Purple Revolver – Andrew WK Party Hard interview part 2

Posted on 30 April 2012
By Lara Cullen & Gemma Harris
  • Share:

For the second part of our interview with Andrew WK, he waxes lyrical about meeting heroes, being a motivational speaker and WWF wrestlers.

PR: When is it not OK to party hard?

AWK: Never

PR: Is that it? A one-word answer from Andrew W.K?

AWK: Yessir, there we go.

PR: With all the things you do, you must have partied with some pretty cool people in your time, who surprised you most?

AWK: Hmm, let me think about that because a lot of the people that I met that I thought would party hard, they actually didn’t, they were more sort of mellow, which is a form of hard partying in its own way, but that’s a great question.

I’m just trying to think. I’ve actually not met that many people for better or worse, I would like to, they just don’t wanna meet me for whatever reason. I can’t think of anybody who’s really surprised me.

PR: So you said there’s loads of people that you’d like to meet or hang out with but haven’t, who’s on the top of your list?

AWK: I’ve got to meet a few of my biggest heroes, the people I’ve most admired that I’ve gained the most joy from I have been able to meet. Everyone else that I’d like to meet are either dead or pretending to be dead, like Michael Jackson.

I would like to meet some people but you know what starts to happen is you realise that meeting these people it doesn’t add anything to your experience and worst case it takes away and your admiration and respect and love for their work is the best thing that you could ever have with them, you can have a real relationship with them through that already.

It’s very rare a lot of the time when I’ve met folks, I haven’t met that many I don’t know why, but I’ve just felt embarrassed or awkward or like I was bothering them which I don’t hold against them at all. I’m sure I was bothering them, I want to revel in the fruits of their labour and not get caught up in trying to explain to them why I think they’re so great and that’s it.

I also met Neil Young he was very nice, very nice. The funny thing is I got to meet him at Madison Square Gardens where he was playing a concert on the last tour which was just a tremendous show and he said “I bet you’re a bass player aren’t you” and at that time I actually had been playing bass in a band called Current93, the last time I actually played at this venue was with another band. I was so blown away that he didn’t say you’re a singer or a keyboard player, he didn’t know anything about me of course, he didn’t know anything about Paul Stanley.

There’s a great story where at some big festival Neil Young is riding in the elevator and Paul Stanley from KISS is in the elevator and he’s like what the hell was that guy he was really freaking me out, and the guy was like that’s Paul Stanley from KISS and Neil Young is like oh yeah that rock band with the makeup. That’s amazing to me that Neil Young thinks of KISS as “oh, what was that band, I dunno that had the face paint”. He was extremely nice and very warm because he went through near death experiences and so much darkness and adversity in his life and now he’s completely a master of the arts and of himself and of living.

So all these people you try to absorb whatever you can from them and make your own way and come up with something that doesn’t necessarily compete with it but has the integrity, the spirit and the passion that these masters have put into their craft and their work. Whether it reaches as many people or is successful on the levels that they’ve been considered successful, if you’re true to your own vision and your own self that’s the biggest success of all.

PR: You’re also a motivational speaker, tell us more.

AWK: Yes. There are some clips on the YouTube website of some of the lectures, especially some of the first which we filmed professionally that was at NYU and actually Lil B, rapper, he’s from the Sanfrancisco Bay area of California he’s fantastic and now he’s doing a lecture and I felt really excited that he was being given the same opportunity at NYU.

That was the first lecture I’d ever done and the only premise was whatever I wanted. Originally I thought they were going to come and ask me to talk about the music business or talk in a classroom of people studying entertainment industry but they said no, we want you to talk about whatever the hell you want.

That’s actually what they formally called the lecture, Andrew WK talks about whatever the hell he wants, and I was very frightened in the most exciting and best way, in a way that I hadn’t felt in a long long time, and I tried to find ways to stay in that space where you’re uncomfortable and vulnerable and you feel exposed cos I think it makes you, one, a better person and it’s good for your soul, but also it definitely makes you a better performer for this work that I’ve signed up for.

And that really did start a whole series of lectures, tours. University tours, Carnegie, Yale – I did two at Yale, even at Harvard which is just ridiculous. I never even went to college. So to think that I managed to get through those hallowed halls in any capacity into these halls to talk about partying, which actually was controversial.

PR: In what way?

AWK: Where certain professors thought this isn’t the kind of person we should have speaking at the school and this is not a god topic to encourage the students to think about and of course they were deeply, deeply confused and that’s the nicest way I can say it. The worst case is that they’re actually trying to break down the spirit of the students, that was a very small fraction obviously, I wouldn’t have been able to do all these things otherwise.

We’ve done them since then, the Madam JoJo’s one was the most recent one I’ve done in terms of Europe, I guess the only one, but it’s a chance to talk and use words rather than notes and melodies and rythyms, and tried to get to again this place of joy, of energised enthusiasm of magical power that makes it feel good to be alive and that’s all that it really is, it’s like a pep rally, a chance to get together with a bunch of people really like we’re gonna do tonight but just talk about what they’ve been thinking about, what I’ve been thinking about and hope that there’s some kind of uplifting quality to it.

It also came from certain people saying they don’t listen to rock music but maybe they saw some interview on tv or read something I said or heard a radio interview and they got something from it and I thought, well you know, I don’t want to leave those people out either whatever way I can use to get to that place of joy and inspiration and a feeling that makes you glad you’re not dead – that’s basically the goal.

PR – Back to the serious stuff, would you rather party with Hulk Hogan or The Ultimate Warrior?

AWK – Who’s The Ultimate Warrior?

PR – Come on?!? The dude with the makeup over his eyes, back in the day

AWK – Like a Gene Simmons thing? I vaguely remember him. Here’s who I remember, the IRS guy, the tax guy, big guy.

PR – Bushwhackers?

AWK – Oh yeah, Bushwhackers!! they’re the best. Jake the Snake of course, I remember when Alice Cooper also was involved for a brief time with WWF, of course Hulk Hogan, Mick Foley. Vince McMahon is probably my favourite of all. I just think he is such a master artist, a true visionary. I’m not trying to elevate the work that he’s doing, he would say it’s not art but the choices that he makes that’s what art is about – everyone’s an artist, you make a choice of what to wear, how to speak, what to spend your time doing. He’s just a master, I don’t care how brutal or how bad he’s been to different wrestlers, he’s just a tremendous talent.

I’ve had many inspiration from wrestlers, they’ve all been the nicest most professional people and the hardest working folks I’ve ever worked with, exceeding in character most of the musicians I’ve met. That says a lot because playing guitar is a lot easier than running around that ring, it’s brutal.

PR: Final question, can we have a party tip, just for us?

AWK: Sometimes they come easy, sometimes they come not so easy. Today was a bit of a struggle, I did a party tip today and I was happy with it in the end, it made sense but sometimes I get real good ones.

PR: Sorry to put you on the spot!

AWK: Ok! Party Tip: If you’re a vegetarian, wear a fake leather jacket because it looks badass. If you eat meat, wear a real leather jacket because it looks even more badass.

AWK returns to the UK in August to headline Hevy Festival.