Those who haven't kept up with Andrew W.K. since his 2001 debut album, I Get Wet—recognizable as much for his bloody-faced cover photo as for raucous singles like "Party Hard" and "She Is Beautiful"—may be surprised with the twists his career has taken in the last fifteen years beyond those high-energy mash-ups of hair metal, pop, and hard rock. With his efforts always directed by what W.K. refers to as "the party gods," the energetic entertainer has hosted TV shows, delivered lectures, appeared in video games, penned advice columns, launched a radio show, drummed for twenty-four consecutive hours, opened a nightclub, started a political party, and recorded a solo piano album. Referring to himself as a "professional partier," W.K. will hit North Carolina on election night, around two-thirds of the way through his fifty-state speaking tour dubbed "The Power of Partying." He'll let the party gods steer him as he tries to foster an increase in positive vibes in Carrboro.
INDY: What makes this "Power of Partying" tour different from other speaking engagements and motivational writing you've done in the past?
ANDREW W.K.: I've never really done a full-blown motivational speaking tour before—I've just done one-off events—so getting to present a speech every night and hopefully develop it and improve upon it, that's been new. This is the first time I've ever done so many events in a row, back-to-back, but the theme is the same. I'm always trying to get better at hitting my bull's-eye, and the bull's-eye is trying to conjure up and amplify a type of celebratory energy and excitement and optimism about life.
So are you working off a framework as you revisit this theme every night and develop your speech?
No, every night is totally different. I don't have any notes or anything like that. I don't work with a script or anything prepared. It's quite open in that regard. There's a lot of interaction with the audience in the room, so there's a great deal of discussion, which is my favorite part of the event. In that regard, I think leaving a lot of it up to chance is definitely scary in one way, but also very thrilling.
Why did you feel like now was the right time to embark on this tour of all fifty states?
I don't really know. Again, there's not usually a lot of planning put into most of what I do, for better or for worse. I try to just turn my mind off and let the party gods pull me into whatever direction they want me to go.
Do you feel like you're able to address different groups of people through your speaking and through your music?
There's definitely been a lot of people who say they really don't like my music or loud rock music in general, but they like something I said or something I wrote. That's always really exciting to think that you're able to reach someone and party with someone that you otherwise wouldn't be able to.
In terms of the Party Party, the political party you started earlier this year, what are the goals of that?
Well unfortunately, that's all been canceled because we were contacted by a nonprofit organization that I didn't know about—and actually haven't been able to find much information about—based in Missouri that was already called the Party Party. They demanded that we stop, so it's all done now, but that's not a big deal.
It was just another attempt to add some party energy and party vibes to the world, so in that way, it can never really be canceled. It just takes on a different name, but the spirit of partying lives on in all these other various forms. This was just a way to present it in the structure of a political party.
How do you expect the party atmosphere to be impacted, if at all, by speaking in North Carolina on election night?
It definitely might affect the turnout, for sure, but of course people should go to the polls and vote, if that's their plan. I definitely wouldn't want anyone to attend this event instead of voting, if their plan is to vote, but hopefully they can do both.
Have you been keeping up at all with the political situation in North Carolina at the moment?
As someone who's trying to be a responsible civilian and someone who's a very thankful resident of the United States of America, I try to keep up with as much news as I can, but it doesn't really fit into my professional work or shows as a professional partier. For better or worse, I don't focus on political issues. The good thing is, many other people do, and a lot of people, including a lot of entertainers, make politics a main element of their work. I respect and admire them for that. I'm glad that they've got it covered, but I don't think enough people are focused on the power of partying. That's what I try to focus on and provide my little humble offering in that area.
Why is it so important to you that you spread the message and the energy of partying to the world?
Being someone who has really struggled with darker feelings and negative feelings and feelings of cynicism or pessimism for the majority of my life right up to today, focusing on joyful, uplifting, and optimistic mind-sets has been really important for me. It's been a desperate effort to get cheered up, and pretty much everything I've done as a performer has originated with trying to feel better about being alive. These problems that we face individually and collectively demand a real high level of integrity and energy, because it's really hard to save the world and fix problems when you're in a bad mood. I think we've got to get cheered up and get that kind of hopeful enthusiasm for life, so that we can make things as good as they can be.
Your focus—at least in terms of releases—hasn't been directed as much towards music over the last few years as it was earlier in your career. Has that been an intentional shift away from music into these other directions?
I have no idea. I really have no plans, unfortunately, and no organization to anything I'm doing. Sometimes I feel very bad about it and very frustrated, but other times I feel very thankful that these unexpected opportunities have come through. I never thought I'd be a motivational speaker. I never thought I'd be singing rock 'n' roll songs about partying either. None of this was really planned out in a way that involved my dreams or goals or setting these directions; things just happened. I just take it one day at a time and whatever happens, happens.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Party Lines"