Andrew W.K. exploded onto the scene in the early 2000s and left an undeniable mark on the music scene. His hard rockin’ style and non-stop party attitude instantly resonated with listeners and allowed his debut album, “I Get Wet,” to climb the charts with ease. One of the hardest working people in the music industry today, Andrew W.K. went on to create four more studio albums and work with some of the biggest names in the industry in a plethora of capacities. To celebrate his first decade of rock stardom, Andrew W.K. is hitting the road once again to bring the party to a town near you! This tour will honor his rock ‘n’ roll origins as the band will perform every song from his groundbreaking release, in album order, every night. Have no fear, although he is reflecting on his past and paying tribute, he assures us the best is yet to come! Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Andrew W.K. to discuss his musical roots, his very unique career, his evolution as an artist and what the future holds for this man dedicated to partying hard!
You inspired a lot of people with your music through the years. How did music first come into your life?
Very much through piano and my parents. I mean, everything comes into your life initially through your parents. You come into being through your parents and I literally came into the world through my mother. My parents were not only very instrumental in creating me but also building me up with interests and skills. Right around the age of 4, we moved from California to Michigan, where I really spent my formative years. My father had been taking piano lessons and we always had a piano in the house. Having a very primal experience with the instrument and also seeing my dad play it had a very strong impact on me. I ended up taking lessons when I was around 4-and-a-half or 5 years old, just around the time when you are able to make a decision like that. My parents had encouraged it but it was still my choice. I really wanted to be like my dad and it seemed like a very fun thing to be able to do. I have some really primal memories of playing the piano. Like any kid, I found it to be this big, amazing machine with these black and white buttons that you press to make these amazing sounds and I was drawn to that. The one thing that my parents did, especially my Mom, was understand that there is something about the brain at that age, around 4 or 5, where they are able to receive new information and learn in a more powerful way. I am really just endlessly grateful to my parents for introducing me to anything at that age, let alone music. It is also good because I can blame them for anything that goes against the grain in terms of me not going to college and following a more traditional career path as a young man. I can always say, “Hey! You are the ones that got me into music early on!” I don’t think as a 4-year-old child, I could have paved my own way without their support.
Looking back on the early days of your career, did you think you would be still going strong all these years later?
In some ways yes and in some ways no. I mean, you always want to pump yourself up and psych yourself up when it comes to your vision, your goals and your life’s work with this idea that you will want to be doing it forever. That helps! It is hard to be motivated if you say, “Oh well, this is only going to happen for a few months or a year or the other people are going to get tired.” I was always very staunch in my mindset about it being perpetual and endless. But again, there is a certain amount of humility and it is good to say that some of these things are out of your hands, especially as performer. There are so many people involved from the audience, the people that come to the shows or the parties and become engaged with your work or even the people you work with like my band, my team, my managers and my business partners. There are a lot of people in the works and there have been times where I have taken the solipsistic view that these people only exist in my consciousness and it is all my creation but that would include the entire world and everything! So, it is nice to account for the other, in general, as it applies to people and other wills. In that way I am very amazed, very grateful and very thankful to be able to keep going 10 years on. There are a lot of great role models out there who have been going strong for 40 years! Making it 10 years means a lot and I am completely blown away and amazed! It does feel, to me, that is is bigger and more important now than when we started. That is all you could ever want for something you are working on. You want to have that feeling that it is still on the up and still building and that is the way I feel — we are still building! It’s like building a skyscraper, you don’t necessarily need to finish at a certain height. You can keep adding levels onto that building as you move ahead. That is what seems to be happening here.
Looking back on your body of work, how do you feel you evolved as an artist over the years?
I have gotten better at singing, playing guitar and drums. I have gotten better at my craft and that comes from practice. There aren’t necessarily better ideas or a better vision but there is better technical ability, just like an athlete who is training to have certain powers and strengths. It really is like a physical strength. The more time you spend at something, the better you get at it. I definitely feel that I have gotten better at doing what I do. There is a beautiful consistency in the mission itself. I always want to get better at fulfilling the goals of his vision which is to create this kind of excitement, joy and energy. I feel that has improved along with my ability to get to that place. To create that feeling and communicate it has improved for sure! In some ways, maybe I have even gotten worse! [laughs] I mean, you kinda trade one thing for another. There is always a sacrifice on one side or the other. one sacrifice is that I don’t have as much time to do other things as I used to and that is something I have noticed quite a bit over the past 10 years. There was a time in the early years, like on our very first tour in 2001 and 2002, where even if I didn’t want it to go back to the way life was before this all began, there was this feeling that, “Oh well, life will go back to normal.” I guess I was just basing that on high school. I actually left high school a year early because I was able to do extra credit courses that allowed me to graduate at 17 and then I moved to New York and this all started. It all happened so fast and some aspects of it were extremely quick, maybe even a bit too fast! I didn’t really have time to prepare or work my way up or build it piece by piece. So, there was this comforting feeling that someday everything would go back to normal. Around 2005 or 2006, I started to realize that things might never go back to normal and this might be the road that I had set myself down and I had to be ready for the fact that things might never be normal again — whatever that may be! I guess I never really knew what normal was. I guess this idea of a daily routine and high school really did provide me with that kind of structure as much as I hated it in a lot of other ways, not high school itself but the structure that it had.
What is the biggest misconception you can put to rest about Andrew W.K. at this point in your career?
That I smell bad! This really is true! I, myself, my own physical body, I don’t smell bad. My clothes may smell bad but my skin smells like pink lady slippers, baby power and flowers! [laughs]
I was watching you live chat last night and you mentioned this new tour is just the start of big things for 2012 and 2013 musically and otherwise. Can you give us a little sneak preview?
Yeah, sure! Going back to what I was saying about the 2005 and 2006 era, it was the greatest of times and it was also the worst of times. There were a lot of struggles with certain business partners that I had been working with for many years at that point and certain contracts and agreements that I had signed and was then realizing were much more sinister in their scope than I had read. I didn’t read all of the fine print and there was a lot of inertia, excitement and over-confidence in those early days that got me into some tricky situations. We did work all of those things out over the last five years where I have been doing all of this other kind of work which allowed us to explore, understand and find new ways for Andrew W.K. to exist in the world. Fortunately, we resolved many more issues in 2009 and 2010. 2011 and 2012 have provided this incredible sense of opportunity, flexibility and freedom that I have been experiencing like this tour and the 10-year anniversary of my first album, “I Get Wet.” In 2012, the main thing is that I am continuing the work, there has been two years of work so far, on my brand new album! No title or release date yet but it is exciting to work on something new as well as revisiting what your roots are and what started it all! There will definitely be more shows and more tours. We have continued to add more shows to this tour and we haven’t announced them yet, so that is kind of a sneak preview of what is happening. We are now looking into going to Europe, Asia and Australia! It is very exciting! You don’t know, you put it out there and you hope that people respond and when they do it is very encouraging! I am beyond moved! It is a whole new era, a new flavor in my brain from the reaction and the support of the people who believe in the feeling that I am trying to put out there. That is enough motivation to keep me going for another 10 years!
Sounds like you are in a great place creatively! Thank you so much for your time today and we look forward to seeing you on tour!
Thank you so much, Jason!
For all of the latest news and information on all of Andrew W.K.’s endeavors, visit his official website at www.andrewwk.com and remember to party hard!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.