Today on Journey of a Frontman, I bring to you my BIGGEST interview yet. I interview my role model, one of my all-time favorite musicians, and a man who represents everything that this blog is about (music, frontmen, inspiration, and motivation), I give to you Andrew W.K.!
Alex Obert: First off, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to interview.
Andrew W.K.: Oh, of course. My pleasure. Thank you for wanting to speak with me.
Alex Obert: So first of all, tell me what you’ve been up to today.
Andrew W.K.: Well today, I just ate porridge, I ate a twin egg meal, I ate broccoli, and like a fistful of asparagus.And two ground beef, hard shell tacos, with cheese, but no sour cream. And I have a, what do you call them, like a french bread pizza in the microwave right now.
Alex Obert: Very nice.
Andrew W.K.: Thank you very much.
Alex Obert: In regards to my concert review for your show last week, what are your thoughts about your show last Friday in Hartford, Connecticut at the Arch Street Tavern?
Andrew W.K.: Well first of all, I mean it’s a great town that I’ve had the pleasure of partying in several times. I’ve played several concerts in that realm and I haven’t been back there in a few years, so I was very much looking forward to this and I’d also never played this special kind of party solo show there, so I was also excited to do a new kind of show there, and also excited to play a different venue, this Arch Street Tavern, which I had heard a lot about and some other friends of mine had played there before. It had a good reputation and it’s also exciting because it’s a very, very old building, yet it’s conveniently located in the very, very new part of the city, in terms of lots of refurbished sidewalks, roads, streets, buildings, and whatnot. So it was a very special, kind of comfortable spot, but also very neutral, it really isn’t a venue, it’s more of course a tavern, or a restaurant, or a bar, however you want to say it, which is just perfect because on this tour we potentially wanted to play not just in regular venues, like we have so many times in the past, which are great, especially if you have the full band, but this is supposed to be more of a party atmosphere where people are enjoying the whole space as a room that we’re in together and I felt that it left itself very well to that and it was also very bright.
Alex Obert: What is the difference between playing the solo shows on this tour, as opposed to playing in the band, you know, the ups and downs of it.
Andrew W.K.: Well, in one way, it’s like apples and oranges. I mean, I like both of those fruits and they have their unique taste. I don’t know that there’s really any downside to either one of them. The main difference when I play with the band is there’s just a lot more people playing instruments. That’s probably the only real difference. I feel like the energy in the room that we get to, we reach the same place of joy. I mean, that’s when I find all these different ways to reach that place of joy. When I first started performing, you know, years ago, I would play by myself because I hadn’t had a band yet and I wanted to stay close to that feeling as well, to retain those skills to be able to be by myself or just have one person or whoever’s in the audience listen to me on that stage and still get to that place of excitement and joy. To me, the solo shows feel like you’re hanging out with your friends in a room and singing along to songs that you love. It’s very personal, it’s very vulnerable, there’s a feeling of exposure, it feels more risky. And with the band, it feels like you have an army by your side, so there’s a lot of empowering confidence that comes from all the energy of everybody else there. But I felt the energy in the room, you know, was palpable, and we got to that joy zone.
Alex Obert: Whether it’s a solo show or a show with your band, what is your greatest satisfaction of performing on stage?
AWK: Just the music itself. I just love the music very, very much. I love playing keyboard and then just singing those songs and it’s just getting to be in the music, just how loud it is, and, you know, pushing yourself, and having this incredible, propulsive power to push you. I mean the music is what makes it possible for me to do anything that’s happening up there, or during the party. It’s coming from the music and it really just pushes you, sort of to be like the best version of yourself. I felt like a He-Man up there.
Alex Obert: In regards to what you’ve been up to lately and what’s coming up ahead in regards to your upcoming tour as the singer for Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, what is it that you enjoy about the music of The Ramones?
Andrew W.K.: I mean you have amazing melodies, fantastic riffs and drum beats, and just really joyful, beautiful, beautiful music. So it’s a similar situation where there’s just this secret energy source hidden inside certain kinds of music. I mean some kind of music is, I guess, made to be relaxing or comforting or trying to rest you down. And then some music, it gives you this superhuman kind of power. It makes you feel like you can do anything, and that’s how I want to feel all the time. You know, if I want comfort or soothing, then I curl up in a blanket or something and hug a teddy bear doll or something like that. But most of the time, I want to be charged up and just have that feeling like you’re standing on top of a mountain with your arms raised in the air, that you’re going down a roller coaster on the last day of school with the girl of your dreams, or boy, or person of your dreams, whatever it may be and just that there’s unlimited possibility and excitement and you see the world for what it truly is, which is a miraculous adventure that we get to be on. That’s how The Ramones songs make me feel and just getting to be around that and inside of that music is one of the greatest privileges I’ve had. I mean, I can’t believe it. I feel very humbled and extraordinarily grateful.
