Photo credit: Jonathan Thorpe
In the 20 minute conversation I had with Andrew W.K. the word “Party” came up 25 times. That’s a little over a party a minute.
Andrew W.K. has become an undisputed champion of the party. His latest project is acting as frontman for Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, who are coming to Boston Friday. October 4th to the Paradise Rock Club. The party never stops for Andrew W.K.
When and where did you discover that you were an artist and partying was your paintbrush?
Well I think in a way everyone is an artist in terms of intentional creativity, by creativity I guess it’s sort of making choices, like in the literal sense with something like painting, you know what colors to use, and what to paint, and how to do it, all these various options. Editing something out, like a sculptor editing rock to reveal whatever shape, edit the clay into different shapes for a different kind of sculpture. It’s just a day-to-day life for making choices from this pretty much unlimited array of options of what to do in that way it’s a creative act.
So in that way everyone’s an artist and maybe the only difference is in terms of the traditional definition of an artist. I liked drawing, piano lessons, and all that, art class, stuff from the very beginning, but I never really thought it wasn’t something that anyone else wouldn’t do. It didn’t seem like a profession at that point. It was really later on at the age of 19 or so, once I moved to New York and had been there for about a year…I was thinking, I’m going to work on this adventure for an indefinite amount of time, what do I want the core of it to be? What would the motivation of this mission be?
I thought it should be the most fun, cheerful activity that I could imagine and the most cheerful thing I could imagine was partying!
Would you say it’d be fair to interpret your definition of partying more as having fun, celebrating life, and being alive rather than say getting drunk and twisted on drugs?
No, not necessarily. I think that it’s just a very broad term for fun and the beauty of the broadness is that it gives everyone their own way of celebrating, their own way of partying. A newly wed couple might party differently from a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. At the same time, a kid in elementary school might party on his birthday much differently than he would 20 years down the road. It’s about enjoying yourself the way that you want…It’s all fair game. I never really liked it when people would tell me how to party, whether it was listen to this, to act like this, dance like this, or drink or not drink, or do drugs or don’t do drugs, or go out, or do a house party. The less restrictions the better.
Try to have that kind of atmosphere where people can use this party energy I’m offering to apply to the kind of party that they want to have. So drinking, doing drugs, getting wasted, that’s totally fair game as well. To each their own and I’m not here to make rules about the party, I’m actually here to break apart the rules that restrict us from having fun in any way and look at life as this great once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we have to celebrate that every day.
You’re currently on tour with Marky Ramone. Tell me about this project and how it came together.
It’s Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, and of course Marky is really the most legendary punk rock drummer of all time, from his work in the band the Ramones, of course he also drummed in one of the earliest pre-heavy metal heavy metal bands called Dust, as well as drumming on countless other amazing tracks and just being a one-of-a-kind icon. He has Blitzkrieg, where he took it upon himself to continue playing the Ramones music because he felt very strongly that he owed it to the music to keep it being performed live. There are so many people out there who want to hear this music be performed live. The fact that he can do it better than anybody makes a lot of sense. He had the band for awhile and almost 2 years ago he asked me through a mutual friend of ours, icon of nightlife, a guy named Steve Lewis, who was very involved with places like Studio 54 and the Limelight, a very legendary New York character who actually helped my friends and I when we first started working to open our own night club, Santos Party House. He recommended me to Marky for a new singer and I was just completely blown away. There was never a moment in my mind where I debated whether or not to do this. It just seemed like this incredible, incredible good fortune, just to have a chance to meet him, let alone audition for him and eventually join this band.
It was challenging, but there wasn’t a moment where I didn’t feel like the luckiest person in the world getting to do this.
Do you guys have any plans on working on new original material together?
Marky had mentioned that. I’m here to serve his vision. I’m open to anything that he would have me do. I’m just so amazed that I get to be in his presence, serve his vision and serve his legacy.
You just announced that you’ll be writing a party bible, can you tell me what people can expect from the publication and possibly share some insight?
It is a book about everything. It’s not a memoir. I’d like to save that for further down the road when I’ve been at it for a little longer at least. First and foremost the way I would try to get myself in the right mindset to be alive and try to make the best of it.
This is a book for anyone who is alive and wants to enjoy it; it really in that way is like a guide book, non-fiction, just breaks life down and apart and builds it back up again using partying as the main method.
It’s a book of positive party power that I hope will be useful in some way to just about everyone or at least entertaining enough to be worth reading. On that same note I want it to be a book, much like a party involves more than just myself and more people than just myself, that’s why I’ve opened it up to any questions that anyone has or anything anyone would like to discussed in the book can send me their questions or their requests or ideas and I would be very happy to do that, because a lot of what I’ve done in terms of developing these ideas about partying has come people asking me trying to explain it, like this interview. I’ve always enjoyed that because it gives me more insight and understanding into what we’re doing…So I encourage, much like an interview, people to send in their questions that they have about partying, about being alive, and how the two are intertwined and they can actually tweet it to me on the computer using the Twitter program @AndrewWK and just do a #ThePartyBible.
PARTY TIP: Kids shouldn’t be in a rush to grow up. Neither should adults.
— ANDREW WK (@AndrewWK) September 24, 2013
You’re also a motivational speaker, how did you get into that?
