To know Andrew W.K. is to know the way of the party.
The endlessly enthusiastic New Yorker is more than a musician—he’s an icon for positivity and, more importantly, partying hard. Andrew W.K., whose real name is Andrew Wilkes-Krier and who plays a guitar that resembles a slice of pizza, didn’t launch a career with his 2001 debut, I Get Wet, so much as he launched a lifestyle and a brand. That album, packed with hard-driving 4/4 stadium-rock anthems like “Party Hard,” “It’s Time to Party” and “Party Till You Puke,” introduced the world to a figure who would soon become America’s foremost authority on uproarious revelry.
Since the release of his debut, Andrew W.K. has taken innumerable career left turns, having released an album of improvised piano pieces called ’55 Cadillac, participating in The Boredoms’ 77-drummer “77 Boadrum” concert, opening the Santos Party House club in Brooklyn, hosting the Cartoon Network show Destroy Build Destroy and even giving a number of motivational speeches. He’s a one-man celebration—a conduit for good times and a traveling distributor of mirth and merriment. Whether he’s delivering a lecture at Yale or overseeing operations at a New York rock club, all of these efforts eventually lead back to Andrew W.K.’s raison d’etre: partying.
For W.K., it’s only natural to take advantage of the holiday season to spread his gospel of riotous good times with a Christmas-themed tour. The Party Hard Holiday tour brings him to San Diego on Friday, Dec. 20, where he’ll play the Epicentre. He tells CityBeat that the tour allows him to give a less-structured performance that encourages audience participation.
“It’s a very festive and very open format for a show, and it does give us the flexibility to play holiday songs, to make up songs with the folks in the room,” he says. “It’s as interactive and intimate as we can possibly make it.
“I like the feeling that the whole room is the stage and everyone is just performing for each other,” he adds. “In a way, I’m as much an audience member as a performer. So, whoever’s in the room that night, that’s my band. I want it to have that feeling of a real sing-along, friends-hanging-out-and-partying vibe.”
This set of special holiday shows also allows Andrew W.K. to pay homage to a personal hero: Santa Claus. “He’s one of my favorite people or characters or figures, and he’s definitely, to me, as ‘party’ as it gets,” he says. “I try to emulate him and also want to make him proud and also try to live up to the kindness and good cheer that he’s exuded.”
When Andrew W.K. isn’t gracing an actual stage, he uses social media as a platform to deliver daily affirmations of celebration and debauchery. His Twitter feed is a long and frequently hilarious string of “Party Tips” that range from the silly (“PARTY TIP: Candy dinner”) to almost-Zen-like koans such as, “On a good day we party. On a bad day, we party until it becomes a good day.”
He’s channeling that party-driven wisdom into a lengthy tome—yes, he’s writing the literal book on partying—titled The Party Bible. It’s due for release in 2014 through Simon & Schuster, and W.K. explains that it’s intended to cover as much topical ground as possible on his party-positive way of life.
“It’s the world as seen through the party mindset,” he says. “I’d like to touch on everything as much as I can. But there’s a lot of fun ways to improve the definition of partying, as far as how it can help one person get cheered up or view the world through this attitude.
“It’s not a book about my life; it’s not a memoir or autobiography,” he clarifies. “It’s really just a book about partying.”
Between touring, writing the book, hitting the academic and motivational lecture circuit and various excursions into product endorsement—which includes Kit-Kat bars and Playtex hygienic wipes (no, really)—it would take an unnatural level of energy to keep up the kind of schedule that Andrew W.K. does. And it’s possible that he’s the result of a government experiment to create a superhuman party machine—as he put it recently in a tweet: “My body is a piece of party equipment.” But the answer to how he stays upright, even after more than a decade of intense, nonstop festivity, it turns out, is much simpler than that.
“I don’t feel like I work very hard at all, and I don’t know if that’s because 99 percent of what I’m doing I enjoy so much,” he says. “When you’re partying all the time, it’s hard to make it feel like work. It’s just constant, nonstop celebration. It has its own fuel source built-in.
“It’s like a perpetual-motion machine.”