Modern Fix

ANDREW W.K. – interview by james wright


The state of hard music for quite a few years has been a depressing one. It seems easier for the bands of today to make their audience feel depressed and down about life rather than be uplifting. Enter Andrew WK. Born out of a desire to make music fun again Andrew has managed to successfully combine pop melodies along with the fist pumping fun of a band like Kiss. With songs like “Party Hard” and “She is Beautiful” it’s hard not to be in a good mood or crack a smile when seeing Andrew jumping around on stage banging his head.

“What happened to becoming over the top excited where you don’t know what’s going to happen next? It didn’t matter what was going to happen next because all you knew is that it made you feel happy and made you smile. Being happy is not something to feel guilty about” Andrew told Modern Fix. Andrew Wk commented on the current state of affairs by saying, “It’s become “uncool” to become excited or have fun and it became very cool to become bored”

Modern Fix was fortunate enough to catch up with this one-man party machine while on a Canadian tour in support of his Island Records debut “I Get Wet”.

James: How is the Canadian tour going so far?
Andrew: Well we’ve been in Canada for a week now and the shows have been fantastic. These shows have really been mind blowing and exceeded all my expectations. I don’t see how they could have been any better.

So all your Canadian fans have come prepared to party?
Oh yea’! Canadians are some of the coolest people I’ve ever met in my life.

I saw you perform in Buffalo back in April and I have to admit it was probably the most fun I’ve had at a show in years.
Thank-you. I remember the guy who dressed like me and came onstage to dance. He actually had good dance moves. I think he might have known my dance moves better than me.

From what I understand you started off writing songs on your own with a Karaoke machine?
Well I’ve only ever done Karaoke twice in my life but if you want to go back to where it all started then I took piano lessons around age five. Five until Thirteen years old I took piano lessons and was in a couple high school bands playing piano and I also played drums in a few local bands. I was obviously too young to play in most bars at the time but it was a lot of fun. When I turned eighteen years old I moved to New York and upon arriving there it became clear to me that If I wanted to do something musically then I was going to have to do it myself. I had been in a bunch of bands that had very low aspirations and it didn’t go any further than playing in front of ten people. I was writing music then that was intended to be played by and in front of a lot of people. So I put ads in the paper looking for musicians and just looked everywhere for the perfect band. I even went as far as asking people on the street if they wanted to be in my band as long as they looked cool. (Laughs) I started getting frustrated that I couldn’t find the right people so I ended up playing shows by myself just with a keyboard. I’d record the drums, bass lines on CD and bring that with me and then try and recreate the material live by myself.

So how did you come to form the group of the guys in your band now?
Well my Drummer, Donald Tardy, used to be in a Death metal band called Obituary. He’s one of the greatest drummers in the world really. I think he is one of the hardest hitting drummers around really and he is so committed to his instrument that it’s incredible. It’s kind of a crazy story the way I met him because Obituary has and will always be one of my favorite bands of all time. By playing a show in New York I met my now manager who had grown up with Donald and he gave me his home address so I could write him a letter. I wrote him a letter and asked him if he’d like to play drums in my band. He ended up calling a week later and said he’d do it and ever since then things have been amazing. This band has gone farther then I could have ever imagined and it has only just begun.

When you assembled the band was it always about having fun with music?
Exactly. It was all about finding the right notes, melodies and rhythm that would make me feel the most excited and happy. I was not trying to be afraid of making not only myself, but also other people happy. People have said the music is the message and their exactly right! This melodie, (Whistles ‘She Is Beautiful’) is what this music is all about. Nothing is more important than that melody.

So what are you hoping people take away with them from listening to Andrew W.K?
I hope that people see things the way they really are. Unfortunately people may see they way things are and get sad about them but I think the majority of people will feel a lot better about themselves and just their life in general. I think a lot of people are unreasonably upset and by that I mean they don’t have a lot to be sad about but I think this music is a reason for them not to be sad. Whether that is for an hour or thirty minutes but hopefully they hold on to that moment for as long as possible and try to get as far as possible with it. You wanna know what? You have one life to live and you’re the only one who can make it better or worse so make the best of it. We’re given each day and what we do with it is up to us so what I try to do is live for the moment. I only think about whatever I’m doing as I’m doing it and not whatever has happened or may happen. I’m not talking about ignoring responsibility but rather not worrying about what has happened, what will happen or whatever might happen. I live every moment like it’s going to be my last day of my life.

