Roy, how’s it going everyone? (rhetorical)
DJ: We’re here with a very special guest, we’re in the parking lot at the Crazy Donkey in a Winnebago with Andrew W.K. How are you my friend?
Andrew W.K.: I’m…oh…pardon me I didn’t realize I had my own microphone. It’s a very nice microphone too, it’s heavy. This is Andrew W.K. and I’m very well, thank you.
DJ: Excellent, so my first question that I wanted to ask was: How much for the Winnebago dude?
Andrew W.K.: Well its actually not mine I don’t own it. This is property of the Crazy Donkey venue here….It is, it’s the dressing room. There used to be two, but I’ve always been in this one. I find it very comfortable, they have heaters in here, it’s actually quite warm. Some people at the venue here have thought it is sort of a lesser dressing room to offer their artists, but I think its one of the nicest ones I’ve ever had the privilege being in. It’s extremely comfortable, there is lots and lots of seating, and it’s quite luxurious, it’s warm, it’s very toasty. I don’t own it, but I’ve always thought it would be fun to own a trailer, maybe someday.
DJ: So, you’ve been pretty busy recently. I just caught the pictures on your website, looking very debonair in Esquire.
Andrew W.K.: Oh thank you! Yes, it is quite a magazine. They featured me and I was very honored to be featured in their publication.
Andrew W.K.: Yes, the book is out and it’s my first ever book. I just apologize to anyone who doesn’t read or speak Japanese, including me because I can’t even read the book. I don’t even know exactly what it says, that’s the weirdest thing about it.
DJ: Yeah, they could just be putting your face on it.
Andrew W.K.: That’s a big risk, believe me I’ve thought about and believe me I’ve thought about that possibility quite a bit. But I trust the man who put it together and the magazine who published it I’ve been working with for a long time, so I think they probably wrote what they said they would. It’s an advice column I’ve had for the past 5 years in a Japanese monthly music magazine and we decided to put all of them into a book and there were about 180 different questions and answers. But I would actually like to translate it and release it in the US. So at some point there will be an English language book availaible.
DJ: Cool. How did you get involved with that magazine?
Andrew W.K.: That’s a good question. Well the first time I went to Japan to play I met them and did an interview with them, sort of a standard feature and they asked if I wanted to maybe answer some questions from some of the readers, more as a one-off situation, just to see what it was like. And we did and proved to be very popular. We got lot of response, lots of readers wrote in and we just kept doing it. I don’t think anyone expected it would last for 5 years, but it’s still going. And even though I’m not Japanese and I’m not really that familiar with Japanese culture, we’ve been able to relation just as human beings and that has been very, very challenging, but very rewarding for me.
DJ: And you’re latest album Close Calls with Brick Walls is only released in Japan too?
Andrew W.K.: That is true. But actually I just released another one in Japan only. It’s an album of Japanese cover songs. I’ve never really done cover songs before.
DJ: Do you do them in Japanese?
Andrew W.K.: No I sung them in English. I translated the original Jpanese lyrics and again that was very challenging but rewarding. Since 2005, I made a decision to break out of my comfort zone, in anyway I could. And it wasn’t as though I was in my comfort zone all the time before then, I just felt there were lots of experiences I hadn’t tried. And these past 3 years have been about exploring those parts of myself or the world I had never gone into before. Even something like Esquire magazine. I never would have wanted to be in that magazine before, I would have never worn an outfit like that a few years ago. A few years ago I would have been really freaked out to even consider doing something like. And part of me, even recently, has felt weird, or maybe this isn’t cool, or do I look weird, or shouldn’t I look the same as a I did before. But playing with the idea who I am to myself has been thrilling and inspiring and most of all just fun. So I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to keep stretching and pushing myself as an individual and an entertainer.
DJ: That’s really cool, one of the things I was reading was that you were doing motivational speeches at colleges and stuff. That seems like the same idea.
