Andrew W.K. brings life to the party in music, speaking tour

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If there is a party happening somewhere in the world, you can guarantee Andrew W.K. is behind it. Since his debut in 2001, the metal-pop musician has been a definitive harbinger of joy, crafting a whole career around the tagline of “Party Hard” — which is also one of his most notable songs (see also “Party ‘Til You Puke” and “It’s Time to Party”).

He is branded the “King of Partying” on Twitter, has a forthcoming book titled “The Party Bible,” and in 2008, became part owner of a now-closed New York Club called Santos Party House.

ANDREW W.K.’S THE POWER OF PARTYING SPEAKING TOUR When: 7 p.m., September 15 Where: Revolution Brewing Taproom, 3340 N. Kedzie Tickets: Sold out Info: NOTE: Andrew W.K. also appears at Riot Fest, Sept. 18 at 2:50 p.m.

But this is no schematic ruse. The musician, born Andrew Wilkes-Krier (he uses his childhood nickname), believes so strongly in the message of having a good time that 10 years ago he transitioned from live musical performances, likened to Judas Priest-meets-Jerry Lee Lewis, into motivational speeches. It began with a notorious four-hour lecture at New York University and has since grown to cover much of the college circuit.

This fall, W.K. takes it a step further, embarking on “The Power of Partying” tour, his first-ever, large-scale speaking engagement that has stops in all 50 states. It kicks off in Chicago this week before a now annual appearance at Riot Fest. The event, called a “nationwide rally for the human spirit” comes just months after W.K. announced his intentions to establish a new political faction called The Party Party. His platform: to effectively disengage us from the vitriol that has plagued this campaign season in favor of coming together to celebrate our commonalities.



“It’s an attempt to be in a room together and try to invoke a type of real physical and emotional enthusiasm that actually allows us to be more thoughtful, more compassionate, more open-minded and hopefully more optimistic about everything rather than stressed out and at odds,” says W.K. of the message behind the tour, echoing the sentiment of his weekly Village Voice advice column, “Ask Andrew W.K.,” which the Atlantic calls “a place where adult problems are considered with dignity, and where feelings are taken seriously.”

“Part of this tour for me personally is to prove to myself that we aren’t as divided as we have been told we are,” he continues. “The fact that I, or other people, might be so exhausted that we would roll our eyes and scoff at the notion of opening our hearts, that’s a sign to me that it’s almost a state of emergency. I’m more determined and devoted to proving that we have what it takes to make it than I have ever been before.”

W.K. admits that his undying mission to promote human joy comes from his own lack of it. “I’m not a naturally positive person. I’m someone who is more inclined towards darkness and negativity, which made me desperate for light and positivity,” he says. “It’s something I struggle with every day, so that’s why it’s important to me to stay on this path.”

In fact, it was only music that gave him slivers of hope early on, after his violinist mother enrolled him in classes when he was just four years old. “I was really lucky to have piano lessons at a young age because it gave me something to cling to,” he recalls. “No matter how bad I felt life was, music was a real definitive piece of proof to me that life could feel good.”

After moving from his native Michigan to New York City in 1998 to become a fashion designer (his stage uniform of white jeans and a white T-shirt was him “giving up” on that dream), W.K. continued on his musical journey. After forming a series of dissolved punk bands, he eventually went solo with four releases under his name (and another on the way).

Yet it was his seminal debut “I Get Wet” in 2001, which found infamy in its controversial bleeding nose cover art—still a popular Halloween costume 15 years later—and bizarre mix of metal, pop, and dance undertones paired with simplistic lyrics. While some called it “brilliantly dumb,” others have tagged W.K. as one of “rock ‘n’ roll’s great philosophers.”

Either option is fine with him. “I want to be a person who can be called upon to deliver a certain feeling, whether you get that through my music, something I say or write, or even just thinking of me, which would be the highest achievement,” he says. “It’s all just an attempt to provide energy and excitement for my fellow humans.” Party on.

Selena Fragassi is a freelance writer.

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