Keen eyed superpeople will have noticed its been Andrew WK Day over at the Blobblog. This is because Andrew has been in my thoughts this past week – he was in London, and I felt him. His three albums have been blasting out of my speakers, his mad eyed face has been haunting my dreams. I was never quite the same after meeting Andrew WK. Everything was different. If nothing else, he put the pointlessness of negative thought into focus for me. Alongside hearing Chilly Gonzales’ rap album and my time with Crack Village, Andrew WK was instrumental in making me realise I could do this. Andrew WK is pure awesomeness. He is such a very strange, special, otherworldy creature. Sometimes I wonder if we aren’t all dreaming him. Perhaps we are.
Anyway. More on that later. For now, let us cast our minds back to the winter of 2001, when I first met the White Killer, and my then-editor had the brainwave of titling the piece:
Andrew W.K. is the freshest, biggest, noisiest, and most overhyped thing to cross the pond in a very long time. And in a year that brought us The Strokes, The White Stripes, and Planet Of The Apes that is no mean feat. His debut single, the exhilarating ‘Party Hard’ went top twenty, and the album, ‘I Get Wet’ should be tearing up the nation’s speakers right now. PlayLouder caught up with the human dynamo to talk about noise, dead babies and new frontiers…
According to various reports the W.K. in your name stands for White Killer. Is that true?
“Well, it’s my name! My parents gave it to me! Your own name always seems like the dorkiest thing, and rock ‘n’ roll people all have these cool names, you do, but I spoke to my parents and they were like, ‘that’s the name we gave you, that’s who you are, what have you got to hide?’. And they’re right, of course. I’ll say the same to my children.”
Do you have children?
“Now is not the most important time to get into having children is it? Think about it… a BABY… it’s a PERSON! The BIGGEST deal! Bigger than ANYTHING and you owe it, you owe it to give it everything, to be right. I’m gonna have kids, sure, loads of kids… I think I’ll adopt though. There are so many kids out there with nothing, so many, and they deserve everything, you know? So I’ll adopt a load of kids and maybe have one of my own.”
A bouncing baby boy?
“Yeah. But I’ve been bouncing all over the place myself. Last week [Andrew W.K.'s debut UK show at the Garage] I bounced offstage, right into someone’s head, then I bounced into the hospital, then I bounced out again. Actually, I did get really bouncy, like really… I am literally bouncing. You see, sometimes when I get excited, or just sometimes… I’ll get a little shock, urgh! So I should get that checked. But hey, things could be a lot worse! There are people out there who can’t even…”
“Yeah! See, I’m just doing the best I can right now. What we’re doing here, all of us, we’re discovering new frontiers… We have this responsibility to all those that can’t. I’m really fired about these frontiers, this new horizon. We’re working hard. Harder and harder. It is NOT acceptable to be down, ever, not when we are healthy and can do this. As long as I have food and a roof over my head I can never be down. Anything else, ANYTHING is just the icing on the cake. What I’m trying to do… what I’m doing, is being unconditionally OK. To be unconditionally OK is the real beauty. If you’re unconditionally OK, you can never be hurt! You know, I was thinking about that in the bathroom just now. If you’re unconditionally OK, you can never be offended by anything that anybody says. Say somebody says something about my family, says something about my mother… Perhaps I’d be upset, but if I’m unconditionally OK… see, I know my Mom wouldn’t mind, because she is unconditionally OK! She strives, and we should all strive to be strong. These are new frontiers! Strength! No weakness! I mean, that’s what I’m trying for myself. But you should just see it work! All of us… we work. Yeah, we work hard.”
Were your parents encouraging about you getting into music?
“They inspire me, my parents, they really do. And my friends too. I’ve learnt everything from my friend Jimmy over these past two years, he’s an incredible person…”
What else inspires you?
