Andrew WK – Feature
Andrew WK isn’t crazy. He just wants to communicate as clearly as possible. He establishes this early when pressed about seeming intimidating or just plain nuts in interviews. “I’m trying to make [the interview] good and I’m focused on that. So don’t mistake focus for kind of weird, intimidating vibe,” he tells the Rage.
It’s the same with his music: it’s about communicating an idea as clearly (and loudly) as possible. Actually, Andrew would probably disagree with the word “idea.” He’d prefer “feeling.” “If there’s one thing [the music’s] trying to say louder and clearer than anything else, it’s look at how great something can be just on the way it makes you feel,” he says. And it isn’t just one feeling Andrew wants to bring across in his music, but all feelings at once. It should be something like emotional white noise.
This clarity of communication is evident from the first track of Andrew WK’s first album I Get Wet. “It’s time to party! Party! …Hey You! Let’s Party!” he sings on It’s Time to Party. There is no mistaking that. Delivered through the least-subtle music ever — all overdriven guitars, high-pitched keyboards, relentless drums and gang-vocal chants — Andrew’s message lies somewhere between motivational speaker, priest and that hesher down the hall from you in the dorms who had the collection of strangely-shaped bongs.
Like a priest, Andrew believes he’s been called to his profession. “Even if I didn’t even like the music, I would say, ‘no, this is the music I need to make.’ This needs to be made and I need to do it. So I don’t even have a choice in the matter. I’m obligated to this feeling,” he explains. He knows the music is greater than himself. So he’s inclined to speak of “this music” and “this feeling” and describe how the feeling guides him. For example: “The feeling itself is counting on me to make music that brings it into people.”
Such language might be downright disturbing if Andrew WK’s music didn’t live up to such descriptions. Andrew has tapped into something, perhaps inevitable for pop music, a focus on physical feeling and how that relates to emotion. And he knows how to achieve it. When discussing how one should feel listening to his music, he suggests, “I feel good. I feel moved. I feel a physical sensation in my legs. My legs are quivering. My spine is tingling. My eyes are watering. My heartbeat’s racing. I’m getting cold chills. That kind of a feeling from being so moved and physically affected by the scientific frequencies in music.”
Towards that end, his music is overloaded with the sounds we associate with those feelings: an army of guitars, triumphant drums, a voice shouting to hoarseness. These elements have existed in pop music for decades but have never been combined so intentionally, so thoroughly and so consistently. Heavy metal is the most direct influence on Andrew’s sound, but, generally speaking, metal never paired its aggression with pop structure and operatic heroism.
Andrew’s most recent album The Wolf is even more intense than his debut. With 66% fewer songs about partying, Andrew turns his attention to interpersonal relationships. Even his power ballads punch you in the face. After all, “the music will always pass good judgement and love you, because it’s superhuman,” he says. “The music is strong enough to like everybody.”
Knowing exactly what he wants to say or rather, how he wants you to feel, Andrew WK is eagerly anticipating the next album of this music: “I’m trying to make it even more exciting. And even more, just completely… you feel completely enraptured. You feel completely soaked. Like flattened against the wall with satisfaction and fulfillment. Like something so great has happened and now you’re just reveling in the afterglow.”
[This piece originally appeared in All The Rage.]