Andrew W.K.

Party with the Messiah

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

An observation: Nearly everyone, it seems, wants to be famous. A further observation: This is confounding, as it seems so many people use the perks afforded by celebrity so poorly.

Sure, Birkin bags are lovely, exotic vacations have their charms and the ability to live large is certainly enticing, but none of it seems like the very best time a person can have.

In short, fame does not always equal fun.

I’ve often thought, were I ever to attain any measure of celebrity, I would use my notoriety differently. Instead of using it to acquire stuff and insulate myself from reality, I would try and have all the fun my funds would buy.

And I would probably party some.

This is why I have such strong admiration for Andrew W.K. Sure, he’s not exactly the most famous person going—he’s really more fameish than famous—but he’s using the celebrity he’s earned to do whatever the hell he wants (although one senses he’d likely do what he wants regardless of his measure of fame). And he seems to be having a way better time than just about anyone else.

Of course, we all know Andrew W.K. as the hard-partying guy with an affinity for Hanes T-shirts and white 501s. But there’s way more to this musician than party anthems and an ensemble that shouldn’t be worn after Labor Day.

For example, Andrew Fetterly Wilkes Krier (now you know why he goes by Andrew W.K.) does not exactly come by his party persona honestly. In fact, his father is a respected legal scholar and Andrew has received a fair amount of classical music training. Which means he learned the rules—both musically and legally—before he began to break them.

All that music training led Andrew to form a whole slew of bands during the earlier part of his youth, and during that time, he managed to use up more than his fair share of a lifetime allotment of questionable band names. Over the course of five years, the future Prince of Party found himself involved in such projects as Reverse Polarity (his first band and first bad band name), Lab Lobotomy, Music Band, Mr. Velocity Hopkins (my personal favorite), the Portly Boys, Kangoo, the Beast People, Stormy Rodent, the Malt Lickers, Sucking Coeds, and more.

Since none of those bands panned out, Andrew decided to do what so many before him have done: strike out on his own.

Going solo proved to be an inspired plan, and helped form the persona with which we’re now all familiar, as well as cementing his place in pop culture as a man who came to party—and he managed to accomplish all that, largely with the help of a single photo. Andrew’s first full-length album, released in 2001 (yes, it’s really been that long) and called I Get Wet, featured an album cover that has since become somewhat iconic, and certainly helped to forcibly insert the artist into the public consciousness.

A simple, striking headshot, the cover of I Get Wet would not have been noteworthy—were it not for the blood pouring from Andrew’s nose and down his chin. Shot by famed art photographer Roe Ethridge, the cover caused confusion, consternation and, in some circles, controversy. In short, it did exactly what it was supposed to do: get the young musician noticed.

Once all eyes were firmly on Andrew, he wasn’t about give up the spotlight—nor was he trying to use his time in that artificial sun poorly. The album’s breakout track, the appropriately titled “Party Hard,” established the musician as the go-to dude when it came time to party, and he did nothing to disabuse this notion. The album yielded another minor hit, “She is Beautiful,” and between the two songs it was easy to see Andrew has a tendency toward hard-charging, fist-in-the-air, sing-along jams. All the better to party to, I guess.

Astonishingly prolific, along with earning a spot on the 2001 Ozzfest roster and having his songs placed in darn near every entertainment medium that uses music (which, in this day and age, has become the main method by which musicians can both get heard and get paid), Andrew was writing and recording more songs. However, unlike I Get Wet, his next full-length, 2003’s The Wolf, would feature Andrew playing every single instrument—you know, just in case you were wondering if whether a real musician lurked under all that hair and dingy white denim and layers of party.

After that release would come many others—and this is also when the musician’s desire to stake his own path would become abundantly clear.

In 2005, Andrew declared he’d like to channel some of the massive quantity of energy he clearly possesses into motivating others, becoming a New Age self-help speaker who accepted lecture invitations from the likes of Yale, New York University, Carnegie Mellon, and more. As well, he’s the author of a staggering amount of “party tips,” and it is not uncommon to find something such as “The only way to make your dreams come true is to know what they are. What’s yours?” sandwiched between “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but a bird in the PARTY is worth two + infinity” and “French kiss your own arm or leg.” Clearly, Andrew is a motivational speaker for our time.

The other activities he’s undertaken in the recent past have included reworking one of his songs to be the theme of the Arizona Sundogs hockey team, being on of 77 drummers to play simultaneously at a park in New York at 7:07pm on 7/7/2007, his piano playing appears on a jazz-fusion album, while his bass skills have been called into play at the behest of Baby Dee, a performance artist and musician. He was the host of the Cartoon Network’s Destroy Build Destroy, has done a stint as the U.S. Cultural Ambassador to Bahrain, and even played classical piano at the wake of one of his fans after showing his respects. He’s also a record producer, venue owner and runs a record label in what has to be some pretty limited spare time.

Lately, among all those other things he does, Andrew has set a world record for Longest Drum Session in a Retail Store after drumming nonstop for 24 hours, and has just finished up a stint opening for Black Sabbath. He’ll soon take to the road with Marky Ramone, but not before undertaking a solo “Party Messiah” tour, which comes on the heels of another successful solo outing by the busy artist, that one dubbed the “Human Party Machine” tour.

From what I’ve been led to believe, when the self-anointed one makes his way to Bellingham for a Sept. 12 show at the Wild Buffalo, it’ll be just him and a keyboard and the crowd—and I don’t think he’s actually bringing his own keyboard, which prompts me to draw the conclusion that perhaps this show is more about the party than the music. Something tells me that will suit his adoring Bellingham fans just fine. Something further tells me this is a show that is on the cusp of selling out, so if you’d like to party with the Messiah, you know where to scare up tickets.

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