Andrew W.K.: It was. It was the same idea. I mean, to me to go up on stage at all is always intense to perform in any capacity. But to go up alone, without anybody else takes it to another intensity. And to go up without any plan or music or any specific thing except just to talk that seemed like the most vulnerable, potentially terrifying, situation I could put myself in. So again, that was the idea, how much could I freak myself out and take other people with me? Hopefully to a good place.
DJ: Sounds great.
Andrew W.K.: Thanks, thank you.
DJ: So we’ve got a two part question, from a friend he goes by Chachi on the website, he’s one of the contributing writers on the website, and he wants to know the best and worst party you’ve ever gone to?
Andrew W.K.: For a long time I haven’t thought, I’ve made efforts to not think in terms of best and worst. As far as my favorite album, favorite movie, favorite place, best friend- or least favorite.
Roy: Most memorable?
Andrew W.K.: Most memorable? Same thing, same thing.
DJ: You avoid the superlatives.
Andrew W.K.: Exactly, the definitive. Just because I guess the feeling that if you pick one thing the other stuff isn’t quite. So I have many favorites. So, I’ll say here’s one of many favorite parties. It was actually in my hometown of Ann Harbor, Michigan. There was a house there, kind of downtown near the college, the Universiry of Michigan, and a lot of my friends, they were older than me, but a lot of these cool young people lived there together. And it was pretty crazy that they lived on their own to begin with, let alone own a house together. At least that’s how it seemed to me. So I was just in awe, they were a few years older as I said, I idolized their lifestyle. The freedom they had. They could do pretty much whatever they wanted all day, even though they had jobs, all their energy, all their passion they could apply to what they loved doing. And one of the things they enjoyed doing was having these crazy parties. And one night, they had this big party in the basement and I think I was one of the people performing. And when I came back up from this really crazy basement. The entire first floor was dismantled. The walls were missing, there was a bicycle through the glass window of the front door and the most alarming of all, the stairs were gone that led from the first floor to the second floor. Someone had pulled them out, I think a fight had started. Soon after that the police showed up and the ambulence. And I was pretty overwhelmed, I was scared, but I’ll never forget it. It was intense. And I don’t think it doesn’t necessarily takes that level of danger and violence to make a memorable moment, but..
DJ: It doesn’t hurt.
Andrew W.K.: Yeah, it doesn’t hurt. (Laughs)
DJ: Yeah, that’s pretty cool. We’re talking about getting rid of superlatives and to stop thinking in terms of bad and good. It always shocks me when I put on, I mean “I Get Wet” is the ultimate album to start a party to, and it tends to polarize people and I’m like, “Why can’t you just enjoy it, how can you not?”
Andrew W.K.: Well that’s a great, the fact that you would approach this music I made with that attitude, or any music, with that attitude is great. But I especially like hearing it because this music was made specifically with that attitude in mind and to encourage that attitude. And to some people, like you’re saying, it might be a challenge to think in those terms. But as long as people are being challenged, in a good way or maybe in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. I think that’s what I want to go for. To give them some kind of experience that they can feel something from. A long time ago I realize not all people are going to feel the same way that I did, but whatever I presented to them….people might even like it different ways than I expected. But as long as energy is being put out, even if its negative reaction, I feel like that is the release and that puts the energy out there. And I can take that energy, I can take maybe someone’s bad reaction and I can use their energy or harness it and turn it into excitement. I that’s what I want to put out their, just raw energy. It can be happy, it can be sad, it can be fun, it can be not fun, depending on who you are that’s listening. But overall as long as there is electricity being exchanged I feel like I’m doing a good thing,.
DJ: Now when “I Get Wet“, did you expect the reaction to “Party Hard” and “She Is Beautiful“? It seems like something pretty unlikely to be so huge, I was pretty young at the time, just starting High School, but it was unescapable at the time.
