Photos by Ashley EberbachEarlier this year, rock ’n’ roll Goliath and self-proclaimed King of Partying Andrew W.K. launched The Party Party, a sincere “all-inclusive alternative to the traditional two-party model.” W.K.’s vision for the Party is to free Americans from partisan rigmarole and unite in order to achieve common goals (such as reliable access to education, health care, and social equality?), and to remove politics from the issues, he says, we all essentially agree on. Under the banner of partying.
W.K.’s version of partying isn’t necessarily the get-fucked-up kind. In fact, it’s much larger than that — and perhaps more complicated. To explain things, as well as promote his new non-political political endeavor, the man has embarked on a 50-state lecture tour dubbed “The Power of Partying.” SPACE Gallery will host his Maine visit on November 26. We spoke over the phone to discuss both his partying philosophies and his seemingly insatiable desire to pump people up.
I’m actually looking at an Andrew W.K. bobblehead figurine that I found in my apartment. So it will be your surrogate for this interview if that’s okay.
Yeah, it’s like a stand-in avatar. How did you find it, was it buried in a corner or something? I’m thankful that you were able to salvage that and I consider it a good omen.
You’ve described a defining principle of the Party Party as achieving “transcendental positivity.” Can you go into that?
Some of these ideas are a bit elusive by their nature, but I think most of us can relate to them.
There’s a sense that in our day-to-day life, there are ups and downs, there are achievements and moments of glory, and then there are setbacks and obstacles and moments of devastation. But if we really rise to our highest point of view, then [we] consider this entire ordeal, its challenges and its rewards, as a type of adventure — much like an adventure movie. We realize that the moments of glory, those “good moments,” are empowered by struggle. The whole movie itself is worth something. It has an essential value that we would call good. There’s a kind of positivity that says that all of life, by its very nature, being a phenomenon that’s happening, the fact that we get to exist, that we take this leap of faith and decide and accept that life must be a good thing if it’s happening at all. There might be moments that make us question if life is a good thing at all, that being alive isn’t meant to happen, that it isn’t good, that there isn’t any meaning. But because we have that ability to examine life and consider it from different perspectives, we also have the freedom that comes with the power to consider the whole thing a good experience. And that’s essentially what partying is.
You’ve been doing motivational speaking for a while now, but this particular campaign seems sort of reactionary in regards to the current state of affairs worldwide. It seems to get worse almost every day, so the timing of the tour makes it seem that you’re out here to do a service.
Destiny pulled me toward this path, and I’m just trying to muster up the strength to fulfill theseopportunities. Not just for myself, for anyone else who might get something out of it. And yeah, in a way, things are getting worse and worse every day, but that’s the test: to not give into that way of thought, and to realize that things are … if they’re getting worse and worse every day, they’re also getting better and better every day. It’s the time to reevaluate and confirm those best aspects inside ourselves so we don’t give into that sense of hopelessness, that we keep a very energized kind of optimism and continue to see this whole phenomenon as an incredible test to see if we can bring out our strength, you know?
How has the reception to the Party Party been since you launched it?
Well, the initial response has been very overwhelmingly positive, and much larger and more significant of a reaction than I anticipated. Which confirmed to me that I wasn’t alone, that this is something very human that many people are going through, and I’m just one of them. When you’re surrounded by people who are sharing the same desires, you can cut to the chase very quickly and get down to these core, primal feelings. And when I say feelings, they’re not emotions. It’s more like a complete sensation that goes from your mind to your heart to your soul to your body, and to parts of yourself that are hard to even identify. We’re trying to become full human beings. It’s strange because you think it would be the easiest thing to do, that just by being a human, you would naturally become a human being. But it turns out, it takes an extraordinary, huge amount of effort. Anything worthwhile takes some kind of effort, so this tour is really a pep rally to cheer each other on as we’re making that effort.
Would you say the current message you’re trying to disperse right now aligns with what you’ve been trying to communicate with your music over the years? Are they the same thing to you?
Music was the first place I ever [felt] it in a reliable, consistent way, where I could hear a melody and it would connect with that part of me that was most alive. It would tell me that not only was I alive, and that there was this sensation called life and there was a feeling that made me feel alive, but that it was good, it was a good thing, that there was joy in it, that there was inherent goodness in it that I didn’t need to explain, because when you felt it, you knew it. It made me think there must be a reason to live, even if it’s just to feel this feeling from music. I just wanted to figure out if I could devote myself to that feeling in as many ways as possible. To serve it in whatever way I can.
It certainly seems like something everyone can relate to, whether they know it, or want to admit it. It’s a universal issue that affects everybody, right?
I think so, and maybe that’s one of the best ways to look at it: that everyone is dealing with the same, somewhat indescribable, essential feeling called being alive. Some people deal with it very directly, some people try to avoid it. I’ve talked to people who say for their whole lives, as long as they can remember, they wake up and feel like something is wrong, something is missing inside them. There’s this feeling that doesn’t feel right. And I say that I feel that exact same way. Maybe we’re just misinterpreting that. Maybe that’s a good feeling. Maybe [we’re] just developing a point of view or a strength, or some kind of relationship with that feeling that tells us that it isn’t bad, and that’s where this kind of faith comes in. We’re just going to accept, at some point, that because we have the ability to view it from these different ways, maybe we can develop the ability to appreciate it instead of resent it, fear it, or try to escape from it or numb it out. To just fully embrace it.
What can people expect from the show at SPACE Gallery?
It is us in a room together to dive into, as hardcore as we can, this thing called being alive. We’re gonna talk. I’m gonna have questions for you, you can have questions for me. It’s a discussion, it’s a time to meet and hang out. We can talk one-on-one. I’m gonna be there as long as they’ll let me stay in that room — without trying to overstay my welcome or be rude. But it’s our time to pump each other up, so hopefully we leave that room at the end of the night with some … I don’t think it will be any kind of new breakthrough idea. No one owns these ideas, no one invented these things. I just hope it confirms these things that we’ve all been thinking about. Maybe they’ve been in the front of our mind, maybe they’ve been in the back of our mind, but that we leave there with a sense of power, that we can do this, we do have what it takes, with some effort and some conviction, some integrity we actually can do this. We can do this thing called being alive.
“The Power of Partying: A Nationwide Rally for the Liberation of the Human Spirit,” presentation by Andrew W.K. | November 26, 8:30 p.m. | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | 207-828-5600