The many faces and facets of rocker Andrew W.K.
You might not expect a well-spoken and wise advice column to come from the man who penned songs like "Party Til You Puke," but there's more to Andrew W.K. than meets the eye.
The Ann Arbor-bred rocker tours the nation regularly, but last year he began writing the weekly "Ask Andrew W.K." feature in The Village Voice. W.K. projects a loving and thoughtful attitude toward his readers on issues from the legitimacy of prayer to the fear of death.
W.K. spoke with The Detroit News about "Ask Andrew W.K.," the admiration he's received from Glenn Beck and the unusual solo appearance he'll be making at Saint Andrew's Hall on Wednesday headlining the Metro Times Blowout launch party. The Blowout continues through May 2 at music venues in Detroit, Ferndale and Hamtramck.
Q: What interested you about writing an advice column in the first place?
A: I'm someone who's really struggled with not feeling very good … feeling very disturbed by my own bad moods and my own bad feelings and wanting to, almost in a therapeutic way, try to fill my time with thinking about the exact opposite of that feeling as much as I can. To think about all the best, highest, most noble states of mind is better than wallowing in whatever pathetic suffering that I'm going through.
So I can connect with a lot of people. Most people that write in seem to have much more valid reasons to feel like that than I do, but those feelings don't play fair, you know. They don't choose logical reasons for enveloping people in darkness. They just do. And I try to be as useful as possible, not only to myself, but to anyone else who is trying to snap out of that view.
Q: Glenn Beck is a big fan of your philosophy and he featured you on his program at length. Were you surprised by his admiration of you?
A: I was more surprised that he chose to put himself in a position where he would be interacting with someone that didn't look like him, wasn't involved in the same day-to-day activities as he has, didn't have the same life experience necessarily. There were all kinds of surface, superficial reasons that we shouldn't get along, and I was very surprised and impressed that he chose to take a risk at some level to associate himself with me. I'm always a bit surprised when people do that.
Q: You're going to be playing solo at Saint Andrew's. How does your solo act differ from your full-band act, and what do you like about the solo setting?
A: There's something about that type of show that does a great deal for me as an individual, but also for me as a performer. I've definitely gotten better at doing shows with my band or without through doing (solo) shows ... It's much more vulnerable. I don't have four, five, six other people onstage to rely on for the show. I have to create this show. But, at the same time, I also get this great sense of camaraderie from the audience, the folks in that room with me, the crowd, the party people. I feel like they become my band in a way for those types of shows.
Q: At age 35, you're known for playing extremely energetic live shows and you still tour regularly. Do you anticipate having to dial that back at all as you get older?
A: I feel more like I'm still learning how to do it. I feel like I've improved quite a bit and gotten better at getting that energy over the years ... Maybe in 30 more years I can imagine not having the physical vitality to do it, but right now I feel like I'm in my prime in terms of physical power.
Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.
with Flint Eastwood, the Beggars and Cheerleader
8:30 p.m. Wednesday
Saint Andrew's Hall
431 E. Congress, Detroit