Andrew W.K.: Part of me wants to say “Yeah I didn’t expect it at all.” Or I could never had expected or predicted it. But of course part of me set out to do that very thing and has set out to do all the stuff that I’ve done. So there is that will that I had to go for these kinds of experiences. At the same time, I would be dishonest to say there wasn’t a part of my brain, or heart, or soul, or spirit that was aware of everything that was going to happen, but in such a subtle way. It’s like when you have a dream or goal or vision of what you want to do or where you want to go, but it’s different from a dream because it already feels real. You can tell in a quiet internal way that these things are going to happen to you. And it’s really about preparing yourself and putting one foot in front of the other and going through it and making ti happen. So as much as I’ve been extremely surprised and blown away and grateful for everything and my whole life in general. There is a part of me that realizes that I’m reponsibile for it happening in an exciting and empowering way. And it reminds us that we’re all responsible for everything that has happened to us, both things we enjoyed and maybe didn’t enjoy, but rather than getting overwhelmed or feeling we’re to blame, we can say no, I get to make up what happens to me. That quiet, but very clear and persistent feeling inside all of us all the time depending on how carefully we listen to it. That voice, that belief of what we are capable of. Whether you want to call it your dream or hopes or wishes for yourself, that’s you seeing what is going to happen, or what can happen if you believe that it can. And maybe the difference between me and someone else is that I really believed what I wanted to do could be done. But that’s no different than anybody else with a purpose.
DJ: So you’re a firm believer in that thing from Oprah…
Roy: The Secret.
DJ: Yeah, the Secret.
Andrew W.K.: Sure, sure. That’s a very similar idea. That you make up what your life is.
Roy: So, where do you see yourself going from here. What’s your next goal?
Andrew W.K.: Well, my goal as been to, as I said, expand in every direction. I don’t Andrew W.K. to be limited to one thing. I want it to be a feeling. I want that feeling to come across from music, from doing interviews like this, from writing, from things like that book, from tv, from radio, whatever it may be. And I feel like as long as I follow my instinct it will take me where I want to go. And part of that is letting opportunities come to you and being open to them, as well as setting a goal, creating something for yourself. So I feel very fortunate that I can exist and opportunities will just come to me. Like doing this interview, maybe you guys, who knows, we’ll meet again in a few years and this meeting we had today will have spawned a new direction for us both.
Andrew W.K.: I really believe in those, in those kinds of possibilities and that’s what life is about. Traveling down that road, and seeing where you are going, but also keeping an eye out for direction that you maybe didn’t consider. So I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m positive it will be fun.
DJ: Excellent, I feel like..I’m sorry is it Santo’s Party House?
Andrew W.K.: Yes! That’s exactly right!
DJ: Ok good, I was going to say Club Santo, but that didn’t sound right.
Andrew W.K.: Well, that’s close. (Laughs)
DJ: Yeah, Santo’s Party House, that seems like an excellent endeavor. Owning the space where parties can happen in a big public way seems like a great way to keep that attitude going.
Andrew W.K.: It’s been the biggest, most intense experience of all. I mean I never, first of all I’m only one of many many people involved, I’m one of five owners, and it’s my biggest project. It makes being in a band, or working with music and other things I’ve done. That doesn’t seem small, but its very, very different. But talk about being taken out of my comfort zone. This was really the biggest challenge, the biggest risk, but of course as it would be the biggest reward of any project I’ve ever done. Opening a club was the perfect way to apply all these different experiences and skills that I’ve had in music or performance and creating a cool space and decorating it, making the lights, making the sound, playing different types of music. I mean, I’ve never been the one who really enjoyed going to parties, I like making the party. So this is the ultimate experience.
DJ: Yeah, you can just snap your fingers and there’s a party.
Andrew W.K.: Basically…well there is a little more. Maybe snapping it the equivalent of a million times. That’s how its felt.
DJ: So, you’ve got a big New Years Eve party?