Alex Obert: In regards to music and you’ve taken on a lot of other tasks, why do you do what you do from everything from music to motivational speaking?
Andrew W.K.: Just to get into that state of euphoric pleasure and I’ve found, personally, for me, that I was meant to do it through entertainment or show business. And fortunately, it’s a very vast industry or trade, or whatever you call it. It’s a vast realm that offers many, many, many different ways to get to that physical rush, that sensation of happiness. I mean it’s like physically feeling happiness. It’s not just a mood in your brain, it’s your whole body, and almost your soul and then the whole world around you kind of shifts into that mode. I wanted to feel cheered up using that and then also hopefully provide that cheering up for whoever’s around me that wants to give me the chance to give them that feeling as well. I mean, it’s also a group effort. That’s what’s so fantastic about entertainment, putting on a show, or offering anything. It takes someone to be out there to receive it, so it’s really a team effort of cheerfulness.
Alex Obert: So, I imagine that when you do motivational speeches and when you do concerts, you want people walking out feeling the same way, feeling good about themselves and feeling like they had a really good time.
Andrew W.K.: Exactly, yeah. I didn’t know if it was possible at first. Over the years, as you’d hope, you discover more and more methods, more and more tools to get to that place. There are some people out there that I’ve met that don’t listen to rock music or that don’t like loud music or things, but maybe they’ve heard something I’ve said or read an interview like this. And they get that feeling just from some words, so I mean every method is valid if it gets you to that state of happiness.
Alex Obert: And I’ve heard you’ve been called “The Modern Day Mister Rogers”.
Andrew W.K.: Oh, well yes, someone had said that last night. (laughs) So I said wow because I’ve always loved Fred Rogers very, very, very much and he had a huge impact on me when I was young and he had a huge impact on my Mom when she was younger. And he always seemed to be wanting people to feel okay, you know, to feel good, and take away some of that outer presence anxiety about existence. I find him to be continuously inspiring.
Alex Obert: Before we wrap up, I just first of all would like to thank you again for taking the time to interview.
AWK: Of course, my pleasure. Thank you for the great questions and for setting aside your time as well.
Alex Obert: Thank you. Now in closing, do you have anything you’d like to say to not only your fans, but those who want to go after their dreams and do what they truly love in life.
Andrew W.K.: Yeah, it’s just figuring out what you want to do can sometime seem very challenging. I think often times from my own experiences, it’s the seemingly challenging aspects of making your dreams come true that can distract or confuse the purity of our desires. I mean, that’s why it’s good just to say, if I could do anything without any consequence, or without any, even strife, not that there won’t be challenges, but what would I do if I could do anything I wanted to do. The way we can usually tell that is, what makes you feel the best, when are you at your happiest, when does your body resonate and your heart resonate and your mind and your soul all resonate together with the activity or with the experience. And then, hold onto that, and never doubt it. It’s very easy to think that there’s no way that I could do this all the time or life just doesn’t work that way.
And believe me, tons of people, especially when I moved to New York, said that I was an idiot and the world doesn’t work that way and you’re gonna grow up soon, Andrew, and realize that you can’t just do what you enjoy and you can’t have your dreams come true and I just decided not to believe it. Even though part of me thought they were probably right. I just decided, well let’s see what happens if I just don’t believe that and just believe the exact opposite, like no, the whole point of life is that you get to do what you want to do, the whole point of life is that you put enough passion into something, it will come true, not because even that you made it come true, but because it’s what you were born to do. It would actually be harder to not do it than to let your body go and do what it was meant to do, that’s destiny. So instead of pushing yourself towards your dream, you’re actually being pulled by your dream towards it. And as long as you don’t stand in the way of that magnetic pull or force it to not happen, it will happen. Just be ready because it’s gonna be intense.
Alex Obert: That seems to be the party lifestyle that you promote so much and in your lyrics from Party Hard to It’s Time To Party, just be yourself, come as you are, and have a good time.
Andrew W.K.: Yeah. Celebrate the fact that you’re alive and have a chance to do what you want to do during this life. And if you’re grateful for the weekend, you can celebrate on Friday. If you’re grateful for being born, you celebrate your birthday. If you’re grateful for the holidays, you celebrate the new year. If you’re grateful for not being dead every day, then you can party every day and life will become that much more fun and cheerful.
Alex Obert: Alright, well thank you very much, Andrew.
Andrew W.K.: Thank you, thank you so much.