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Andrew W.K. Talks Party Party, Optimism And A Very Famous Friend

Courtesy photo
Andrew W.K.

Andrew W.K. announced his Power of Partying Tour earlier this year. When the tour ends in late November, the former Michigan resident will have made his way through all 50 states in the union.

Known for releasing albums under his own name as well as having produced acts such as Wolf Eyes and Lee “Scratch” Perry, W.K. spoke to KMUW's Jedd Beaudoin from WBEZ in Chicago this summer during a break from recording a new album that is likely to be released next year.

Jedd Beaudoin: What inspired you to launch this talking tour?

Andrew W.K: First and foremost, in almost a selfish way, I am trying to cheer up myself. I am not an inherently positive person. But perhaps if I do have one skill, it’s that I’m extraordinarily determined to try to become more positive because of my negativity, because of my weakness, because of my shallowness. I’m trying to rigorously engage in activities that are positive.

This is also coinciding with a year in which there are a lot of questions about what makes people joyful and people feeling, I think, unsure of the future. Where does that intersect with what you’re doing?

Those are always good questions. They’re always there, these uncertainties, these unknowns, and sometimes circumstances and conditions, whether on a national level or a global level—usually on a personal level—we’re faced to confront those from time to time. This is an interesting time because we do seem to be confronting them as a nation. Of course, what seems to affect our nation, the United States of America, does have a way of trickling down or spreading across the rest of the globe. So, maybe it’s even a global phenomenon. Maybe it’s a human phenomenon, to questions things, to get thoughtful about things, our situations, again, on an individual level or a shared level.

But it’s not a bad thing. In fact, it might be a really wonderful opportunity to take those thoughts that are usually buried somewhere deep in the back of our minds and bring them to the forefront. It can be uncomfortable. It can be painful, stressful to think about those things. But that unknown, that insecurity, that’s always there, and I think that if we can band together, to some degree, and acknowledge the unknown and our lack of control over life in general, it actually will bring out our best. It can bring out our worst or our best. I’m betting on it bringing out our best.

This current election cycle has seen you launch the Party Party. What can you tell us about the platform of the Party Party?

It was just an opportunity, or an attempt to create an opportunity, where we can take the framework or the presentation, the delivery system of traditional governmental politics and actually set the politics aside and focus on the partying, focus on the unifying aspects of a social movement, but take the issues off the table in favor of the one and only issue that’s at the heart of all other issues, which is existence. And try to find that one thing that we do have in common, whether we like it or not, that we’re human and we’re all here at the same time and put all the reasons that we have to disagree to the side for one moment.

Not to belittle them or take them off the table, but just [to] focus on getting re-energized, hopefully in a way that increases our optimism so that we can go back to those issues and our personal points of view and our individual opinions with a real clear sense, front and center in our mind, that these problems will probably be best faced, best solved in a state of energized enthusiasm. If we try to save the world in a bad mood, it doesn’t tend to go well, from what I’ve seen.

Is this also a way of being able to say, "Look, I don’t have the answer to these questions, I don’t have answer to the political problems, but I’m just going to do the best that I can to be a good human being?"

That’s a great mindset, absolutely. I’m trying to provide the conditions with which we can search for these answers. I’m only providing a little shred of what’s needed in that condition. We all have to team up to create an atmosphere in which we can be at our best. For example, if you’re taking a test—because I think a lot of these challenges really are tests, our whole life, especially the whole uncomfortable, painful challenging adversity that we each face on whatever level, those are tests to see if we can outgrow these problems, if we can overcome them through strength, through perseverance, through developing some essential skill or interior improvement in our characters.

I want to create the conditions for us to be able to do that, individually and collectively. So, what I’m what I’m offering [is]: If you’re taking a test in a classroom and all the lights are off, it’s going to be pretty hard to see the paper, see the questions and work on your answers. So maybe I’m providing a little dose of light. Now, it’s going to be a lot of people coming together to illuminate things. But maybe I can provide at least the equivalent of a lit match in one corner for a few seconds.

Credit wikipedia.org
Lil Bub

Not always, but I often find myself asking a selfish question in an interview. I’m going to close with my selfish question for this interview: You have become a friend of Lil Bub. What has that relationship been like?

This is one of the most famous cats of all time. It’s not even clear if this animal is from Earth. There is a lot of thinking that has this animal having descended somewhere from outer space; a space cat, so to speak. But Lil Bub is a cat that can be recognized by very large gleaming eyes that possess a type of openness and optimism but, at the same time, a type of wisdom. There seems to be a deep sense of knowing, emanating from those two platter-like eyes. They’re just as big and as glassy and as glossy as can be. And then a small, pink protruding tongue which sticks out in the most disarming way. You couldn’t ever feel anything but admiration, love and wonder in the presence of this beast. I mean beast in the highest, highest sense. She’s so far beyond any animal. She’s softer than any material substance. If soft could be a thing, like the word itself, this animal is more soft than soft.

Andrew W.K., thank you so much for joining me.

Thank you very much for having me and for spreading the good word of partying and celebrating life. I consider it a privilege to do it with your support, so thank you.

Andrew W.K. performs in a spoken word event Saturday evening at Barleycorn’s.


Jedd Beaudoin is the host of Strange Currency. Follow him on Twitter @JeddBeaudoin.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.