By- Rob RuzickaTo commemorate the 10 year anniversary of Andrew WK's masterpiece, I Get Wet, I figured it was time to bust out something that's been collecting dust in my closet for the past decade. The long, purposely lost interview I did with Andrew WK from 2002. The fact that I ended up hanging out with Dub-K on his tour bus at 2am was just the icing on an otherwise insane night. It played out like an 80's movie with Andrew WK as the soundtrack. Minor details have been lost to the ages, but the meat and potatoes of the story remains intact in my noggin.
Around this time a handful of my friends were gettin' their learnin' on at Mizzou. The following events happened at the height of those glory days. I'm not sure how we found AWK's music, but that summer we all became obsessed with it. I'm sure like a million other parties around the globe that year, every one of ours degenerated into blind destruction of anything in the room whenever he came on the stereo. So when we found out that AWK was opening for Flogging Molly in Kansas City we lost our minds. He had yet to come to St. Louis. We didn't know if he ever would, and we didn't care. If he was playing this close to us and we didn't go then we'd be party posers by every definition of the term. Logan and I drove to Columbia to meet up with the rest of the no-goodniks so that we could all cram into a single vehicle for the last leg of the trip to maximize party fun. During the ride from St. Louis to Columbia, amidst a school girl style gushing of how great we thought AWK was, I decided I was going to meet and hang out with him. I had no idea how I was going to do it, but, damnit, I was going to do it. I needed a gimmick. I needed something that would set myself apart from the random party groupie shitass with to someone with a status of questionable credibility. What better way to do that than to make up a fake publication and say you're on the staff as a freelance writer! I had no prepared questions and no way to record the interview, but to me these were minor details. I didn't care if I had to lug around a 100 lb ghetto blaster with an external mic. I was going to get this interview.
About 6 or 7 of us loaded into Rob Ryan's Crown Victoria. We stopped by a Walmart so that I could purchase a mini recorder and then it was onward to KC where this larger-than-life idol awaited us. Along the way a handle of Jack found it's way into the equation and we joyously let the good times pour, some of us more than others. I drank enough to ease my nervousness, but not enough to get sloppy. Again, not all of us practiced moderation....(like our friend Matt Sz, known at the time as Blowtard). While passing the bottle we all gathered questions for the interview that we felt were most pertinent and relevant. We arrived at the club and began unloading out of the car. Matt's door opened and he fell out. We helped him up, but he was having a little trouble walking. This might not be TOO important to the story, but Matt was only about 18 years old...yet looked 12.
A line starting at the door snaked down the sidewalk. We joined it and began the desperate process of trying to sober Matt up. We needed to raise his threat level to "presentable." The closer we moved towards the door the more worried I became. Matt could not even keep his head up at this point. There was NO way they were going to let him in and before I knew it we were next in line. It was a time for quick decisions and fast action. I must admit I pride myself on working well under pressure. There were two goons working the door; The first was checking people for weapons, the other taking the money. Matt was in front of me and completely oblivious to any sort of checkpoint as he brazenly walked right past the first guy. He had a permanent half grin on his face from the booze that screamed, "hey bud, outta my way, party guy comin' through!" Immediately he's grabbed by the shoulder and pulled back to the door. "Hey, you need to lose the chain on your wallet," said the goon pointing the small chain hanging out of Matt's pocket. Matt, not understanding the request, begins to open his wallet to pay the man. The man shook his head and repeated that he wanted him to lose his chain. Matt silently responded to him with a dumbfounded, annoyed look then drunkenly shook his head while attempting to enter the club a second time. Again the man pulled him back, but this time raised his tone to "aggressive." "HEY! if you want to go in you have to lose the chain!" Matt turned to me and his smirk grew into a full blown grin as he pointed his thumb at the guy signifying that universal pantomime of, "hey, get a load of THIS maroon." I stood there, mouth agape, in awe as steam began shooting from the man who was 2 times the size of me's ears. Time slowed to a crawl while a montage of natural disaster scenes played in my head. My potentially amazing evening was crumbling right before my eyes. Wings very well should have sprouted from either side of that venue and lifted it into the air flying it further and further towards the horizon. I'm sure we've all seen that scene in a bad sitcom in which the token bad seed character gets caught in the act by an authority figure and it's followed by that brief, tense moment where the "hero" only has a split second to decide whether or not to throw himself under the bus to save the bad seed or let him fry. It was at that moment, that brief split-second, that I looked inside myself and channeled my best Carlton Banks. I shook Matt by the shoulders, and loudly berated him, "what are you doing??? You're wasting everyone's time! Give him your chain, you idiot!!" I helped Matt undo the chain while smiling and apologizing to the man for my "retarded friend." Matt broadly grinned and, once again, began forward motion barely giving me any time to hand the man the chain and maintain a firm grip on his shoulder. Lest we forget that was only the FIRST door man.
