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Party Animal, Andrew W.K. INTERVIEW

Andrew W.K. is scheduled to hit First Avenue on Sept 18th. Check out our in-depth interview!

Andrew WK
Andrew WK

Last updated on July 10th, 2023 at 10:25 pm

Infamous for his bloody nose, famous for his high-life attitude, and his songs like, “PARTY HARD”, “WE WANT FUN”, and “YOU WILL REMEMBER TONIGHT”,  It has been a while since we’ve heard from The Ultimate Party King, however, Andrew WK is back, baby!

The ripped, long-haired, fulltime celebrator launches a full-band tour this week with a brand new album to follow. After kicking off at Riot Fest in Chicago, he and the band hit First Avenue this Monday, September 18th, and Mark Mallman’s opening. (Tickets here)

In a completely surreal fate-twist, I wound up on the phone with the guy. We talked about Bach, zombies, and music as pure life-force (and also his new album.)

Alright Andrew, where are you right now? What are you doing?

Illinois! We’re playing this festival, The Riot Festival, so we’re all meeting here to rehearse and load up all the lighting gear and kick off the tour.

I’ve always wanted to go to Riot Fest! Have you ever played it before?

(What’s really going through the narrator’s head here is “holy hockey sticks you sound so Canadian – I knew you were, but wow” but he keeps that inside, somehow, and sticks to the questions.)

Yes! We’ve actually played it six times, in a row (the narrator is realizing now that he hasn’t done his research) it’s unheard of – when does a festival ever ask you back six times? Each year I don’t expect that they’ll ask us back, but I guess it’s tradition now. We’ve done it ever since they moved it to the big outdoor space and I think it’s just us and Gwar who been back every year.

And you’re in Minneapolis the very next day. Have you played here before?

(the narrator knows for a fact Andrew has played here, many times, but is still getting over the accent and realizing he may be a little star struck, after all)

Yes we’ve been to Minneapolis a lot but even more than some cities because we actually recorded a good portion of the first album here. I don’t think the studio still exists but we worked with John Fields – just a consummate musician and producer and ACTUALLY, we booked the 2017 tour without realizing it’s the fifteen year anniversary of the first album, almost to the month.

Keeping the party going, man! Well, we’re all really excited to have you back in Minneapolis! 

Thank you!

And Mark Mallman is opening for you! We love him around here, have you met him before?

Yes, and we specifically wanted him back again because of the great time we had last time we played with him.

When was that?

A few years ago for the Zombie Pub Crawl. It’s such a wild thing, not just in terms of everyone on the street and all the makeup but even in our hotel – I don’t know if they were an official Zombie Hotel – but they had extra makeup remover for people and the whole city just seemed to come together to embrace the zombification. (the narrator is laughing this high-pitched laugh that he can’t remember having ever heard before, from himself)

Yeah man it happens here once a year and I’ve never seen anything like it, this city really does embrace zombies. The Partiest zombies that I’ve ever seen!

Okay so you’ve got this tour going and a new album coming soon. What was the process like? Have you been writing these songs here and there since 2001 or did you just write the songs recently?

Well a little bit of both. I think the earliest song is from 2005, that’s when I really began. Some other songs I wrote in one day, you know, and everything in between, but in a very real way I’ve been working on this album for the past twelve years. It was never intended to be this long but there was so much partying going on, next thing I realized twelve years had passed –

That’s what happens when you Party Hard, man! Time flies.

(“Did you really just say that?” the narrator thinks, just thankful his guest is so genuinely kind and invested in this.)

Yeah, it’s like a vortex, time got sucked into the party and I was spit out the other end. So one good thing about this, how long it’s been, I personally believe my band, this whole team, we have more determination, more hunger, more drive – but also – more gratitude, more perspective, and more excitement than we’ve ever had. I think we are beginning to reach – I don’t want to say a peak or a prime – but definitely a new level of ability and focus.

Okay this is a stupid question, Andrew, but I feel I really have to ask it: you’re there, on the desert island, what three albums did you bring?

Okay, Glenn Gould’s Well-tempered Clavier (he’s talking about Bach here and Glenn Gould is his preferred performer, the narrator realizes, slowly) for the first one, but really it would have to be two or even three albums –

We’ll count it as one.

Good and the second, probably Helmut Walcha’s Bach Organ Works (more Bach!)

I didn’t expect all these Classical answers!

We’ll, I’m thinking about I’d have to listen to this music ‘TILL I DIE. But I think I might want a human connection – some kind of language sooo maybe I’d pick, uhh, for the third one I’ll pick the Holy Bible, an audio book.

Interesting! Who’d be reading it?

Probably Donald Sutherland – fantastic voice, he does a lot of voiceover work now, you know, he’s compelling, and he’s older.

Those are some really great and surprising answers, thank you.

Well you know Bach is the greatest, way up there in the top-ten, composers of all time – he’s canonical. The thing is with Bach: you know you’re in good hands. You can turn yourself over to his blender, his glory – he had a Direct Connection, no doubt about it.

