His new album (the first since 2009) see’s the Michigan born vocalist/producer/multi-instrumentalist and motivational speaker return with a mammoth 16 track opus entitled “You’re Not Alone“.
OD – Finally, we have a new Andrew WK album on the horizon. From what I’ve read about you, things have been very busy. Tell me about the process of this album finally coming together?
ANDREW – That’s a great question, and thank you for phrasing it that way, as most of the questions that I’ve been fielding have been “Why has it taken so long for this album to come out?” and to be honest, I don’t really have an answer for that.
Now, to deal with your excellent question, which is much more specific. I can say that there is a kind of similar area of cloudiness with regards to the timeline of events that led up to the album taking shape. Right now, I’m just trying to remember the beginning of the mixing process which to me personally was really the moment when I began to realise that this album was really happening because around that point there were about 19 tracks that were in a state that they could have been mixed – which for me, is the most enjoyable part of making records, because you are turning the significant corner and there is a tremendous amount of work still to do.
I was still actually recording and writing new songs – not by design – during the mixing process but that must have been about a year ago in April 2017. It’s crazy to think that was almost a year ago because, to me, it seems like only a few weeks ago.
What I noticed about the timeframe of making ‘You’re Not Alone‘ is that the schedules and timeline of events leading up to the release have been a symptom of my own inability to comprehend time passing in an ordered sense.
OD – Can you explain what you mean by that?
ANDREW – It’s very hard for me to remember the sequence of events in my life going right back to my childhood. To be honest, I don’t even know that order of the months until I was about 17 years old and I was never happy about this as it was very disconcerting. So, looking back on the creative process of this new album, it only feels like it was about two weeks ago that I realised that the album was about to actually come out (laughing).
OD – Would you agree that you totally immerse yourself in whatever you do which is kind of a catalyst to this overall feeling that you have?
ANDREW – When you put it like that, I guess, yeah, you’re totally right. Rather than looking at the time passing as a bad thing, it’s been an incredible gift to have that much time. I hope the next album doesn’t take that long (laughs) but it’s really been a great privilege to have this amount of time to make this album.
OD – Was there a record deal on the table for the album when you started to write?
ANDREW – There wasn’t actually a deal in place throughout all of those years between ‘55 Cadillac’/’Gundam Rock‘ (2009) and this new album. In fact, when I eventually did sign a deal, I had an extra two years to work on the album when there was an official deal in place, which is very extraordinary. I don’t take that for granted and know that it’s an incredible luxury, which I’m very grateful for.
OD – Having this amount of time to work on the album must have been a very positive experience for you?
ANDREW – Yes, there was a great sense of relief just knowing that there was some time there to really let the creativity flow and looking back on it now, it was an unbelievable opportunity to have been able to work for that amount of time on the album, under a record contract.
OD – Let’s talk about the album title for a second, ‘You’re Not Alone’ is a statement that I think we all need to hear. What was the main inspiration behind it, with reference to your own feelings?
ANDREW – Well, one thing I should make very clear is that the album title didn’t come until very late in the mixing process. Much of the somatic content of the album was never expected or predetermined, certainly by me. I did not go into the studio with a theme and the title ‘You’re Not Alone’ and then make a group of songs revolving around that concept.
In fact, I didn’t even come up with the title of the album as it was suggested to me by one of my managers who, prior to this, had never suggested anything to me on a creative level, so I took it very seriously. What was even more striking was what became the title track of the album, was one of the only songs that he hadn’t heard, which featured the phrase ‘you’re not alone‘, unbeknown to him.
When he suggested the title to me, I was thinking ‘Wow, that’s such a strange coincidence’. These type of things are always happening whether you notice them or not, that’s why I try to always notice coincidences and synchronicities in general day to day life, which I try to follow, because I actually have so many doubts, hesitations and anxieties on a personal level, about the creative process, that I guess I’m what some people will call ‘superstitious‘ as I try to follow the signs that are given to me.
OD – Would you say that you are becoming more confident in “following your gut instinct” when it comes to these situations?
ANDREW – Yeah, it’s taken many, many years for me to trust my instincts because usually, we all expect things to explain themselves to us individually and with instinct, it’s a different beast, as it doesn’t really do that. It won’t tell you why you’re supposed to do this thing, but it will give you this very strong, and very urgent compulsion to do a specific thing without any insight into why and it’s often not until later on that you’re able to look back and interpret or analyse these decisions and see what they led too.
OD – So, the album title and overall content came from you just following your instincts?
