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Sunday December 21st 2014

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Partying Hard with Andrew W.K.

By Hana Frenette

Andrew W.K. is a modern day renaissance man. He plays metal music, DJ’s, writes advice columns, gives motivational speeches and is working on his first book. He can probably fix your car and cook a five-course French meal, too, or at least talk you through it and make you feel good about the direction your life is heading. Andrew took some time out of his increasingly busy schedule, just days before playing the Hangout Music Festival, to chat with the IN about writing his book, “The Party Bible,” touring with Black Sabbath and meeting the Internet’s most famous cats. And it was inspirational.

IN: You’ve been writing an advice column for The Village Voice recently. How did you get into that? What has it been like so far?
W.K.: I started writing an advice column for a magazine in Japan in 2002. It was just a monthly advice column—really random and broad, lots of questions about life. Lots of people that are at a crossroads. They’re wondering, should I change what I’m doing or should I move? For me, it’s more about responding in an uplifting and positive way.  They asked me if I’d like to write for The Village Voice and I said yes. It’s nice to be writing and getting things out in a way. It’s challenging because this column forces me think about things that I might not have thought about or considered otherwise.

IN: What are some of the questions you’ve been getting?
W.K.: We get people writing in from all over the world, and I try to pick something fresh, something stimulating. One of the first questions that I got was from a young man, who was thinking about experimenting with same sex relations. It really takes nerve to confront those thoughts yourself, much less express them to a stranger. And then there was another guy who was wanting to try and recreate the sexual peaks in his life with his current girlfriend. And someone else who wanted to know if they should be eating meat or not, or how to protect their home without guns—and with a lot of these people, I don’t even feel comfortable telling them what to do, because you want them to be able to think for themselves, but you also want to be able to tell them it’s all going to be ok.

IN: You have your first book coming out, “The Party Bible.” Tell me a little about it.
W.K.: Writing this book might be even more challenging than recording an album. It’s a guide book about life in general and appreciating the party that life can be—really just celebrating not being dead. I thought that I should do the most fun thing that I could think of: partying. I want to do something that’s about cheering up, or that at least creates an atmosphere of general good cheer. And sometimes you can say a lot with a little.

IN: You’ve been giving motivational speeches, what are the crowds like for those and where do you usually speak?
W.K.: It often turns into more of a discussion. They ask me questions, I ask them some—it’s more engaging for everyone. I’ve got one coming up at Oxford in England soon, and that’ll be exciting. I like to see if we can conjure up that same party power just sitting and talking as you can at a show by just bringing the good cheer and the right attitude. There are people that don’t like loud rock music, and I’d like to reach them, too, in some way if I can.

IN: You currently live in New York. How did you first end up there?
W.K.: I was 18 and I wanted to move to New York. I had been accepted to a college in Chicago, but I didn’t want to go because it wasn’t New York. I also didn’t want to go back to school, although I liked high school. In New York, my first few days were lived with my sister, where I saw how it was possible to really live here. Then I stayed with a friend of a friend on a cot in the living room. It was supposed to be a few days and it turned into a few months. It was quite crowded and I wasn’t a very good roommate, I’d never been a roommate before. After that I lived in Brooklyn for three years with my girlfriend, and then started playing and recording a lot with the band in Florida and was there often. But I always come back to New York and I never take it for granted, not even a minute. There are many times I can’t believe this is all happening.

IN: And how did the music portion come about?
W.K.: I had always played music all of my life, and I never thought that it was something I could do for a living. But in the entertainment industry you can do all of it. You can paint a logo if you want or act in a music video, and I started thinking maybe that’s what I should do. There’s a difference between what you want to do and what you were meant to do sometimes. It’s like your future self is pulling at you, telling you what you really should be doing.

IN: You toured with Black Sabbath for a little while. How was that?
W.K.: I still can’t believe it happened. I think about it all the time. It’s crazy it’s been a year ago almost. It was in July and August. If it hadn’t happened I would have never even had the nerve to dream it up. They wanted me to DJ for them before the shows, so I would just play my favorite heavy metal songs and hype everyone up, and then one of the greatest metal bands of all time would come out.

IN: Have you thought about making another album or have any plans for one in the future?
W.K.: I’ve had two or three albums worth of material that I’ve had for years, but there have been several things that have been preventing me from recording. When the time is right, I will record another album. I had to make time for work on the book and touring with Black Sabbath. It’s like sometimes I’m not in control, but something is taking me the right way anyway. But it will happen.

IN: Slightly off topic, but I noticed you met both Lil Bub and Grumpy Cat. What were they like? Soft?
W.K.: They are both very soft cats. And as someone who has been allergic to cats for most of their life, I never got any allergies from either of them. I did spend a lot more time with Lil Bub than Grumpy Cat, though. They are magical cats. They just have this light that seems to shine out of their eyes. They are both such tender and soft cats with big personalities and they get so over-petted, I kind of just let the owners handle them and just be in the same room as them.