“You know, when I was in England, I read this terrible, terrible story, I’m sure you did too. There was this beautiful six year old girl, whose stepmother abused her and pretty much beat her to death and her father didn’t do anything. I read that story, and all of a sudden everything became very clear, and every single thing that I have done since has been for her. But I’m motivated by the expenditure of energy, true beauty, the human ability to do so much good and so much bad… It moves me that I have all these advantages, hate moves me, jealousy moves me, love moves me… Yeah, I’ve been in love, heh heh. A few times, but that’s what I’m on man, not making things conditional, doing what you want… jealousy, boundaries, that’s not how it should be. I have trust, and I have faith.”
Things must be pretty mental for you right now…
“You mean mentally? Fuck yeah, my brain… Oh, you mean like crazy? Yeah! Right now it’s just such an exciting world! But it always has been. It’s very intense, but the background of it all is comforting. I have my friends, my family, all these wonderful people… I’m lucky. But there were always things going on, and there always will be. If this finishes I won’t finish… I will always rely on myself. And yeah, there’s hype, but man, this is just the tip of the iceberg! You are in for a treat. Just you wait ’til the second album. The next album delivers on the promise that I have made! There is the potential to do anything, and it’s gonna be amazing.”
You ever heard of the Manic Street Preachers? They made a lot of promises in the early 90s that they never followed up…
“I’ve heard of them, sure. But you know what? I will fucking follow through for all the faggots who gave up! And for the shows, well, we’re just gonna have the full on deal! Who knows, and what an exciting theory! This is OURS! We’ve got the whole world! Anyone who hears this, gets this, comes, it’s all ours, theirs, everybody’s! It’s great, it’s exciting and we’ve got the whole lifestyle! I believe in this, I truly, truly do, I want those that are believing too to know that it’s there for YOU! It’s yours! And I promise, I PROMISE that I will NEVER let you down. This is what we are doing. We have here is the ability to change their minds, give them freedom… The point is we’re in something so vast, so, so vast.”
You talk a lot about vastness and frontiers… do you believe in God?
“Yeah, I believe in God. A higher being, definitely. But the point is, God is in me, and he’s in you… He’s saying, you go! God is unconditional! Love! Unconditionally OK, heh! But not God in the traditional sense. Hell does not exist. Here, let me ask you something, see if you believe this… Where I come from, many people believe that if a person kills themselves they go straight to hell. That upsets me! Of course they don’t go to hell. Those poor, sad, lonely people. They die, and someone takes their hand and says, ‘Hey, it’s OK, we’re sorry… come with us, it’s going to be OK’. Those fucking people… God’s looking at them, shaking his head, going ‘Oh man…’ But the truth will out in the end.”
Are there any bands around these days that you like, or respect?
“I respect everybody that’s doing what they want to do, bands, people, in music, with optimism. All these people are trying to do is express themselves through what they’re doing… even if they’re only motivated by money, they’re expressing themselves through money! But it’s not my responsibility to judge them, so long as people are passionate that’s great!”
What’s your favourite childhood memory?
“That’s a question! There are so many, I couldn’t say one… it’s not fair! But the first time ever heard really loud live music… I think it was at a classical concert with my father, and it was overwhelming – this impossibly big room, this immense sound, it just gave me butterflies, you know that feeling in your stomach? Like being on a rollercoaster. That, that’s a glimpse into something vast, the feeling of being in contact with That… To be truly brave is to face that vastness, to look right into it.”
What do you want from all this?
“To make music! I’ve made some giant leaps in music – how it affects me and all you have to do is to tap into more. Get stronger, get better, know more, learn more… But let the unknowns be just that – you should never want to know and understand everything, and you never will…”
“People should do whatever they want. Drugs are great for that, they let you into new things, new horizons… Oh YEAH I’ve done drugs, but it’s down to the individual people. Some come out better, stronger, and some are destroyed, but I trust that people can make their own choices, bad or good in life. It’s all good! Basically, I want people to know that to be unconditionally OK is the best thing. No matter what, you’ll be OK. And I guarantee that whatever happens I will not go back on any of this. I will never let you down.”
The single ‘Party Hard’ and the album ‘I Get Wet’ are both out now on Mercury Records.