Andrew W.K. Living It Up On Ozzfest
Like a bloody nose on the face of pop rock music, Andrew W.K. (real name: Andrew Wilkes-Krier) has sucker-punched the Ozzfest set with his in-your-face/dance-on-the-barstool Island debut "I Get Wet."Like a bloody nose on the face of pop rock music, Andrew W.K. (real name: Andrew Wilkes-Krier) has sucker-punched the Ozzfest set with his in-your-face/dance-on-the-barstool Island debut "I Get Wet." As a second-stage act on this summer's biggest rock tour, the Michigan native has been received warmly by fans who shout along with his party-friendly tunes.
"At the end of the day, this music is about feeling really excited and not denying those feelings even if they are really simple or maybe even stupid to some people," the artist tells Billboard.com. "I don't have to explain why. All I know is that it feels really good. I'm not going to feel guilty about that or have regrets about what I do."
After two independently released EPs in 1999 and 2000 and two high-profile opening gigs for the Foo Fighters, W.K. signed with Island for "I Get Wet," which unabashedly combines the thick rock hooks of AC/DC with a dance floor pop sensibility and a Friday-night frat boy swagger of optimism and machismo.
Early on, the album and the single "Party Hard" enjoyed tremendous success in the U.K. and surrounding areas (the set has sold 112,000 units in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan). While audiences on last spring's MTV2 tour ate up his over-the-top '80s arena rock antics, critics have labeled the 23-year-old singer/songwriter, who looks similar to Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, as nothing more than a panderer of nostalgia.
"If they are having nostalgia feelings about that, then that's them," he counters. "Nostalgia is nothing that is made -- it is something that is felt. So, if it makes them feel older, I can understand that but to just dismiss it as feel-good, I don't think is dismissing it at all. I don't care if someone thinks however they think it sounds. So if they can find some reason to smile about it, even if they think it is stupid, I consider it a job well done."
The album cover, which features a deadpanned and bloody-nosed Andrew looking as though he came out of the wrong side of a fight, is being packaged in the U.S. with opaque shrink wrap covering the somewhat gruesome photo. While Andrew admits he was surprised about the decision, he understands doing so will keep the album in all retail outlets. Plus, he's hoping within a year the cover-up will be pulled.
For now, the artist is looking forward to the home stretch of Ozzfest and writing new material for his next album. One new song, tentatively titled "We Want Fun," is scheduled to appear on the soundtrack to the upcoming film "Jackass." Tours of Japan and Europe and a fall U.S. run opening for a yet-to-be-announced headliner are all in the works.
"I'm out to give them the biggest bear hug they've ever had in their life and squeeze every last ounce of yelling and dancing power and make them go home the happiest they have ever been," he says.