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Here's how the singer/guru keeps the party going night after night, town after town
To Andrew W.K., the word “party” is as much a noun as it is a verb. For 15 years, he’s traversed the globe preaching the party gospel, both with his band and as a motivational speaker, to anyone who will listen.
This month, the Detroit-born, New York City-based musician heads out on his first full-band tour in five years, and it comes with news of his first album of new material in nine years, due next spring.
We caught up with the party guru who talked about how he keeps the party going night after night, town after town.
Toronto is a favourite place to party
“Toronto has been very consistent,” he says, recalling past gigs at Sound Academy (now Rebel). “I just couldn’t believe so many people came and had so much enthusiasm and were singing along to these songs.”
It started long before he was a musician. “My family and I used to go to Toronto all the time. It was the closest [big city] besides Chicago. I’d go there to see musicals, I’d go there to see museums. Maybe that set the tone for the party to come.”
Consistency is a party virtue
“If you like a certain cheeseburger or pizza and you enjoyed it last time, I want to give you that cheeseburger and pizza again,” he says. “I like consistency. I don’t want to evolve every night. I want to nail the bull’s eye better every night.”
Party hard in the studio
The new album is “a loud, full-blown rock album.” He’s not straying far from his landmark-in-partying 2002 debut, I Get Wet, which has kept him on the road all these years. “Same instrumentation, same delivery, same approach,” he says. “I have my tool chest and resources that I try to direct toward that energetic glorious joyful feeling.”
While W.K. concedes that new approaches can get better results for others, it’s not an effective method for him. “I have such limited time, vitality, resources and skills. One lifetime is barely enough to get to this place. If you can get there for one second out of a lifetime, that’s a triumph.”
Preaching the party is a life-long pursuit
“When I turned 18 and moved to New York City, that was the beginning of my trying to explain [“party”] to myself,” he says. “Trying to explain it to someone else would have been impossible because even I barely understood what I was trying to do. To a degree I still don’t. I understand enough to be able to take steps toward this murky, always increasing in clarity destination. If I could see it too clearly, I’d already be there.”
“When I began this Andrew W.K. adventure, [doing] interviews [gave me] an opportunity to get very detailed. ‘Yeah, what am I trying to do? How do I explain that to this person? How do I explain it to myself?’ It really helped me refine this mission, this purpose that I’m devoting myself to. Organically, the interviews got longer and longer and longer until I needed to go play a show and just went onstage and kept the interview going.”
A good party is rarely a planned party
“For better or worse, there was not a lot of thought put into the majority of decisions that I’ve made or that were made for me,” he admits. Sometimes they weren’t even decisions, he says. “They were just parties.”
Partying doesn’t always mean a carefree good time. “The partying is often hard. You try to take what you can, extract the juices and apply them to the here and now. I’m very thankful to still do this, still do anything at all. At the same time I feel more determined and hungry, but thankful and amazed that any of this partying has occurred in the first place.”
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