In 2000, everyone survived the “millennium bug” of Y2K that threatened computer outages across the globe. Once the world woke up without a digital apocalypse, and in the 21st century, the parties started. Memorial Day weekend 2000 kicked off the first of many annual live music and dance events, and the conception of party promoters Michael T, Johnny T, Justine D, and Georgie Seville. The Motherf–ker Parties became legendary, showcasing new bands, DJs, and other artists through an all-night fest.
The concerts would run throughout the early aughts (through the final “party” in 2007), an era of renaissance in the New York City music scene and the emergence of bands like Interpol, The Strokes, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, along with Andrew W.K., who played the 2002 Motherf–ker Party. The perfect poster child for the events, W.K. was always about partying since the beginning with his 2001 debut I Get Wet, and his “Party Hard” mantra.
Now 20 years of partying hard, the party is not over for W.K. on his sixth album God Is Partying (Napalm Records).
Co-produced with Ted Young, God Is Partying thrusts through nine bangers, a harder core communal crashing of all the parties that came before.
W.K. chatted with American Songwriter about the “team effort” evolution of the band’s music, life often mirroring A Clockwork Orange, and why God is partying now.
American Songwriter: God is partying… harder it seems. What a return back to the harder rock from You’re Not Alone (2018) a few years back. Were there any intentions, musically, once you hit the studio this time around for God Is Partying?
Andrew W.K.: I don’t think there’s ever really been any intention beyond just making the most intense offerings for the audience as we can. My personal rate of failure has been extraordinarily high, so that isn’t always easy for us, but that’s why it’s partying hard and not partying east. I used to operate at an even higher rate of failure, but that was before the reconfiguration. I suppose, because of all that, our only intention is always just to do what we’re told and to get the work done. Sometimes, that’s really all you can do. Turn the mind off and just let yourself be moved around and pushed down in the right order. But that’s not what the audience is meant to experience. That’s just for me.
AS: Tell me how the songs pieced together for you. Were some of these tracks you had shelved for some time, or are all of them new?
AWK: I think a lot of the Andrew W.K. albums were sort of approached as a collection of disparate material, rather than the result of a particular production approach or thematic concept. That’s exactly the same situation we find here on this album. Except for the fact that I wasn’t there before, it’s just a very straightforward assembly line process. I’m given a selection of music they organized into a few ideas of how they want it to be recorded, and it’s sort of like putting together a will. I don’t know exactly how they even do all that. It’s like magic to me.
AS: Why the title God Is Partying, and who is the “Goddess Partying”?
AWK: Actually, I think the title was originally supposed to be, “Partying Is God”, but there was a mistake with the design and it ended up reversed. And I think “Goddess Partying” was just going to be the title, “God Is Partying” but then that got flipped and the reverse was the correct one. Or wait, actually maybe it was the other way around.
AS: How and when did you record everything? Did you work through the pandemic?
AWK: I’m actually still confused about when and where it was recorded. So, I suppose it’s an album about that confusion? At the end of 2018, I was strongly advised to break up the next recording sessions, but I don’t think of these recordings or production techniques as something that can be broken up. If it’s a breakup album, it’s about breaking up with your own mind.
AS: What is it that threads these nine songs together for you?
AWK: The main thread is the golden string that connected my mind to my body, but that got twisted and snapped a long time ago. It happened when I was a teenager. A lot of the older kids in my high school were into provocative art and culture, so I got exposed to super intense and confrontational material I had never imagined existed. It was overwhelming, disturbing, but ultimately inspiring. It also had a therapeutic effect of burning out the shadow side of myself with even darker matter, sort of like trying to put out a fire with an atomic weapon. It’s only going to get more intense. So, in the long run, I don’t think that treatment strategy is effective – it’s sort of like shock therapy for your soul – like what Alex was put through in A Clockwork Orange. I suppose at some point, we all will be confronted with the extremes of the world and the potential ugliness of the human imagination. That side of life exists. I don’t embrace it, but I can’t deny it. And I don’t know that any of us can destroy it. Perhaps the best we can do is attain some sort of mastery over it, and perhaps that’s yet another redemptive function of art and literature and music, to sublimate the pain, and inspire resilience by partying so fucking hard.
AS: How do songs typically come together for you? Has this shifted at all over the past 20 years or so?
AWK: I simply following orders. That’s the method I’ve been following since 1999. You can’t mess up if you just submit to the commands. Of course, writing down lyrics in that headspace can be really difficult, which is why the reverse ghostwriting technique always worked so well for us. You tell someone else to tell you what to do. It seems so simple, but it really works. It’s a combination of being the employee of your own destiny, and also the president of your own skull. You can feel yourself in your own head, and then that feeling shoots down, and keeps growing and gets bigger and bigger and bigger. So much development over the years, but absolutely zero has changed. It’s such a rush that all of this is still going, and I feel very, very, very lucky to be here.
AS: And speaking of 20 years, it’s been two decades since I Get Wet. Does it still resonate with you?
AWK: None of the stuff I do really resonates with me, personally. That’s why I do it. I mean, the songs are definitely personal, but they’re not about me. To try and get to myself, to get myself to do something, none of this was ever up to me. It was always the result of a massive team effort. That’s why it never mattered if I connected to it or if understood it, or if had a sense of what was really happening. I didn’t need to know what I had gotten myself into. And I don’t know what else is going to happen now. All I can do is keep on partying. And that’s OK with me. That’s what I’m supposed to do, whether I relate to it or not. The meaning of all this incessant partying is to transcend the idea of meaning, to try and create a physical collision with the overwhelming euphoric meaningless of it all. And I’m not really concerned with interpreting partying beyond that. I’m simply concerned.