The Party Interview with Andrew W.K.
Call him the Entertainer: Interview with Andrew W.K.
His hair strands are more fun than you are…
[Interview Conducted for the Weekly Hangover, February 2010]
As we all know, with great partying, comes great responsibility. This is never more true than in the form of rock-star Andrew W.K. Dressed in his signature plain white t-shirt and white denim jeans, his long black hair draping around his head, the musician could be mistaken for an escaped psycho-ward patient for those that don’t know his true, sociable nature. Born Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier, the rocker erupted onto the mainstream music scene in 2001 with his debut album I Get Wet, which spawned such hits as “Party Hard” and “She is Beautiful.” The talented singer and pianist has made waves in television, as a motivational speaker, in video games and of course on stage. I was lucky enough to speak with him about his upcoming appearance with the Calder Quartet at Knoxville’s Big Ears Festival (March 26-28), how to cure hangovers and his rocking life in New York City.
PSHF: Partying has become an image associated to your act. Does the image and grind ever wear down on you?
AWK: I’ve never had anyone say to me that I wasn’t partying hard enough. It’s just a joy, a great privilege and pleasure to be able to have this much fun. It makes it very easy to be in that mood all the time.
PSHF: The album “Close Calls with Brick Walls” is scheduled to be rereleased in America after a four year stint in Asia. Why the long wait?
AWK: We had to work out a bunch of different situations we were in. After we took care of all that stuff which took about five years, now we’re in this great situation where everyone’s cooperating and we have a nice, fresh start. Now I’m really happy we didn’t release it before because now there’s another disc that comes with it with rare and unreleased tracks. I’ve never released this kind of album where I let people hear songs from my private collection…songs I never thought would be released.
PSHF: A lot of people remember I Get Wet so well thanks to that awesome cover (see image). What’s behind that story?
AWK: When we first put out I Get Wet, in England, they banned the album cover, because they thought it was a drug reference or it would be upsetting to young kids. I never imagined that, I thought young kids if anybody had gotten a bloody nose. When we put it out in the U.S. we censored it, we put a big black sticker over the blood. It ended up becoming like my emblem or logo, like a mascot or something.
PSHF: What’s the Andrew WK cure for a horrible hangover?
AWK: I’ve been very fortunate to not have too many hangovers. I’m not sure exactly why that is, it makes me think initially that I’m not drinking enough. When I’ve drunk and really drunk to get drunk, I’ve drunk as much as I could, meaning if I had anything more to drink I would have passed out and not be able to stand. That sort of is the cutoff point where it’s not really fun anymore.
PSHF: I go into a bar and order an Andrew WK, what’s in it?
AWK: The kind of party that I want to promote is where everyone gets to do what they want, what’s fun to them. Maybe the Andrew WK drink would be a very special kind of glass, with cool designs on it and a curly straw, crazy umbrellas in it. It can be filled with whatever you want.
PSHF: Is New York City the party capital of the world?
AWK: I can say that I think it’s the greatest city in the world. I think it’s the greatest example of humanity and civilization in the western world at least. Every culture is represented here, it’s like Earth in one place. As far as partying I think you can party equally well just about anywhere. I don’t think it’s about where you are; it’s a state of mind.
PSHF: What kind of impression did Knoxville give you your first times around?
AWK: We may have only played there one time before, possibly twice. I think the first time especially I was really moved by the kindness of the people who came to the show… I just remember because Knoxville really rang in my ear, it was a city I’d heard about for a long time but had never gone. I really look forward to coming back.
PSHF: You’re playing with the Calder Quartet when you visit Knoxville. How has that merger changed your sound?
AWK: We’ve done several shows together now. We did a whole tour in October. Before that we had played two or three times together. We’re going to bring our show that we’ve developed now over the course of at least a dozen shows and bring it in its best form it has ever been. The last show we played in Los Angeles was I think was our best, I have very high expectations for our ability to do even better at Big Ears.
PSHF: The Weekly Hangover is a party paper, so what song do you throw on to rev up a party?
AWK: Right now, today, if it could be any song I would probably put on “Grinder” by Judas Priest. It has been in my head the last few days since I got to meet Rob Halford and a bunch of metal musicians in Los Angeles at this event.
PSHF: Thanks. Party on Andrew.
AWK: Party on Pat.