Another summer comes to an end, and so does another Vans Warped Tour. This summer’s tour featured one of the better lineups of recent years, including Alkaline Trio, Bouncing Souls, Dropkick Murphys, Riverboat Gamblers, Reel Big Fish, Me Talk Pretty, The Mighty Regis and more. While there are those who argue that Warped has lost its edge, the tour has found itself a champion in the prince of partying, Andrew W.K. OurStage’s Jay Schneider sat down with AWK to talk about why the Warped Tour is a great experience for both artists and fans and what we can expect from him in 2011 (hint: it involves partying).
When Andrew W.K. speaks, we listen
OS: It’s been years since you’ve been on the tour, right?
AWK: Seven years. The last we did every date on the tour was 2003.
OS: So what’s it like getting back into the Warped “vibe”?
AWK: Well it’s just fantastic to be on a tour that has this much impact; that has this much reach across North America. It has a legacy and a tradition of high quality vibes. Really it’s the mood of this place that’s its biggest achievement. Not only does this entire team of people do this every day in each town, but more than just putting up the stages and organizing the port-a-potties and all the day-to-day work, they are manifesting an attitude; an atmosphere of good vibes, literally, through their mood. That is the most powerful and important contribution that Warped Tour has made to American touring, or just touring in general.
People are open-minded. They’re friendly. They’re kind. They’re hard-working. They don’t complain. It’s just an incredible example of a leader, the creator Kevin Lyman, having such powerful leadership skills, that his mindset of “suck it up, enjoy yourself, work hard and let’s make the most of this day” has carried over even to the audience, the local crew (even the people that don’t work with him every day). Everyone feels that atmosphere. That’s the most delicate and difficult, yet powerful accomplishment to have in any project you’re working on.
OS: Going along with that same concept, bands always talk about the “community” aspect of Warped Tour. It seems to be a “summer camp” of sorts. How has that experience been for you behind the scenes?
First of all, that’s absolutely true. There is a fantastic sense of friendship and kindness backstage, beyond a doubt: a sense of trust, a sense of loyalty. Not to the bands themselves, but to the cause of spreading joy on this tour. Beyond that, your comparison to a summer camp is very, very good actually. I was always terrified of summer camp. If someone said, “Here are some different ways you can spend your time: Going to summer camp, drawing in your room or running around outside,” summer camp probably would have been the last thing on my list.
Interacting with people has always been very intense for me. That’s why I decided to start partying professionally, because it would give me a reason to go out and do something that otherwise I was overwhelmed about or scared of…that idea of hanging out with a bunch of people casually—I never could do it…
It’s not social anxiety. There are people that have that. That’s a real serious condition—agoraphobia, fear of crowds, fear of meeting new people, things like that. No, I’ve just had a general shyness. I just always follow my instincts and try to do what feels right. Standing around and talking with people I haven’t met has always been very strange for me…But, this a great place for me to face those fears.
OS: You have a following of “Andrew W.K.” fans that follow your whole “party” mentality. You’ve set up the “Party House Tent” this year on the tour.
OS: So what kind of interactions have you been getting with kids coming out to that tent?
AWK: This goes exactly back to what we were talking about in terms of that social interaction. In the old days, I was terrified to meet any one person. I would never try to hang out with more than my closest friends, because I was just terrified of the world around me. So I had to find a “cause” that would force me out of my comfort zone, force me to have a motivation. Something to work for, something to go after. So, this idea of “partying” is really what happened. So, any place that I can just create that “official”, designated spot, and really push forward this idea of celebration and partying helps me, and helps the cause.
The“Party House”, which is our tent, is a 20×20 ft tent or 40×20 ft tent, depending on how much room we have. It’s a massive space to come and hang out. The one thing I learned from the last time at the Warped Tour—and this goes back to what you were asking earlier—hanging out backstage is a very fun and very valid way to spend your day. Since we only play for 35-40 minutes, the rest of the day really is open. Now, we can do interviews like this, which are fantastic. That is why I’m here. This is a fantastic opportunity to meet you and say hello to folks that are interested in having a chat. Other than that, to me the most valuable thing is to go out and spend time with the people who came this one day to be a part of this festival. This festival is a celebration. This is a party. So if I can have a spot to go and meet folks and thank them for being part of this and supporting this cause of fun, celebration and joy. When you join our mission of “partying”, I owe you my thanks. That’s what it’s about. So to me, that’s the atmosphere that I’m most excited about with Warped Tour. That’s the thing that makes it so fantastic. They’ve created such a place where you can meet people and have fun with them.
OS: In terms of your career and this professional “persona” you’ve created to party, where are you going from here? What are the plans moving forward?
AWK: In a way, it feels like a new beginning. In 2005 for a lot of business and personal reasons, things in my life just turned around in strange ways. But, I would not have it any other way at this point. So many new opportunities opened up from 2005 until now. The beautiful thing is that all the issues, all the complications that we were dealing with for those 5 years have now resolved. 2010 was the year of resolution. The universe aligned itself. We’re back and the party is stronger than ever. I feel like it’s a new beginning, a comeback of sorts for the cause, the idea of “enjoying your life”. The positive power of partying is here and it’s getting bigger.
I’ll continue with my full band—my full band is back together after 5 years—doing nationwide tours. We’re going to continue doing that into 2011. New album in 2011, we hope to start recording that as soon as we get off of Warped Tour. I’m also working on a book. I’ve been working on a book for quite some time, but now it seems like it’s the time to do it. We’ve got all these contracts in place. It’s really about contracts. Once you get contracts aligned, really you can do whatever you want. But, if the contracts aren’t there then you can’t really do much. So that’s where we stand.
So come by the Party House Tent. New album, the book, Andrewwk.com has got it all laid out. We actually have a new store there. We’ve got party gear, party wear. The point of this all is to spread joy, and if you can do that in your life then you’re already partying. Spread joy to other people, starting with yourself most importantly. Just party hard! Have fun!
Check out Andrew W.K. website to stay tuned for the new album and his new book. Be sure to catch Warped Tour next year to experience the party for yourself.