I once got into quite a funny argument with an irritating forum person over:
So, this guy’s position was: “Andrew W.K. is the soundtrack for what it means to have zero intellect, alcohol addiction, and a sex drive a mile wide.” My position was, and still is, that Andrew W.K. makes awesome pop music. I mean, this guy lives in Arizona and had his opinion tainted by Andrew W.K.’s massive frat-house popularity over there. I live in the UK and I heard about Andrew W.K. on the basis that he made brilliant loud pop songs about partying hard. Entirely different perspective. The guy later left the forum for ever, over an entirely stupid matter of principle.
This is pretty much all you need to know about Andrew W.K.:
His first album, I Get Wet, is made entirely of songs like that. His second album, The Wolf, is also made entirely of songs like that. It’s a pretty simple formula lent weight by fantastic musicality; yeah, it’s loud guitars and roaring vocals, but it’s not idiot three-chord stuff. It sounds like it was written by someone who’s actually studied music for real.
And that’s the case with Andrew W.K. He’s a classically-trained musician who, it’s been said, created a whole persona with an eye on pop superstardom. Lots of people cry FAKE; me, I love this kind of thing. Same with the KLF’s mystical situationist tomfoolery. It’s all performance and theatre, innit? It’s what pop’s all about.
His third album’s an oddity. Close Calls With Brick Walls was initially only ever released in the Far Easy, apparently over a dispute over the use of the Andrew W.K. name (as he put it in The Guardian last year, “I wasn’t allowed to use my own name within certain areas of the US entertainment industry and we were in a debate about who owned the rights to my image, and who should get credit for “inventing” it.”). Read into that what you will. It eventually received a limited vinyl release in the US, and will soon be getting a proper worldwide CD release, doubled up with a compilation of rarities and unreleased tracks entitled Mother of Mankind. But back to Close Calls With Brick Walls; it’s clearly an Andrew W.K. album, but it’s also a complete departure from the in-your-face wall of sound present in the first two.
It’s more like a Meat Loaf album written by Jim Steinman but performed by Andrew W.K. Or, as it occurred to me the other night, the soundtrack album to Andrew W.K. – The Musical. There’s more than a touch of Broadway to it. It starts slow then bursts into this:
Though not as mental as his most recent release, Cadillac 55, an album of piano improvisation. Or his sideline as a motivational speaker. Or his full-on Twitter presence. Or his kid’s show, Destroy Build Destroy:
I’m just surprised that he consistently manages to avoid being the biggest star on the planet.