Andrew W.K.: Yeah, I’m going to play myself on New Years Eve, I’m going to perform. There have been a couple times we could have done it and it never happened. To do my first New York Eve…my first New York New Year’s Eve show at this Santo’s Party House, this place that I’m a part of. That’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Though, I’d hope it will happen many more times. So it’s very cool.
Andrew W.K.: Really?! Well, this is a very different show. It’s a solo show, so it’s just me, in terms of it’s just me and I go up there with a keyboard and microphones. I’ve played with a band and I love playing with a band, and I will continue to. At the same time, playing solo, it was just taking me out of my comfort zone. It was challenging, I have to carry the whole show on my own. Actually, I don’t because the crowd carries the show and I really find I’m the audience and they’re the performers when it comes to these solo shows especially. Playing tonight will be a lot of celebrating feelings that we can call upon that we have felt perform that have always been good and then hopefully some new feelings that we’ll be able to always remember feeling for the first time tonight. And that’s the best thing, like those times when you smell a new smell and you go somewhere and smell something and say “I remember the first time I smelt this smell or felt this way”. Or you have a new chapter in your life and you can all of a sudden tell form this point on things are going to be different and I’ll remember back to this day as the starting point of this new chapter and that’s what I think tonight will be.
DJ and Roy: Wow.
Andrew W.K.: (laughs) I hope. For me it will.
DJ: Yeah, I feel similarly. Last night me and Roy went out and we were “those guys” at the bar, just all over the place, dancing everywhere like maniacs.
Andrew W.K.: Oh jeez,
DJ: There was a 12 piece covers band and…
Roy: No one was dancing.
DJ: So we were just like, “what the fuck are you doing?”, we went out and just went for it and it was awesome.
Andrew W.K.: Yeah! Good for you
DJ: My neck and calves are killing me for it.
Andrew W.K.: I’m familiar with that. I remember going to concerts when I was much, much younger where I hadn’t stood up in one place that long, let alone danced and jumped. And my muscles were aching in ways I didn’t know possible.
DJ: I feel like I went to the gym last night
Andrew W.K.: You did. Yeah, yeah. Stretch out.
DJ: Well, that’s awesome. We’re looking forward to it.
Andrew W.K.: Thank you.
DJ: Well, not like I wasn’t before.
Roy: You convinced us.
Andrew W.K.: Thank you.
DJ: Well, I guess that’s it unless there is anything you’d like to think about in particular.
Andrew W.K.: I just, nothing in particular, but I’ve been thinking about these days and the state that we’ve been in as a group of people and I would like to just remind everyone, including myself, and encourage everyone, including myself, to not just remain optimistic and hopeful and positive, but to, in fact, realize that, like we were talking about, everything that has happened as been our own doing and our own choosing. And that can be weird because you don’t want to blame yourself or someone else for something bad. But its mostly to say, look: we can have whatever we want to have happen, at the very least we can feel however we want to feel. So, no matter how people have told me or have been telling us that times are rough and they’re only going to get rougher, or that things have never been this bad in the last however many years. That has nothing to do with what we can feel right now and what we can do from that point on. So it really doesn’t make any difference what has just happened or what is supposed to happen or what state we’re in, we can still decide that this is greatest time to be alive and work from that point. And if we’re not in that mood, f we’re not in that energized, excited state I don’t see how we can deal with any of these issues anyway. I don’t we can save the world in a bad mood. So, that’s the vibe. Just remember how important it is to experience joy. Most of all in times when its supposedly rough, or bad or dark, this is the time to laugh the most, to realize how absurd life, the entire reality is. not in a bad way, but in liberating way that can free us from these anxieties that do nothing to really help us or help a situation. So stay fun and smile.
DJ: Words of wisdom from Andrew W.K.
Andrew W.K.: Well, or something. Thank you for having me on your show.
DJ: Yeah of course, thank you, and, well, rock it.
Andrew W.K.: Rock out.