The man taking the money watched as Matt obliviously blew past him, undoubtedly with visions of AWK dancing in his head. The man grabbed him and said, "whoa! it's' $20!" Matt's eyes grew wider than saucer plates as he turned to me and incredulously slurred, "TWENTY DOLL-ARS???" He looked at the guy and tried to articulate that the first man had taken his wallet not realizing that the first man only took his chain. Immediately I jumped in and said, "PAY THE MAN!!!!" Before he could tell ME that the first man took his wallet I ordered him to reach in his pocket and pull out his wallet. He did so and grabbed a wad of cash handing it to the guy. He didn't bother to even check the denominations or the change he was given. In his brain the man represented a temporary obstruction standing between him and AWK. Crisis averted, WE'RE IN!! Back to the matter at hand, I had no clue how I would Eddie Haskell my way into a hang sesh with AWK.
Fortunately for me the physical layout of the club worked in my favor. The front door emptied you into the middle of a wide open dance floor. To my left was the back of the club where there was a bar and a merch set up. To my right was the stage and a wide wheelchair accessible ramp that led past the immediate side of the stage to another bar. Rob Ryan took over as babysitter for Matt so I used my free time to map out a plan. I figured it was worth a shot to try and talk with the merch guy first. I sheepishly asked the greasy tool if he knew the best way to get an interview with AWK. Completely uninterested in every word that was directed at him, he managed to let out an, "I 'unno," while continuing to stare into space. Plan B, I took to the ramp to check out the bar area behind the stage. Maybe there would be a way to sneak backstage. I ordered a beer, sat back, and scoped out the scene. I spotted an open door to the left of the bar presumably leading to the backstage. About 5 feet separated the door and the curtain draped behind the stage. I sipped my beer and watched as stagehands went back and forth. I knew this would be the best chance I'd get to talk to him. I set up camp at the side of the stage with one eye on that backdoor. Friends asked if I wanted to go down on the floor, but I was not budging from that spot. I was determined to get this interview. The show began and I was blown away. It was just a nonstop party. Expectations met. Throughout the entire set people were getting onstage and dancing. Suddenly out of nowhere Matt appears on stage with a big grin on his face. At some point in all of our lives we've seen a stage show where a surprise guest pops out from behind the curtain and briefly stands behind the unsuspecting host while the audience wildly cheers. It was kind of like that. Matt just stood there with a big grin staring out over the audience probably imagining they were cheering for him. AWK spots him, throws his arm around his shoulder and tries to get him to do the can-can Rockettes style. Matt just stood there. AWK then picks him up, puts him on his shoulders, and dances around before tossing him back into the packed crowd. This is where Matt's adventure began. Not even Matt himself knows exactly what transpired after being thrown from that stage, but one thing happened for certain, he was tossed out of the club old timey style. You know what I'm talking about, the ole heave-ho, the sidewalk superman, the Uncle Phil special, I'm talking one hand gripping the seat of your pants and the other on the scruff of your neck. During this time I was still manning my post so I had no idea it was going on. As the set came to an end I prepared to strike.
At this point in my life I had never met anyone remotely "famous" so needless to say I was pretty nervous. Especially since I was basically just lying so I could hang out with him. Maybe we'd become best friends! I could add his name to the rolodex and keep him on party dial. Looking back it's kind of funny because at that moment in his career AWK was barely a blip on the radar of mainstream music. Anyway, as the set closed I saw my opportunity. He left the stage and I quickly ran over to him. I was met with that trademark AWK smile and graciousness. Just as the words were about to leave my mouth his "handler" appeared out of nowhere and hurriedly pushed him towards the backstage door as if he was late for a million appointments. I managed to ask if I could have an interview before he disappeared into the darkness. He stopped and without hesitation said, "of course! Just get ahold of me after the show is over." I was jumping out of my skin with excitement. As he walked away, his handler, who happened to be his tour manager, turned to me and dismissively asked, "what publication do you belong to? did you schedule this in advance?" I said that I wrote for the 2 Keys Review. He told me he had never heard of it and that "Andrew has a lot of things scheduled," before walking away. I knew that if this interview was going to happen I was going to have to intercept AWK again because this guy was going to shut me down at every turn. I kind of feel sorry for the guy now. I didn't know it then, but today it's common knowledge that AWK takes his fan appreciation to the next level. I can only imagine the nightmare of having to watch after him. Dub is the type of guy who would invite you onto his tour bus and offer you a ride home even though you live two hours in the opposite direction of the way he's traveling, but more on that later.
