Andrew W. K.-- ironic or post-ironic? Both at once, and neither.
Sure, I Get Wet sold a bajillion copies, and you can hardly go to a roller hockey tournament without hearing "Ready To Die" reverberating blandly off the concrete rafters. Hey, a few die-hards even stuck around for The Wolf after the Man in White's initial bubble burst sometime around 2001.
But where were those supplicants when Andrew released Close Calls With Brick Walls, a double vinyl import-only? Where were they when he snuck around the nation doing motivational speaking and interpretive dance? And, more importantly, where are they now?
Well, blogging for Gimme Noise, evidently. And why exactly does Andrew W.K. get a most notable entry into a very short list of visionary songwriters and performers? The whole argument can be distilled to seven bullet points and a tidy video dump.
Why Andrew W. K. is probably the best, and weirdest, pop artist of the last 15 years:
1. Close Calls With Brick Walls-- The best rock album no American ever heard. Released in Asia on 180 gram double vinyl, the 2006 album is a stunning and sweeping hold-reversal of W.K.'s previous career, thematically, lyrically and musically. As he did on The Wolf, W.K. performs every instrument himself and produces the record. The result is a rock masterpiece that seems to hold all of American pop music in a sweltering, affectionate bear hug. With hallucinogenic nods to his beginnings as a noise musician, inexplicable instrumental asides, and two dozen staggering works of rock composition, Close Calls With Brick Walls is the obscurist's wet dream-- immaculate, hard to find, and, as with every Andrew W. K. record, immensely uplifting.
2. Motivational speaking/ Interpretive dance-- As the shouts over I Get Wet and, to a lesser degree, The Wolf dwindled into whispers, W.K. stealthily sneaked around the nation on a motivational speaking tour which was, in truth, not particularly motivational, and scarcely vocal. He espoused beliefs in the power of spontaneous movement, performed impromptu piano recitals, and engaged the audience in bizarre chant-alongs. How does this make a former arena gem any more worthwhile? It just does.
3. He's a particle and a wave-- The leap from the piano recital to the Ann Arbor noise underground to Madison Square Garden in white sneakers to a college lecture hall is more territory than most bands cover in 30 years. Like the Andy Dufrane of the music world, Andrew W. K. did it alone in under 20.
4. Juggalos hate him-- The enemy of our enemy is our friend.
- He produced Hanson and Lee "Scratch" Perry-- An inveterate renaissance man, who embrasses trash and treasure alike.
- He is a Fox News correspondent-- Like doctors without borders, but for music. He goes where Bono fears to tread.
7. There may be more than one of him-- Try a quick google image search. Tell us the man on the cover of The Wolf is the man on the cover of Close Calls With Brick Walls. Then visit his website.
Not convinced? Help yourself to the following video dump, get busy in the comments section, and tell us where we can stick this week's Minority Report.
Getting booed from the stage at a Juggalo convention.
Interviewing Lee "Scratch" Perry
Appearing on Fox News.
Warming up at a speaking engagement.
"She Is Beautiful" from I Get Wet, lest we forget where it began.