It’s hard to pick a title for Andrew WK.
He’s a rock star, as his chart-topping first album “I Get Wet” suggests, and he’s a small-business owner, with his beloved club Santos Party House. Then there’s his regular column for the Village Voice, making him one part advice columnist, and his new educational web series “Meet Me At The Reck,” making him another part educator.
Maybe it’s just this: Andrew WK is a professional partier.
Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier has made his rock star dreams come true, twice cracking the Billboard Top 200 charts, winning a dedicated (and white-denimed) fan base, and turning his love of partying into a successful career.
The Michigan native hit the big time with “Party Hard,” a simple anthem with a chorus of “When it’s time to party we will always party hard.” His mission: to help people feel good about feeling good. So far, it’s worked. As the music publication Pitchfork said in its review of “I Get Wet,” he “treats euphoria as an actual musical genre.”
We talked with WK about how he’s gotten this far, what keeps him going, and his upcoming book for Simon & Schuster — “The Party Bible,” a treatise about how the “philosophy of partying” is a pursuit of personal joy.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.
Business Insider: When did it become clear to you that this — making music, running rock clubs, helping people with the riddles of life in your column — was what you wanted to do?
Andrew WK: When I moved to New York, that was a turning point.
I wanted to do something big. More than anything, I wanted to have a thing that I could put all of my energy into, something that was big enough that all the interests I could ever have could be included in it. It just wasn’t clear what that was going to be at first.
I do feel like I have a real clear purpose, and if someone would have told me that I was going to be doing this, I probably would have passed out or puked or something. It would have been too much to take in.
BI: You’re known for your dedication to a positive lifestyle. How is that reflected in the work you do?
AWK: The core of all of it is the same thing — that good feeling, whether you call it joy or positive energy or just being cheered up. To me it’s a real physical sensation that confirms that you’re meant to be alive. Not even that it’s just good to be alive, but that you’re meant to be alive. I want to feel that myself and feel it with as many people as possible.
BI: You’ve talked about how your dreams have come true. What’s the secret?
AWK: When I look back and see how things were realised, it seems like my actions had very little to do with it.
Of course I had to record an album or play a show, there was physical effort involved in that. But I could have played a show or recorded an album, and that doesn’t mean that all these things would necessarily happen.
It seemed to me more that what I thought were dreams that had come true, now I think were predictions that came true, or a preview that I was being shown. Like: “OK, get ready, because you’re going to end up doing this.”
It seems like your dreams are your own spirit, your own soul, telling you what you’re meant to do and getting you psyched up with the idea of thinking that it was your idea all along.
There’s been some events that were just so unlikely, there was no logical reason that they happened — the synchronicities and good fortune.
BI: What’s an example?
Being able to move to New York, that was a dream come true.
Visiting with my dad, when my sister lived here, seeing it on TV and the movies — there was never a doubt in my mind from age 7 or 8 that New York isn’t just where I wanted to go, but that’s where you go. That’s the story of so many people, that’s almost the defining characteristic of this city. Now, it doesn’t feel so much like “I want to go to New York,” but “I was meant to go to New York.”
Another example: In junior high school, a young man brought these CDs to class. He brought a Cannibal Corpse CD, an Autopsy CD, and he brought a CD by a band called Obituary. He lent them to me, and I was really into all of them, especially this Obituary CD. I ended up getting more of their albums over the coming years, and ended up listening to that music and a few others all day, every day, for hours and hours.
Steps are taken, experiences are had, roads are gone down. That experience led to me meeting someone who happened to work in the office with someone who grew up with the drummer and singer of Obituary in Florida. I said, “Oh well, I’m a huge fan. Do you have their address?”
I said, “I’m going to write them a letter and ask them to be in my band.” Why would I ever have the nerve to think that my favourite drummer would ever join my band? Yet I wrote him a letter and sent it to his address, which as far as his friend knew was an old address.
And then one day I come home and there’s a voicemail on my answering machine saying, “Yeah, this is Donald Tardy, the drummer of Obituary. I got your CD. This is cool; let’s do it.” A few weeks later we’re in Hollywood and he joins my band. Not only joins my band, forms my band. Finds our sound man, brings his whole crew together to make this thing happen.
That doesn’t make any sense. It’s a totally different kind of music. There’s no connections beyond this one random friend.
BI: Was this for “I Get Wet”?
AWK: Yeah. That was the first time when I could really say that a dream came true. If someone said, what was anything you could wish for, it would have been to have Donald Tardy in my band as my drummer.
It seemed so unlikely I didn’t even think that it would happen. Everything since then has been a variation on that same feeling.
BI: What’s this book you’re working on?
AWK: It’s “The Party Bible.” It’s about life, but it’s not autobiographical; I don’t feel like it’s time for that. I’m trying to make it as non-anecdotal as possible. Writing the Village Voice column every week has really helped me practice how to do that.
It’s about the philosophy of partying, everything we’re talking about now. It’s really the culmination of everything I’ve done. I figure it might be my only chance to write any book, and even if that is a dramatic way to approach it, I want that to be this book. If I only get to write one book, I want it to be the best it can.
BI: Also, I need to thank you for “I Get Wet,” an album that I’ve been headbanging to since I was 14 years old.
AWK: I’m happy to hear that it worked for you.
The music is forceful, and it’s easy when that hand of feeling is coming toward you, it can be tricky to tell if it’s balled up into a fist or whether it’s open as a high five. A high five is a very open kind of hand, but it can still smack you.
I really hope that people got not only the concepts or the songs or even what I was singing about, but just the feeling of the music.
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