Foo Fest headliner Andrew W.K.

On creating a safe place to go crazy, translating the subconscious, and finding support and inspiration in providence
By JIM MACNIE  |  August 10, 2011

Andrew W.K. is a wild man who wails through songs that usually boast a blitzkrieg temperament. Andrew W.K. is also a composed gent who converses thoughtfully about myriad subjects. Ever since his debut, I Get Wet, arrived in 2001, he has been tickling those who like their rock exuberance to be on the manic side, driven by Ministry-style beats, bubblegum hooks, and Oi!-slanted fierceness. He has a philosophy, and that philosophy centers on the word "party." He's pro-pleasure, and he's an enabler: in performance he does his best to physically change your head space so joy can enter and transcendence can reign. In the songs "Fun Night," "Long Live the Party," and "I Want to See You Go Wild," he lays his agenda straight out: it's time to dance yourself into a state of bliss.

Such positive notions have taken W.K. beyond the music world. For a while he was a motivational speaker. These days he's also the host of Destroy Build Destroy on the Cartoon Network, a show that allows kids to blow up objects and craft the debris into something creative — which is then blown up.

On Saturday, August 13, W.K. will headline AS220's Foo Fest, one of Providence's biggest parties of the year, so we thought we'd chat him up. We didn't know that LaProv was a second home of sorts, but we did know that he'd performed in New York the night before we spoke. These days, all he needs to turn a room upside down is a mic, a drum machine, and a computer. His deep commitment to bringing a sense of giddy abandon to full fruition takes care of the rest.

It was a pleasure to host these Belgian musicians, One of the DJs, Vhyce, was quite young, I think 22. He's incredible. Whenever he took over, things went to another level. It's always exciting when there's that sense of discovery, like "Oh, shit." When he first started, it was good, and there's that sense of thinking, "Oh, maybe it's a fluke, or he won't be able to keep it up," but it just got better and better and better. He's got new moves, and he has his own sensibility. We recorded at my studio this week.

THAT SENSE OF DISCOVERY SEEMS IMPORTANT. TO SOME DEGREE THAT'S WHY WE ALL GET INVOLVED WITH ART, RIGHT? Yes, I've tried to think about that as well. Ultimately there's a physical sensation of joy that music brings, and I think the goal is to get to that place over and over again and use whatever method you can to get there. The discovery part comes when you find some new pathway to that feeling. But discovery isn't always necessarily what people look to get out of culture. If people are searching for stimulation, I can relate to them. Some people are looking for comfort, too.

FAMILIARITY BREEDS COMFORT. NEW THINGS CAN BE SCARY. I got hooked on that feeling of joy that music brings. You hear a sound, you see something, you feel an idea about the world you never thought before. There are people who hold the keys to blowing your mind, people who have done things you've never done. I want to be around them.

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