A few years ago (four, to be exact), Andrew W.K. climbed back into the cultural conscience when his song “Party Hard” was featured in an Android commercial. It had been years since many had even heard the musician’s name, let alone his biggest hit. But his most popular single – now helping sell phones – came out all the way back in 2001. While it may have been his introduction to the mainstream, Andrew is proving in 2018 that the party isn’t stopping.
The long-haired, white-pants-wearing rockstar has claimed the rock crown this year, releasing his first full-length in nearly a decade and following it up with a fall tour that’s set to electrify crowds of mid-sized venues (and the Riot Fest venue Douglas Park) across the United States. Connecting the two accomplishments, Andrew’s video for the title track, “You’re Not Alone”, came out last week right as the tour started.
The song is perhaps the best example of the artist’s larger-than-life style of stadium rock. That’s because it’s soaked in ‘80s glam glory, defined by the vocalist’s motivational lyricism (he is a motivational speaker, after all), and punctuated by bells and horns. Like “Party Hard”, it’s a multi-layered pump-up jam, designed to get you up out of your seat – and to one of the dates on the tour, once it comes through your town. What better way to represent the track, then, than with something that’s grounded: Andrew, alone, singing straight to the camera.
Still, it’s like he’s speaking straight to you, reminding you that you – yes, you the individual watching – are invited to the party. It’s something I’ve always loved about Andrew W.K.: He’s not only about having a good time, but he assures you it’s only meaningful if everyone is included. Plus, with the video’s unique negative effect, the singer’s white hair screams at you as intensely as he does.
There’s no way to avoid Andrew’s pull, nor is there a reason to.
His pizza guitar is a fun touch, as is the tiny message on it that reminds listeners how to party (hard, that is). He has a lot to say about the video, too, telling listeners how the negative effect is meant to bring out the white and black in a representation of the light and the dark – two contrasting sides of life that affect us on a day-to-day basis. “By inverting every polarity and reflecting every opposite, we can unite the highest and lowest parts of ourselves, and rejoice in the ever-contrasting intensity of being alive,” the musician said in a recent news release.
The polarity is clear as day (which is accentuated by the darkness of night, of course), yet it’s not anything new to the musician’s mindset either. My all-time favorite track of his is “Ready to Die”, another cut from his breakthrough I Get Wet, and I’ve always loved it for the way Andrew sings brutal-sounding lyrics behind happy-sounding guitars and keyboard. The disparity is so intriguing you can’t help but dig deeper into what this man is all about.
Andrew has always had deep things to say – and he’s been spewing philosophical statements since the early days of his career.
In an interview with Ink19 all the way back in 2002, he said, “In a world of such huge amounts of information, of such confusion, of such knowledge, of such cynicism – as well as optimism – of such doubt and fear, I am never surprised when someone doesn’t have the strength to take this leap of blind faith with me. I consider it my responsibility to work every day to make sure that, through patience and endurance and perseverance, the truth will out.” That about sums him up.
The truth is that 100 percent maximum effort has helped him accomplish his dreams, whether it’s appearing in a phone commercial, on the Madden soundtrack (Madden NFL 2003, to be exact), or connecting with enthusiastic fans at his shows. The last of which he’s going to be doing a lot of this fall, and – along with the many dedicated fans who have remained by his side the past two decades – there are many more who will be new to the party.
Add me to the list of first-time attendees.
My only experience with Andrew W.K. is watching his Warped Tour routine in the documentary No Room for Rockstars. The dude’s positive energy and engaging state presence seem like enough to get anyone on board with his performances. But, in fitting the documentary title, it’s much more than him as much a “rockstar” as he is a fun addict wanting everyone else to start taking whatever he appears to be on (note: the only thing he’s high on is life).
He may be stressing a clichéd phrase a lot lately, but “you’re not alone” has never felt so true than with Andrew W.K. belting it out on camera – and, as his fall tour continues, into fans’ smiling faces as well.
Featured Image Photo: Nate Ryan/NPR