In September of 2008, Andrew WK gave a lecture at London’s Madame JoJo’s club and stated that he is not who the public perceives him to be. In what he called a “confession,” Andrew WK said that what is known as “Andrew WK” was created by a group of people. This unidentified group decided to create something “in the spirit of commerce… and entertainment” and Andrew auditioned to play the part. However, this wasn’t the only confession he was making. He then went on to say that he is not the first person to play Andrew WK (see a video of the lecture here).
Now well over a year since his confession, Andrew WK made an official statement on his website concerning his identity on January 3. According to his statement, he denies that he was given a new identity to perform under and calls it “a gross exaggeration of easily explainable and common-place music industry practices.” He does not deny working with other people throughout his career, but says that “taking advice and guidance from other people doesn’t mean [he’s] a victim of mind-control.”
The confessions and rumors surrounding Andrew WK have existed since the start of his career. Websites such as Who Is Andrew WK? have gone in-depth with these rumors and have compiled various types of evidence to prove that the current Andrew W.K. is just one of many.
Although these rumors have floated around the internet for years, there has been no proof or valid statement that any of them are true.
MXDWN was given the opportunity to ask Andrew WK a few questions of our own concerning the “rumors” surrounding his career and the “confession” that he made himself. Here’s what Andrew WK had to say about the matter in his own words.
MXDWN: Why have you chosen to reveal that you weren’t the first Andrew WK and the character was assembled by a group of people?
ANDREW WK: I understand that there have been these questions. I have been trying to answer them and I’ll continue to and I appreciate having this opportunity to answer them for you and whoever may read this.
I didn’t really choose to reveal it and I also don’t necessarily look at anything I’ve done as a reveal more than or less than what I’ve been doing since I’ve started. I’m just trying to be as up front and vulnerable as possible. And more that way, to be as honest and straightforward and what some people might call as “real” as I can be. Now that word “real” and the idea of “realness” and “authenticity” is a slippery slope, but I just tried to be myself as much as I could throughout all of it. So, in that regard, I don’t really feel like I revealed anything now that, as far as what you mentioned specifically about the speech/the lecture/press conference-thing, I did in London, which was almost in 2008, over a year ago. That was a situation where I was asked… told… I was asked to speak on this stuff and address it by people that I’ve worked with for a long time. And, it wasn’t supposed to be a reveal. It was supposed to be talking about who I was and a little bit about my history which I normally have kept quiet about. Not because there’s anything there of concern, but because it doesn’t really have much to do with the main focus of what we’re working on here which is music and fun and excitement and entertainment like we do it.
MXDWN: So, you and the people you work with elected to tell a little bit of the story?
WK: Yeah. This situation I realize more, some people, perhaps you, perhaps not, for a lot of people that seems like some new thing, or some recent development. Even if we go back to 2008 some people have thought back then that these issues or questions or accusations were coming to light for the first time. The fact is I’ve been dealing with it personally since I first started. Not just because I’ve been working in the manner I’ve been working in with the people I’ve been working with. Also, as the result of that beginning, there have been these questions about where I come from, and basically very simple situations that were never meant to be common knowledge became exaggerated and things that I ran with ran away with the facts.
Tricky thing is, they’re not meant to be out there and so that got complicated into a sense of, “Well if you’re keeping secrets, there must be a reason for them?” It’s not a bad thing it’s just that some people that I work with and some things that we’ve done together have been agreed upon before we even admit them that we wouldn’t talk about them. We wouldn’t tell anyone. The idea that is this huge deal I understand on one hand, on the other hand I just think it’s really, it’s not the most interesting thing—I would hope—to focus on. But at the same time, I’m trying to respectfully respond as much as I can while reminding people of what I would hope are more interesting, more relevant issues or ideas about the world. Not just what my feelings are, just in general, you know, being alive.
MXDWN: You mentioned that you weren’t the first person to play Andrew WK. Has there only been two? Has there been more than two?
WK: Well that’s one of those, more tricky questions, in terms of what I’m allowed to say. I can say is that what I said in the press conference in London, that was 100% true. There were sort of giant leaps and conclusions that some people had come to based on what I said that really is not the case, and whether I am actually Andrew WK or whether I am playing Andrew WK, there should be no doubt about that. I am Andrew WK. I am a real person. As far as whether there’s either been someone else or whether there’s even been another Andrew WK… that’s where I either have to go off the record or answer it by saying, it doesn’t really matter in terms of what has been done, what’s the result, which is the music and that entertainment that I’ve made. The whole idea about the London show was to put an end to that, and it unfortunately opens up a lot more questions than answers.
MXDWN: As far as Andrew WK’s sound is concerned, it’s been pretty consistent, there’s been a pretty consistent message about vitality and joy and exuberance for life. I would look at Andrew WK like AC/DC – you know what you’re going to get. It’s always great. It’s always what it is. Is there any part of you, because of these things or out of your own interest for change, that might step away from this approach to who you are or the character “Andrew WK” to do anything different? Or do you think that you’ll proceed as you have been?
