“A professional partier and an amateur human being.”
How Andrew W.K. would introduce himself to someone who doesn’t know anything about him reveals the depth behind the hard-rocking, party-anthem-wielding force of nature his fans have come to adore since he blew up internationally with single ‘Party Hard’ in 2001.
The reveal is appropriate.
Since 2010, the 38-year-old American has stepped back from recording to explore motivational speaking, writing, authoring an advice column, and collaborating with other artists. His work has recently seen him named person of the year by suicide prevention group the American Association of Suicidology.
Now, he’s back with You’re Not Alone: his first album of new songs in nearly twelve years. It’s a typically triumphant collection of rock tracks featuring his trademark big riffs, infectious hooks and buoyant choruses.
While he acknowledges he is lucky to have made another album at all, the finished product was only ever going to have one goal: make the listener feel better.
“I only want to put good vibes out into the world, and I’m very focussed on that mission,” he says.
“I imagine we have a perpetual need for positivity. The best things in life give us the strength and resilience to face the challenges that are worth solving.”
For the King of Partying, partying can mean a whole lot more than just getting drunk with friends.
“I’ve had a lot of experience with getting drunk, but it’s not limited to that,” he says.
“First and foremost, it’s a decision to break away from the torturous debate over whether life is good or bad, and it’s an acceptance of the possibility that it is intrinsically good. Then it’s finding the wherewithal to celebrate all that goodness. It’s basically looking at life as a celebration of not being dead, and trying to find the value in the difficult parts of that experience.”
Taking a philosophical approach to partying is fairly unique among hard-rocking musicians, but Andrew W.K.’s power of positivity reaches further, into all areas of his life. His remedy for feeling low is a common one.
“Music never fails. There are people out there, and they’re few and far between, who don’t get the power of music. I could be in a completely defeated frame of mind and turn to music, and it will instantly change not just my thoughts and mood, but the way my body changes physically. It changes the way it feels to exist for the better. Like so many people, we can just imagine a song, and it sounds so much better in our heads than it does being played. It permeates the best part of our soul, and if we can hold onto that in the face of difficulty, it will see us through.”
Another uncommon thing for a hard-rock musician to do is to include spoken-word pieces in an album, of which there are three on You’re Not Alone. Again, the themes are positivity and overcoming doubt.
“Including those was suggested to me by someone in my management team, and it never would have occurred to me,” he says.
“It’s a very exposed and vulnerable contrast to very dense and celebratory music. I didn’t allow my own fears or trepidation to sway me from recording them. I recorded them at the very last second – I literally could not have delayed putting them off any further. I recorded them in the mastering phase – you’re supposed to be completely done with all your recording by that point. The engineer was very generous, and I recorded them quickly and spontaneously. I didn’t realise it at the time, but when I transcribed them for the lyric book, those words were what I was telling myself through the recording of the album and what I tell myself in everyday life. I thought maybe someone else could relate to them as well.”
While he is reinvigorated and empowered by his new album and seemingly feeling freer than ever, Andrew W.K. is sticking firmly to his stated mission – albeit with 17 years more experience and maturity since ‘Party Hard’ made his name.
“I’ve not yet done most things, as far as what I would like to do,” he says.
“I would like to get better as a person and serve this calling. That’s really all I should allow myself. There were times in the past I felt pressure to be ambitious, to think bigger and broader, and do all sorts of other things. I’m not cut out for those things – I’m barely cut out for this. I just want to get better and better at delivering on the promise that I have committed myself to, and that’s party power.”
Australia, known internationally for its party power, is firmly in mind for a visit.
“We have been talking about coming over for concerts and I’m extremely excited about that,” he says.
“Australia has never faltered in not only appreciating party power, but conjuring it up. It would be great to be re-energised and refuelled with a Down Under trip. Hopefully it will happen this year.”
You’re Not Alone by Andrew W.K. is out Friday 2nd March 2018 via Sony Music Australia
For The Brag