The King of Partying, Andrew W.K., the one-man music machine recently released his first album in more than a decade, You’re Not Alone. The new record was released through Red Music/Sony Music worldwide with the front cover image painted by legendary artists, Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell. As to be expected the album is nothing but pure high octane rock ‘n’ roll for the body, mind and soul.
Known for songs like, “Party Hard”, “We Want Fun” and “You Will Remember Tonight”, Andrew W.K. states that the new record is every bit as dedicated to partying as I Get Wet.
Music Madness: Congrats, on the release of your newest masterpiece, You’re Not Alone.
Andrew W. K.: Thanks, that’s very kind of you. Thank you so much.
Music Madness: Absolutely. 12 years in-between releases is a long time.
Andrew W. K.: Yeah, it was terrible.
Music Madness: What was it that inspired you release new music after such a hiatus?
Andrew W. K.: No, it was no decision. I have been trying to release it potentially that entire time. It was quite maddening really. Well, I should say there were times when there were wonderful opportunities that emerged that interfered with the album making process, but there was never any rhyme or reason to why it took this long.
A lot of it was circumstance. Circumstances that were both painful and circumstances that were also wonderful. I suppose there’s no sense in me regretting at the way things have gone, because if the album had come out sooner, I don’t think it would’ve been completed with the same level of integrity as it eventually was. But it wasn’t as though I suddenly decided, “Okay, now, we’ll put the album out.” I would’ve happily had it come out 10 years earlier. So, sometimes that’s just our biggest goal. All I can do now, is attempt never allow there to be such an amount of time between albums again.
Music Madness: Things happen for a reason, so it must have been the right time. Unfortunately, the process can be maddening at times.
Andrew W. K.: Yeah, it’s the only way to think about it, but I take a lot of responsibility for the delay as well. It was my own inability to get the material finished.
Andrew W. K.: At least it’s out now, and I’m thankful of that.
Music Madness: Let me ask you this, you have put out quite a collection of music over the years. How has your music evolved over the years?
Andrew W. K.: Hopefully, not at all. It’s not very much of an illusion. I think I’m trying to hit the same target of feeling, a bullseye of feeling. Same target I was trying to hit on I Get Wet. I’m just trying to get better at hitting it. Of course, I can only really judge whether I’m hitting it or not personally.
Maybe people that feel quite confident in listening that I never hit the target that they’re hoping to have hit for them as a listener, but there’s a certain type of intense energizing emotional spirit that I’m attempting to interact with through rock music, and that goal has remained unchanged. I suppose because maybe I haven’t hit it to my own satisfaction. I’m still deep in the effort of trying to nail that perfect song, that perfect recorded moment, that generates this sort of euphoric optimism that I’m always searching for and looking to create.
And until I do hit that, I don’t see any reason that I’ll abandon this particular effort. So, if I’ve evolved, I’ve only evolved in my efforts to hit it. Like, if you’re an archer trying to get an arrow into that bullseye, you might develop through your practice different techniques. You might buy different equipment, you might approach your mission in different ways, but it’s all for the same end result, and I’m still very much bound up in that effort.
Music Madness: Very cool. The live music experience is something that I love. I don’t know that I always get the same experience listening to something as I do experiencing it live. You are on this massive touring schedule. How has the tour fared to this point?
Andrew W. K.: I’m very much like you in that even as a music listener, I just cannot help but imagine the music occurring in a live space, even if it’s imagining the musicians performing in the recording studio. It’s just maybe as someone who plays music myself, that’s how I experience the sound of music as a human whose actually engaged in making the music possible, making it happen, making it audible, playing it. And whenever recording an album, I can’t help but think of the music in the context of a concert. So, every song is written with that idea of, “Okay, we just finished that last song. Now, this intro is gonna start at this song, so then kick it.”
And for some reason, I guess I’m imagining as if I was in the audience even more than imagining what it would be like to perform the song, although I think I love that too. I’m thinking of that archetypal audience member, who I guess is sort of myself in a sense. What would it be like to hear this song live? What would it be like to see the band walk out onstage and have this song kick in? There’s something about that atmosphere, much like you described, that is so powerful and compelling, that my soul longs to experience all music in some way through that lens of the live experience. I’m someone who actually didn’t get to go to that many concerts as a very young person either, so a lot of it is just imagination.
So, even when I was listening to music at home, I would fantasize about the atmosphere that must exist for something like this music to have it. And that’s definitely the case with all the stuff I’m still recording now. I love touring and I love playing live, even though the music is not recorded in the traditional live sense in terms of a band playing all together at once. It’s usually recorded just me alone, which is how it all began, me fantasizing about what it would be like to have a band, about what it would be like to play this music with more than just myself.
To have a team with me of comrades united with this sense of purpose to have an audience there with me who also believed in what I was pursuing and doing it with me as partners in this party. So, there’s something about that live experience that also has a great sense of togetherness and community that I think I was often longing for as a much younger person and still have longed for in different ways to this day. But through this party mission, I’ve gotten to experience that sense of belonging that I often was not able to find as a younger person.
Music Madness: When you are playing alone verses being on stage with a band are you able to make changes to your setlist on the fly based on what the audience wants?
Andrew W. K.: I’ve very rarely done that, but you’re right, the times when I have been entirely spontaneous onstage has been when I’ve been playing solo completely blind. And maybe sometimes I’ve even gone out on those solo stages without the setlist at all, maybe just a vague sense of a few songs I would play and make it up as I go along, rather than the crowd has specific input or not. But for whatever reason, what’s always appealed to me as an audience member and as a performer was a very set … like a movie, kind of experience for a show.
