Andrew W.K.'s New Album Has Brought Him One Step Closer to the 'Pinnacle of Party Euphoria'

Nina Ottolino 
Andrew WK

The singer and multi-instrumentalist released 'You're Not Alone' on March 2.

Ask Andrew W.K. why he hasn’t released any original solo material since 2009’s 55 Cadillac, and you’ll get an answer similar the ones he has penned for his various advice columns over the years.

“That’s the best question, and I have no answer. There’s no particular reason,” he confesses. “There’s no reason why it took so long or why it didn’t take longer. It was not intentional.”

W.K. says he wasn’t really aware that nearly a decade had passed by the time he had released You’re Not Alone, which arrived March 2 through RED/Sony Music. “I take responsibility for the fact that I was completely ambivalent or ignorant of time passing, and I certainly take responsibility for not having a plan in place. It was all just circumstance, I suppose,” he muses. “I was partying extraordinarily hard in as many directions as once.”

W.K. first slipped the public a taste of his extraordinarily hard partying in 2001 with his debut album, I Get Wet. Its cover features the now-iconic portrait of him with a gushing bloody nose — an image so entwined with his brand that he released an app in 2017 where users can re-create it with their own photos. The artwork for You’re Not Alone is also striking, but for a different reason: The husband-wife team of Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell created the painting of W.K. in his uniform of white T-shirt and jeans, standing on a nighttime suburban street, gazing at a dragon sitting in the corner.

“It kind of goes back to that irrational process where we didn’t decide what not to paint or decide what to paint,” says W.K. of collaborating with the pair for the image. “Eventually, the painting just painted itself — not to take away [from] the physical efforts that were made by Boris and Julie, but there is some strange process at work, for me, at least, when creative stuff is coming together. … When the final result is in front of you, you’re almost more surprised than anybody at what came out of it, because that conscious decision-making was not present."

I Get Wet produced the fan faves “I Get Wet” and “Party Hard,” peaked at No. 84 on the Billboard 200, and has sold 267,000 copies, according to Nielsen Music. 2003’s The Wolf fared better in terms of ranking (peaking at No. 61), but subsequent albums released in America (2006’s Close Calls With Brick Walls, 55 Cadillac) didn’t impact Billboard’s charts. 

W.K. has kept spreading his party philosophy — an upbeat outlook that embraces life’s painful emotions and uncertainties instead of trying to suppress or control them — through such means as public appearances, motivational speaker gigs and advice columns. But sometimes his pitches don’t land: After he attempted to launch a political movement called the Party Party in 2016, W.K. dropped it after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from an organization that was already using the name. “I tried to embrace it almost counter-intuitively as a sign from the party gods that this was not what I was meant to put my energy toward,” he says.

W.K.’s efforts have also been validated, though, like when the American Association of Suicidology announced in February that it was presenting him with the inaugural person of the year honor at its annual conference in April to honor his “life-affirming music and message, which promotes courageously and joyously celebrating the intensities of existence,” according to AAS’ statement.

You’re Not Alone is another W.K. affirmation that life’s intensity should be celebrated instead of feared. Stylistically, his sound hasn’t much changed — the record’s 16 big, bouncy rock anthems are like diet-size portions of Meatloaf — while lyrically, he confidently promises that things will get better, no matter how dreary they are.

“I’m still trying to hit the same mark that I set out in the beginning,” says W.K. of his music — said mark being the “feeling that makes it undeniably clear that being alive is good.”

"I still haven’t hit it yet, but I’m closer, I think," he continues. "It’s like climbing a mountain and the peak remains in the far distance, oftentimes obscured by clouds and fatigue, but I have better tools or I have grown stronger, improved my climbing technique, and I’m trying to hit that pinnacle of party euphoria."

He grapples with the same uncomfortable feelings as his fans, evidenced in tracks like second single “Ever Again,” which is one reason his persona still resonates. W.K. observes that he can only do creative work through “pure intuition and instinct,” or else “I’ll just think myself right out of doing any of this and into a place where I won’t have any energy and motivation to do anything.”

“I feel like I made a promise to this being, this phenomena, this entity. It’s impossible to give it a shape,” he explains. “It’s a feeling, and the feeling is counting on me to fulfill my promise to this feeling, so it doesn’t matter if I feel in a bad mood. It doesn’t matter if I feel defeated. It doesn’t matter if I feel sad. I’m not allowed to let those weaknesses impact my ability to do what I promised to do. Even if that’s just a trick that I tell myself, that’s a trick that’s allowed me to keep moving.”

W.K. will be giving musical performances March 14-17 during South by Southwest in Austin, including appearing at the Talkhouse Live with The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr. on March 15. He then will embark on a U.K. concert tour on April 13, followed by a United States trek beginning April 28. For a complete list of tour dates, go here.

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