LIVE REVIEW: ANDREW W.K. @ IRVING PLAZA
When I asked Andrew W.K. what he wanted people to take away from his music, he answered clearly, “I’d like it to be an energizing, life-affirming, physical sensation that they experience in their body, feel in their body, and tells their mind to follow that feeling, and decide that its’ good to be alive.”
Earlier today, in a decidedly lowest of low moment (because writers are prone to neurosis and endure lifelong rejection but are, by some sad tick of nature, compelled to share our thoughts and feelings with the entire world) this Tweet scrolled across my screen, “PARTY TIP: You’re here. You’re alive. Take a deep breath and keep things in perspective. You’re doing great. Stay focused and kick ass.” The writer of the said tweet is W.K., singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, music producer, and preacher of positive party mentality. After heeding these words, I focused, I made a pact with myself to kick a little ass, and then I revisited this conversation with the crowned prince of party.
For the last nine years, W.K. has written advice columns, shared his philosophy on the “Power of Partying,” and even launched his own political platform, the “Party Party.” His latest iteration, You’re Not Alone, may have been created during those years, but the break from making music was anything but deliberate. This was not a “comeback” so to speak; it wasn’t recorded strategically, it just happened. “It wasn’t an intentional break and it wasn’t really time spent wondering or thinking about the album. I was recording it during a lot of that time. I’m still trying to figure out how to answer questions, or even understand myself, about the years it took; all I can say is it was not intentional. It was the result of a lot of chaos and confusion – actually the antithesis of planning or goal setting or schedule. And every time I did try to work on a schedule it was thwarted in a very violent way, by other opportunities or circumstances, so I have no way to understand it. I’m just glad that it’s out.”
As far as the album’s message, it might seem like it can be easily summed up in the album title, but he hopes that You’re Not Alone, can mean whatever it needs to mean to whoever is listening. “To me, it’s pretty open to being looked at in different ways. It’s a very comforting idea. The idea that there’s a presence and there are times when you would rather be alone but you can’t because there’s something else there. There are many ways to look at it. It could be your own conscience, it could be your own inner thoughts, it could be the inescapable humanity that surrounds you. There are times, for example, spending time in a hotel room all by yourself [if] you hear a voice from under the bed that says ‘you’re not alone,’ that would be very unsettling. So, I guess it was just the idea of a presence and for me, music has always been the most comforting presence in terms of a supernatural otherworldly, reliable benevolent feeling. Since it is an album of music, that’s one of the main things, that music can be a source of powerful presence.”
On another down day (as I mentioned, these do happen) I found a quote from Andrew W.K. written for a Vice news column. It spoke to me directly, specifically, calling me out on my passion for writing: “It’s almost as if your passion is also passionate about you. Your destiny is trying to pep you up so that you can go and do the stuff that you’re meant to do. For me, that was a huge breakthrough: that what you are born to do might not even be something you completely enjoy doing in the typical personal sense but are compelled to do nevertheless. You love it and hate it. “The only thing worse than writing,” author Richard Price once said, “is not writing.”
For me, and for those who have felt stronger or up to the task after hearing Andrew W.K. profess or perform, his place as a motivational speaker seems obvious. For him, it was a matter of chance. “I haven’t figured out how to live myself, so I guess talking about it is how I try to understand or figure out more things about life. People ask me questions, so I just answer them the best I can. It was never an idea I had to pursue before it was presented as an opportunity. Someone invited me to give a speech, so I tried to do it. It’s all trying to promote the same feeling, the same message, of life being an incredibly intense but worthwhile experience that we owe it ourselves and the people around us to embrace with as much courage as we can. That’s the main theme, we’re trying to celebrate the fact that we were born and make it count.”
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