Andrew WK on His Favorite Concert Appearance and Extreme Metal Past
"I think all of our concerts really as parties. It's a performance for sure. It's not a recital. It's a celebration of that music. All of the greatest times I've had were at our shows," said Andrew WK when talking to Noisecreep about his wildly popular live shows.
Ever since bursting onto the music scene with his 2001 'I Get Wet' solo album, Andrew has gained a reputation as one of the most thrilling live performers out today. But his extreme metal background made the songwriter weary of trying out a new direction when he first started his solo career. "Starting in junior high school, through high school, I was very into metal or black metal and death metal specifically. When I started doing Andrew WK, as much as I loved death metal and extreme heavy metal, I'm making this choice not to play that kind of music. I had been in grindcore bands where I played drums and I loved it. But I felt like I had to make this choice. This scene I was part of was not going to relate to me anymore."
Anyone already familiar with the upbeat party rock of his solo work knows that it's far-removed from Andrew's death metal and punk background.
"I thought that crowd wasn't going to like this Andrew WK music. It's not heavy enough. Because the feeling I wanted to create with the music, and everything I do with Andrew WK, was raw energy. The way I would get to it would include this cheerful sound and a lot of keyboard and piano. The lyrics were very celebratory and the whole vibe was as joyful as I could make it. I just figured that people who were into what I would call "heavier music" probably wouldn't be into it."
Andrew remembers one of his favorite live shows. "The party was at a festival called the Furnace Fest in Birmingham, Alabama, where a lot of different kinds of bands played, but definitely a lot of hardcore bands, what I would call heavy metal and death metal bands. I have so much respect for this heavier music.
I think we were on the Ozzfest tour during that time, which was one of the most intense and great times we ever had. We became friends with bands and learned so much about performance from the band Hatebreed and from watching Down play every day – it was a huge experience, but we definitely felt like the odd band out, because we weren't as heavy as most of those bands. Just because we played in a major key on most of our songs makes us sounds different."
Watch 'Party Hard' live at Furnace Fest
Despite his reservations, WK pushed forward. "Anyway, at this festival I thought it would be another show like Ozzfest. We always had a good time and won over people that hadn't heard of us. At this show, we kicked into the first song, and it was a very large crowd. I would say between 8-9,000 people. It looked big to me. It was a sea of people, as far as you could see, that made the biggest circle pit I had ever seen. When they would come up on stage, it was like a riot, but a happy one (laughter). Everybody was singing along to the words, and these were the same people who were singing along to the bands that were much heavier than us."
The crowd's reaction to his performance taught Andrew a lesson. "I thought, 'Wait a minute, maybe there are other people out there like me who like all different kinds of intense music.' That show changed everything because of this celebratory atmosphere. You couldn't see the stage anymore. It really had become a party. I realized this is what we're meant to do. These people confirmed it."