Silent Uproar: The new album is called The Wolf - is there any imagery behind that title or any meaning to it other than the obvious?
Andrew WK: Well, there is a lot of imagery, when I think of a wolf I start picturing a wolf or a pack of wolves out in the snow and I think of how they look and their teeth, their eyes and the fur, you know they are very stealthy interesting cool, cool things. There isn't really any meaning behind that, I don't think it needs to have much meaning in this case. I just thought it was a cool name for an album and I thought it made sense for this record. Not because it has anything to do with the songs or what they are about, but just because it was a good title and very powerful and straight forward. So I don't think I need to give it any more hidden messages really. And it isn't about me, I'm not calling myself "The Wolf" or anybody else. It is something that I have always been into and I have always liked wolves and other people that are fans of this music have associated wolves with it. I was just doing what I thought made sense for this record.
SU: Yeah, that's cool. And I guess the reason I brought up imagery is because the artwork itself for the album doesn't really feature anything having to do with the title. It is more about you and various pictures of the band, and other things, but there isn't really anything centering around The Wolf. I was just curious why you decided to go that route. It is similar to the last album where the art is very basic and doesn't really play on a theme or anything.
Andrew: Very good observation, nobody has ever asked me that before. We thought about putting pictures of wolves and stuff in the CD, but I thought it would be cooler to have it very plain and leave it up to people's imaginations to envision things for themselves. And again since I wasn't talking about a wolf in any particular way I thought it could be really wide open.
Just like on the video for "She Is Beautiful"; my first thought was this is going to be awesome, I get to audition all these really beautiful girls for the video, but then I decided I wanted it to be about every girl. So I didn't want a few girls in there that looked a certain way, I wanted it to be about anybody's girl. I wanna leave things so that people can make up their own minds, I don't want to tell people what to do or what to think. So I keep the imagery real basic so that the songs can speak for themselves and the people listening to it can decide what to think.
SU: Right, right. You said in an old interview before the new album came out that you already had two albums worth of songs done, and it was just a matter of picking which songs to use. Did you write any news songs once you went into the studio or did you pretty much have it all down already?
Andrew: A little bit of both. There were actually a couple new songs, one of which I made up completely in the studio. It came out of nowhere, and I was like, "oh my gosh." But it was so good and so exciting that I ended up not putting it on this record, I saved it for the third album. So once again I will go into the next album with some songs ready to go. It's exciting because you never know when stuff like that will happen, but sometimes I feel that if I jump right in with a song that I made up in the studio that it won't be as good as if I had given it more time and worked on it for longer. So I am going to save that song and some others for the next record.
It seems like with these songs the longer that I work on them, the better that they get, and that's why I am really happy with this album. These songs are songs that I was working on even before I Get Wet. There are songs on here that I have been working on for three years, so they really had time to grow. I am very happy with how these songs turned out and, while a lot of them were pretty much done as far as writing, there are always things to correct and improve upon. A lot of them I had parts and ideas, but some of the best stuff on the album were things that I wrote to fix and enhance. The song "Totally Stupid" for example, with that song I had the first verse, the chorus, then the second verse and the second chorus, that is what I had from before. But the whole beginning part and the whole ending part are things I just wrote. So just like that, it seems the more I work on songs the stronger they get.
SU: Hobby time: what are some favorite non-musical activities or hobbies? Or do you have time for anything anymore?
Andrew: Well I had plenty of time before my life and I will have plenty of time in the future. Right now things are really full, but I wouldn't have it any other way because this is what I came to do and I don't want it to be anything but full-on. In the future... I love drawing, I don't really get a chance to draw very much. I would like to devote more time to painting and stuff like that too. I like photo realistic painting, I would love to work on that. I like watching movies, I like books, basic things like that. Spending time with families and friends, going to restaurants, I love going out to eat. Food is probably my biggest pasttime that I still get to take part in. But even that I don't get to eat as often I would like. The way I think about this question is a few years ago I was either in school or working, and every little bit of time I had I spent making this music, recording, working and trying to make this happen. Now I get to do this all day long and it's almost like all I have now is free time - this is how I get to spend it. So, I am really like the luckiest guy in the whole world because I get to do what I want to do and I get to do it all day long.
SU: What other musicians have expressed interest in collaborating with you and vice versa? Who is someone you would like to work with?
Andrew: There are a few bands that want me to record with them or work with them on their recording. Maybe where I don't sing or play anything, but work with them on the sound of the recording. The band H2O as well as Hazen Street, which is the singer from Madball, one of the guys from New Found Glory, Tobi from H2O, and some other people. And, actually, Joan Jett. I got to meet her and talk about stuff and she is really into the music. Who else? Third Eye Blind and I did some stuff. It is so weird though because I guess I just got committed to this, but the idea of side projects right now or working on other people's stuff just seems impossible because I don't have time. So, again, it will be something I do in the future.
