Posted by: pop-break | December 21, 2012

Interview: Andrew WK

bill bodkin gets in the christmas spirit with andrew wk…

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Andrew WK is one the most unique and interesting human beings you’ll ever encounter.

He’s a wild-eyed musician who whips his audiences into a fever-pitched frenzy with his infectious party-rock anthems. He’s a highly eloquent and impassioned motivational speaker who inspires people through the power of his positive thinking. He’s a television personality, husband, club owner, lover of Christmas carols — and most recently, a man who was chosen to be the America’s cultural ambassador to the Middle East.

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He’s also one of the most honest, sincere and eloquent people you’ll speak with. And once you’ve finished speaking with him, your entire perspective on the performer and the musician is radically altered. See, anthems like “Party Hard” aren’t just testosterone-and-PBR-fueled anthems of hedonism. Andrew WK’s life is all about the party and not just the drinking and puking part — it’s about the joy and energy that comes from the entire concept of the party.

With that being said, it kind of makes sense why in September of last year, the U.S. State Department reached out to Andrew WK to do a motivational speaking tour in the Middle Eastern country of Bahrain.

The trip was not some of sort of USO-style show where Andrew WK would be speaking to the troops and then playing a full-blown concert. Music was actually going to only be a small part of the operation — with the potential of a few impromptu, low-key jam sessions with local musicians. His main purpose was literally to engage the people of Bahrain and engage in a cultural exchange. The plain white-teed musician was stoked to head over to the Middle East, and according to his itinerary, he would spend Dec. 2-4 traveling and speaking all over the country.

“I was very excited to the open discussion,” he said in a telephone interview with Pop-Break. “I wanted to foster a positive impression of about how taking advantage of the freedoms afforded to us [can lead to so much].”

Then the plug got pulled.

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“We announced the itinerary on the website, well not all details. People were really excited. Then the next morning, it was cancelled. It was so last minute, it’s hard to figure out why. Not clear why after all that planning they’d cancel it. Personally, I think someone higher up, maybe even someone outside of the State Department, heard about the dirty clothes or saw the bloody photo [from the I Get Wet album cover]. Unless they were looking out for my personal security because there was something going on over there. Either way, it was a very interesting and strange experience.”

Of course, one couldn’t end the conversation about the Middle East without asking about partying. One reader wanted us to ask the singer if he thought “he’d be partying harder as ambassador or would he find it harder to party over there due to the cultural differences.”

The honest streak in AWK came through with a slightly exasperated sigh. “I don’t know! I was so excited. I spoke to a lot of people and they said it’s very festive there, people love partying. In fact, they’re some of the hardest partiers ever known.”

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However, the disappointment of not going to the Middle East doesn’t hold Andrew WK back from celebrating three very radical events this year.

This year, his seminal album, I Get Wet — which spawned the hits “Party Hard” and “She Is Beautiful” — celebrated it’s 10th anniversary. His sincere love and appreciation for his fans can be heard through every syllable. “It shows I’m not alone in this,” he explained. “It’s a sensational emotion that other people are feeling the way you do with a song. It’s heartwarming, the response. It’s been building for ears. People were invited to this party [10 years ago], and more and more people keep coming to it. The more the merrier!”

The second radical event in Andrew WK’s 2012 was that I Get Wet’s re-release was done on the Century Media Records label. The iconic heavy metal label — which has seen everyone from death metal aces Napalm Death to hardcore heavyweights Sick of It All to pro wrestler Chris Jericho’s band Fozzy — has been a label Andrew WK has always yearned to be a part of.

“It’s been a dream of mine to somehow be on Century Media Records,” he said. “I never thought it was possible because music wasn’t that heavy. I can’t believe it. It’s really mind blowing.”

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And the final event of awesome to cap off Andrew WK’s 2012 is his three holiday shows he’ll play in New York (Dec. 28 at The Loft in Poughkeepsie and Dec. 30 at Ollie’s Point in Amityville) and New Jersey (Dec. 29 at The Stanhope House in Stanhope).

“These are solo shows, no band, just keyboards, a drum machine and the mic,” he explained. “The solo shows are intimate. I love performing solo, but don’t get me wrong, I love performing with my band too. I feel that the better I perform without the band helps me become a better performer with the band. I’m really up there with nothing. Then people give in, and it becomes a real party.”

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However, we found out it’s not just the thoughts of playing intimate shows that excites Andrew WK about this time of year. Turns out, he’s a huge Christmas nut. “There’s a feeling in the air, it’s almost palpable,” he said. “There’s a texture in the air that [let’s you know] it’s the holidays.”

In fact, a Christmas album is something he’s thought about doing for quite some. “It’s about setting aside time in advance,” he explained. “I love Christmas music, I listen to it year round. Christmas carols were the first songs I learned to play on guitar. Everyone knows them, there’s a familiarity to them.”

When asked if there was only one Christmas song he could cover, the following happened …

Bill Bodkin: So if you could only cover one Christmas song what would it be?
Andrew WK: “Go Tell It On Mountain”
Bill Bodkin: Which version?
Andrew WK: The one with big booming voice that goes “GOOOOOOOOO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIIIIIIIIN.”
Bill Bodkin: The Harry Simeone Chorale — my dad had that record.
Andrew WK: Mine did, too! So, if your parents and my parents both had that record, that has to be it.

It’s not every day you can talk to a multiplatinum artist about childhood Christmas records. And that’s just the type of dude Andrew WK is. Down to earth. And if you ever wanted to know about which would make you puke first while partying egg nog or fruit cake, Andrew WK has this thought:

“I haven’t had egg nog in a while. I actually miss the taste. Fruit cake is just so dry. I don’t get the idea of it — it’s universally detested, yet we give it as a gift. But … if you ate an entire fruitcake without water, it’d be like concrete in your gut, and it would literally come out like you were shitting out of your mouth.”

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Getting back to the music industry, Andrew WK is pretty excited to announce that he has been working on a new record of original material for some time, and he’s hoping to have it out this year.

So how does one end an interview with someone as interesting as Andrew WK? You look to him for a positive piece of advice.

“Just stay strong, stay focused on the good things,” he said. “There’s a lot of bad, depressing things out there, but you have to stay focused — keep something positive in the front of your brain … a joke, a song, a thought … something that’s going to make you smile both inside and out.”

Andrew WK will perform at New Jersey’s Stanhope House on Saturday, Dec. 29. For tickets, click here.

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Responses

  1. […] gone unnoticed, and on March 10th they were the opening act for the one and only Andrew W.K. A.W.K., himself has had quite the year with the story of him gaining (and subsequently losing) the title of Cultural Ambassador of the United States for the Middle East. Once I found out about […]

  2. […] don’t forget to check out Pop-Break’s interviews with: Andrew W.K., Saves the Day, Anthony Raneri of Bayside and the band […]


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