Andrew W.K. returns to Grand Rapids with new album

Courtesy / Jeff Kilgour  Andrew W.K. parties hard in the music video for Music is Worth Living For

Courtesy / Jeff Kilgour  Andrew W.K. parties hard in the music video for “Music is Worth Living For”

Nick Moran, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Riding on a string of shows that included a performance on hit late-night show CONAN, “party rock” artist Andrew W.K. is set to continue his U.S. tour at the Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids on Thursday. The tour follows the release of “You’re Not Alone,” W.K.’s newest album after more than a decade of musical silence.

W.K., an Ann Arbor native, said the upcoming show isn’t his first visit to Grand Rapids nor the Pyramid Scheme. Despite being familiar with the city, the one facet of performing there that always surprises him is the high turnout to his concerts.

“Just being in (Grand Rapids) is always exciting,” W.K. said. “It’s come quite a long way in the past few years and has certainly been recognized as being a destination (both) for the beer and for the special personalities that the town has. There’s a lot of excitement there and you can feel it at the show.”

In bringing his music to stage, W.K. cites his motivation as being to create a new version of his studio work that harbors more intense emotions. He said that in gearing up for his Grand Rapids show, any form of preparation other than having that goal would be as useless as “Dumbo’s magic feather.”

“I rely on the music itself to take over — that’s what makes me do what I’m able to do,” W.K. said. “There’s no amount of preparing that’s going to prepare me for how intense it is going to be out there.”

Each song is carefully created with live performance in mind, W.K. said. In doing so, he said he creates a connection within the concert that unites listeners in a common mentality.

“I’m envisioning these songs while recording them in a live setting,” W.K. said. “What will they be like to play with an audience there? How will they respond to this part? Will they sing along to this? How can I make it feel this certain way in the room?”

By using this process to create music, W.K.’s new album was born. He said “You’re Not Alone” and its following tour were the products of “many years” of exploring and a “result of confusion.”

“I think I was gone, (but) I didn’t realize I was gone,” W.K. said. “(I was) out in the woods partying extraordinarily hard. It was a very dark woods and somewhat impenetrable by others, but eventually I came out of there and realized I had been (alone). Now I’m partying harder than ever.”

The theme of partying is ever-present in both his live performances and recordings, W.K. said. Performing provides a unique feeling that is hard to define, but W.K. said that creating his own style of music attempts to materialize it.

“It’s being moved, that’s the only way to describe it,” W.K. said. “It’s not happy and it’s not sad. It’s the combination of all emotions and you feel it as this thunderous, throbbing pressure in your soul. That’s what we’re trying to do with this celebratory, party rock music.”

W.K. defines this emotion as a physical experience rather than an intellectual understanding. He said his goal in performing is to impart this “life-affirming feeling” into both himself and his listeners, using partying and music as his medium.

“The idea of partying is coming together to celebrate the common cause,” W.K. said. “The common cause that we’re celebrating with this party is being alive.”