It started with doing interviews and what I noticed was there were people that I was meeting or coming across that weren’t that familiar with rock music in general, but had seen some interview or heard some discussion and got something out of it I realized that this was another way to actually reach people. My main goal is to use whatever methods I have at hand to get people psyched up and myself pumped up too and motivational talking actually works, and for some people it works especially well. So I just ran with that and at one point New York University asked me to do a lecture and they asked for it to not be about music or music business, which is what I thought they would want, but they just wanted a very free form about life and that just started me down that path of doing talks and realizing that everything is fair game.
TODAY’S PARTY MINDSET: We realize how amazing it is to be alive today. We won’t waste it and we won’t let anything bring us down! Power up! — ANDREW WK (@AndrewWK) October 1, 2013
What advice would you give someone who has never partied before but is interested in trying it out?
Well, they probably have partied before and they might just not realize it, it’s second nature to the human condition to seek joy and then revel in it. I think the reveling is the partying. It’s a combination of being aware that you’re alive at all, being glad for that and then sort of just choking it up, spinning around in it and then rolling around, like tumbling around in this euphoric sense of not being dead.
So if you can think for yourself or think, “Wow I’m alive! is pretty wild,” then you officially are partying!
Then what you choose to do with that or modify it or customize it is really up to you it can be a life long adventure discovering how you want to party.
If I could change political parties, I’d take away all the politics and just have the parties. — ANDREW WK (@AndrewWK) October 2, 2013
How did you come to accept the challenge of breaking the world drumming record?
That was sort of a no brainer….Once you get on a roller coaster, for example, I made that decision when I moved to New York, it was getting on a roller coaster for me. You don’t really have a choice…Once you’re on the roller coaster it’s going to take you through all the twists, turns, ups, downs, and loops it has to offer whether you really want it or not, and that’s how I feel about life in general. The drumming thing is an example, they asked me if I would like to try drumming for 24 hours as part of the MTV music awards and it just never really occurred to me not to do it, which doesn’t mean I wasn’t nervous or intimidated by it; I definitely thought it was going to be challenging, and it was. It just felt like, ok, this is what I’m suppose to do. I’m grateful to not have that sort of decision making in my life because it can get kind of stressful trying to wonder what you’re suppose to do weighing options.
Everyone has the ability to just trust your instincts, but I think it’s almost outside of yourself, some kind of force just putting yourself in a place where you’re meant to be.
The best way to keep that going is to be very quick moving through life and at the same time slow enough to be aware and grateful for it and appreciate it because there are a lot of people who’d want to do all things that I get to do. I almost feel like an audience member to my own life. I can’t believe that I get to do this and I think I’m more shocked than anybody that I’m the one getting to do these things and I also think that on behalf of everybody else that gets to do these things I’m sort of representing them or for them and it gives me a lot of energy and a lot of power to do things I otherwise wouldn’t be able to do because it seems like a team effort. The drumming thing definitely was a team effort; whether it was people in Time Square cheering me on, or all the incredible drummers that joined me, drummed along side of me to keep me going, it was one of those life experiences that I’ll probably never experience like that again.
On and off stage you are very lively in your movement, what and/or who are your biggest influences for movement.
I guess all athletes. Just the idea that someone has committed their entire being, life, and body to this pursuit that really, with all do respect, has no necessarily technical value. It’s a feat unto itself and the value that it conjures up is in the form of inspiration and sort of going against very difficult challenges for the sake of it. I always kind of felt like when you’re performing you just push yourself like an athlete would, giving all that you physically have and just when you think you can’t give anymore, you give that much more. It just never occurred to me that you wouldn’t perform like that.
I decided very early on that if I’m going to do anything on stage or any kind of music, it should just be very manic, that kind of music that takes over your body and makes you able to jump around like that.
I couldn’t move like that if there was just silence. I tried before and I almost couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even remember the moves. It’s engrained in this real power source that comes out of high-energy music. Certainly in my very early days in high school there were people around the town I grew up in southeast Michigan has this great tradition of high-energy music that the older kids in my school, the bands that they were in, is what pretty much did it. There was a place called the Unitarian Church that actually allowed us to do shows, high school kids doing shows in the basement and these shows were really crazy. These bands were very, very bizarre and intense. That was the first time that I’d ever really seen bands at all or seen people my age doing anything outside of school just playing around. They were very independent in every way. They just threw themselves into everything they did. It was different, completely over the top, people flailing around and playing at top volume. So I said “OK, that’s what it’s like when you perform, that’s what you’re suppose to do.” It gave me so much energy, waves of pleasure and chills and butterflies in my stomach, so I said if I ever have a chance to perform or play that’s how I’m going to move, too.
You’re quite the Renaissance man and are truly all over the place with all your projects. Do you have any new ventures or is there any platform you want to take on that you haven’t yet?
I don’t know. I don’t feel like I’ve done that much yet and at the same time I can’t really believe that this has been going on for over 14 years now. It’s all just sort of a blur. I don’t even feel like they’re separate things. I dabble in all these different things. They all seem very connected to me. It’s very organic because it is, that’s what Andrew W.K. does. I really don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s kind of the most entertaining part to me. Again, I have to stay entertained by what I’m doing or I don’t imagine it’ll be very entertaining for anyone else watching.
I want to keep it a fun adventure and exciting and unpredictable for me so I guess I don’t really know what’s going to happen next more than anyone else does.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
MARKY RAMONE’S BLITZKRIEG WITH ANDREW W.K. ON VOCALS
PARADISE ROCK CLUB
967 COMM. AVE.