He was able to work within such restriction and take it to the limit, but all within this super tight, really dry chamber. He was a nonconformist! (The narrator has condensed this a bit, but Andrew talked about Bach for a straight five minutes and it was all really beautiful and well spoken – this dude knows a lot about Bach.)

Andrew, what is the first song that ever made you cry? Or what song do you listen to, to elicit emotion from within yourself?

(A pause)

You know, there are countless songs like that. But that’s the feeling you go for – it’s emotion as pure life-force. So powerful that you could cry, but you’re not sad, it’s just raw feeling – (The narrator realizes that he’s asked a question his guest doesn’t have an answer for! Let’s see where this goes) you feel more alive in a way but also beyond life and at the same time more primal.

We all try to find that in our own music. I think I’ve gotten there once or twice. There are certain melodies and rhythms and occasionally, words, where it just hits that feeling – that’s what’s so nice about instrumental music is you realize that it is beyond words, beyond expression.

So, Bridge Over Troubled Water (he thought of a good one!) especially when it hits that bridge “Sail on silver bird,” it’s a song that I’m getting choked up just talking about right now, it’s the height of devotion you could ever express to anyone or anything. It’s love. That song is the purest love.

(The narrator is awestruck by the beauty that just came from a question he initially thought would flounder and frankly, is speechless. He clears his throat and abruptly changes the subject.)

One last question, Andrew. Tell me a bit more about the new album. Where did you record it?

Recording happened all over the place and I tried recording in ways I’d never tried before – some good things came of it – but then I kind of reverted to my traditional methods. I’ve always worked in certain ways but sometimes I try to contradict those and go against them but I’ve decided now that I’m not going to waste energy defying my own impulses.

It’s like “Oh, I know I’m not supposed to eat poison but I’m gonna see what happens if I eat some!” I’ve learned during this process that the only way I can record, for better or worse, is just in complete solitude. That’s how I began music as a child: with a piano and a lack of friends. It was always a solitary experience.

As far as the band goes, it’s mostly the same original members who have been with me since day one in 2000, but we’ve got some brand new members – some people this will be their first tour with me. I really think that, for many reasons, including how I’m doing personally, I think this will be the best the band has ever been. There’s determination but also a kind of desperation, a real panicked fuel behind this that we’re all feeling.

We’re all realizing that it’s been so incredible that we’ve gotten to do any of this, that we’re even able to do one more show, let alone do another tour and another album, so we’re all very excited and thankful for what’s happened that led us here. For the show it will be three guitar players, a drummer, bass player, keyboard player – I also play keyboards – and we go ALL OUT. It’s gonna rock!

Our time is up now, we say our goodbyes. The narrator is pretty stunned this just happened and honestly just glad he got through it. Andrew WK: what an absolute gentleman. Make sure not to miss his show – this Monday, at First Avenue – because it’s time to party, people, and when it’s time to party, we must always Party Hard. Get your tickets, here.

Andrew W.K. 2017 Tour

September 16, 2017 – Cleveland, Ohio
September 17, 2017 – Chicago, Illinois
September 18, 2017 – Minneapolis, Minnesota
September 20, 2017 – Kansas City, Missouri
September 21, 2017 – Denver, Colorado
September 22, 2017 – Salt Lake City, Utah
September 23, 2017 – Big Bear Lake, California
September 24, 2017 – Seattle, Washington
September 25, 2017 – Portland, Oregon
September 27, 2017 – San Francisco, California
September 28, 2017 – San Francisco, California
September 29, 2017 – Los Angeles, California
September 30, 2017 – Las Vegas, Nevada
October 1, 2017 – Phoenix, Arizona
October 3, 2017 -Austin, Texas
October 4, 2017 – Dallas, Texas
October 5, 2017 – Houston, Texas
October 7, 2017 – St. Louis, Missouri
October 8, 2017 – Cincinnati, Ohio
October 9, 2017 – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
October 11, 2017 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
October 12, 2017 – Washington, DC
October 13, 2017 – Brooklyn, New York
October 14, 2017 – Boston, Massachusetts
October 15, 2017 – Boston, Massachusetts
October 17, 2017 – Toronto, ON, Canada
October 18, 2017 – Detroit, Michigan
October 19, 2017 – Columbus, Ohio
October 20, 2017 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
October 23, 2017 – Atlanta, Georgia
November 9, 2017 – Portsmouth, United Kingdom
November 10, 2017 – London, United Kingdom
November 11, 2017 – Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
November 12, 2017 – Norwich, United Kingdom
November 13, 2017 – Manchester, United Kingdom
November 14, 2017 – Glasgow, United Kingdom
November 15, 2017 – Birmingham, United Kingdom
November 18, 2017 – Mexico City, Mexico

Written by Harley Patton

Writer and reader in Minneapolis, Minnesota


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