And A with ] Andrew W. K.

[ Q

FYI: pop culture news

April 15, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,Sun Staff

Since the release of his 2002 major label debut, Michigan-raised singer-songwriter Andrew W.K. has been the subject of much praise -- and derision.

Fans considered his anthemic ditties (like "Party Til You Puke" and "Fun Night") to be the work of a musical genius. But to his detractors, the musician's good-times tunes were enough to label him a purveyor of sophomoric frat-rock. Last fall's follow-up, The Wolf, garnered much of the same.

And though Andrew W.K.'s creative products have received a fair share of mixed reviews, the always-positive 24-year-old remains philosophical about success.

On the verge of his show at the Recher Theatre (Sunday at 7 p.m. $15) the piano student formerly known as Andrew Wilkes-Krier called LIVE from his new home in New York City to talk about happiness, understanding and, of course, rocking out.

What do you think of fans' positive reactions to your music?

Out of all the things that I could have imagined with this, I had no idea that people were going to love it as much as I did.

I didn't think that some guy I never met who lives in Canada or some girl in Texas would love it as much as I do. The way people talk about it, the way people feel about it [makes me] ... know that I'm not crazy. It lets me know that life is worth living because you know that you can make people smile, even if it's for a second.

Your sound has been compared to '80s era arena-rock acts such Queen. Do you think that's a fair assessment of the Andrew W.K.-style?

I don't know. I don't set out to make any one kind of sound. This music is not in any way a return to some kind of thing. People can think all kinds of things about it, like it sounds this way or that. But [songwriting for me] is not a situation where the music is decided upon after some thought or comparison.

So what, exactly, is your rock 'n' roll mission?

I'm not attempting to do anything but make people feel good. This music is attempting to eliminate a personality; that's really what I'm trying to do here. I don't want them to listen to me, I want them to listen to themselves. It's about trying to make a group of people larger than myself, larger than this band, feel completely on fire, like their eyes are popping out of their sockets and the head is going to explode. They feel [the music] in a good way. ... That's what I see as the greater good.

So why can't some people -- in particular, rock critics -- figure you out?

It's really just a matter of time. I'm not here to say, 'That person's stupid,' or that they don't understand.

Whether everyone thinks the same way about [my music] is not what's important. As long as people are enjoying it one way or another, then I'll keep doing it. All I ask is that if somebody's going to listen to it, at least know that I'm not trying to fix you or show you the real way ... I'm trying to show you your way.

What are your songs trying to say, then?

What's it trying to say? It's trying to say the chord of C major. That's what the song is about. [It's] saying, 'Gosh, it really feels good to sit down at the piano and start banging away at these chords.'

Earlier in your career, it seemed like you went from playing coffee houses one day to opening for bands like the Foo Fighters the next. Is sudden fame everything that you thought it would be?

I think it's awesome to have people know about this [music] and know who I am. I could have only imagined what something like this would be like. I am very, very thankful for anything that we've done so far -- and it's only just started.

I know many people in the world who deserve to have as much or more than I do, and I want to let them know that I don't take a minute of this for granted.

You're loved by hipsters and frat-boys alike (much to the chagrin of both parties). Do you have a specific audience in mind when you compose your music?

You don't have to be a certain kind of dude or a type of girl. The music just welcomes you -- we're all in it together.

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