After being asked to visit Bahrain as a US Ambassador, the State Department has pulled the plug on the whole trip at the last minute.
To learn more about the trip’s cancelation, read ourprevious mxdwn article, however, this personal interview gives great insight into the whole ordeal. According to an interview with Pete Larson on Freewheel Burning, Andrew WK was mainly asked to travel to Bahrain in order to give motivational speeches, not so much to play his music. Though Bahrain apparently has a large base of metal and rock lovers, the main purpose of the trip was to raise the spirits of the country’s citizens.
It was explained to me that there was a passionate rock and metal scene in Bahrain. I had heard similar reports from others about there being lots of loud music fans in the more liberal parts of the Middle East. I was planning on playing some drums and keyboard and just making up songs or playing songs that we all could learn together. It was all very open to spontaneity. However, the State Dept. also made it very clear that the musical parts of the trip were secondary to the speaking engagements. It was always explained to me that the main goal was for me to help foster a positive impression of the U.S. in the minds of students and the people of Bahrain at large.
Andrew WK was very excited about the trip. Though he never met with anyone in the State Department directly, the plans for the trip developed very quickly over phone and email. Andrew WK has never been to the Middle East but was excited to lift the spirits of the people and hoped to teach young people to party through their suffering. Overall, the rockstar wanted to take some focus off of the hardships the country was facing in any way he could.
We didn’t know what it was exactly until we got the official invitation. It was always presented as a government sponsored event to spread good will and cultural exchange between the U.S. and the middle east.
Once the trip was in it’s final stages, Andrew WK was told by the State Department to announce his trip. Around the same time, he also received an itinerary for the trip, making the pending journey seem even more real. Then, within 24 hours of the announcement of the trip and just six hours after the rocker received his itinerary, the trip was inexplicably canceled.
We had our last planning phone call on Wednesday, November 21st, 2012. That’s when our State Dept. contact went over the final schedule and explained that I should officially announce the trip to the public. He explained what language to use and the overall tone of the trip and the ideals we would be promoting. I never actually met anyone in person from the State Dept. Everything was done either on the telephone or the computer. In 2003, I had been given a private tour of the White House by an ex-Secret Service official who was very passionate about my work and music. It’s possible that he was the one of the folks that first helped introduce the State Dept. to my work as a motivational speaker. Otherwise, I don’t know how they picked me specifically. That’s been really perplexing, but I didn’t think about it too much at first. I was just so excited to be asked. But once they canceled everything, I obviously have been trying to figure out what this whole thing is really about.
Though the reasons for the cancelation are still unclear, Andrew WK hasn’t stopped his wondering. He is determined to figure out what went wrong on the final leg of the planning of this trip. The star, however, assures that he is not upset at anyone or blaming the State Department. For all he knows, they could be protecting him from a very troubled country. The artist has also wondered if his cancelation is at all related to Kim Kardashian visiting at the same time. Although there are still many question marks, Andrew WK hasn’t lost hope. The artist claims that if the US Government doesn’t want him to go, he hopes to find his own way of getting there.
In the past week, we’ve received an incredible outpouring of support, especially from folks in Bahrain and the Middle East that had been looking forward to this trip. It’s been really moving and has definitely motivated us to find a way to go there with or without the support of my own country. We’re working on it.