Andrew WK

e-mail interview with Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T, August 2009

Perhaps best known in Britain for wanting to party til he pukes and for being a gore spattered face of loud rock'n'roll excess, Andrew W.K.'s claims that his true will is to spread feelings of pure joy, true fun, total love, endless freedom, and infinite possibility. Not happy just abusing guitars, he says he also wants to strive to reach as many people as possible, using music, performance, visual art, lecturing, writing, nightclubs, television, and many other methods.

On the eve of the release of his new solo piano album 55 Cadillac, Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T thought it was time to give Andrew WK a close call

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

Andrew W.K. – who, what and why?
Who? Me! What? Whatever! Why? I don't know!

You started being in bands at a young age. I 'teach' a band of 13 year olds ( What advice do you have for younger bands?
Play music, make music, record music, perform music, and most of all, love music. And remember that there are big differences between being a successful musician, being a successful entertainer, and being a successful success.

I'm also trying to learn to record some of the bands I teach. What studio techniques have you picked up over the years?
I began recording on a stereo tape deck, then moved up to working with a 4 track (which broke and became a 3 track), then moved up to 16 track, and then switched to using a computer. Everything I had learned about sound in my early years really paid off when I started working with the computer, because it had so much more power to work with. I love making music with the computer. The computer isn't just a tool, it is an instrument in itself. It's beautiful! Any method someone wants to use to record is valid.

Did you really record 55 Cadillac in 2 hours?
Well, it was 2 hours of actual playing, and then several days of editing and mixing and adding sound effects.


What else can you tell us about 55 Cadillac?
It's the first time I've ever recorded myself just playing piano. I made up the songs as I went along just to see what would happen. It was a really terrifying experience in way, because I had to let go of all my fears for not reaching perfection. But this album is all about throwing away those fears and just playing - like when you just start driving down the road, not knowing where it will take you, but following some sort of instinct about how to move. I really have no idea about this album beyond that.

How has your study of jazz keyboards helped your career?
I didn't really study jazz all that much. I was confused about what jazz was for a long time. For many years I thought it was a certain "sound" and "style". I thought it was a certain kind of instrument playing a certain kind of music. Now I think of it much more as an attitude - a mindset - an approach to the world. Jazz is about PLAYING. Not just playing music, but PLAYING in general. PLAYING in life. It's fun to just play.

What's the best bit of motivational advice you ever received?
My Dad once said, "Don't bother 'trying' things anymore. Just focus on 'doing' them."

How has working as a 'one man band' benefited and hindered you?
These days I play shows with my full 6 piece band, and I also do solo performances. When I first started out in 1999, I didn't have anyone to play with, so I performed by myself out of necessity. I figured that by going out there and playing, I would meet people to form a band... and in a round about way, through many different people, that happened. I'm infinitely grateful to my band and the people who have played with me and believed in this feeling of fun and joy - they have built this with me and it never would've happened without them. The best thing about playing with a band is being on stage with people I love, but that's usually happened when I've played solo too. Either way, I give everything I have. What else is there to do?

Your TV show Destroy Build Destroy sounds intriguing. What can you tell us about it?
It's a live-action competition game show on Cartoon Network. It features two teams of 12 - 15 year olds, competing to blow stuff up and then build stuff with the wreckage. It's been an absolutely incredible experience. I'm the host, the cheerleader, the coach, the older brother, and the drill Sergeant combined. Getting to be around teenagers and 100 foot explosions is a great source of joy and craziness!


What have you learnt about the music industry that you wish you knew when you first started out?
That it was always changing, so even if I had known that when I started out, it would change beyond recognition! Ha! I love the music business. I get a lot of pleasure out of working with a team on large projects. I enjoy the corporate atmosphere and the sense of camaraderie that comes with record labels. I'm grateful to all the amazing people I've worked with and learned from in the entrainment industry.

What is the relationship between your music and your art work?
I'm not sure what the relationship is, but I always try to make everything I do look as cool as possible. I want the artwork to support the music - give it a foundation to jump off from. I think of the artwork as a doorway, and if I make it really appealing or engaging, then maybe someone will notice that door, be curious enough about it to open it and come inside.

What's the best and worst things about running your own record label?
The best part is getting to work with people and music that you love.
So far, I've encountered no un-enjoyable parts.

Is age important in rock'n'roll?

Of course not.

Who is beautiful?
My wife, Cherie. And everybody else too. But she has a special beauty, just for me.

What do you listen to when vacuuming?
It's too loud to hear anything else clearly while vacuuming. One of my best friends in High School had a step Dad that was obsessed with the sound of vacuum cleaners. He made tape recordings of them whirring and humming and listened to them while he worked and slept.
This same man used to also throw away huge garbage bags full of loose change.

What's best, chips (fries) or cream buns?
It all depends on my mood, but today, CREAM BUNS, all the way.

Thanks to Andrew WK for his time and to Heather at Big Machine Media for setting things up.

Andrew WK's new album 55 Cadillac comes out on September 7th

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?