While I don't dislike Flogging Molly, I'm not a huge fan either. They have a couple of tracks. But nothing made watching their set more of a chore than knowing that when it concluded I'd be having some chilling with a dude I held in the highest regard. Naturally Flogging Molly played FOREVER! I spent most of the set staring at the clock hoping that my extreme focus and concentration could defy the laws of time and space to speed up this "heidy ho" band's set. When things were wrapping up. I went to the backstage door and waited. and waited. and waited. That panicky feeling began to creep in. I felt like I was getting stood up on prom night. AWK was nowhere in sight and neither was anyone in his band. With the visible stink lines of defeat looming over my head, I dejectedly walked back to my friends. That's when I was informed that AWK was outside signing autographs. We rushed out there like gang busters while a mob formed around him. The club brought out a table and chair for him, and the mob formed into a line. A line that stretched down the block. He recognized me and said, "oh hey, we can do that interview once I get through this line." So I stood by his side like a loyal dog. It was a little nippy out and the line only seemed to grow, but there was no way I was going anywhere. I just had to wait it out. I spotted Matt sitting on the curb next to AWK's tour bus. His head hung heavy and his hands were all cut up from his "flight". My friend Sam informed me that he would not acknowledge any of us as his friends. I walked over there and without lifting his head he said, "go away. I don't know you." Puzzled, I walked back to my spot, and that's when AWK's handler walked over. His name was Paul and this is where I learned he was the tour manager. He was actually a pretty cool guy. He asked if I knew the drunken lump planted near their tour van. I shot a look over at Matt and said, "who? him? no idea." Paul said he saw us talking to him earlier in the night. We told him that we met him in line, but that was it. So it was left at that. After over an hour of photo ops, AWK recording people's voicemail messages, etc, the end of the line came and went. AWK asked if it would be OK if we did the interview on his bus since it was getting colder out. Yeah, I GUESS that would be alright! We get on his bus and the entire band is watching a movie. Parked in the middle of everyone is a drunk, baby-faced "Blowtard" Matt. As I made my way to the back of the bus our eyes met and we exchanged a look that was clearer than any words that could've been spoken. Our brows lowered and our smiles widened as if saying, "you sly dog, you, We did it. We finally made it." Armed with my newly purchased mini-cassette pocket recorder I made myself comfortable on the couch sorting through the questions I scrawled on a piece of paper in the cramped backseat of Rob Ryan's hoopty. Over the course of the interview I loosened up and strayed from my prepared questions. He was so easy to converse with that it became more of a casual conversation than a "professional" journalistic interview.
Towards the end we were just BS'ing about random stuff, and I'd like to think we would've hung out all night if it wasn't for my impatient friends waiting in the car. Couldn't they just take one for the team and be happy for me?? Our good times were cut short by a knock on the door and one of those long hairs that plays guitar telling me, "uh, I think your ride wants to leave." We said our goodbyes and I made my way off the bus with a death grip on the audio gold in my hand. Matt was still hanging out watching Lethal Weapon with the band. The second my foot hit the street Paul appeared and again asked if I knew that little scamp who weaseled his way onto the bus. I stood by my "no". He asked which way we were traveling, which was obviously the same direction Matt was traveling. With a little desperation in his eyes and a little exasperation in his voice he asked if we could just take him since we were both headed in the same direction. Sensing that he'd had his fill, I agreed and Paul let out a sigh of relief. He admitted that it was hard keeping up with AWK's niceness. Apparently at one gig some girl broke her camera and AWK went and gave her some of the money they made that night. Stand up fella. He also joked that they were probably going to ditch Matt somewhere along Hwy 70. I think he may have been serious on that one. He retrieved Matt and I feigned ignorance facetiously asking where he needed to go. We walked towards the car and could no longer contain our laughter. I'm sure Paul knew all along. Matt ran through the night from his perspective telling us that after he got tossed he met Andrew WK outside with a small group of people trying to get into the show for free. AWK gathered them all up and began walking them inside, only when Matt got to the door the bouncer said, "everyone, but him." Looking pitiful, bruised, and disheveled Matt told AWK that his friend's ditched him and he didn't have a ride home. Being the nice guy that he is AWK told him to go wait by the tour bus and they'd give him a ride. My memory is a little foggy with the details of his side adventure so you'll have to consult him about all the wacky hijinks he was involved in. After he was finished with his story we all sat in a hushed silence as I proudly and triumphantly held the recorder above my head replaying the barely audible interview for everyone. I'd like to think that if this night were to ever be made into a movie this is the moment they'd freeze frame and roll credits ala the fist pump at the end of the Breakfast Club. Rereading the interview today, it's a little embarrassing. Besides trying to suppress my fanboy excitement the entire time, I was also a wet-behind-the-ear rookie, a journalism virgin. Although this interview leaves me rosy cheeked and slinking a little deeper in my chair, I can't let it sit around for another decade. So I hope you enjoy it.
