Andrew W.K. calls from a hotel room in Las Vegas where’s he’s nearing the end of his opening gig with Black Sabbath. His calls are always blocked. I know this because we have been trying to do an interview for the last 2 weeks, but he would always call late, and inevitably I’d be riding my bike or in the middle of something else so I’d get a voicemail from Andrew or an apologetic email from one of his many publicists. Finally, it happened while I was walking my dog at a random park in, of all places, Fremont, Nebraska.
His voice is clear and commanding so it’s not surprising one of his many gifts is motivational speaking. Although these days, Andrew has his hands in so many different things, it’s hard to keep track of everything he’s doing. Let’s rewind.
Andrew W.K. was born Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier in Stanford, California on May 9, 1979. His father, Professor James E. Krier, is a celebrated legal scholar at the University of Michigan Law School. At one point, Andrew considered a career in law, but ultimately followed his passion to make music.
“I’ve been very lucky to have my parents’ support and encouragement for a long time,” he says. “They were definitely concerned at times, even as much as I was, because I didn’t have any experience going down this path or choosing this adventure, but I think they realized that it was what I was meant to do. They get a lot of entertainment out of it, as well.”
Andrew put out his first album in 2001. Titled I Get Wet, it was released on Island Records and got immediate attention for its controversial cover, which featured Andrew’s face with a stream of blood running from his nose onto his neck and chin. At some point, after the release of the track “Party Hard,” Andrew adopted the moniker, “King of Partying,” which sounds straightforward enough, but it’s a little deeper than first suspected.
“I sort of decided to focus on partying because it seems like if you’re going to dedicate your life to doing something, it seems like it should be something fun,” he explains. “The most fun I could think of, at least what I enjoyed and a lot of other people seem to enjoy, is partying.
“It almost seems like it’s something everyone could understand in his or her own way pretty easily,” he continues. “It didn’t, with all due respect, didn’t require an explanation. It’s celebrating and enjoying yourself in a way that’s most appealing to you. So I just wanted to focus on that state of mind and state of being, and surround myself with people who were in that same state, encourage that attitude and get everyone as cheered up as possible.”
Clearly, he has been sharing his excitement with the rest of the world for years now. In fact, it’s what sparked his venture into motivational speaking.
“There’s a lot of ways to get to that state of excitement and actually talking about it really works,” he says. “I’ve met people, even people that are older than me, who don’t listen to music really or go to concerts, but they still read an interview or heard something like we’re talking about now and they were able to connect to it. So I realized there was more. If my main goal is to get to this physical sensation of energy, there are other ways to do it, including communicating and having a conversation. Formally, when NYU invited me to do a lecture in 2005, they said they didn’t want it to be about the music business. They wanted it to be very free form about having fun in life. That really started it all. It worked and people liked it so I just kept doing it.”
As Andrew wraps up his tour with Ozzy, he’s on the tail end of an eventful year. He made history when he set a world record after drumming nonstop for 24 hours on June 20, 2013 at MTV Retail Store in New York City. He’s still running his nightclub in downtown Manhattan called Santos Party House, he has a record label, he makes T.V. and film appearances on occasion, and is in the business of “self-help,” as well. It’s no wonder he has so many publicists.
“It never gets predictable. And that’s what I’m grateful for,” he states. “It’s always changing. The longer I do this, and it’s been about 13 years, the more variety there’s been. I haven’t even intentionally made it that. These opportunities came up and I just say yes. It’s always challenging and new, but at the same time, not overwhelming because it all ties into that same sense of partying, celebration and joy. It’s not like I’m doing a science experiment on one side and going to build a house the next day. It’s a connected realm.”