Obituary Drummer Speaks Out on Andrew W.K. Controversy
For years now, party anthem architect Andrew W.K. has been defending himself against online allegations that he is, in fact, not one man, but a record label-concocted persona, forged in the spirit of commerce, who’s been portrayed on stage and on record by a number of different actors. The allegations have beleaguered the rocker for so long that several sites have posted pictures from W.K.’s ‘I Get Wet’ period, comparing them with more recent snaps shot of the gargantuan frontman.
Back in November, W.K. defending himself against the accusations on Twitter, saying he’s no imposter, and that rumors that the original Andrew W.K. was an entirely different person named Steev Mike are false. Then, in a video posted, W.K. explains before a room full of Brits that he wasn’t “the guy you’ve seen from the ‘I Get Wet’ album … I’m not that same person. I don’t just mean that in a philosophical or conceptual way. It’s not the same person at all.”
This week, the intrepid folks at Metalsucks attempted to get to the bottom of this Andrew W.K. debate by speaking with Obituary drummer Donald Tardy, who manned the kit on ‘I Get Wet’ and toured with the man for two years after the album’s release. Tardy wasn’t familiar with the “Andrew W.K. is two guys” theory at all, but he didn’t completely rule out that it could be true.
Tardy was approached by Andrew W.K. in 2000 in a handwritten letter. In it, W.K. extolled the virtues of Obituary and asked if the drummer would be down for a collabo. “So he sent me his demo and stuff, and I heard it and was blown away by it,” Tardy said. “It was completely opposite of what I had been doing in my career, just his style of music. It was something interesting to me because it was the mirror opposite of death metal and what I did. It completely interested me, and he had a phone number that he added with that letter. I called it, and we were friends immediately.”
This all happened before Andrew was signed to Island Def Jam, but Tardy claims the songs for ‘I Get Wet’ were basically all written. At this time, Andrew was in his late teens or early 20s … Tardy wasn’t sure. “What he came to me for, and what he asked me to do was simply drum-wise, was there anything that I could add flavor to?” Tardy recalled. “Was there anything I could put my two cents worth in and use my metal side to help? That’s exactly what we did. There were a couple of drum fills and stuff that I helped with to basically try and make the songs a little bit more tasty drum-wise.”
Tardy was essentially a hired gun. The label contract was with Andrew alone, but Tardy denies Andrew W.K. was more of a concept, designed by an evil money-grubbing label. “I understand why rumors start, especially with Andrew … because it went from nothing to absolutely playing in every corner of the globe,” Tardy says, but “Andrew had the mind, ability, and the focus to make it happen, and that’s exactly why it happened so quickly, because he was so determined on what he wanted.”
Tardy recalled, to the best of his ability, how W.K. got his deal and then spoke directly to the rumors that Andrew has been “played” by more than one person. “I don’t know,” he tells Metalsucks. “Andrew is a dude. He is a dude that I know. I think it’s when something happens so quickly and so successfully, people can’t accept that. That’s understandable, especially when people don’t understand his talent and how focused he was and how the songs were already there long before he got signed. I can tell that he had many ideas and songs.
“Let’s face it, he’s quite a charismatic kind of dude,” Tardy continued. “He’s bigger than real life. You combine those two [things] with the success and people can’t understand it so they immediately think there has to be more to it. But he’s a dude. He’s a dude from New York that grew up in Detroit. He’s a metalhead, but he’s a phenomenal piano player. You combine those two [things] and what do you get? You get metal meets Meat Loaf.”
Tardy was then asked about Steev Mike, who rumor has it was the first person to play W.K. According to him, Mike is a person he never met, but someone Andrew “really trusts, and it was a guy that always had his vision.” Tardy says he’d only hear Mike’s voice during a conference call, and as for W.K.’s remarks during a U.K. lecture that he’s not the first or only W.K., Tardy says he doesn’t “even know how to start with that one.
“I’m still friends with his drummer now, so he told me that Andrew had been doing motivational speeches for the past few years,” Tardy says. “I don’t know what to think about that. Andrew, to me, is a dude. He is nutty as ever. He’s as intelligent as anyone that I have ever met, and he likes to keep people on the balls of their feet. I don’t know how to … if Andrew actually was quoted as saying that, I don’t know. It would have been hard for me not to crack a smile if he was saying that with me in the room. To me, Andrew is Andrew and he’s a dude. He’s a good guitar player and an amazing piano player, and he is Andrew.”
Then, Tardy thinks more about it. “Maybe there were two dudes and I wasn’t even aware that they were pulling the wool over my eyes,” he submitted. “I don’t really know. Once again, that dude is so intelligent, and he thinks a lot quicker than all of us on this planet. I think that’s his way of keeping people confused enough to be interested in anything but his music because his music is so undeniably catchy and well-written that maybe he wants people to think harder than they do when they hear it.”
Tardy says the last time he saw Andrew was last September in New York, and it was definitely the same Andrew he used to tour with 10 years ago. “Even if he gained weight from steroids [or something], we still discussed the good times in the past and the funny things we would always say to each other,” Tardy said. “Dude wouldn’t know that unless you were there.”