Kansas City, MO, the Beaumont. Oct 21, 2002.
ME: Ok these are a bunch of questions me and my friends came up with on the ride down here.
AWK: What's this right here? (points to the S-MY-D button on my jacket) What's "SMYD?"
ME: It's actually S MY D. It was from my friend's band called KRR, Keanu Reeves Reeveau. They had this whole schtick and we passed these out to all of our friend's and they loved it. The other buttons had an X with the SMYD inside it and we'd tell people it stood for San Dimas Mega Youth. It was this whole inside joke thing around the St. Louis scene. All the girls wore them, it was great.
Hey, if you could say happy birthday to my friend that would rule. She really wanted to come and this would really mean a lot to her. It's her 18th birthday.
AWK: Ida, this is Andrew WK. Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday. 18 years, that's a very big day. That's not much younger than me so we're about the same age. And, uh, we're probably thinking about the same kind of stuff. And I would just ask us both to remain strong. And to be strong it's not so much about being defiant or unreasonable, or, you know, difficult. It's more about being accepting and understanding and easy and all those things that seem real kinda freaky at first and those problems that seem too hard to solve when you're strong you find the courage to face them and solve them. And it's always for the best so now that 18 years have gone by it's time to step it up a notch and try harder than you have before and I will, too. Happy, Happy birthday again and all the best. Take good care, goodbye!
ME: First question, what is your full name? We heard Andrew Wilkes-Krier and on the way down here we saw a For Him magazine that said Andrew Wilkes-Cinder
AWK: Yeah, I saw that! I think that was some kind of joke like cinder block or something.
AWK: I didn't say that, so I don't know what that was all about but it is Wilkes-Krier. W-I-L-K-E-S dash K-R-I-E-R and that's my mom and dad's last name. It's my real last name just abbreviated.
ME: What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
AWK: (deep in thought) yeah....hmmmm.... *pause* well it certainly has not been something...well, what defines crazy? meaning the payoff, the results can be really, really bad? Is that what defines crazy? This is a question that I wish so much that I had better answers for. You know, people tell me these stories of crazy things they've done, and other bands have all these great stories and we have none. I don't have those type of stories because most the time I'm trying to, uh, keep things...good. So I'm not trying to cause trouble. There certainly was a time when I was, so I guess that's when the craziest things I did were, back then. They're not crazy in comparison to other things, but I guess the, uh, mail fraud and check fraud I was doing was pretty crazy. I can't really think of a crazier thing than that. Maybe working at the bubblegum machine company was pretty.. weird. A lot of WEIRD stuff. But when I think crazy I think careless-...
ME: I think that's what they were looking for
AWK: the most careless thing? um, yeah, probably the mail fraud. It was one of the business scams I was trying to get involved in.
ME: well, I heard it was more like jokes than it was scams. I heard it was like you playing jokes on people.
AWK: Oh it was no joke. I mean it was a trick. Well, I wasn't trying to get money out of it. I was trying to hurt people's feelings. So it wasn't a joke. I didn't want anyone to laugh. I wanted people to be really angry, or well not so much to be angry, but like, concerned. These things were usually targeted towards people that had been really mean to my friends.
ME: so it was more of a revenge thing.
AWK: very, very, very, very petty. very stupid. I would never do it again. But the main reason for all of it was that I was really bored. and I didn't know-...
(someone tries to open the door to the room we're in)
ME: I think someone's trying to get in.
