Last fall, Andrew W.K. was in the process of returning to music for the first time in a decade with You’re Not Alone, his first album in a decade. When he finally went on tour, he played the 500-capacity Independent. When he returns next week, it will be at the much larger Fillmore.
Is he reveling in his success of playing bigger venues and having his album chart in the Billboard 200?
“I’m very glad that it’s out. That’s about the beginning and end of it,” Andrew W.K. said. “My only ambition was to get an album done. Even things like quality and concepts were secondary to actually having something materialize that I could release.”
That may seem strange to people who aren’t familiar with Andrew W.K. His reputation as the King of Partying is well-deserved; from 2001’s seminal “Party Hard” to 2018’s “Ever Again,” his hard-rocking anthems practically force you to cheer up and party.
But he’s also part of the long tradition of rockers with the souls of philosophers. He’s been a motivational speaker and an advice columnist; he’s been honored by the American Association of Suicidology. His message of acceptance and positivity has been a comfort to many in chaotic times.
So there must be a reason behind taking such a pragmatic view of his album.
“That’s the mindset I personally have to take to any project,” he said. “Otherwise, you can second-guess and run around in circles indefinitely.”
Andrew W.K. said it was important for him to “take action” to complete the album and set aside his concerns to a point, even though those concerns might improve the quality. He said this time making the album was a struggle. After many years away from recording a collection of songs, he finally accepted that an album might not come to fruition at all.
“It was a very bizarre situation to be in. Complete confusion, as well, about why it was happening,” Andrew W.K. said. “Was it my fault? Was it everybody else’s fault? Was it a sign from the Party Gods that I wasn’t meant to release another album? But the one thing I could always do in the face of all that mounting despair was at least get back to work.”
The biggest victory to him, though, isn’t the reviews or the sales. It’s that he successfully communicated what he intended to convey with the music: an emotional quality that he hoped people would discover. He was happy to hear that fans felt about the album the way he hoped they would.
“I had a desperate hope to connect very specifically on a set of feelings and emotions that are a little difficult to articulate,” Andrew W.K. said. “Words like ‘triumphant’ and ‘hopeful, life-affirming,’ I suppose, were very fulfilling to hear from people.”
Andrew W.K. has even begun working on new material and has started recording the next LP.
“It’s been going very well, which I’ve been completely shocked by, considering the experience of the last one,” he said.
Some people would want to take a well-deserved break after all that, but instead he’s spreading that positivity on the road. Since the album’s release, he and his band have been crisscrossed the U.S., through the U.K. and Europe. Thursday, he returns to the Bay Area.
“San Francisco was the first place I ever played an Andrew W.K. show on the West Coast, back in 1999 or 2000,” he said. “It was at the Fillmore, opening for the Foo Fighters. I haven’t played there since, so it’s very meaningful for me, almost 20 years later, to come back and play at this venue where I had one of the formative experiences that began this party quest.”
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.