The good, the bad, and the heavy - Andrew W.K. revels in the realities of life
Earlier this year when imitable ambassador of celebration Andrew W.K. unveiled his sixth studio album in God Is Partying with the single, "Babalon," there was an obvious directional shift that struck a chord with those familiar with the party God's brand. Though still cranked to 11, still packed with the requisite hair-whipping, head-banging heft - this was a side of Andrew that was darker, and interestingly more personal than ever before.
For the last two decades, Andrew W.K. has refined a stylistic signature that in which he uniquely implements the jovial - an element that often goes missing in heavy music. From his impenetrable debut in I Get Wet, which established an unparalleled celebratory precedent, to his life affirming 2018 LP, You Are Not Alone, Andrew's advocacy has always been rooted in the pursuit of a good time. But what happens when the steward of the rock n roll rager finds himself confronted with the sometimes difficult realities of life?
On album six, the dynamic of Andrew W.K.'s partying translates as more of a personal endeavor. To borrow a cliche, Andrew is sort of dancing in the dark - in what feels to be a collection of personal testimonials vaguely referencing what has no doubt been a pivotal time for not just the frontman force of nature - but for everyone. While the multi-talent has never been explicit in working his life out in song - the tone of God Is Partying seems to suggest that while Andrew has spent his career facilitating a rock n roll respite for everyone else - this time around, he is less the host of the festivities and more of the participant. Privately enduring a divorce and the split from is previous record label since his last LP, there is an understanding where the tonal shift comes from - and yet despite it all, Andrew quest to find a reason to celebrate can likely be summarized with another cliche - whatever doesn't kill you only makes you stronger.
Songs like "Remember Your Oath" and "My Tower" offer a veiled insight to personal conflict that Andrew W.K. never addresses outright, but manages to get off his chest in a way that is as cathartic as it is entertaining. In the spirit of personal release, songs like "I'm In Heaven" never get especially deep, yet the emotional nexus that fuels the cut's raw power suggest something meaningful in Andrew's wailing. These are songs of celebration even if have to traverse dark places in its pursuit.
Even on what translates as the collection's most accessible track in "Stay True To Your Heart," the musician who has moonlit as a motivational speaker for years, seems to be speaking generally and reminding himself at the same time, the importance of that PMA and finding a reason to celebrate, despite the curveballs life often hurls.
Yet despite what feels like Andrew's most personal effort to date, the master of ceremonies still manages to maintain an element of mystery. While the songs provide plenty of room for interpretation, Andrew's intent remains purely about the party and in doing so, the substance of the songs might hint at the often heavy realities of life, but they never get weighed down by them. If the show must go on, so must the party - Andrew explains.
God Is Partying is noticeably heavier and darker from your previous work and has fans old and new loving this different musical direction. The album embraces “both the break-ups and break-downs of life.” What does the album represent to you personally? And are there any specific experiences you drew from to create such a killer album?
Andrew WK - Well, that’s very flattering. If it’s a killer album, the only thing it killed was me. I suppose it’s possible it may have killed more than I realized. But there are only two bodies. I mean, you've got to stay true to the killer vision of yourself. You’re given a vision. It's not an idea you think up, it's something that happens to you. The vision may upset you, it may upset other people, but there's an incredible internal pressure coming from this idea - this vision - and it must be carried out and brought to life, regardless of how difficult or painful it may be. It's an obligation. Once you make a promise to your own destiny - to be true to the vision that was born inside you - you really have think twice before breaking that promise. There's really no coming back from that sort of self betrayal. That was the main experience I tried to avoid on this album.
You’ve performed all the instruments on your albums before, and this was the case for God is Partying as well. (So awesome!) Considering the album’s sound and your love for metal, how was the creative process different from your previous experiences, if at all?
Andrew WK - From what I’ve gathered, pretty much all the albums were made this way, and it works, so why not let it? Recording rock music is like going to heaven. I try to make transcendent hard rock music in order to transcend the making of hard rock music. It’s a means to an end, but also an end that is also a means to achieving itself. This music wants to be the arrow and the target. And hitting the audience’s mind is a bullseye.
Playing music has helped provide an outlet to cope with “bad” feelings and promote positivity. How does the new record align with your ongoing message of partying—or doing what you love / want? And has your concept of “partying” changed over the years?
Andrew WK - If I look at partying from a slanted point of view, I can see that Andrew W.K. really hasn’t changed at all. If anything, it’s more the same than it used to be.
What was your overall vision for the album? What was the most challenging about making it? The most rewarding?
Andrew WK - There was no overall vision, just a work order and an assigned headspace. They always just make it up as we go, and I do what I’m sent to include. Accumulate dark, accumulate light. See this, see that, see the other. Some of the darkest stuff is just a shadow behind your work lamp. That was challenging in the studio, but not unpleasant. Sort of like walking down a really steep cliff into a canyon. But then you find out what you thought was a canyon was actually just the alleyway behind the piano, inside of an enormous black square building, and you’re laying down there, in the gutter, looking up at the cosmos, totally perplexed and in horrifying awe. And that was a rewarding environment to be in, at least until the album recording was over.
You’ve always had an element of mystery to you that has undoubtedly intrigued fans. Your latest music videos use a lot of symbolism that has many viewers sharing their theories on what they mean. Are you able to expand on any of the videos’ / symbols’ meanings or themes?
Andrew WK - With sincere respect, the people who would need it explained wouldn't benefit from the explanation. And the people who would benefit from the explanation, wouldn’t need it explained to them in the first place. 6.
You’ve been bringing positive feelings to fans for decades through your music and by simply being you. What would you say is the most fulfilling part about what you do?
Andrew WK - I love doing this with all my heart. The entire experience is fulfilling. I can’t believe I get to be a part of this party. And I’m extraordinarily grateful to anyone who has ever partied with me. You may never realize that we partied together, but we did. And you may not see how beloved and powerful you are, but I do.
What would you like fans to take away from God Is Partying?
Andrew WK - People can think what they want. And other people can think what they want about what those people think. And I think I'm allowed to keep my thoughts about what all these people think to myself.
God Is Partying is currently available via Napalm Records. Order the album - HERE