AWK: nah, they're all good. so yeah, it was something to do. This wasn't like a thing I did in a couple of hours. This took days of consistent work to pull these things off. It was a full time thing. It was just something exciting to do and because it was bad it made it much more thrilling. It was that basic kind of thing. So there was a lot stuff that I just didn't-...It wasn't clear to me. I was so alone, I think, in a way and lonely that it wasn't clear to me. When I made efforts to be-...I was just young and stupid, but it was so clear to me back then that people didn't like me and I was at odds with everyone. I felt all left out and when I would try to be really nice or make efforts to be friends with people or make people happy or make them like me then they seemed to hate me more. And of course it was all nonsense it only existed in my head. Everyone was fine except me. That's when these things became real clear. It was like, "so, fine! if it doesn't even matter if I'm nice then I might as well be as mean as possible." I don't really know, you know? But it was definitely stupid and it was definitely careless and it could've wound up being so bad, some of the stuff I did. Some of it did venture on to much shakier ground that could have gotten me and other people into a lot of trouble. I'm glad it didn't so I really learned a lesson. And while it was 5-6-7 years ago, it wasn't that long ago and everyday since those days I've learned a lot, learned to be better.
ME: So this was all in Michigan?
AWK: oh yeah, well the bubblegum thing was in New York
ME: oh, well we're kinda friends with Jeff Rice and others.
AWK: You know Jeff Rice?!
ME: Have you heard his new band, Punch in the Face?
AWK: No, I haven't
ME: Aw, they RULE!
AWK: He's told me about it though. Do they have any records out?
ME: Yeah, well actually one of our questions is, "How involved are you, er, well you were in Kathode and all that, but are you still involved in hardcore, metal or anything like that?
AWK: To the extent of being able to find out as we're touring right now. I've recently been buying more albums. A lot of them I used to have and some newer ones. But when I was in it, I was so in-depth it almost seems like, "Gosh, how do I even begin to-..." Well, it's really not a matter of time because I never buy that excuse so it's not like, "well, I don't have the time." It's a matter of, "where do I begin?" And maybe being stationary. Because I remember I would write, well there was a lot writing back and forth and getting stuff in the mail and having friends that knew what records were going on. That has definitely become more of a challenge, but I'm still very excited and more recently now really determined. I've been seeing all these bands and hearing all these bands and finding out about new stuff. It's still a big part of who I am and what I believe in as it always was. So I'm very respectful and try to support it as much as I can. There will be more of that coming in the future.
ME: NICE! So you've listed Negative Approach as one of your favorite bands...
AWK: yeah, they're from Michigan and a lot of my friends older than me that I was inspired by THEIR bands. Like I didn't even know who Negative Approach was, but THEY did and that was their favorite band so I figured that they must be-... like back then I was like, "I don't know who they are or much about them" but all these people say that they're (NA) their favorite band and I like the music that THEY are making so they're (NA) are very important and they're often under-appreciated or underrated or something.
ME: Coming from where you were, like in Kathode and stuff like that, how do you feel about this now? People are asking for your autograph... because I mean, even myself I'm a fan of yours and I've never really been a FAN fan of somebody. I don't go up to people and ask for their autograph. It's weird because in the punk scene you just walk up to somebody after the show and say hi. How has that changed now that you've gotten bigger? I mean, you had so many kids waiting out there to get your autograph tonight and it's going to keep getting bigger and bigger and you're going to have to sit out there longer every night-...
AWK: and i will! I'll do whatever it takes to repay the debt. It is strange and I was just thinking today actually, you know, this guy today made- I saw this one guy jump on stage that had this amazing shirt and I was like, "Oh my God, it's like a crazy, bootleg shirt." It was the picture from the "Party 'til you Puke" cover just the picture of me, and on the back he wrote, "I need your love."
ME: yeah, I saw that one.
AWK: It looked like it was printed. I was like, "Aw, somebody made shirts, that's awesome." Because I always get excited about bootleg shirts. Then I went up to him later and he had hand-drawn it with a marker. It was incredible!
AWK: yeah, he drew it with a sharpie.
ME: I saw the shirt, I didn't see the-...
AWK: It was made by HAND. And I was thinking after that, Did I ever imagine things like this would happen? And am i any less blown away now than I would've been 2 years ago at the very beginning? And would this ever become less amazing to me over the years? like in 20 years if someone did that, would it be less amazing? No, it would always be just as incredible and as exciting and mind-blowing as it ever could've been. Especially since this whole thing coming from where you're talking about, where you meet bands and you say hi. And that's how it's always been with me. Kathode was the most serious band I was ever in actually in terms of time spent consistently doing it. It was a year, you know what I mean? of being that drummer. Really putting money into that recording and really trying to do something and still failing miserably, but at least we tried, you know what I mean?
AWK: Not knowing what to really do.
ME: yeah, that's the punk scene. DIY.
AWK: We didn't know how to do it ourselves for a little bit, at least I didn't. We didn't play enough concerts. That was the thing. How do you even begin? So anyway, but even before that the other bands I was in were even more like seat-of-your-pants, 10 people at a show-...