I liked the idea that the performers had worked very hard to refine a presentation for me as a viewer that I wasn’t in control of it. Just like when I go into a movie theater. I loved the idea that this entire experience works very hard to create a presentation for me, and that it was a chance for me to turn off my desire and be exposed to the desires of the filmmaker. That’s the experience I really like at concerts as well is that these performers have decided to do a very specific thing. I’m interested in what that is, but it’s hard to know why that appeals to me. It’s just an aesthetic difference. I mean, I appreciate and respect a tremendous amount performers and bands who change up their set as they go. Someone yells out a song, they might just play it. You know. Screw the moment. It’s just a different approach.
Music Madness: I don’t know that I could go without a setlist, my ADHD would kick in and who knows what the hell would happen? I imagine that it helps you from going astray.
Andrew W. K.: It’s like muscle memory. When things become second nature, of this style of music that we play, just for me very physically demanding athletically speaking. When muscle memory kicks in, you’re able to tap into a deeper instinctual emotional power to perform because I don’t have to remember what the next word is. I don’t have to remember what the next song is. The entire show becomes one song, and because you’re not trying so hard to remember what to do next, you can turn all your energy and all your attention over to playing the best you possibly can. There’s, of course, a confidence that comes from that. This is all very obvious I suppose.
Music Madness: Are you saying that would heighten the experience by enabling your ability to take the music to the next level, because you are not concentrating on the basic parts of that?
Andrew W. K.: Yeah, exactly. But it is sort of apple and oranges because that tightrope walk effect and not knowing what you’re going to do and being under the very precipice of messing up also has a great tension to it. There could be amazing vulnerabilities that are exposed, and that are exciting for the audience and for the performer. So, I see the value of both of them. I think just for this style of music and this particular approach, it’s about reveling in the power of the energy we’re trying to muster. This is what I’ve found to be the most effective at delivering that energy.
Music Madness: Do you have a favorite lyric that you have written? One that just takes you to that moment in time when you hear it?
Andrew W. K.: I mean, countless, there’s just countless. When it comes to my own songs, there are moments on this new album where I can’t believe that I was able to get the words to the place they wound up at. Remembering how much I was struggling with a lot of the lyric writing and how brutal it’s usually been. I always write the lyrics last, every time. It’s purely out of procrastination because it’s the least enjoyable part of the music making experience.
Everything is just an instrumental song until the very end, and then I have to figure out a way to add this very alien instrument called the human voice, which of course is the most second nature of all, but to me, it’s just riddled with complications. Once the lyrics are done, and I’ve kind of forgotten about the torment I went through while making the words and singing the words, I can go back and enjoy it from a slightly more detached point of view. And then I’m really amazed at how they turned out. That’s been a really enjoyable part, especially on the last two albums, something that I really, borderline hated about making rock music was words, but now, it’s something I’m getting closer to be able to really appreciate and maybe even enjoy.
Music Madness: Very cool. Any particular songs that fans are responding well to on this tour so far? Perhaps some of the newer music?
Andrew W. K.: Well, in England we noticed that the crowd was most passionate about the newest songs, the songs that had just been released on the album. I’ve never had that happen before. That was extremely surprising, obviously very encouraging, but the setlist attempts to play songs that people would hopefully want to hear from all the main albums, so all the main four albums. Considering we’re coming up on 20 years, four albums is not that much, so we’re actually able to cover a lot of material during the show. But I have been really moved by the fact that people have not only been familiar with the newer songs, but have seemed to be specifically glad to hear, but still maybe they even just found out about us and this music, and the whole Andrew W.K. now. Maybe this is the first album they’ve even encountered. That’s a hopeful feeling.
Music Madness: Awesome. I am looking forward to getting to experience your live show myself in Orlando later in September. I greatly appreciate you taking a few minutes to speak with us.
Andrew W. K.: Yes, thank you. This band is largely based out of Florida. That’s where we rehearse, that’s where we really built the band going all the way back to 2000, 2001 in Tampa and Orlando. Orlando’s show is not only the homecoming show of sorts, but it is also the final show on this tour. This tour will most likely be our last tour for the year, so that show is quite significant on many levels. And thank you in advance for helping spread the word.
Music Madness: Absolutely. Andrew, thank you so much for your time. Continued success on the tour, and I look forward to seeing you in September.
Andrew W. K.: Thank you, Stephen.
Sept 04 – Phoenix, AZ – The Crescent Ballroom
Sept 05 – Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda Theatre
Sept 06 – San Francisco, CA – The Fillmore
Sept 07 – Portland, OR – Revolution Hall
Sept 08 – Seattle, WA – The Showbox @ The Market
Sept 09 – Vancouver, BC – Imperial
Sept 11 – Calgary, AB – Dickens Pub
Sept 13 – Winnipeg, MB – The Park Theatre
Sept 14 – Minneapolis, MN – Varsity Theatre
Sept 18 – Des Moines, IA – Wooly’s
Sept 19 – Kansas City, MO – recordBar
Sept 21 – Dallas, TX – Tree’s
Sept 22 – Austin, TX – The Mohawk
Sept 23 – Houston, TX – White Oak Music Hall Downstairs
Sept 25 – Nashville, TN – The Basement East
Sept 26 – Durham, NC – Motorco
Sept 27 – Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
Sept 28 – Orlando, FL – The Beacham
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