So in other words you hope people will just bring them a sense of happiness while listening to your music?
Hopefully in the time I’m here I will improve something or someone and that’s what my music is about. It might sound funny to be talking about something big like this when it’s something as simple as “Party Hard” but that’s just saying is have fun. It’s not something to feel guilty about at all! It’s become “uncool” to become excited or have fun and it became very cool to become bored! What happened to becoming over the top excited where you don’t know what’s going to happen next? It didn’t matter what was going to happen next because all you knew is that it made you feel happy and made you smile. Being happy is not something to feel guilty about and it’s not senseless or thoughtless. You should never feel guilty about having fun or deny yourself the pleasure of smiling or laughing. Enjoying something in this world is one of the greatest pleasures we have as human beings in this world and it’s not something that should be looked down upon or be afraid of. In these times where our lives could end in a flash like the 9/11 tragedies, I think it has become more important to value our lives. Do you think those people who have died in the last year would not want us to us use our lives and enjoy them while not feeling guilty about enjoying life? I think everyone should have the attitude that you only have a few more years left on this planet but use them with all your heart. I got one shot I’m going to waste it! You have only yourself in this world and you can’t have any expectations on anything or anybody else and just work on you. If you work on being the best person you can be good things will follow.

This year you did both Warped Tour and Ozzfest. How was the reaction?
They were both incredible. I think the experience I walked away with was that we’re all the same and we’re all human beings coming from the same place. I think the differences we all imagine aren’t as different as you may think and we are all a bit similar. I was just floored by how kind everyone was and I expected the exact opposite and that makes me feel kind of embarrassed to be quite honest that I thought that way. I expected the worst and ended up with the best. I was just so pleasured that everyone was so kind and good-natured. Ozzfest was kind of a challenge and it was something people told me, “You shouldn’t be that tour because the fans only like this type of music.” I said, “Watch us do it and play our hearts out. We can play just as hard as anybody else.” People responded to us at Ozzfest and some days it wasn’t as good as other but we did not waste a day of that situation. We really tried to take advantage of the situation and hang out as much as we could with the fans. I had so much fun doing it though. I think of Ozzfest as riding a bike where your riding up a hill peddling really hard and working just trying to make it to the top of that hill and Warped Tour was just like riding down the hill. We had so much fun at Warped Tour. People just went bananas for our music and the bands were saying how much they liked us! That just blew me away as they were all watching from the side of the stage and coming up to me taking pictures and getting CDs signed. I had just never felt so much acceptance from other bands before and it felt so awesome. I guess they just see someone doing something they love and they identify with it. I have been given so much when others have given so little and for me to have all these little adventures while being so young is just great. It is totally unacceptable for me to be anything but grateful for everything I have been given and I can’t lose sight of that.

Did you mange to have an Ozzy moment at Ozzfest this year?
No I did not. I got to hang out with Kelly and Jack a lot and I even sang, “She is Beautiful” with Kelly for the Ozzfest live CD. As far as Ozzy goes he usually stays at a hotel until showtime and there is usually really high security around him when he is there. Some of my friends saw him because they snuck into an area where they weren’t supposed to be but he is definitely a legend in this business and needs to be protected. Put it this way he’s not hanging out with any of the bands he tours with! (Laughs)

What in your opinion would be five items for having a great party?
AWell I think before we go into that we have to define party and that can be just yourself or with a thousand people. You can have a party at work or a party while you sleep and a party means nothing more than doing whatever it is you want to do. What I want to do changes all the time but if I was going to a party say on my Birthday or something I may want to drink something. If I was drinking, I’d bring a lot of Vodka and I’d bring water so I don’t dehydrate after drinking. I might bring some Marijuana, definitely a lot of good food and a lot of good music. You wanna know what though? I want people to know that you could have that exact same party without alcohol or drugs and there is no rulebook on what you or don’t have to do to be perceived as “cool” by me or anyone for that matter. I think you should just due whatever it is you want to do.

I think you can have just as much fun without drugs and alcohol as you can with them.
Exactly! I never used to drink when I was a little younger and I swear I was way crazier without the booze than they were. I still get that way today when I feel like it but I think it all comes down to you can do no wrong as long as it’s what you want to do. The more they believe that the stronger it becomes.

My final question for you would be who is your favorite character on the Simpsons?
Ah’ what a great question! You know it’s really hard to pick favorites but then again I’m thinking maybe I can change my mind later so my favorite character today in terms of consistent laughter you couldn’t do any better than Homer. Principal Skinner actually would be tied with Homer for my favorite. Jasper that guy from the nursing home with the long beard is pretty funny.

I think Dr. Hibert is highly underrated.
He is defiantly a consistent joke maker in my book. Some of the characters on the show can’t always be in laugh mode so you have these characters that pop up just to make jokes like the Scientist or Kent Brockman. I actually really like Miss Krabapple and all the school characters are really great too like Groundskeeper Willie. Police Chief Wiggam and his son Ralph as well but I’m going to have to say a tie between Homer and Principal Skinner for my favorite. That’s a great question though.

Thank-you so very much Andrew. It was my pleasure.
Thank-you very much and I hope to see you out there on this tour.

In a day and age where anyone’s life could end in a flash it should be more important now than ever to smile and have fun again; something that has been missing for music for a while now. Andrew Wk’s music is a party anthem for the new millennium. So in other words let’s get a party going! After all it’s what Andrew would want us to do.