There are so many people I would love to work with, I will work with anybody. Anybody that is heavy and it makes since, I would love to work with. So there are some possibilities in the future because I would love to just help record the sound of a band or a musician, you know.
SU: I read in another interview where someone was asking you about what bands you were into and I noticed you named like Hatebreed and some other heavy music, is that more of what you are into.
Andrew: Yeah, I have always been into that. It has always been something that just instantly excites me and pumps me up, like it does for so many other people. For years and years, a lot of the members of this band have been in very heavy, loud bands. For instance our drummer is in the band Obituary, which is probably one of my favorite bands ever. The first music I ever got into was playing piano, but the thing I like about piano and any music is energy and passion and commitment and full-on exersion. You know, really going for it and not holding back or restraining. Just really passionate, heart-felt music that you can tell the person that made it really believed in it - I can find that in so much music. And I love loud energetic music because it instantly delivers that power that I am looking for. I am so energetic about all these new bands coming out, especially out of New York and the hardcore scene that are really passionate and I really feel what they are doing. It might sound a lot different than my music, but that is the beauty of it, because I probably couldn't make the kind music they're making as well as they could anyway. So leave them up to doing that and I try to make the most exciting music that sounds like this.
SU: By now, we have all see the great Kit Kat commercial featuring your song. So tell us, is it about spreading the music however you can, or was it more about putting food on the table?
Andrew: I can say this very simply. For the Kit Kat ad, I would have recorded that almost for free. I was so excited about doing a candy commercial and honored that this candy bar company was into the song, you know a long standing great chocolate bar - my Mom's favorite candy bar - and it is so exciting to hear your song on TV and on a commercial. That stuff is really exciting to me, and so a part of me was like, "this is so great and I am so excited to be able to do this," but then, of course, I love the money. The money is what we have been using to fund these tours and we have been using and investing that money to take this party on the road and bring the celebration globally.
The way I think about it is there are all kinds of music in the world and different people make music for different reasons. Some people say that they don't want to have their music in a commercial, because it wasn't made for a commercial and it doesn't belong there. Well I say that I completely respect that and understand what you are saying, but you know what, my music was made for commercials and this music is big enough and strong enough to be anywhere and everywhere. It can be in a commercial, a video game, a movie, and in your car stereo or wherever you want it to be. The point is it's meant to be heard. And like you were saying, it is so big and so strong I don't need to protect it and hold on to it so other people can't hear it. It is bigger than me and so I say get it out there and let people hear it. Sometimes it is very easy to forget how lucky we are, because, for example, I get to find out about all kinds of cool bands, but some people aren't that lucky. They may live in the middle of nowhere and not have MTV or cable, see that ad and then say, "hey that is a really good song, I want to find out who that is." That is the beauty of it.
When you think about the money, some people have problems with these companies. I agree that some of the companies are questionable, but by taking their money in trade for the temporary use of the song, you're not hurting the song - I don't think anyone can hurt the song. In fact, it is great because I am getting to control part of the company's budget. I am getting to take part of their money and spend it on whatever I want. So when I hear about bands turning down millions of dollars for a commercial because they say the don't believe in this company, well they could have just taken millions of dollars from that company and used it save the rain forest, feed homeless people, or whatever. We haven't gotten any million dollar offers, but if we did, talk about charity! You can do great thinks from that money. And what we have been doing with the money is taking the show on the road and keep it going. I think with these shows we are building something that will last a really long time and it's going to make a lot of people really happy. So, I think of it as doing a good deed in the end.
SU: Why Island Def Jam? What convinced you that they really cared about what you were doing and not just making some money?
Andrew: I don't know. A lot of things that have happened with this music have been so crazy and great that it just seems like a miracle. The way it has worked out has been so good. I really believe strongly in blind faith, just doing things and making decisions out of thin air and flying by the seat of your pants. When I was looking at record labels, I was giving out tapes, playing any concert I could, and I didn't have a band yet, so I was playing by myself with a keyboard and pretty much just looking like an idiot - I was very frustrated with it. Not so long after that, Island Record said, "hey, we are interested in doing something with you." A lot of people said not to go with a major label, but that I should get other labels interested and start a bidding war - that just seemed kinds sleazy to me. They were the first one to step up to the plate and I wanted to show them how much I believed in them. They were showing how much they believed in me, and I said "yes" right off the bat. So, I ended up with what I think is the world's greatest record label. Who knows what is going to happen at the end of the day, but for these first two albums they have been so unbelievable supportive, and they have given me so much freedom, so much trust and so much support. And I have tried to take all that responsibility they have given me to really, really work hard with it and do right by them, so they are happy with what we're doing. I have nothing but good things to say.
SU: That's great. It is always good to have that mutual respect - them of you and then you back to them - so they know that their efforts are being appreciated.
