When Andrew W.K. began trying to book a New Year’s Eve show earlier this year, he had difficulty finding a venue.
“Most places that we approached, hoping to play, were primarily looking for DJs,” says W.K. (it stands for Wilkes-Krier, his last name).
His gig at the Paradise next Thursday — understandably sold out — is decidedly a full-on rock show, but W.K. does in fact have experience DJing. In fact, he has experience with multiple professions. Titles he could put on his résumé, if he ever needed to put one together, include singer, motivational speaker, club owner, advice columnist, and, most recently, talk radio host.
On a recent episode of his radio show, “America W.K.” on TheBlaze network (which is run by Glenn Beck, by the way), W.K. referred to himself as a professional partier, which aptly summarizes all of his seemingly disparate duties.
So why would somebody who refers to himself as a professional partier be so keen on bringing a rock show to the stage on a holiday that any barfly worth his or her booze will snobbishly refer to as amateur night?
“There’s a ‘reset’ to the transition feeling at the end of the year that has this almost mystical power,” he says.
Much of what W.K. says sounds like he himself is in possession of mystical powers and uses a tone of reverence that is usually reserved for religious rituals. In a way, that’s exactly what New Year’s Eve is to him.
“It’s almost so much excitement that it’s like dread in reverse — a palpable anticipation that is in one way kind of scary, but also very thrilling, like going up a roller coaster hill,” he says.
But doing New Year’s Eve shows is a relatively new tradition for W.K., who only started to book gigs for the last night of the year in 2013.
“It had just never occurred to me that New Year’s Eve was any more special than any other night for us to play,” he says. “I mean, every show we play ideally will feel like New Year’s Eve anyway, in terms of ultimate party atmosphere.”
When W.K. talks about partying, it’s deeper than the partying he sings about. (A sample line from “Party Hard,” arguably his most popular song: “When it’s time to party we will always party hard” — and then the title phrase repeats 10 times.) W.K.’s philosophy on partying is more like an existential ecstasy that runs through everything he says.
“Even if you think you’re not partying, you most likely are, at least with an understanding if you’re starting from a fundamental place that it must be good to exist, or it wouldn’t be occurring. That in itself is to party! Existence is to party,” he says. “It’s all about trying to really feel that, trying to not have that be this foggy notion somewhere buried in the back of your mind behind all of these levels of distress and drama and stress and nonsense, but trying to have that be the first and foremost truth before everything else, that this is the primary realization, thought, and focus, then everything else falls underneath that. Getting this chance to exist, in all of its baffling, staggering, perhaps absurd beauty, just has to be good!”
During the New Year’s festivities, W.K. will play his 2001 debut, “I Get Wet,” in its entirety and revelers can expect a major balloon drop. He says he has also reimagined the traditional countdown to midnight, and to make it a truly hedonistic experience, the clock begins at 666 seconds. He even speaks with reverence about the countdown ritual.
“There’s already that palpable energy in the room, but when it’s tied into a global phenomenon — even though it’s in different time zones — you realize you’re participating in this,” he says. “I can’t really think of any time throughout the year where you have that opportunity. You’re kind of counting down the entire year towards that moment. And it has that crescendo of anticipation and that big, incredible buildup, and that’s just as good as it gets.”Pat Healy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.