By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
From the looks of his debut album‘s front cover -- the one with the photo of a bloody-nosed, wet-longhaired Adonis -- the 23-year-old superstar-in-waiting Andrew W.K. has been fighting for your right to party. And judging from the record’s song titles (”It‘s Time To Party,“ ”Party Hard,“ ”Party Til You Puke“) and relentlessly anthemic music, it appears he’s won.
Easily the strangest big-budget big-label debut in some time, I Get Wet (to be released March 26 on IslandDef Jam) is stadium-ready rock for Generation Red Bull: 12 good-times chant-along songs for attention-deficit-disordered teenagers raised on Raw Is War pro wrestling and first-person shooter video games,Ritalin and Ecstasy, Spice Girls and aggro-rap-metal. The lyrics are simple, the hooks are broad, the pop-rock keyboards and horns kinda cheesy, and best of all, there‘s zero rapping. This is rescue music for the kids, rhythmically and melodically echoing some of the best kinda-dumb rock of all time (Slade, Sweet, Meat Loaf, the Ramones) -- party-time rock & roll that people older than 30 might remember.
So who is this guy and where did he come from? The ever-changing bio says that Andrew W.K. was born in Los Angeles, raised in Michigan, and spent the last few years in New York before relocating recently to Florida. He was piano-trained as a child, and can play guitar and drums as well. He writes and arranges all of his own music. He released two 12-inch records on weirdo underground label Bulb Records (home of such ”stars“ as Quintron and Wolf Eyes) in the late ’90s. And in the years before he was signed to Island, he gave bizarre one-man shows up and down the East Coast.
Andrew W.K. will be bringing a full band -- composed mostly of Florida death-metalers -- this week to the Whisky for his first-ever L.A. show. I spoke with the man apparently in touch with his inner moron a couple of weeks ago when he called in from London, en route to a series of Japanese dates. He came across as earnest and determined: a kid brother of Jake and Elwood Blues, a hedonist with a work ethic, a Zen-zone existentialist, a DIY backyard wrestler. Ladies and gentlemen and teenagers of all ages, here‘s Andrew W.K., the Anthony Robbins of Rock.
L.A. WEEKLY: What can the L.A. audience expect at your show?
ANDREW W.K.: Expect nothing, hope for the best. Come knowing that what you’re gonna see is seven or eight people doing what they love to do, which is play these songs and put out an honest effort to include everybody. My goal is to make people happy, whatever it takes. So: Please come to have fun, and be happy, and know that things are going to be okay.
What do the W and K stand for?
Why is your face bloodied on the album cover?
My plan was, I had a little piece of a cinder block, and the backup plan, I had this blood I got from a butcher‘s shop. We took some pictures, and then I said, ”Okay, I wanna do this,“ so I hit myself in the nose with the brick. My nose bled a bit. I was very disappointed, because my nose used to bleed a lot when I was younger, so I was imagining I’d be able to get a good bloody nose. But it only bled a little bit, and of course it hurt really bad. So I used the animal blood, put some in my nose . . . There‘s no message or a hidden attachment that go with it. I don’t like that!
What does ”I Get Wet“ mean?
In the ocean of life, you can stand on the shore or you can dive in. I choose to dive in and get wet. Let me say this: The word party includes more people and more things and more possibilities than any other word I can really think of. It‘s about celebrating everything you see in front of you, everything that you see behind you, and everything that ever has existed, could exist and does exist. It’s about being not mindlessly happy, but in fact solidly okay, and feeling good about everything. Everybody is invited to this party, unconditionally, without any guidelines. We‘re celebrating the excitement of being alive and the potential that all humans have to do and be great things.
Where is all this philosophy stuff coming from?
Philosophy?! I see it as the truth. Let me explain it like this: When most people are young, the world is full of mystery, and it’s exciting. Then you become a teenager, you realize you don‘t know everything and you can’t control everything, and everything is sorta out of your immediate grasp. ‘Cause what you see is a big black hole, and you’re like, ”Wow, that big black hole looks like Nothing -- it‘s just empty and black.“ And you hold on for dear life. Well, as I got older, because I realized I couldn’t know everything, I fell into that void, and it turns out that the black hole contains everything! Is everything. All things. And what an exciting thing, to let life be big and exciting. I wanna let it wash over me like at the ocean, to be endlessly deeper and more expansive.