When Andrew WK burst onto the music scene in 2001, his lively debut album, I Get Wet, got under the skin of many po-faced music fans and critics. Never was the saying more true that you don’t stop having fun because you get old; you get old because you stop having fun.
To set the musical landscape, 2001 was the year that nu metal dominated the airwaves. Limp Bizkit were still riding the crest of a wave a year on from the release of Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavored Water, which was on its way to being certified six-times platinum. Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory was also a year old and had sold nearly five million copies in the US alone. Slipknot’s Iowa topped the UK album chart upon its August release, while, a week later, System Of A Down’s Toxicity did the same Stateside. Also enjoying career peaks were Deftones, with White Pony, and Korn, with Issues. If a typical characteristic of the nu metal genre was angsty lyrics that focused on pain and alienation, Andrew WK emerged as its antithesis.
Hedonistic, big dumb fun
Amid a tornado of multi-layered guitars, WK creates a torrent of hedonistic, big-dumb-fun rock, stating his intention from the outset with opening track ‘It’s Time To Party’. Like a Mötley Crüe for the new millennium, ‘Girls Own Love’ is as sleazy and raucous as stripper anthem ‘Girls Girls Girls’, but without the glaring sexism.
In fact, WK’s influences are far more virtuous. Moved by the powerful symphony of voices on 80s charity single ‘We Are The World’, by USA For Africa, the native Californian set about creating an alt.rock equivalent using punk and metal influences. An early demo found its way into the hands of Dave Grohl, who invited WK to open for Foo Fighters. That demo also tempted Island Records to catch a live show, and they signed the rager after watching his wildly infectious performance win over the entire room.
The soundtrack to the art of partying
I Get Wet is the soundtrack to WK’s art of partying: wild, excessive and relentless. Packed to the brim with a barrage of riffs and a whirlwind of synths, there’s no room for subtlety and musical nuance. If you’re expecting creativity, refined musicianship and skilful virtuosity then you’re in the wrong place; it’s entirely one dimensional, but that dimension is the PARTY ZONE, and if it’s too loud, you’re too old.
In fact, WK’s approach was not to sound like the work of a group of musicians but for each song to sound like an instrument in itself. And so ‘Ready To Die’ and ‘Take It Off’ convulse amid a bombardment of upbeat dissonance, while ‘I Love NYC’ stands in tribute to his adopted home. There’s something about the rudimentary intro to ‘She Is Beautiful’, reminiscent of a child’s toy instruments, that invokes a feeling of innocence and times when life was simpler. But life for WK is simple, and his mission is to party ’til he pukes – to coin a song title – or die trying.
You might already be dead…
Released on 12 November 2001, I Get Wet wasn’t a huge commercial success, settling on the UK album chart and Billboard 200 at No.71 and No.84, respectively. The songs, however, were everywhere, with ‘Party Hard’, ‘It’s Time To Party’, and ‘Fun Night’, in particular, featuring heavily on TV, film, video games and commercials (the former was even adopted by the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team as their official anthem).
Today, Andrew WK counts motivational speaking among his pursuits, and that’s exactly how I Get Wet plays. Moreover, if the unyielding positivity of ‘Got To Do It’ doesn’t make you want to quit your job and join the non-stop Andrew WK party train, then you might already be dead.
I Get Wet can be bought here.