When Andrew W.K.’s first album, I Get Wet, came out a decade ago, the music site Pitchfork gave it 0.6 out of 10, describing the singer as a “tard-rock” novelty act. In the intervening years, the singer has released an album of J-pop covers, done a tour of solo improvised piano music, given motivational speeches at Yale and NYU, and presented a kids’ TV show that involves blowing up machines. In 2009, Pitchfork named I Get Wet one of its 200 best albums of the decade.
So is it genius, idiocy, or both? There’s a chance to rehash the arguments this April, when Andrew will play the whole album live in London, Manchester and Glasgow. Expect the crowd to be split between those going crazy to the band’s jackhammer riffs without thinking twice about it, and those doing the same while mentally putting ironic quote marks around the whole thing. Both camps are likely to be retweeting his party tips and investing in Party Hard bumper stickers while they’re there.
If the whole thing’s a joke to Andrew, he’s good at keeping a straight face. (Even when he said he was an actor who had auditioned for the part of Andrew W.K. a few years ago, paranoid bloggers bought it.) After an hour in his company, it’s hard to believe he’s not ultra-serious about his “mission,” even when he says it’s to “unite the human race through party.” Either way, he should be saluted for taking rock’n’roll showmanship to new heights.
How To Have the Perfect Summer, by Andrew W.K.
‘In the summer you should go to any kind of amusement park, a carnival, a fair, a funfair or a circus. That to me is pretty much the thing I like more in this world. I was going to say that’s the best thing in the whole world, but there’s other stuff I like a lot too. Rollercoasters, rides, fun houses, haunted houses. Anything like that, to me is the best. And then just stay there aaall day, and go home completely weakened and battered.’
COME TO NEW YORK CITY
‘Coney Island is the best place in the world, as far as a carnival atmosphere in New York goes. They’ve been rebuilding it and sprucing it up over the last few years. I was really concerned that it was going to be made worse but it’s actually better than ever. I also like to go to Atlantic City, and walk around that boardwalk, and then Times Square is sort of like its own carnival unto itself. I live close to there so that’s a lot of fun.’
MAKE TIME TO DO NOTHING
‘It’s good to have contrast and dynamics in life. Quiet times have just as much intense life experience to offer as really jam-packed, crazy, busy times. A lot of my songs that I like the most came from just sitting still, looking out the window on a bus, or going for a walk. I’m around a lot of people all the time, so it’s great to have moments where you’re not around anyone. Even when you’re not around yourself. That takes a little more effort.’
STORE UP MEMORIES
‘Feeling sad about summer ending is an intense feeling, but it’s too painful to get caught up on it. I always have that potential to be sad or depressed about something ending, but it’s really best to focus on either a new beginning or realize that the values and the good parts of that experience will stick with you forever.’
DO WHAT YOU LOVE
‘The distillation of all my party tips would be: do what you would want to do, and then celebrate it every day. You can remember that by being around other people who also work that way and live that way. Eventually it becomes second nature. You can magically alter your live if you believe hard enough and then take actual physical action in the world outside your brain to make it happen. And then sometimes it seems like there is no inside and outside. You just have to set a goal and go for it.’
‘Sometimes it’s important to let yourself just feel however you feel, and realize that just being alive is a positive enough experience. It doesn’t have to be this cheerful mood; it all counts. Sometimes those really painful, uncomfortable feelings are when you’re growing the most and absorbing life experience. Sometimes when you’re feeling sad or depressed, it’s because your soul and your spirit has grown more than the rest of you has and you’re trying to catch up.’
‘For me, it’s important to have a lot of air conditioning and lots and lots of sunscreen. Maybe umbrellas at times, although that might sound kind of wimpy. I love the sun for the life and energy it brings to the world, but I cannot stand being sunburned, and that’s a real challenge for me when it is sunny. I finally live in an apartment with air conditioning for the first time in my life; it’s an amazing miracle. You’ve got to drink lots and lots of fluids, especially when you’re in the heat. And there’s nothing wrong with wearing shorts. Especially if you’re a lady.’
CHANNEL THE LAST DAY OF SCHOOL
‘My favourite memories of summer usually involve the last day of school and how it dissolves. You try to hold it together, the teachers try to hold it together, but even they can’t contain their excitement, and the whole school dissolves into this joy. Even though summer break would only be a couple of months, it felt like an eternity. It was always like a melancholy, really emotional feeling, coupled with joy. I always wanted my music to feel like that: like the last day of school, or like going down the first hill on a rollercoaster, or the smell of cotton candy, just these really elemental types of joy that most people can relate to.’