Catching Up With Andrew W.K.
Party rocker talks I Get Wet's 10th anniversary, rich natural ground, burritosPaste Photo by Bobby Russell Music Features Andrew W.K.
Last week Andrew W.K. stopped by Atlanta’s Masquerade during his 10th Anniversary world tour for I Get Wet. While he was in town, we caught up with the hard-partying rocker to talk about playing the album, rich natural ground, burritos and of course, party tips.
Paste: Describe what it’s been like to play I Get Wet live a decade after its release.
W.K.: This is our first album, so there’s all the enjoyment and excitement and joy and adventure that began with the release of these songs. We’ve been playing these songs as a band from the beginning right up until now. There’s not a single song we haven’t played hundreds of times, so it’s the material we’re most familiar with anyway. In terms of playing it in album order, that is a very new experience, a very delightful and exciting experience. The songs work quite well live in the album order. And thank goodness, because this tour we are playing it every single night from start to finish. We are playing songs from other albums as well, a nice selection, a mixed bag from other releases, but this is a special “album experience.” If you’re very familiar with how the songs work together, one song can blend into the next one. It’s also an interesting element in terms of how a song order affects the feeling of a show. For example, “Party Hard” is a song we tend to play near the end of a concert, if not at the very end. But with I Get Wet, it’s the second song on that album. It’s very fun and it’s been a very satisfying experience for us.
Paste: The album’s track order seems like it would be great in a live setting.
W.K.: I’m glad to hear you say that. I had the idea in mind in terms of that concert energy, that live energy, that feeling of being with other people when hearing this music. I didn’t want the album to sound live, but I wanted to have the feeling of music you’d want to hear with a group of folks, whether you were at a party or someone’s house or in your car.
Paste: What has the audience reaction been like for this tour?
W.K.: This is the biggest turnout for any shows we have played. It’s truly mind blowing, we were not expecting to have folks act this way. There were certain personal and business decisions that I made where certain contracts proved to be rather complicated. Some of the fine print I didn’t look over turned out to have some limitations and bad sides, but we always tried to stay active and push through. In 2005, we had to get clever about how we would keep going. We’ve done tours and festival shows, but in terms of our own headlining world tour, we hadn’t done that since 2004. We weren’t sure if anyone would care. But this is the biggest tour we’ve ever had, to the best crowd we’ve ever had see us. It’s remarkable and moving and motivating and powerful to think this is still building and developing. This is still climbing up, and it’s exciting for all the works we are working for in the future.
Paste: What do you think has connected so well with this album where so many people are celebrating it a decade later?
W.K.: I don’t know.
Paste: What songs have been the most satisfying to play on this tour?
W.K.: There’s a song just after the midway point, getting toward the end of the album called “Got To Do It.” It’s one of the older songs, but it found itself on this album versus the second album, The Wolf, where a lot of the other songs from this era ended up. I probably have the most fun singing those verses out of any of the songs. It’s possible we haven’t played this song as much as other songs like “Ready to Die” or “I Get Wet,” but singing the verses for “Got To Do It” has been a real delight, it’s very satisfying.
Paste: How has the way you look at partying changed in the last 10 years?
W.K.: Hopefully not at all. It’s supposed to be a fun celebration of whatever you’re most thankful for. What I’ve been working to help expand is the definition, which has traditionally been: “OK, it’s Friday, you’re thankful for the weekend, now we party and celebrate,” or “It’s your birthday, you’re thankful you were born, you’re going to do another year, let’s party and celebrate,” or “It’s a new year, you’re thankful for the year, let’s party and celebrate,” but there’s this unspoken or very vocally expressed discouragement that you’re not allowed to party more than that. But I was like, OK, let’s break this down, if you’re celebrating something you’re thankful for, I’m thankful for not being dead every single day I’m alive, and I want to party every day. I want to say that it’s possible and show that it’s possible to party every day and be in a state of celebration at all times.
Paste: What things are you thankful for other than not being dead?
W.K.: No. 1 is not being dead. No. 2 would be being alive. No. 3 would be being healthy. No. 4 would be friends and family. No. 5 would be music. No. 6 would be entertainment in general, all the arts and culture, things that aren’t boring: movies, books, clothing, paintings, photographs, sounds, stuff that isn’t necessarily a song, magazines, comics of course. Then I’d put animals below that, like dogs and stuff. And then after that, well, maybe I should put this higher: food. Burritos, hamburgers, tacos, that stuff. After that it would be rich natural ground, like grass and things, flowers, pine trees, stuff like that. And as you know, before that I’d put cities. I’d put New York City before that. Because I’d rather have cities than rich natural ground. Trees are really cool, and there are plenty of them all over the place, and I like it when people clear out a little area to not have so many trees. I have a great city. It’s hard to rank these things, so those numbers are a bit arbitrary, but No. 1 is definitely not being dead. No. 2 is definitely being alive.
Paste: You have ten years between the release of this album and now. Do you have anything you’d change about it now?
W.K.: No. I only look forward with this album and all other works. That’s why we keep playing it. It’s a living thing. That’s the great thing about a recording. It’s set in stone, but every time you play it, you’re not set in stone. When you play that CD or hear that mp3, you are new and your ear is new. You’ve been rebuilt, at some point every cell in your body has been replaced. That’s what keeps these things alive and breathing and relevant, but also being able to be enjoyed in a reliable, consistent way. I hope that for everybody it’s only gotten better. I only like it more now. There’s less I would change now than even when I first finished it. It was painful to finish the album because there was so much I wanted to change then, but the more distance I got from the manufacturing of the album, the more I enjoyed it more. This is the most fun I’ve had playing these songs. I didn’t expect that, but it’s exciting for me.
Paste: Do you have a party tip for Atlanta?
W.K.: Yeah. Hide out underneath an oak tree, ball up and lay the small of your back onto a smooth stone.