The rocker/deejay/demolition expert—whose North American tour starts this week—on Black Sabbath, My Little Pony, Ramones and blowing stuff up for fun.
BY ROBERT FULTON
It’s been 12 years since Andrew W.K. burst onto the music scene with his debut album I Get Wet, the cover featuring the artist sporting a grotesquely bloody nose. In one of the most unlikely and brilliant evolutions of modern rock, Andrew W.K. has moved from a man singing songs like “Party ’til You Puke” to a sought out DJ and front man. He once hosted the children’s game show Destroy Build Destroy, which featured kids blowing stuff up. He’s sat on a panel at a My Little Pony convention. He’s toured with Black Sabbath and fronts Marky Ramone’s new project.
Pretty impressive stuff for a guy whose biggest hit is “Party Hard.” Not that Andrew W.K. doesn’t still party hard. The self-proclaimed Party Messiah took a few minutes out of his busy schedule during a Black Sabbath tour stop in Irvine, California, to speak by phone about heavy metal, the Ramones, his solo work, drumming, My Little Pony, destroying things for fun and, yes, partying.
BLURT: How did you get this gig being the opening DJ for Black Sabbath?
ANDREW W.K.: They asked me. I have DJed before. I don’t consider myself a professional DJ. I enjoy playing other people’s songs at parties. When Black Sabbath asks you to do that, it’s really a no-brainer. It was the opportunity of a lifetime and extremely, extremely fun to play all of my favorite heavy songs and then get to watch them play. It’s just unbelievable. That’s how the world works sometimes.
What do you spin?
It’s a wide variety. I have 150 songs I’m working with. I also take requests from people coming to the show. Everything from Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Slayer, some Celtic Frost, Motorhead. Dozens and dozens of songs. Metallica. Sepultura, Obituary, Napalm Death. There’s a lot of great heavy bands out there and a lot of great heavy songs to play.
How are the Sabbath fans reacting to Andrew W.K.?
The good thing is it’s not so much me. Hopefully they just react to the songs. Theses are songs that are beloved by so many folks, it seems like this audience especially loves these heavy songs. If I put on Pantera’s “Walk,” for example, just about everybody loves that song; even if you’re not a giant heavy metal fan, you probably will enjoy that great groove and that exciting energy.
You sound well versed in heavy metal. You must be a heavy metal fan.
I’ve always liked that style, that instrumentation for sure. Out of respect for so many folks who have a much deeper knowledge and a lot more wisdom when it comes to that particular genre, I never say that I’m an aficionado. I just really like energizing, intense music of any kind. I really like a lot of guitars and loud drums and just music that’s designed to make you feel energized and excited.
You’re going to be touring with Marky Ramone. How did that relationship come to be?
He asked if I would like to try being his singer. When someone asks you and an opportunity like that comes forward, I don’t really feel like it’s something I would ever debate in my mind, “Should I do this, should I not?” It’s not like I immediately assumed I could do it. It’s definitely something I was never not going to try and do. Fortunately he liked what I offered. He gave me the position much to my grateful joy.
What sorts of stuff are you playing?
It’s 100 percent Ramones. The entire Ramones catalog. There’s never been better rock music ever written.
You have some solo gigs coming up too, right?
I’m trying to play as many different kinds of shows as I can for my own entertainment. I don’t want to ever get use to anything. I want to be pushed out of the comfort zone for myself to call upon different skills and develop different abilities hopefully to make me better at what it is that I do, whatever that is I have a part in. These are very intimate, very intense shows… sort of like a house party and singing along to songs that you like. Hopefully they like my songs. There’s a real sense of camaraderie and togetherness rather than just someone presenting something to you in a passive way. We’re all creating the night together and the whole room is really the stage.
Any new music coming from you any time soon?
I’ve been working on a new album for quite a while. It’s one of those situations where I’ve had incredible, these dream-come-true opportunities come my way, and I’ve chosen to go on tour with Black Sabbath for example rather than finish this new album. But I give a lot of credit to my destiny in that, even though you want to be able to do everything at once, there’s times when you just have to let go and follow where your life is taking you and have faith that it is probably what’s meant to me—but it’s going to be better than any other way if you try to force and impose your own order into the chaotic destiny that’s in store for you. As much as I want the album to have been done before, I would never want to change the way things are going and I have complete faith that when the album is meant to be recorded, it will, and hopefully that’s this winter.
Switching gears, I read you set a record for drumming in a retail store. How did you feel after drumming for 24 hours?
I was a bit fatigued primarily, and not so much my arms or hands which is interesting because that’s what I anticipated would be the most sore or the first to go. It was actually my back and my hind quarters from sitting. The hardest thing about the drumming was just sitting for so long, which I never would have anticipated. It was the sitting that was the most painful, the most excruciating, the most tortuous.
I just seized the invitation when it was offered without really thinking it through. I agreed to do 24 hours of drumming, that’s going to require 24 hours of actual drumming. I’ve never drummed for 24 hours straight. I don’t even really consider myself a drummer to begin with. It was another amazing experience in terms it brought out the aspects of my own self that I was not familiar with. Not just the stamina, but almost like a psychedelic kind of build up and breakdown throughout the experience.
Blurt’s editor bonded with his kid watching Destroy Build Destroy. Do you find you’re an icon to a younger generation?
I don’t know about icon, but maybe like a friend or a big brother type figure. Someone that can help them blow things up or destroy things and build things. It’s very nice to hear that was a positive experience for parents and this parent in particular. Some parents were very outraged by the show, the explosions. They didn’t like the idea of me being someone that was working with children because they thought partying was bad or that having a bloody nose was somehow evil. Unfortunately that was the downfall of the show; there was just so many complaints about the show, that kids shouldn’t be using bazookas and shouldn’t be around that kind of destructive power.
I always tried to explain it, it’s for fun, we’re not destroying something out of anger, we’re destroying it out of glee. You go to see Fourth of July fireworks, it’s very clear that this is a spectacle for fun and excitement and not to kill anybody. That’s the great thing about TV or entertainment and movies, whatever, we’re using all this destructive force to create something fun, to create a feeling of excitement. The parents that were complaining… who knows what they’re thinking? But I have sympathy for them wanting to be the best parents they can. It was always just a show based on pure fun, so it really means a lot to me to hear that someone experienced it that way.
Are you a fan of My Little Pony?
Yes, yes. There’s two eras of course. There’s the old era, there’s the toy, there’s the initial cartoon series. Now there’s Friendship is Magic, which boosted the entire phenomenon into bigger and broader realms.
Do you consider yourself a Brony?
Out of respect for people that have put in so much more passion, like talking about the heavy metal thing, I would like to consider myself a heavy metal expert or an expert on ponies, but there are people that have so much more knowledge or just more educated about all these things, out of respect to them I just humbly say I would be honored to be considered a Brony. I would be honored to be considered anything good by anybody.
Can you leave me with any party advice?
Just party as hard as you possibly can and remember that it is possible to party every single day. The reason that we can do that is that partying is celebrating what you’re grateful for, and if you’re grateful for being alive, then you can party every day.
Photo credit: Jonathan Thorpe. For a rundown of Andrew W.K.’s upcoming gigs, visit http://andrewwk.com/.