Having revealed his new album 'You're Not Alone' is out on the 2nd March 2018, Andrew W. K. took some time to chat to us about the new album and the party mindset this week ...
Your new album apparently explores nuances and contradictions, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Well there are two sides to every coin and it's still the same coin - it's still the same coin ... the glass is not half full or half empty, it's half full and half empty. Realising that even something like the phrase "You're Not Alone" can seem on the one hand comforting, a show of solidarity and a partnership - on the other hand having some sort of presence near you in certain situations can be quite unnerving, even frightening, it might even be a malevolent presence. So for some reason pairs of polarities or opposites that are equally true on both sides seem to become a reoccurring theme in a lot of this material. It's always been a theme in all my work and I think everyone's work to some extent.
So with the new album, is it autobiographical or more generalised? Drawing on what you know?
Not consciously, maybe subconsciously. I don't think anyone could create anything without having some sense of their own presence, their own involvement attached to it and have some impact on what you're making. You can't make something and not be part of having made it. These are not stories that I am telling from my own experiences, that's not really the style that I work in. Most of the music that I make is aspirational music, it's not talking about how I feel, but talking about how I want to feel. It's not talking about what I've done, it's focusing on what I want to do. It is really like a fantasy in that regard. I've already been through what I've been through and for me it would be rather boring to keep saying or reliving that over and over again. I'd rather focus on what I haven't gone through and try to imagine something better than myself and beyond me and bigger than me. I'm not that interested in myself past a certain basic point. I'm just a means to an end and I'm trying to serve that end through this music.
"There's a separate connection when you realise someone else is also looking for that feeling with you and you feel as though you're on a team with those people"
That's a part of who you are as a personality, a great motivational speaker with your positive outlook and attitude - really connecting with people. How do you find you connect with people, do you draw on your own experiences?
I don't know if i connect with people or not, I think people and I connect on the same level, we connect with a feeling that we're both looking for. There's a separate connection when you realise someone else is also looking for that feeling with you and you feel as though you're on a team with those people and together it's a partnership on a quest to try to reach this feeling - this understanding, this feeling about life, so maybe we relate to each other in that way ... looking for the same feeling.
Music is definitely a great bringer of that. So how do you keep the party ethos going when all seems bad? How would you tell others to stay positive?
Well I think one of the nicest things that's been helpful for me is that staying positive doesn't mean that you can't feel negative emotions. That's completely unnatural and it would be unhealthy and also unenjoyable to force yourself to stay in what we would consider traditionally a positive emotion. There are times when it's completely warranted and completely crucial to feel other kinds of feelings ... the full spectrum of emotions, the full spectrum of considerations and thoughts and ideas. The human being is really complex and we don't want to limit that just because we think it's going to make our lives feel better, it's actually going to be quite torturous. So staying positive actually is where we can include even the darker or shadow side of ourselves as part of a kind of larger transcendent positivity.
On this album you say you are admitting vulnerabilities, is this where you would spin things into maybe something you would try to change about yourself positively and see that in a positive light ... grabbing all those dark things?
It's accepting that it's ok to feel different ways and you can be positive about those feelings. For example, if a child is crying it's not effective or kind or understanding to say "stop crying", the child has reason to cry. You can comfort the child and explain to them that you understand why they are crying and show them that it's even a part of a more beautiful life, that it might hurt it might feel painful - but the party mindset is attempting to include as broad of a life experience as possible and celebrate the whole thing.
"I'm looking for a deeper joy, a joy that's so vast that it kind of transcends happiness"
We heard you have quite a strict raw food diet. Is that something you'd say is part of being happy with yourself first in order to be able to spread positive vibes to others?
I think of happiness as a kind of passing emotion. I don't even want to be happy all the time, it's not very interesting. There's moments of great fulfilment or brief elation that I would call happy, but happy is usually that you feel happy because of something and it's very dependant and transient. I'm looking for a deeper joy, a joy that's so vast that it kind of transcends happiness. A joy that makes you feel good for no reason at all. Nothing good necessarily happens when you feel this joyful feeling. That's the place I'm interested in trying to get to and stay in and I don't really care anymore. I've kind of just accepted that it's not an interesting pursuit for some reason. There's so many other things we could put our energy into trying to do other than putting our energy into trying to be happy. It's not worked out for me very well.
You're always pushing yourself to achieve and challenge yourself, this is your first full album for about 12 years ... how are you feeling about that? Do you like performing and the musical side of things rather than talks and the other things you're involved with - do you have a preference?
The reason that so much time went by was that I didn't even realise how much time was going by. I was always recording with myself and other people and playing concerts and that's why time didn't appear to be passing. I don't feel like I'm back doing something, it just feels like the same thing. I guess it could appear to others that I'm doing something different now, but I don't know ... it's probably part of the reason why things have always been a bit chaotic and disorganised - because there isn't a lot of planning. You know, I didn't plan to stop, I didn't plan to make the album, I didn't plan for it to take 12 years. It's all out of my control so I don't really have any kind of insight ... it's quite frustrating actually and I get anxious and even a bit despondent when I think about it because I feel like I'm irresponsible, that I should be able to have more influence over what happens in my own life but I don't and it is what it is.
So what do you have coming up, are you touring the new album?
Yes. There should be tonnes of touring this year and hopefully next year as well. I'm certainly excited to be coming back to the UK. The band has never been better, it's the best live band I've ever had over all these years. We've got a lot of great band members and a lot of great runs of touring but we've hit a new level of focus and ability which makes sense because the longer we do something the better we get. I mean that's what I hope at least and I'm really excited to bring this version of the live show to the UK and the rest of the world.
Is there anything you would like to tell us, any words of wisdom?
Just whatever you do never stop partying, be as strong as possible, so strong that you can even be weak and let the power of partying lead you down the truest path.