ME: what else were you in?
AWK: I was in handful after handful of bands playing drums or keyboard, usually drums or keyboard, that would last for a couple of weeks or a month or get kicked out or they'd reform. I'd play a lot of shows by myself. I used to do that back then, playing keyboard. Just all the people I looked up to, all my role models were people from my high school who were in bands, that's what inspired me and influenced me more than any-...
ME: that's actually another question, what has influenced you?
AWK: yeah, my high school. The people in my high school. These older kids. When I was a freshman the Juniors and Seniors at this crazy high school I went to that was for bad kids basically were in bands that were doing things that I couldn't. Not only things I had never seen, but I couldn't have imagined. Everyday it was like a dream. Where you're just seeing thing after thing. Some of it terrifying, horrifying, awful, disgusting, terrible stuff. Some of it amazing, inspiring, blow your mind, this-is-the-best-day-I've-ever-experienced. And those two things clashing constantly and combining, it was overwhelming. And if that hadn't happened I'd probably wouldn't be here because although I've played piano since I was so young and that's the main musical root of all this. it's just that instrument. It's music as music. These songs are not based on an idea or a combination of certain stuff or this or that. It's really based on like here's this piano melody and how can we make it as big and exciting as possible. Coming from that and into these crazy people who were just doing things I've never seen. These people were taking "doing things" to another level. Living on their own when they were 16 in this house where homeless people-... It was just so intense. It's hours of conversation alone by itself. That was definitely scarred my imagination even more to just use what I could everyday and just defy anything that would stop me from doing that. It also set all these ground rules, not ground rules, but grounded me in these ideas that if someone recorded something that was a huge deal. There was no reason to do it except that they liked doing it, and no money was made the only thing that happened was trouble. No one came to shows, blah blah blah, but still they did it and it was so awesome. So I guess that's the one thing is to come from that and-... my only thing was that I wanted as many people as possible... I think, again, because there is a lonely thing going on. I wasn't alone, I had friends, but I felt, uh...I wasn't a kid that got picked on a lot, but i definitely had this feeling of being somewhat out of sorts. While a lot of my friends and a lot of people I see choose to use a revenge thing in a way that..... and I'm talking about the mail fraud. That was a very specific like, something to do and it wasn't based entirely on revenge because a lot of times I'd do it to friends, but more just like a reaction. But I know a lot of people will make music and they want to be able to choose who can like it and who's allowed and under what premise the whole thing is based on. Coming from a lot of places like that, too, I really wanted to see what happened if...was it possible to have people that now think I suck and don't like me actually like this thing and make it clear that this is all just a big jumble and why are we fighting or why is there strife between this one race on the face of this earth? That's a pretty big idea, but that was kind of the thing this was just supposed to be fun. And all the people that don't like me I want to make them like me and I want to make them like this and not in fact get revenge on them and say, "ok, you have to be out now. I get to leave you out." Instead it's "COME ON IN!" you know, just raise the bar of-...
ME: be the better man pretty much
AWK: yeah, and not want credit for that. Just raise the bar for what we can do and that was just more fun to me. That was really fun because the best times, the best concerts, the best times were always when there was like, "whoa, what's THAT dude doing here? whoa, what are those rap guys doing here? Who's that old... (tape ends)
AWK: ....there's a couple of times I've told the whole thing
ME: so, how much ya bench?
AWK: oh man, not very much. Yesterday, I, uh, well I haven't been using barbells anymore because I've been going to the gym by myself. You really need a spotter with barbells or you'll kill yourself. Plus I like the incline bench and I like the fuller range of motion you can get with dumbbells on a bench press. So I've been doing incline bench press with dumbbells which is much harder than a flat bench obviously. I don't know if people know that or not. It's not very good. I'm not very strong. So that's what I'm working on is getting stronger. I've made progress these last couple times so I was happy with that. I think I did, my highest weight, you know 12 reps, was um, 100 lbs and 4 reps at 110 lbs. So for one rep fresh off the bat, I, uh, phew, I'd like to say I could do 1 rep of 140 lbs, I'd hope. With a barbell it would be easier so I dunno with a barbell I'm strictly dumbbells right now. It's pathetic though, I really gotta get stronger that's the whole thing I gotta get more into strength training bc there is so much to know and it's really hard to find information sources that are not biased on appearance, er, not presenting it for appearance, for weight loss, for social acceptance, for all these outside things-... I want strength and practicality. I want practical utilization of strength. Not just like "do this to get this." So I found this really good website called "ironmind.com" which I found out about from this guy, Gary in Seattle and that changed everything. Really good books there. It's really exciting so I'm working on that and I'm really excited to dedicate even more time coming up in the near future. It's gonna be really good. My goal is to gain-... see, everyone else wants to lose weight, I wanna gain weight. So i'm thinking about a long time goal, meaning like a 6 month goal is to be 220 lbs. So maybe by the time the next album comes out I'll be at 220 lb. we'll see what happens.
