By: Daniel Korn
In October of 2001, the world was introduced to the majesty of Andrew W.K. through his first single “Party Hard.” It was a melodic, guitar-chugging anthem with lyrics so gloriously dumb they could only be sung behind a knowing, self-aware smirk. A week later the debut album came out. It was called I Get Wet and the cover was of W.K. bleeding profusely from his nose. He reportedly incited the nosebleed by smacking himself in the face with a brick, but the flow wasn’t heavy enough, so he doused himself in pig’s blood to complete the effect. Three of the song titles on the album contain the word “party.”
This man now has a weekly advice column on The Village Voice, and it is the most inspirational, stupendous, life-affirming thing on the internet. This baby-faced, long-haired, white-jean-wearing party animal now writes for the same publication that has been host to such luminaries as Ezra Pound, Lester Bangs, Allen Ginsberg, and Matt Groening. And he deserves it, dammit. The column is spiritual without being religious, positive but not condescending; he waxes poetic on the tangible benefits of eating pizza, revels in the physical and emotional comfort given by others, and gives some of the best advice for people who want to follow their dreams I’ve ever heard. It should come off like the most empty, vapid hippyisms…except it doesn’t.
It might be surprising for this particular person to become inspirational, but for those who have followed his career, it’s less so. He started doing motivational speaking work in 2005 at several universities across America, and wrote a monthly advice column for a decade in the Japanese magazine “Rockin’ On” before starting The Village Voice one. And when it comes to his other creative work, he’s relentlessly prolific and surprisingly inventive. Besides the six albums that he released between 2001 and 2009 – two of which are J-Pop and Gundam cover albums respectively, and one that consists entirely of solo piano pieces – he has also been a member of an avant-garde ensemble, hosted a Cartoon Network TV show, produced albums by Wolf Eyes and reggae superstar Lee “Scratch” Perry, written jingles for Kit-Kat commercials, started a record label, and co-owned a nightclub that’s been rated the top dance club in New York City by the Zagat Survey.
He’s done all of this without giving up his humanist morality – in fact, it’s probably gotten stronger – or the devotion to his initial party ethos. To Andrew W.K., partying is not the act of getting together with friends and getting hammered; it’s the positive state of being mentally and physically present, no matter what that looks like for the individual. As his tweets say, partying is like role-playing games. Partying is having deep chats with your friends. Partying is loving sports, or not caring about them in the slightest. Partying is not going out to party when you don’t feel like it. Partying is pulling off dumb/awesome dance moves on national television with your band that has a veritable army of guitar players.