Andrew: I totally agree with what you are saying man. It is very easy to create a battle between the record label and you, or whatever. The way it works is business and music are a tricky match. They know about that and I don't know the business side. So, I trust them and I want to be close to them. I want to talk to them, I want them to tell me what they think, because they have been doing this for years and years, and I would be a fool not to take their advice.
SU: What's your fitness routine on the road? Do you hit up random gyms in the different towns, or do pushups on the bus prison-style, or what?
Andrew: Oh man, I should be doing some push-ups right now. It's funny you ask that because as we speak some of the guys in the crew are outside on the sidewalk with a weight bench that we bring along with us.
It is really important, but I have never had more things to do then I do right now, it is really full-on. So I haven't been able to lift weights as often, but you just saying that makes me determined to get back into it. It is very important, and it's just good for you.
SU: I also read somewhere that one of the first titles you had for the new album was Blow Your Bone, but that your Mom wasn't into it, so you decided to go with something else.
Andrew: Exactly. Yeah, I was just talking to her about it too and she was showing me an article that said exactly what you are saying. It's funny because I was actually going to call the album at one point "The Mom", instead of "The Wolf"... but I went with The Wolf, because I thought it was more powerful. It is important to me that my Mom feels good about what I'm doing. I would never really change what I'm doing, but she is the one that has supported me through thick and thin, so it is something I want her to feel good about.
SU: Your first album seemed to be all the energy. It never really let off and is the kind of album that we put in the car stereo when driving home from somewhere late at night and trying to stay awake.
Andrew: Yeah, I hope we stop a lot of car accidents from happening.
SU: Yeah, really. So, did you try and to keep this energy going with The Wolf, or was it more about adding a little more or broadening the music?
Andrew: Well, I didn't go in with one idea in mind or how I want to do it. It was more of the like, I had all these songs ready and so I just started recording them. I started seeing how the album was taking shape and, by the end, I couldn't believe how well the songs flowed into one another. It just made a lot of sense. It all kind of happened on its own and I didn't have any kind of idea or concept. When you listen to the album you will notice that some of the major differences are in the tempos, but that wasn't really my main point. I just sat down and said, "ok, I want to try and make another really exciting song, and make the best song I can." Then, when that one was done, I did it again. If it ended up being fast it was fast, and if it was slow, it was slow. The thing I wanted to get across to people most of all was I wanted this album to be a big "thank you," and to tell people how amazing I feel, how amazing this is, and how I appreciate their support.
So, while the first album was made with hopes of getting this party going, now I get to talk about how amazing it is. I don't want this album to replace I Get Wet. I don't think it's better, it's just 12 more songs and I wanted it to be as powerful and moving as it could be.
SU: I know a lot of people have asked you about the white shirt and pants, but rather than ask you what it's supposed to mean, I'll just ask this: do you have a lot of pairs of white pants or do you wear the same pair every night until they fall apart?
Andrew: Yeah, I have a bunch of backups. As this continues on, I don't always wear that. Originally, the idea behind that was it was just clothes that were really cheap and easily replaceable. Most of all, t-shirts and jeans are really basic, and it showed up really well against a black stage, which I noticed too. Like anyone else, I just wear what I feel like. Lately, sometimes, I wear blue jeans or whatever. But it isn't suppose to be a style, I don't want people to think of it as a uniform, but just clothes that anyone would wear. I want people to see it and think that could be anybody, or that could be me.
SU: If you lost your voice next week, what would you do with your life?
Andrew WK: Well, first of all, I would try my darndest to get it back, and then if I couldn't I would probably like to go to college to be honest. It would be hard if I couldn't speak, but I could be the weirdo. Maybe if I could get a good job doing something else, maybe I could actually get married and have a child or something. There are so many things. The world is full of endless possibility and I know I could find something else.
SU: Do you ever get mad?
SU: Do you ever show it? I have never read anything where you have said something rude or acted rude; everything you do is so positive. Do you ever let it out?
Andrew: Sure, every now and then. The thing is... I don't think I am going to accomplish anything by getting on the phone with you and badmouthing stuff. I don't want to waste my time doing that. I try to live the best I personally can and I've always thought that the strongest guy in the world, if I was imagining some kind of hero, would probably find the strength to like something in everything - or, at least be able to understand and see where people are coming from. Again, I don't love everything, I have things I'm not into or I have bad days, but I just feel that my life has been so great that I haven't earned the right to really be in a downer state. This music and the people who believe in it give me this kind of superhuman strength that I wouldn't be able to have otherwise. There is no way I would be able to do this if it wasn't for all this support. That is the beauty of it: we are all in this together and we all give each other the strength.
When I get mad, I usually get mad or frustrated with myself. If I get mad with anybody, I'd rather it be myself, because I can actually change or accomplish something when I get that way. I will get down on myself which may be bad at times, but, ultimately, I am my own harshest critic and I am just trying to make sure I don't blow this amazing life I've been handed.
SU: Well, that's basically it. Any last words?
Andrew: Just keep on doing what your doing and keep living every day like its the last day.