ME: What genre do you consider your music to be?
AWK: uh... I had a list of descriptions that I made for it because, you know, a lot of descriptions people were using I was like, "those are cool, but I bet we could make even cooler ones." The one I like the most that sometimes is used is "Dance Metal." Because that is kind of like what it is. It's not Rock n Roll because-...Well, it IS Rock n Roll, but when I think of Rock I think of attitude. Like some kind of attitude. Like leaning back, kind of hesitant, kind of like throwing shapes and such, you know what I mean?
AWK: pulling moves?
ME: oh ok
AWK: yeah, there is a bunch of stuff you have to do and follow. Metal to me was always, still there's a lot of "whatever" rules.
ME: rules hold everything back
AWK: yeah, but it still seemed a little more like the bands that I really liked were way, way more just "do it." Then, of course, dancing which is the whole point of all of this. If you want to. I also want to stress that I know that sometimes you don't want to dance at a concert and believe me that is fine and good and I have no problem with it. So you don't have to come to the show and be like, "oh, I don't wanna dance. People are gonna think I'm stupid." No, you don't have to dance if you don't want to. It is fun. Dance metal, party music, rock, is fine, epic punk is one I thought was cool. whatever, I don't know. I don't know what would you call it?
ME: Good times
AWK: It's definitely in the rock genre
ME: We have Andrew WK parties.
ME: We do.
ME: Things get smashed a lot.
AWK: That's great!
ME: It's usually a lot of craziness.
AWK: Do you know how all you wanna do is turn it louder?
ME: Yeah, that's why I'm such a big fan.
AWK: It's changed my life. Coming from a little bit from where you're from and knowing that, the last people in the world I ever thought-... If there was a scene, if you had to divide things into scenes, the last scene I ever thought that would like this or be interested in it or respect it would be these people who I consider to be some of the best people on the face of this Earth. When I first started seeing that these people who i respected so much just so much like...
ME: I think you have to get it. I think you have to get where you're coming from and what you're trying to say. I mean, you have your enemies, your haters.
AWK: they're all over the place
ME: I think you have to be in a certain state of mind to, uh, well err, ugh. Sorry, you're my first interview ever, and I'm not very...
AWK: Hey, it's a good interview. The questions are said in such a cool way. Oh man, the air conditioning is on right now. I can't do this, hold on. (gets up to turn off the AC)
ME: In your other interviews you've talked about growing up and how you were so bad, you did bad things-...
AWK: Well I talk about other stuff, but they always seem to-...
ME: I understand
AWK: Which is cool. Which is fine, I don't care
ME: At what point did you say, "I don't want to do this anymore? I don't want to be an idiot. Just about messing things up.
AWK: Once I moved to New York everything was way more intense so the first thing you realize is I'm probably not going to be able to pull that stuff here and get away with it quite so easily.
ME: I know what you mean, I felt that way when I moved to Chicago
AWK: That's the thing, you get put into a bigger spectrum and you realize that this place is going to go on whether you're around or not and it could really give a care about throwing you in jail and they're not going to think it's all so cute and clever what you did. So that definitely made it's point, but far, far overshadowing that was the realization that how much I was disappointing my parents especially my mom. That was reason enough to stop cold right there and say, "I'm only going to do things that I think my mom would approve of." I really meant it. There was a good long time when I still didn't feel bad for me like I don't care what people think of me I don't care if I do this, if I'm bad or whatever. But I care what my mom thinks is disappointing or sad or if that would make her feel bad and it would and it did. After how much she has done for me and my dad and how supportive they've been unconditionally and how worried I've made both of them. How still my mom has never doubted me for one second or at least shown me that she doubted me. I know there have been times where she was scared out of her mind about what I was doing or where I was or what was going to happen with me, but still just maintained a calm and collective supportive in this way that made me feel, for better or for worse, for a long time that I could do no wrong. But that respect she gave me turned into the respect for her over myself. I respected her much more than I respected myself, but that was enough to make me stop. After that I realized that she had instilled these values in me. I wasn't feeling this way through her I was feeling it because these things that she considered important ultimately I did, too, and it just took me awhile to realize it. Of Course I had some things happen to me that I thought, "ugh, I don't want this to ever happen to me. I can't believe I'd do something like this to someone else." That was easy, but I just didn't want to disappoint my mom. So that was the beginning of that and the end.