WK: Well, that’s a great question and thank you for phrasing it that way. Now, first of all, I don’t think of Andrew WK as a character or myself as a character. But at the same time, I recently had the opportunity to go outside the box and to exercise my freedom. I did that on a release, my last album called 55 Cadillac, which is a solo piano album. And that was the first time really ever since I started doing Andrew WK that I could really do whatever I wanted. Make the album that I always wanted to make, which was always gonna be just piano and to have the opportunity to do that was just incredible. It’s out there.
MXDWN: It’s probably safe to say there’s more of that coming in the future?
WK: Well, actually yeah. February 23rd we’re releasing for the first time worldwide, my third album – the one that came before 55 Cadillac was called Close Calls With Brick Walls which previously was only released in Asia, it came out back in 2007. Now, we’re releasing it worldwide and it comes with it, an entire second album of rare and unreleased songs. Between the two of them there’s 39 songs on there, and a lot of booklet pages and a nice package it all comes wrapped up together. And that’ll be an opportunity for people hopefully to hear a lot of new stuff. Every song is approached piece-by-piece. It’s not necessarily going to fit into any kind of pre-conceived idea but the song speaks itself to me. That’s what I want to carve out of the air using instruments is that feeling that the song is asking to be heard.
MXDWN: In the next couple of years are we going to see a greater frequency of releases coming from you?
WK: Now I have no idea of the frequency over the long term, but I am already and have been working on my next new album. My next brand new rock-and-roll album, and am going on tour to build up for it, playing the entire Warped Tour and then we’ll release the album sometime after that and continue to tour around the world. I’m very excited about this.
MXDWN: Can you comment on why there was such a delay in Close Calls With Brick Walls coming out in the US?
WK: I’ve commented on this in the past, not to say that it’s not worth asking again, don’t misunderstand me. I’ve always been very open about it. When we released Close Calls With Brick Walls originally in Asia only in Japan in South Korea only and toured the album there exclusively, we were pretty up front about it. We made choices, decisions which resulted in that release only coming out in Asia, always had a hope, more than a hope, a real strong desire to put the album out worldwide on CD and just bided our time. The thing that basically happened is last year, 2009, I with the help of my lawyers, managed to find a way to start my own record label much as in the past when we released the albums outside the US we setup the label in London and thought that we had figured out a loophole to release whatever we wanted which is why I was able to release my piano album, 55 Cadillac.
But what ended up happening, basically, is that after that was released it was sort of a red flag to some of the other people I’ve always worked with who were not consulted specifically on the release of that album or the creation of the label, although they were involved in the recording of the album. They were of the music and the album but not of that release method and I thought it was going to be sort of the end of everything, almost a big disaster. But! The greatest thing that happened is that we renegotiated and they basically…their whole complaint which goes back a long way actually and I’m able to say it now because we came to resolve it, the complaint had to do with credit and about me getting credit and everything I would get credit as Andrew WK for the obvious reason of being the performer, and that other people would be credited differently or some people wouldn’t be credited at all. They never were upset about me not giving them credit or them not getting enough credit because again a lot of them elected to not take credit by their own choice, but it was the idea that I was getting credit for things they were doing that came to a head and then when I started my own label that was the final head on the nail to be hit.
That was really serious, but, the great thing as I said which is just phenomenal and why I’ve been so excited about this year, is we came to an agreement that will allow them to—I don’t want to say take over the label because I still consider it my label and people should realize that it’s my label, I have a lot of creative input and control on what goes on with it as I did when I started it—and now the name has changed so that they get credit on everything by default. If they weren’t involved in something, now they are content at least because their name is on there in big letters and the name is Steev Mike and it’s on every release from now on. So the February 23rd release is on Steev Mike and it’s not really a record label and it is still my label that I started, Skyscraper Music Maker, but I put out two releases myself – my friend Aleister X his record, his first EP Bangers and Beans and we put out a mixtape and I put out the 55 Cadillac piano album. And now with this new arrangement this label continues on and all those releases still will be there just that it’s under there imprint and they get credit.
MXDWN: When you go back to music again, with any music going forward are you not working with these Steev Mike people at all? Are you completely on your own?
WK: Case-by-case. It totally depends on what the project is. That’s how it’s always been. Which has been great fortunately, and fortunately like this piano album where I’ve gotten to do things completely without any interaction with anybody at all which is always important. It’s always great to have time alone in life and to do things by yourself, to work alone, and to work with others and to work with other others. You know, different groups of different people. I try to stay open to all of it so, always case-by-case.
(Note: Additional reporting done by Raymond Flotat.)
Not satisfied with what MXDWN asked Andrew WK? On February 23, you have the opportunity to ask Andrew WK anything you heart desires. Andrew WK has decided to give himself to the people for a night of open inquiry at the Santos Party House in New York City. Tickets for the event are $5 and is an opportunity for anyone to ask him anything.