Party rock musician Andrew W.K. will play the House of Blues in Dallas on Wednesday, Oct. 4.
Party rock musician Andrew W.K. will play the House of Blues in Dallas on Wednesday, Oct. 4.
Photo by Nina Ottolino

For Andrew W.K., Music Is a Drug Without Side Effects

Andrew W.K. plays House of Blues on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

If you've been to a party where doing a keg stand counted as the price of admission or sat through the loading screen of a Madden NFL video game, then you've heard Andrew W.K.'s music.

The California-born artist who lives in Michigan has been providing the soundtrack to parties with "amplified, energized enthusiasm" for more than 16 years, W.K. says. One of his first big breaks came in 2001 when he was invited to join Ozzy Osbourne's Ozzfest after releasing his first album, I Get Wet. The single "Party Hard" became his anthem and encapsulated his musical philosophy. 

Nine albums later (the 10th is due early next year), he's still partying hard with his music and live shows. He'll play House of Blues on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

"It's the music itself," W.K. says when asked where he finds the energy to continue making music and playing live shows. "It really is. It does all the hard work for me in a way because the minute that music kicks in, I can't help but get energized. That's what it's designed to do, and it really takes over. It brings that feeling and energy out of me.

"I've gone onstage in every kind of state of mind and body, from totally amped up and well rested to totally ill, or a good mood or a bad mood, and once the music kicks in, the energy happens naturally. It takes more energy for me to hold back at this point."

W.K. says his songs' themes of "energy and optimism, excitement and positivity" first came to him as a kid as a way to overcome his fears of expressing himself. Among his earliest influences were his dad's compilation albums, including K-Tel Records' Hooked on the Classics, which presented "classical music records with a disco beat."

"It's got all the great classical motifs driving a propulsive disco beat, and it had a drama and excitement and feeling about it, and it created the soundtrack to my inner life," he says. "I realized that music sounds like the way I wanted to feel. The best feelings felt like the way music sounded. You just find something you like and incorporate it into your life."

W.K. says his music also helped reshape his thinking and personality, and even if he's screaming into a microphone surrounded by a curtain of his long, sweaty hair, the message is still a positive one.

"Music made me feel better," he says. "It made me feel like a better version of myself. It made things make sense. It was a relief from the anguish. It was proof that I could listen to music or have a musical experience and have that undeniable good feeling with it of some kind of true goodness of the world. No one could tell me there are bad things or that there are side effects to that feeling.

"This is an absolute good. This is absolute proof that life has some good to it."

Returning to Dallas for the first time since his memorable solo set at the Dallas Riot Fest in 2012 will bring W.K. and his band another level of joy because Dallas helped shape his group's sound.

"That was a very meaningful night because my band and I enjoyed one of the earliest bands playing at the festival called the Descendants of Erdrick [from Austin], and one of the guitar players in that band was a woman named Amanda LaPree," W.K. says. "She was just about one of the greatest guitar players any of us had seen before, and now she's in my band, too!"

Andrew W.K., 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4, House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St., $20, livenation.com.

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