Time can move fast – blink and all of a sudden it’s eight years since your last album. In Andrew WK’s case, it’s been a deceptively long hiatus. With a musical absence that has spanned almost a decade, he’s instead undertaken speeches, podcasts, film, TV and found himself acting as a figurehead for positivity – you name it, he’s done it. But now we’re back to where it all began, with a new AWK record, the aptly entitled ‘You’re Not Alone’.
At a swanky hotel in Kings Cross, London, Andrew’s answering questions as part of a Q&A to celebrate the album’s release. One audience member reveals to him that during her work with disadvantaged children they listen to rock music, more specifically, ’his breakout hit ‘Party Hard’. Further solidifying his new-found position as a spokesman for positivity, the track is fundamental in building self-esteem and engaging the kids.
So how does Andrew WK cope with being an accidental role model? Well, it’s rather simple, actually. “They look to ‘the thing’, so it’s not to me – I look to ‘the thing’ too!” He declares excitedly. “Not to myself, I look to the ‘feeling’ – this life force energy.”
Though that’s not his preferred description of this ‘force’, the conviction with which he discusses it shows it’s something he truly believes in. His excitement is palpable, even behind his uniform matching white Oakley sunglasses. “It’s energising in a physical sense, it’s emotionally palpable, but it’s hard to pin down as [just] one emotion. I wouldn’t even describe it as a happy feeling; it transcends that.
“I think joy or euphoria is closer, but it’s even beyond that in a way. It’s just an incredible rush that for that brief moment, where you get a glimpse of it. [It] tells you everything makes sense, and you don’t need to understand why it just is.”
Establishing a rock music career that’s been more than favourable to him, while also a spokesperson for a better life, was never on the agenda. After all, how could it be?
Even by his own admission that “If anyone had described what was going to happen I might have said, ‘Oh I don’t want that to happen, I’m not going to able to do that!’” here he is, doing just that. “Just following that feeling and trying to trust just wherever it wants me to go.”
“I’m a servant to it,” he later tells Upset. “And I think that’s what takes the pressure off, because it’s not about me, it’s about serving that. I think that is the only way I could do it. Otherwise, it would be overwhelming.”
Getting to this stage, where he’s back to having music at the forefront is clearly a result of finally finding the feeling he talks of so wildly, once more. Just as he mentions being a servant to it, the process of creating ‘You’re Not Alone’ entailed a lot of the same aspects, which he’s quick to divulge.
“There’s not a lot of reflection. If I get caught up in that, I’ll just think myself out of doing anything. You have to turn off a part of your mind,” he continues. “I’d say you even turn off the part of your mind that is yourself to an extent – I guess they would call that the ‘ego’, when you think of who you are, and all those ideas.”
So why the eight-year break from music?
“I would get very frightened, frustrated and angry and push harder and harder,” he says, pausing to reflect. “And it wasn’t so much even… trying to make songs or music that was the challenge, it was trying to get time to do anything. I had turned myself over to taking what came…someone would just come and ask me, and I’d do it.”
In fact, he didn’t know if another album was ever going to appear through the thick fog of everything else that was piling upon him. “[I thought] maybe I’d relinquished too much control. It reached such a frenzied point that once I’d accepted I’d never make an album again, even though I wanted to, then I [actually] got to. Once I gave up, it happened.”
And so, here we are. Andrew is back doing the thing that led to this road in the first place. That same ‘Party Hard’ spirit is more than alive and kicking. While he says “there was never a point in this album where I ever understood what it was, or what was happening,” ‘You’re Not Alone’ is the rebirth Andrew WK needs.
Lead single ‘Music Is Worth Living For’ is balls-to-the-wall euphoric, unashamedly owning what it is, and the same continues throughout – including spoken word segments that feature that trademark Andrew WK positivity and uplifting sentiments.
Where will the road lead his this time?
“Maybe this is the same ride, just maybe another hill… and up and down…” he pauses reflectively for the last time. “I don’t know. I don’t know; I don’t know. It’s fine in a way, to try to analyse all this stuff, and it’s easy looking back, even if it was just looking back to yesterday to try and interpret it to make sense.” He ends with a laugh, “but it doesn’t really make sense.”
Andrew WK’s album ‘You’re Not Alone’ is out 2nd March. Taken from the March issue of Upset – order your copy below.