This article doesn't need much introduction. If you're inspired by Andrew WK like some of us, prepare for more posi.
So what are your thoughts on the South by Southwest shows this year? I was so busy I didn't get to catch the three shows a day you were pulling.
[Laughs] Well, I only did six total in four days. Maybe eight total. It was usually one show with the full band, and then I would do a solo show or a special appearance at someone else's show or hop in and do a set with a different band. That was the first time that my full band and I probably played South by Southwest Festival. I've attended several times before that to participate whether it was playing by myself, doing lectures, doing interviews - I was doing some television at the time - but we played in Austin at many of the same venues on our tours, just not at South by Southwest. To actually come and do the festival, it was crazy. It blew our minds. So often newer groups come and play it for the first time early in their career. We just never did that for whatever reason. It felt like we finally got to do our proper South by Southwest appearance.
One of the things I really get into is the industry side of releasing music and how that sort of has evolved. I know a while back there was an issue with the release of Close Calls and Brick Walls/Mother of Mankind through iTunes. What was the deal with that? How do you feel about having to sit around and wait to release your material?
Maybe we'll clarify this as we discuss it. iTunes, by accident, released [that] album early. I believe they released it an entire week, if not two weeks early. It was partially my fault too, because we had moved the release date several times. At the point when we moved the release date, we didn't communicate that to them and they stuck with the original release date. It was really quite exciting. The way I found out about it was through our Twitter or our messageboard or somewhere on the computer. It was like, "Hey, I just got the new Andrew WK album on iTunes. Were you aware of this? I was on the website and it says it's not coming out for another two weeks." I said, "Woah, what's going on!" [Laughs] There was kind of an excitement about it, especially with this album since it was a re-release of an old album. I was just happy that people cared enough to get it at all. You see how, when it's so easy to release something, when all you have to do is click a button than manufacture all these materials, it changes things. That's a very powerful and dangerous [situation]. You have to be careful when you have that much power and ways to get your music out there so easily and quickly. That's why people have become so concerned with downloading. I heard Eminem's album leaked weeks early.
That's the trend with everything.
We're passed that concern at this point. The concern is that people are just interested in the music and that there are ways to engage them beyond selling the music. That's what I've been focusing on for the past several years. In 2005, I think it was evident that this had all changed. I was meeting up with people who had never bought a CD ever and hadn't planned on it. They hadn't payed money for music in their whole lives, yet were here as music fans. I said this was clearly great for music and musicians and groups of people in the creative fields. There's more ways to work interest because there's more access to people than before. The control that so few people used to have over so much is really gone. Then it became not so much about selling copies of CDs, but an entire entertainment experience much more than that. That's what I'm doing [now].
Some artists go overseas and they have a bit more success than they do here. Do you feel like it's taken you longer to be accepted here than overseas in Japan and Europe?
It's hard to say. I feel like we've spent the most time in the U.S. We've played the most time in the U.S. We've done more special projects, television, press and more everything in the U.S., which of course is the most important place to me. The second place we've put a lot of work in would be England. The third would be Japan. That's just three of the most popular places, and that just seems to be how it works. There are certain artists and entertainers that get worldwide popularity that catches like wildfire. For example, the way we first got popular in Japan was through England. The fans there were excited by seeing what was happening there and in New York. We put the album out, before anywhere else, we put it out in England. We launched everything there for specific reasons. We've kept a lot of business out there, because that's just the place to be. Same as L.A. and same as New York. That's where the three offices are. My manager is out of L.A. My business manager and I are out of New York. My label and other team is out of London. It's great to come out of those three cities. You also have to spend time there. We haven't spent a lot of time in Europe. We have toured there. But there's only so much time. We toured full time from 2000-2005. Still the majority of time was in the U.S. It's the biggest country, We have the most power and the most impact than anywhere else. It's also my favorite country to spend time. I like to be near the U.S., but it's also great to go everywhere else too.
I thought the article in Alternative Press was pretty interesting that I read.
The one on Warped Tour?
No. The one on you a few months back.
It was really exciting, because I just did the Warped Tour issue. It's the first time I got to appear on the cover of Alternative Press. I remember reading Alternative Press back in the mid-'90s when they had articles about very very very very intense bands. They had an article about Hairy Pussy, which was already one of my favorite bands. To see an article about them in this beautiful, very well designed magazine and to see this really great article about this band that couldn't be more obscure and intense included in this magazine, they will always be a favorite and continue to have a good vibe with them.
I think that article was interesting because I've always though of Andrew WK as a great band with this great music that just puts substance into people's lives. You had that MTV show where you were helping people. You had that Cartoon Network show. I know the article was like, "the identity of Andrew WK," but who do you think takes precedent more - you as Andrew WK as a performer or is there a different side we don't see? Or are they one and the same, which I think you clarified in that article. What do you think about the impact of that position and attitude on others?
The end of the your question speaks for itself. That's the whole point of this thing is to spend the time you have in your life to create good feelings for you and other people. What else are you going to do? You want to follow your heart and you want to follow what appeals to you. It feels amazing that what I have come to do is what I want to do and has come naturally to me and what I want out of life is the exact thing that I want to do. It's miraculous that things worked out like that. Everybody is in the situation and once you start to realize that, you start noticing what you like in life and that that doesn't have to be your hobbies, that can be your main thing. That's in fact the only way you can be successful is to realize what you are meant to do. The only way to figure that out is to be like, "Okay, if I could do anything right now, what would I want to do?" and then believe in that. That's what Andrew WK is about. It's about a guy who has decided that's what life is and realizing how to get that feeling across to people. Like you said, it's fortifying to people. Louis Armstrong said it, he's out there in the cause of happiness. What better work to do? As long as you can do that for yourself as well, I think that's the point. I want to go through the human experience, and I want people to go through it with me and to be with them. We're going through similar situations, even if we're going through different lives. It's about having that understanding that those other people out there that are with you. It can really make it feel better to be alive.
Seriously solid interview! That last question, in particular, is a good companion to the Alternative Press article that was referenced. Gets to the core of the philosophy rather than the (admittedly interesting, but mostly unimportant) industry chatter.