Andrew W.K. (the W.K. apparently stands for Wilkes-Krier) was born in California, and lived on the outskirts of Los Angeles until he was four. He then moved to Michigan where he spent the rest of his childhood. At age 18 he moved to New York City, and at age 22 he moved to Florida, where he currently is renting a room.
His childhood was solitary, but he was a fairly happy child. In his own words, he 'always had projects' and so he was 'always entertained'. He basically existed in his own little world. He also took piano lessons from a very early age, which was how he got his start in the musical world. For him, music was about melody... he developed a simplistic appreciation of music, and liked (and still does like) anything that sounded good. Eventually, he got hold of a digital keyboard, and loved it. He would sit for hours at a time just playing things. Later on, he and a couple of his friends formed a band, and started playing a few shows in a Unitarian Church basement. This was where he began to be exposed to the Detroit punk and metal scenes. He was blown away by the noise and intensity of these bands. His classical piano training and obsession with melody, combined with the energy and intensity of these punk and metal bands would seem to be the two major influences in his music.
In his late teens he went through a period of what he describes as "calculated, intensified chaos and a solitary existence, yet with many amazing people around that I consider my friends." There was a lot of crime and especially stealing money involved. Apparently his parents' concern for him, and his own realisation that his parents were disappointed in him were a major part in his changing things.
It was around this point that he moved to New York. He didn't have a band, but was making music. This basically meant him playing shows and recording songs by himself, using nothing but his keyboard. During this time, he had very little money, but he was meeting people, handing out tapes and CDs, and slowly he got his current band together. The band members are guitarists Jimmy Coup, E. Payne and Sgt. Frank, drummer Donald "D.T." Tardy, and bassist Gregg R.
The recording process for Andrew W.K.'s music is a long, tedious and labour-intensive one. Songs are composed of dozens of distinct sounds, carefully composed and stacked on each other, meticulously and precisely. This takes many hours of work, and requires numerous engineers and a lot of different equipment, in several different cities (I Get Wet was recorded in Michigan, Los Angeles, New York City, Colorado, Minnesota, and Florida). The effect Andrew shoots for could be called a 'wall of sound'. In Andrew's words: "I did not want it to be the sound of a guitar and drums and bass playing. I wanted it to be the sound of the song playing, so you just hear one big, massive instrument just grinding out this song. You can imagine it sort of all coming from one enormous source, where you just hear an infinite expanse of a million things all happening in perfect unison, all laid out in front of you. We spent so much time so that you don't hear thousands of hours of work. That takes thousands of hours of work, I believe, to achieve that."
It is easy to see why many people see him as a big joke, or a poser, or a product of the record industry, all hype and no substance... because his music really has no apparent deeper meaning. He has no cause, or real political views, and he isn't depressed, disillusioned, or angry with the world. Many of his lyrics make little sense or sound pretty lame, perhaps because he seems to pick his words for the sound they make, rather than their actual meaning. His music can sound silly, repetitive, and shallow, and this seems to put a lot of people off it.
"There's no wrong reason to like my music. There's no wrong reason to like anything. This music is freedom. It allows anyone else the freedom to do whatever they want, and it accepts that unconditionally. And it continues to just want to make you happy. All you need to know is, "Do I feel this in my stomach? Is this running through my veins? Does this go up my spine? Does this blow my mind to pieces? Does this affect me?" That is real. That is physical evidence, and you don't need to even question it, or even understand. That's why I would never question why someone liked this or why someone's smiling or why someone is happy. It could be for one of a million reasons, some that people think I would think are bad or against me."
I'd wager that most of the people who see AWK, as a big joke or as a 'poser', have never seen him play live, (the most intense, energetic, just plain fun show I've ever experienced) or met the man in person. I met him after a show, even hung out with him on his tour bus (the coolest thing ever)... I decided that he is the most optimistic, friendly, charming and enthusiastic human being I've ever met. This is a man who loves life, and loves what he is doing.
Andrew's music and attitude to life is perhaps best summed up by a couple of his own song titles: 'Party Hard' and 'We Want Fun'. He really is just about making enjoyable, exciting music, and about living life to the fullest.
Quotes taken from the Onion AV Club's interview with AWK. http://www.theonionavclub.com/avclub3817/avfeature_3817.html
I find it oddly amusing that mint-flavored liquid prozac is softlinked here. It seems strangely appropriate...