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February 29th, 2012 ROBERT HAM | Music Stories
 

Andrew W.K.: Monday, March 5

The world’s foremost party expert stops in Portland.

music.box.andywk_3817ANDREW W.K. - IMAGE: Andrew Strasser
     
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[PARTY MUSIC] Who could have predicted the longevity of Andrew W.K.’s career? He sprung into the world a decade ago fully formed, clad in white T-shirt and white jeans and heartily urging us to party till we puked. And he dared to appear on the cover of his debut album, I Get Wet, looking like he had just hopped out of the shower and had been punched square in the nose. It was a ridiculous conceit. Especially when the tastemakers of the world were caught in the sway of electroclash and a “garage revival.” 

Hell, when I agreed to see his performance at the Roseland Theater in 2002, it was purely for a laugh. But like everyone else in the room, he soon had me bewitched. W.K. banged his head mightily to his signature brand of power rock. He sang with a throaty fury and a disregard for the next night’s show. And during his theme song, “Party Hard,” 40 or more folks from the crowd joined him onstage. They danced and hoisted W.K.’s sweaty body above their heads.

“Yes, I do remember that,” says the 32-year-old singer, calling from London. “I usually pick other people up. When I was lifted up, it was thrilling and terrifying and really moving. I was probably pretty heavy at the time, too, so they got some good exercise.”

Impressively, W.K. has never gone out of favor in the popular consciousness, even if his musical output has slowed considerably. Apart from a strange and beautiful album of solo piano instrumentals released on Thurston Moore’s label, his follow-ups to I Get Wet were only released in Japan due to a variety of bizarre legal wranglings over the ownership of the music and W.K. image.

Manufactured or not, W.K.’s image hasn’t been absent from the world. He has embarked on motivational speaking tours. He spent three TV seasons hosting a cathartic Cartoon Network reality show called Destroy Build Destroy. And he’s maintained a Twitter feed where he doles out a never-ending stream of “party tips” that range from the life-affirming (“What you believe about yourself will come true”) to the sublimely ridiculous (“The reason babies, kittens and burritos are so cute is to make us cuddle them”). 

Now, W.K. is raging a path toward more musical success by touring the world in celebration of the 10th anniversary of I Get Wet’s release. “The reaction has been surprisingly good,” he says. “It’s the biggest response to any tour that we’ve ever announced.” 

Does it upset him that after all this time and all the new music he has to offer, people still just want to hear “Party Hard”?

“Not at all,” W.K. says. “To have anything that connects with anyone is a huge triumph. The mission isn’t to do anything but unite the human race. Whether it’s one album or one song...as long as it’s pushing toward that goal, we’re doing what we signed up to do.”


SEE IT: Andrew W.K. plays the Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St., on Monday, March 5, with the Evaporators. 8 pm. $20 advance, $23 day of show. All ages.

 
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