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I was a child of the 1980s, back when rock stars led debauched lives of sex, drugs and rage antics. For that reason, I wasn’t particularly thrilled at the idea of meeting up with Andrew W.K., whose most famous portrait is a Roe Ethridge shot of him with blood streaming from his nose down to his chest.

With song titles like “Slam John Against a Brick Wall” and “Kill Yourself,” the guy comes off as a bit of a rage-aholic. But then again, I’m always down for a challenge.

Upon meeting W.K., I share my angst right off the bat and find out that apparently I’m not the only one with bad first impressions.

“It’s funny that you say that, because I do get that a lot,” he tells me. “When we first started, there was no slow build and then success. We never existed, and then we’re there.

“A lot of people thought I was very mean. Just because the music was intense they thought I was a mean person, a bad person too. Like, hated women. They thought I hated children. It was very strange.”

After our quick chat, I realize that this couldn’t be further from the truth. As it turns out, Andrew W.K. is the kind of individual who can delve into extremes and make it work. Whether he is handing out party tips on Twitter (“Take a giant sea turtle, and gently remove its shell. Then fill the shell with chips and dip!”), or touring across the country as a motivational speaker, his message remains consistent.

“My thing is to try to create a certain kind of feeling. It’s not about me, it’s not even about expressing myself, really. It’s about trying to get myself into the same mood as well, which is just feeling the best you’ve ever felt.

“That’s how I want people to feel, as often as possible. That’s my goal, as well. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to feel like that all the time.”

Although hard rock music used to be associated with rebellious natures, the pop culture landscape nowadays tends to be more uplifting. With his hard-hitting sounds and intense promotion of the party lifestyle, Andrew W.K. hopes to share a positive energy.

As he puts it, “It’s about being in a state of love versus hate. So you can still fight for what you love, rather than against what you hate, which was maybe the more traditional way.

“Someone might call Lady Gaga[’s] or my music empty-headed, because we’re talking about having fun, [when] we should be talking about these [other] issues. But, let’s say in the moment that we decide to listen to the music. If it’s something that puts us in a very good mood rather than getting us angry, then when we go and deal with that issue, we’ll be in a better mood.

“When you try to save the world and you’re crabby, it’s usually a disaster.”

With today’s cultural scene so involved with performance art, it comes as no surprise that W.K. would make reference to the new queen of pop.

“I love Lady Gaga. I think she’s fantastic for all kinds of reasons,” he enthuses. “One of the things that she’s very good at, and I mean that as a huge compliment, is doing something that may have been done before but making it seem new…

“Certainly women performing in pop music have worn sexy outfits and done [all] kinds of crazy stuff, but when she’s doing it, because her own soul, her charisma, is so powerful, it makes it seem new, it makes it seem fresh.”

Performance art is nothing new, and musicians have a long history of eccentric behaviour, but the information is now shared differently and at a pace that we’ve never experienced before. The creative boom of the new decade seems like the natural continuation of the technological boom of Y2K, as thinking outside of the box has become a norm that people strive for.

“The only time that I noticed where there was a real lack of encouragement for more creativity or depth was in the grunge era,” notes W.K. “There was so much concern about being real or about being authentic or about being cool, or being legitimate, or being credible.

“All these concerns that had nothing to do with music and nothing to do with entertainment, [but] more to do with how people felt about themselves. And it was powerful in its own way, but it did not necessarily help encourage real out-of-the-box thinking.”

What Andrew W.K. offers is sonic fun. He packages his fun in hard, fast, free music and tells the world that it’s okay to party and puke every once in a while. Because at the end of the day, it’s all good.

“I’m very happy now and very excited about the current state of entertainment in general, that mind-blowing experiences are in demand, whether it’s a 3-D movie or a crazy article on someone’s life story, or a kind of music that features sounds that you’ve never heard before.

“People want more mind-blowing experiences and that’s, to me, what it’s all about.”

Words and photography by:



Andrew W.K.’s lovely, fitness-crazed wifey is releasing her debut EP this fall, and we couldn’t be more pumped. Titled “Werk” The Remix EP, the collection of tracks promises to be high-energy, high-impact, and the perfect excuse to put on a leotard.