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Interview: Hard Rock Party Animal Andrew W.K.

Andrew W.K. is so much more than just a rock and roll party animal. He is also a classically trained singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, composer, actor, motivational speaker, columnist and radio personality.

Short for Wilkes-Krier, W.K. first rose to fame in 2001 with his major-label debut album I Get Wet from Island/Def Jam Records, which hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Heatseekers charts. The album also drummed up controversy overseas for its cover art, which many felt depicted an image of cocaine abuse.

Salute Magazine recently caught up with Andrew W.K. to discuss parties, politics, sports anthems, his advice column, “Ask Andrew W.K.” and his upcoming performance at Revolution Bar and Music Hall in Amityville, N.Y. on Dec. 12.

How come you never stop partying?

AWK: I tried it once many, many years ago. Probably around age 6, I stopped for a few minutes. It was bad. The closest thing I could imagine compares to death. But, much worse than death… like the absence of anything. Ever since then I made a solemn promise to myself and to life to never stop [partying] again.

What is it about your music that is so anthemic? 

AWK: I don’t exactly know how a song is defined as an “anthem.” I guess it’s through the use of the song. In that way people have used the song to create a soundtrack for their moments of glory. But, I am not sure that you can set out to make an anthem. 

As a New York Rangers fan, I can honestly tell you that there has not been a single game that I have been to without hearing “I Love NYC” over the loudspeakers. So, I am curious, do you follow any New York sports teams? Which ones?

AWK: I love sports very much, but out of sincere respect for sports fans, athletes and historians, I would never put myself in that category. I admire and respect athletes a great deal and am a humble admirer of the whole phenomenon itself. Their passion, risk and a rather unusual path in life—I can relate to that quite a bit. As a professional partier I try to relate in those ways. I really love fan culture and how anyone that can thrive off that atmosphere.

I’ve heard, of course, about the Rangers using my song “I Love NYC” at games. It’s an incredible honor. Going back to your last question, when they play that song in that atmosphere, there is that shared feeling of good energy. That was a high point and I am extraordinarily grateful.

As the authority on Rock and Roll “party animals,” which of the bands you’ve toured with in the past partied the hardest?

AWK: Every band that we’ve had the good fortune of playing with has been tremendously kind and dedicated to being part of the show. I don’t think I’m an “authority.” I’ve always allowed others to celebrate in their own way and I would hope they gave me the same respect to party in my own way, because we’re all there to make it a good night for everyone in attendance.

How do you juggle performing with you duties as co-owner of Santos Party House? 

AWK: A lot of trust and a lot of assistance. I put my trust in the people I work with. We each have specific tasks and duties. It’s always a matter of having a big team.

Not everyone is aware that in 2014 you started to write a type of “Dear Abby” column for The Village Voice called “Ask Andrew W.K.” Among the numerous questions you’ve received for the column, what were some of the most difficult to answer? 

AWK: The most difficult ones, I wouldn’t even answer, because they would have to do with personal choices. I wouldn’t even tell someone I did know really well what to do in life. Sometimes they are asking for relationship advice. I wouldn’t know where to begin with that. I could never figure out what to tell this person.

What about issues that are more controversial, for instance you recently answered a question pertaining to terrorism? 

AWK: I thought [the question] was straightforward and speaks to the universal human experiences we can all relate to—stress, anxiety and the day-to-day conditions we all have to live through. The ups and downs of existence. Everyone can relate to it in a way, everyone has a set of experiences to bond with the person writing [the question] or in my answer, hopefully.

You also host the motivational talk show “America W.K.” on the conservative libertarian radio network, theBlaze. I just wanted to know if you ever considered yourself to be a political person? 

AWK: Someone had asked that a while ago. I said no. I don’t get that involved of talking about governmental politics. But “politics” are a type of social interaction. We’re all engaged in it. If you look up the definition, it is just a broad way to refer to social interactions. So, yeah, like anybody, any person who is participating a in society, is participating in politics in some way even if you’re not a politician or pundit.

With that said, who do you find yourself supporting in the 2016 presidential elections? 

AWK: I don’t have any really strong opinions. Based on the shortcomings that I’ve seen at a distance, I would never look to these people to solve any of my real problems in my day-to-day [life] and I wouldn’t want them to. I would like to face them myself. The most important changes have to happen from within us and that’s probably a good thing.

What was your past experience like playing on Long Island?

AWK: I played there well over a dozen times over the years. It’s almost like a tradition to play [on Long Island] around the holidays. It’s part of my holiday routine. Part of my holiday celebration, as much as snow falling on the ground. I would really be overjoyed if this became part of a holiday tradition for [the fans] too.

Catch Andrew W.K.’s solo holiday performance on Dec. 12 at Revolution Bar and Music Hall, 140 Merrick Road in Amityville, featuring special guests Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, Persona, Space Camp Dropout, London Eyes, Save It For Later, Onto Carthage and Amboy. Doors open at 8 p.m. Admission is $20. Tickets are available at clubloaded.com.

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