ME: ok, well we have a couple more here, What would be the perfect day for you?
AWK: Uh.... Just knowing that it was a good day... um.. ok, like in the big picture, knowing that I contributed in some way to the betterment of someone other than me. Whether it was my mom or dad or my brother. Just making them somehow happier that day rather than sad. A friend of mine, a girlfriend, anything like that, anything where I know that it's not a worse place because of me. And then knowing that i didn't hold back or waste it or something like that. In the small picture, I'd love to have a day where (this is my dream right now) I wake up early, not sleep in late, ok? So I haven't gone to bed early the night before. So I wake up around 9 and have a huge breakfast. Like a 2 hour non-stop eating. After that about another hour of rest maybe to digest that food, get ready for the day. I like to take my time on things, I just enjoy things. People say I'm really slow. They say it's because I'm a tourist, it's like I move real slow. My mom always said, "I can't believe it takes you 15 minutes to put on your shoes." and it would! I'd be like, "huh, I guess that is kinda weird. why is it taking you so long to get ready?" I'm not doing a million things! It's like, "ok, shoe goes on." 5 minutes later, "ok, maybe I should tie it."
AWK: It's kinda like that vibe. So I'm gonna eat a huge quantity of food until I almost felt like I was gonna puke. Like a lot of eggs, oatmeal, maybe whole grain pancakes, maybe some ham, hash browns, whatever else, orange juice, milk. Eat all that, protein shake then let that sit for an hour or two, just roll around on the ground. Then go to the gym and do a full body routine, you know the full deal, like I would do the overhead press, the incline press, dips, and then bent over rows. I would do pull ups, chin ups, squats, dead lifts, toe raises, then some grip exercises. Be destroyed after that. then I would, uh, go...and eat as much food as I can after that.
ME: HAHA! You're a fan of food.
AWK: Oh yeah. This is a full bag of food. *presents a stuffed brown grocery bag* I would eat again, then I would probably sleep for an hour or so then have a snack then maybe go to a movie or an amusement park which are two things I don't get to do as much as I like. Then go out to dinner with a friend or something like that, and eat more. Yeah, that would be awesome. And I WILL have that day. That day is gonna come up soon.
ME: I'm sure it will! Ok, well we're running out of tape here so how about this; What question do you never get? I mean, what is a question you always wanna be asked? What do you wanna talk about?
AWK: That's a great question. THAT QUESTION! That's the question I always wanted to hear! That's one of the best questions I've ever been asked. I wish-...
ME: I've read about 5 interviews with you and it's the same thing all the way through.
AWK: You know a lot of people like to talk about things, or me, or just stuff, you know what I mean? I wanna talk about music. I wanna talk about the actual music like THESE notes. sometimes we get to. I mean, they're not better questions than these ones it's just I love talking about all this stuff, but that is the best question. I wish more people would ask that. No one ever comes to me and says, "So what do you wanna talk about?" I'd say, 'OH MAN!! I wanna talk about this! and do you know...??" And we'd just get into conversation. I've never had anyone do that, you're the first person. And that is the best question I've ever been asked.
ME: nice! Has anyone ever told you that your cd actually follows a party? We broke this down at my work one day. We listen to it all the time. If you listen to track 4 all the way to the end, it's like, "Ok, this is the part where you walk into the party. 'WOO, IT'S TIME TO PARTY!'" then you see a girl across the room... then you overhear a conversation about New York, "Hey! I love New York!"
AWK: YEAH!! ha ha ha
ME: And then it goes on from there.
AWK: Yeah, you're right. Then there's like a resting time, a reflective time...
ME: Man, I wish I had it all written down in full to tell you
AWK: There's like a last ditch, give-all-you-got effort at the end...
ME: it's like you're leaving the party...(indistinct chatter) It's like Don't Stop Living in the Red! Everybody's passed out and it's like, "let's keep partying, I'm up!"
AWK: that's awesome. you're right, it does work like that. I hope so. You know what? it's about the length of a really intense party, too. If you're ever at a party that lasted that long and went through all of those things....
conversation then degenerates into impressions of our mutual friend talking about uber-obscure punk bands, mock marijuana tokes, and air drumming before the tape finally ends.
Rob and AWK had another interview 10 years later that will be featured in the new issue of Dude's Magazine