Andrew W. K. on Ottawa, Partying and Figuring Out 'How Not to be Dead'
We should probably make Andrew W. K. an honorary Canadian -- he's a singer-songwriter, multi-talented instrumentalist, author, motivational speaker and on a mission to unite the human race through the power of positive partying. Describing his shows as loud, chaotic or electrifying really underestimate his performance. Once he pushes himself past the point of expending so much energy and almost puking, he continues until he's collapsed backstage, drenched in sweat and gasping for breath. For him, the idea is to give everything he has and if you've seen a show, you know he never fails to accomplish this. Of interest to many people is Andrew W. K's partying philosophy. Contrary to regular thought which sees people working hard through the week to then let loose on the weekends, he says we should all be doing what we love, since success is derived from being motivated:
"To me, partying and partying hard is doing what you love to do every day and that's the way life should be. So to me, it is absolutely possible to party 365, 24/7."
On March 27, the Party God is coming to Ottawa's Mavericks where he'll be performing in a similar style to last year's Party Messiah Tour, playing a solo show in an intimate venue. Using his keyboard, drum machine and mega microphone to play songs from all his albums, the show promises to be a more personal version of his heavy metal rock n' roll music. Taking a break from writing his first book, The Party Bible, Andrew W. K. had a candid conversation with OLM about his many visits our great country which then turned into philosophizing about life, naturally.
OLM: How were you inspired to come up with this solo-model show?
This type of show at Mavericks is a show that I sort of created in Canada -- it's just me by myself. It was a chance to present my material in a whole new way that is more intimate. I love playing with my band, but in this way, the audience becomes the band -- their energy, singing along, commradery and just feel-good vibes fills up that space. I've fine-tuned and really improved it since I first started touring like this. I'm really excited to come back because I feel really indebted to Ottawa and Canada for helping me come up with this whole new type of show. I love concerts but when you're on stage it can feel like you're just presenting something to a group of people who are very far away from you. What I've always tried to do is create a sense that we're all somehow participating and building it together in that space. And what I've come to realize about Canada is that there's just a common enthusiasm for having fun.
OLM: What's the most chaotic show you've ever played?
London, England at a venue called the Old Blue Last. I was performing one of these solo shows and it was just complete pandemonium. I'm used to chaos and blurring the line between the audience and stage, but this went into a whole other realm and it actually became quite violent, which was very intense. In those situations I certainly want to make sure everyone is O.K. but interestingly enough, although there was a lot of blood, people still had smiles on their faces. It was a humbling and overwhelming experience but definitely memorable and meaningful.
OLM: To maintain your incredible energy during your performance, is there anything in particular that you eat?
Nothing, really. One thing I've learned -- and most people can relate to this -- is not to eat too much, especially too close to when you're about to expend that kind of energy. You do require fuel for energy but when you have too much fuel too close to when you explode that energy, you may end up exploding that fuel in the form of vomit. I've learned to really bide my time so I can go for maximum impact and not waste my energy. A lot of people told me I would be sick and tired of playing these songs over and over again but I find it the opposite. I really just enjoy it more and more the longer I've gotten to party like this. The music really does the work and the more you give yourself over to that, the people and the experience -- there's just so much adrenaline and power to be alive and it's just one of those moments (and this is why people like challenging sports and things like that), it just takes you out of all your other thoughts besides the thing that's actually happening. Music is a great tool to get in that present moment.
OLM: How did you transition into motivational speaking and how do you stay positive? Do you find it challenging to maintain your own level of positivity while helping others be positive?
A lot of the times, I'm just trying to figure these things out for myself and then share that or even discuss and learn from other people as well. It's never really been, or felt that I had something figured out that people were asking me about. It was more I wanted to try to get cheered up and be involved in that, which is why I got into music and I wanted to talk about getting cheered up in general, ya know, what is that all about? It's good to have a lifelong journey to try to feel good as a human being or even contemplate what it is to feel good. It's always evolving for me and I'm always trying to find new ways to think about something. Sharing is important for me to get others' views and ask if they have any insights that I haven't thought about before. To me, it's a group effort to get to the best feeling place we can and it turns out, talking and words are very effective for that. Motivational speaking is also really cool because I get to meet a lot of people I wouldn't normally because they don't listen to loud music or go to concerts, but they're alive and they're thinking about how to feel as good as they can in life, so I can relate to them that way. Just like there's an infinite amount of ways notes can be arranged in a song, there's an unlimited amount of ways we can think about this. I'm just an adventurer along with everyone else.
OLM: In crossing over from music to these other areas, you're really giving people insights into who you are. Some performers have a stage persona that they separate from in real life. Are there any other things you want to do with your artistry?
It's come to a point now where I'm doing things I never would have dreamed of. I always like the idea of who knows what will happen next. What I'm focused on is this very basic idea of an adventure in what it is to exist at all and trying to tear away at what it is to exist. Creative arts and culture are a really effective way to do that and figure out what it's like to not be dead. Besides the book, I'd like to get another album done and do more touring but I've also learned that just seeing what happens can be most exciting. I like to be surprised and I see things continuing that way.
OLM: Has the fact that you've really opened up yourself and gone into these other avenues made you feel a sense of vulnerability?
At first, maybe a bit and also I had a lot of people that I trusted and very much do, tell me that it was a big mistake. One painter that I really admire said everyone human only has so much energy or light that they can focus on one spot and if you take that light and diffuse it on many different areas, then it's going to be weaker as opposed to focusing on just one. It was really funny coming from him because he has a lot of diverse artwork. I understood what he was saying, but I told him, well my one thing that I'm focusing my theme of light on is being everything every day and the thing about that is that you can do anything within it and be consistent. I wanted to be a person who could do anything and make a space for myself and others where that was not only felt possible but was the whole point.
To purchase tickets, visit http://andrewwk.com/tour.