ANDREW – The entire album and the title came from that place, so beyond that all that I can do is say that ‘You’re Not Alone‘, is a phrase that anyone can relate to, but what I really like about the title is that it also has a sinister mirror side that could be quite unnerving with reference to a sort of presence being there that we are not really aware of. In some cases, this feeling can be a comforting one or a disconcerting one and I relate to that on a personal level and at times am drawn to contradictory or paradoxical themes, where one idea will have at least two polarities within it, each of which, ring true to me.
Part of me wants to feel a sense of comadre and the other wants to be left completely by myself, especially on this album. This album came from a ten-year odyssey into confession where I began to feel very disconnected from almost everyone else but also began to feel very disconnected from myself and life itself. It was kind of like a nihilistic fog, where I was asking myself, ‘how can I believe in anything?’ and ‘where is there inherent meaning in life?’, all the while trying to claw back from the depts of that exploration, which I think was also a very necessary place to explore.
OD – Did you find that you achieved that?
ANDREW – There’s this feeling that I’m desperately looking for in life, desperately trying to make, and to focus on. I have built my quest as an entertainer around attaining this feeling and try to amplify it for others, which has led to a few times where I felt like I’ve been the only one who wants this feeling, and that’s a very disturbing sensation. I’ve been telling myself, through my managers and sublimely via the album title, that I will find someone else and I’m not the only one that’s looking for this specific feeling.
OD – There is some spoken word on there which is something that you don’t hear very much of these days. Were you in two minds about doing it when Karen (Glauber, one of Andrews managers) suggested it, and if so why?
ANDREW – On an album for sure! Karen suggested that because she felt that it was right in line with what I was doing and she was absolutely right. The idea behind that was to connect my music with the motivational speaking that I also do. To be honest, it would have never occurred to me to link those two entities together. Just like the album title would have occurred to me either. When someone makes a suggestions like that, it’s not like “I’m the one around here that makes the decisions“, but I learned a long time ago that it may feel good on some independent, spirt ego-based personal emotion, but it’s not necessarily in the best interest of the feeling that I’m trying to capture within the music.
Whatever is going to get that feeling across, to amplify and conjure up this kind of euphoric life-affirming optimism, that’s just what I need to do. Even if it goes against my own taste and opinions, I have to just set all of my beliefs aside and think of what is best for the overall concept and emotion for the album.
OD – So, you were happy to do this from the outset?
ANDREW – Deep down inside I knew it was not only fantastic idea, but I just knew it was definitely going to happen. I then had to prepare myself to do something that was going to be challenging and awkward for me, but that didn’t matter. It was just something that I felt complemented the music and gave me a good feeling.
OD – When you approached Boris (Vallejo) and Julie Bell, (W.K. commissioned them to paint the cover of You’re Not Alone), were they on board straight away?
ANDREW – Yes, they were totally on board. I had actually spoken to them many years ago about doing a cover and when this opportunity came around, there was no question in my mind that this was the right time for this to happen. I’m so happy with the finished artwork and just having them both be part of this project, has been a great experience for me personally.
OD – Are there plans for a considerable tour off the back of this album?
ANDREW – Totally, we have some dates in April in the UK and then back to America with the intention of adding lots of dates. The idea is to tour this album for the next year, at least!
OD – When you look back now and realise all that you have achieved since the release of ‘I Get Wet’ in 2001, did you ever believe that your life would have taken this pathway and still have you doing what you love doing 17 years later?
ANDREW – I would have never expected things to have gone the way they have gone! Not in my wildest dreams, or in my most vivid nightmares. I embrace all of it and it’s all been largely out of my control in the most beautiful, shocking and surprising way. If someone had told me it was going to be like this back in 2001, I probably would have tapped out and quit right then and there, purely from the overwhelming aspect of it all (laughing).
OD – One of the most inspirational albums for you personally would be?
ANDREW – Hmmm, that’s to singular. I just can’t think of one album. It’s too violent of a decision to make (laughing). Sorry about that.
OD – Of all the different strands in your career, which is the most challenging and why?
ANDREW – The most challenging path is trying to become a human being. In some ways, it’s easier to do all of this other work easy! That’s why it’s easier to lose one’s self and turn to all of this other work as a way of distracting one’s self from the real great labour of trying to become a person worthy of having a life in the first place.
Andrew WK’s fifth studio album ‘You’re Not Alone‘ is available from today (Friday, March 2nd) via Sony Music. Order your copy here.
Stream the full album via Spotify on the link below:
© www.overdrive.ie 2018
Stay in touch with Overdrive by following the simple instructions below;