In about a minute into my conversation with Andrew W.K., he completely and utterly debunked any preconceived notions I had about him. He’s about the party, no doubt. But he’s also a solo artist who simply plays on piano with no backup. He owns a top rated club in Manhattan. He’s going to be the voice of the legendary Ramones when he tours with Marky Ramone. He’s articulate, well-spoken, and a pretty humble guy over his many blessings. Please meet Andrew W.K.
lsg: I saw out on your web site that you have shows designated as solo. I’m sure we’re going to cover this later in our conversation but you are coming with a full band, right?
AWK: No. I plan to solo. I’ve been doing shows like this throughout my career without my band. This show will be a drum machine and my keyboard. It’s more like a party show then a concert. It’s a party where we are all hanging out together with the crowd in the room and we’re just rocking out, singing along, and I play keyboard. There are videos on youtube that give you a sense of it but it’s just as high-energy, just as intense. I really feel like the audience becomes my band at these shows. I’m really looking forward to doing it. It really makes me a better performer doing these shows because I can’t rely on all the energy of the band. We have to drum it up ourselves there in the room. It’s a lot like hanging out with friends and singing songs you love while we play them together. It’s a party. It’s the atmosphere. It’s why I’m doing it. It’s not a concert. It’s a party.
Check out what he’s talking about…
lsg: Tell me about this tour you are doing with Marky Ramone.
AWK: Around Thanksgiving, he asked me to be his lead singer in his band, Marky Ramone’s Blitzkreig. I’ll be singing for him in his band. 34 classic Ramones hits. There’s a great bass player and guitar player and we’ll play the songs and I will do my best to live up to the amazing music that these songs deliver.
lsg: That is outstanding! What an honor!
AWK: It is absolutely mind blowing, life changing. I am still in a daze. We’ve been rehearsing for 3 months but I still can’t believe that I get to do this. It is definitely one of the high points of my life.
lsg: You are a very accomplished musician. What’s your favorite instrument to play and why?
AWK: I’m not that good at any one instrument but the one I’ve played the longest is piano. I started lessons at 4 and a half and have really played it through my whole life. That’s how I’ve written most of my songs and that’s how I understand most music or figure out songs that someone else may have written. It’s all from the piano. And you, know, it’s a very traditional instrument for young people to learn and it’s a great foundation in terms of musical understanding. I’m very thankful that my parents helped me get that early training so I could go on this adventure in life with music as the core facilitator. Music really facilitated me having all this fun.
lsg: So I dig that you have your own, with partners, highly acclaimed club in Manhattan – Santo’s Party House.
AWK: That’s actually where the very first show when I’ll be singing with Marky Ramone is going to happen on May 3rd. It’s quite overwhelming and powerful that my friends and I were able to build this brand new venue and club and then actually play there ourselves and do these once-in-a-lifetime kind of shows. It’s all very overwhelming and I feel very, very, very lucky and humbled. Also, embarrassed sometimes at how much fun I get to have. That’s why we really have to make sure that we take it to heart and do the best with all these opportunities as we can out of respect for all the folks that would want to do it too.
lsg: I think this is really cool. You get to rock out and sing the Ramones kind of in your own house.
AWK: That’s right. You know, that’s a wonderful way of putting it. In fact, I might start using that from here on out. That’s a great way to put it. That’s also the feeling that I want the solo shows to be. I want it to feel like we’ve come over to your house to play a song with you. There’s a whole bunch of different kind of shows but I want the feelings to be close like I’m not above you, we’re side by side, arm in arm and singing happy fun together.
lsg: I read that there is the potential that you will be releasing a new album in 2013. True or false?
AWK: Yes, well I’ve been working on it for a while now. But then when Marky Ramone asked me to tour the world singing for him, it’s very easy to set aside what’s happening in your life. So, it’s been delayed but they are the best delays you could ever hope for. And I know that, when the time is right, the album will come out so I’ll continue working on it, which is good. Song ideas or riffs, melodies, lyrics – progress is being made and inspiration is flowing at all times from all the excitement going on. But, I would love to get it out before the year is over or at least have it recorded and produce it early next year.
lsg: Aside from the extensive touring you’ll be doing, I mean you’re all over the place. What other things can we expect from you? Obviously, you’re going to try and put out an album, is there anything else you’ve got brewing?
AWK: There are some other very exciting adventures in all kinds of realms so just stay tuned. I don’t like to tell things until they’re actually announced…Not because of you or anything, I mean it’s more like a superstition or something. But some of the most exciting things I’ve ever gotten to do are coming up this year, things that I still can’t believe are happening. Just stay tuned. It’s gonna be a big year. It already is.
lsg: It seems like you’re living a very blessed life right now.
AWK: I definitely feel that way. That’s what’s so strange about things. It’s a combination of feeling extraordinarily grateful and very lucky. And it’s also very humbling. When your dreams are coming true, it sort of has this opposite effect of making you kind of lowered but in a good way. It’s a big contrast. You’d think you’d feel on top of the world, and you do, but you also just feel so thankful that it kind of quiets you, you know. And that’s why I feel in my heart right now, it’s just a little overwhelmed in the best way.
lsg: I usually ask a some ridiculous question in the end that really has nothing to do with anything so. I just got a new tattoo so my question is: Chicks and tattoos…Yay or nay and why?
AWK: Well, first of all, anyone who wants a tattoo should get a tattoo. I mean of course if they’re real young or their parents have input, I’m not saying that. But otherwise, you have your own free will and everyone should do what they want when it comes to how you look, how you dress, tattoos, or anything else. I’ve been with girls that have had tattoos and some of them, they hated their own tattoos, which was interesting. And they wished they had never gotten them. And then I’ve dated girls that had no tattoos and wanted to get them. I don’t really have an opinion on it by default. It’s a very personal thing. I wouldn’t want anyone to tell me how to look. It’s a choice that each person can make on their own. I will say that, I love the flesh of a girl and the skin and if it’s completely covered, I mean It’s nice to be able to see it, but who am I to say? It’s just me being selfish. This is their body, and your body and everyone else’s body and they get to decorate it however they want.
AWK: So, what kind of tattoo did you get?
And a general conversation about tattoos ensued including a story about his tattoos and not listening to your tattoo artist.
Andrew W.K. plays Arch Street Tavern in Hartford on April 19 along with w/ Math the Band, Potty Mouth, Continuous Improvement and Hartford Party Starters Union DJs. It’s a Manic Productions show so get your tickets here http://ticketf.ly/XGXaw4. Doors at 9 pm and its all ages.
For more information on Andew W.K., check out his web page