Everything and nothing4/29/2015
It would be incorrect to say “Andrew W.K. is not who you think he is.” In point of fact, Andrew W.K. is exactly who everyone thinks he is. The fact that no two people think of him the same way and he is still able to convince everyone they are right is his particular talent.
There is a conspiracy theory that has been alive for nearly as long as Andrew W.K. has, that says he is a fabrication. That the man we know as Andrew W.K. has, in fact, been portrayed by a number of people, and that the persona is an act of artifice. Andrew himself has added occasional fuel to the fire by making cryptic comments like “Andrew W.K. was created by a large group of people(…) It was done in the spirit of commerce.”
Even now, when asked directly, he remains coy.
“I was thinking about this a lot yesterday,” he said in a phone interview, talking about the Andrew W.K. “brand.” “Anything that I’ve done and presented as Andrew W.K. has always been the result of a huge amount of effort of a large amount of people. There’s been countless people involved in anyone’s life, and my life is no different.”
The truth, of course, is that there is no cabal of Andrew W.K. doubles wandering the earth. All of the party-centric music that he has released in the past 15 years has all been the result, ultimately, of one mind. But when the rumor mill gets churning, there is usually not much you can do about it. And, since Andrew W.K. is really whatever you want him to be, he learned to go with it.
“It’s sort of a choice that I didn’t have a choice about at one point,” he said. “People will think what they’re going to think. At some points that’s exciting, and at some points that’s frustrating or embarrassing or humiliating. But I didn’t have any more control over that than I did when they thought things that I really liked.
“It’s definitely possible to try and fight that and create a barrier around that,” he continued. “But life is, for better or worse, a collaborative experience.”
And make no mistake, Andrew W.K. lives for those collaborations. His shows are free-flowing group affairs. Nobody sits and passively watches him on stage. You are in that moment, sometimes more so than you have ever been into anything in your life. It is easy to call his music simple or overly reductive. But it is every bit as easy to get swept up in the stupid majesty of it all and forget who you are for two hours of sweaty, convulsing joy.
“The whole concept from the very beginning was to make this about a feeling,” Andrew said of his music. “Most of the songs aren’t really telling experiences from my life or about myself. This is just a pursuit of a feeling of certainty. Not even a mood or mindset, so much as a physical experience of excitement. Maybe I’m one way to find that feeling, but once you get there, you can follow it in many directions. I don’t want to limit that.
“Meaning is there if they want to go there,” he concluded. “You can watch Looney Toons and learn everything you need to know about life and interactions and rewards and consequences. All that takes is a bit of imagination. So I am one-dimensional, but it contains a multitude of dimensions. So the person who just wants to rock out and have a blast, they can do that with me. I’m everything and nothing, depending on what they’re looking for.” CV
Chad Taylor is an award-winning news journalist and music writer from Des Moines who would love to take his talents abroad if the rent were not so much more affordable in Des Moines.