Life

Can Partying Save Politics? A Conversation With Andrew W.K.

I felt pretty cool the day Andrew W.K. followed me on Twitter. To be fair, he does follow close to 80,000 Twitter accounts, most of which belong to fans like me. Sure, that might make a return follow from the undisputed King of Partying seem like nothing special, but I honestly believe that the exact opposite is true. Andrew W.K. loves his fans, he bonds with them, he invites them all to the party. I was right to feel cool when I joined the thousands of accounts that W.K. follows, and I’d like to think that he’d agree.

If you’re not familiar, Andrew W.K. is a musician who gained notoriety in the early 2000s with party anthems such as It’s Time to PartyParty Hard, and Party Til You Puke (and yes, those are all tracks from the same breathtaking album). He’s since become an international pizza ambassador, an incredibly generous advice columnist, and the best pundit that Fox News has ever aired. He is, in short, a national treasure.

You can imagine the thrill I felt when I heard that Andrew W.K. was getting into politics. In a video that was released on March 31, W.K. announced the formation of a new political party affectionately dubbed The Party Party. In the video, W.K. said that he “…had already filed all of the relevant paperwork with the Secretary of State,” before asking his supporters to sign an online petition to officially qualify The Party Party as a legitimate political party.

It should come as no surprise that the petition received the required signatures in an incredibly short amount of time. The Party Party is officially happening.

Andrew W.K. has already made it clear that he won’t be running for president any time soon, and that The Party Party has no political agenda other than to, well, party. But what are the practical implications of bringing the party to politics?

In a press release that was distributed earlier this week, W.K. explained, “If we open our hearts and approach the problems we face with an open mind, real change can be achieved.”

If, like me, you’ve been worn thin by the endless cavalcade of bullshit that is modern politics, then W.K.’s sentiment might feel trite, or delusional, or even obtuse. But the thing about Andrew W.K. is that, at the bottom of everything, he is incredibly sincere. He ardently believes that partying will save politics and—after speaking with him myself—I’m inclined to agree.

That’s right, I actually got to talk with one of my idols — a conversation which began with no small amount of anxiety. Don’t tell him you’re a fan, I thought. Be professional…be professional…be professional…

I want to talk about The Party Party, but before we do, I wanted to lay a foundation for what we’re talking about. So, what are you saying when you say the word “party”?

I always thought that this was a simple and direct word. Anyone from a three-year-old all the way up to a 114-year-old would understand [partying], so I don’t know that it’s anything more complicated than partying. Just like pizza means pizza and music means music. Partying is about enjoying one’s self and celebrating being alive.

Just like there are many types of music — but it all revolves around the same principles of melody and rhythm and sound — partying is a simple concept that has the space for all different types of enjoyment within it. As long as your party doesn’t inflict any pain or suffering on someone else or inhibit someone else’s ability to party in their own way, then it’s wide open.

I think that many people who have had a negative reaction to The Party Party see the word “party” as singular, meaning drugs and loud music and dancing. When they hear the word “party,” that’s what they think about.

It is true that I have met people who don’t like partying, but the amazing thing is that even not liking partying—in a very real way—can count as partying.

So even the people who think they’re not partying probably are. It can include dancing and music and consuming substances, or it can’t. It all depends on the individual. Even someone who thinks of themselves as very crabby and bitter, even that can count as a party if that’s what they enjoy doing.

In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, you said that the goal of The Party Party is to “unify and unite people under a common celebratory philosophy.” Does The Party Party have plans to pass legislation to make that happen?

That’s not really the goal of The Party Party, for better or worse. That [idea] is so specific to each individual. I want to facilitate an atmosphere which energizes and empowers people with an optimistic attitude that allows them to go in and affect whatever kind of change they want from a position of positivity. A lot of people would roll their eyes even hearing the word “positivity” in regards to government, but maybe that’s proof that we could use a good dose of it.

I’m a facilitator much like the way that someone who builds stereo systems and speaker systems isn’t there to build those speaker systems to play a particular song. They’re there to give all kinds of people who want to play whatever song they want to play the ability to play it the best they can.

And I’m here building this party as a way to energize people so that they can go and do whatever they want to do in particular.

Do you see The Party Party as a way to help people get into politics and affect positive change themselves?

If they want to, absolutely. It certainly would be a great achievement if this motivated folks to get more engaged. But at the same time, it’s not about pushing anyone to do anything they do or do not want to do. We all have contributions to make in all different areas, and just like I’m not necessarily here to contribute in the world of bureaucracy, I do think I have something to contribute in the world of partying.

If we all play to our strengths and try to fulfill our own particular destiny, I think that would do a lot of good, including resolving conflicts and giving each person a sense of self-reliance and a sense of self-worth.

That’s interesting, because I was reading another interview you did with Good in which you said that “everyone should be their own president.” Can you elaborate a bit on what you meant when you said that?

For me, it means that as much as I might believe in a particular candidate, or as much as I might believe in the ability of government to help me or help anyone of us, I know that they could never help me more than I could help myself. And I wouldn’t want them to be able to, I would never want to give them that much power, for better or worse. Because the hard work that needs to get done, even if they could do that hard work for me, there’s probably something good and better about me doing it myself.

There’s something about going through that process of doing the hard work that actually makes me become myself. It can be painful… but we have to grow. And when someone tries to force you to grow—when someone tries to do the growing for you—that can become quite dangerous.

I think we each have to do the hardest work ourselves, and the best thing that the government can do is create the conditions and the atmosphere and the proper circumstances to allow us to ultimately be ourselves and do our best work. I want everyone to have the chance to become who they are. That’s what liberty is all about, that’s what I think the country was founded on. Not having anyone do it for us because no one can do it for us. We have to do the hardest work. And by hardest work, I don’t even mean physical labor, it’s the emotional, spiritual, internal battle to become a good person, to become fully realized as a human being.

It often gets overlooked in this material world, but the good thing is…that’s something we can contribute to ourselves and to the world, trying to be the best versions of ourselves that we can.


Do you think that the government is currently operating in a way that prevents Americans from becoming their best selves?

No, not really. I think that it might want to appear that way, I think that there might be a bit of manipulation going on from many angles, coming from the government, coming from the people [in the government]. I think we probably give it a lot more power than it really has, and it probably wants us to think that it has a lot more power than it really has, and overall there’s a lack of integrity all over the place, including even with me. Everyone has room to improve, and some more than others.

What projects do you have coming up for The Party Party? What’s in the pipeline?

The only project really at this point is partying. When I launched this on Thursday, Playboy and I worked very hard to create this initial announcement, the video, and website, this rollout, we didn’t expect in any way to have this kind of response. I didn’t really know what to expect, I certainly didn’t expect this.

It’s been fantastic. It’s been overwhelmingly positive, I thought there would be a lot more cynicism, and I thought that most of all people wouldn’t really care—which would have been perfectly understandable. But obviously a lot of people relate to this , as I do. We’re all in this together.

The Party Party being announced was just an invitation to the party and now we get to make it up and figure out what we want it to be, which was always the idea. I don’t want it to be my particular agenda, I don’t want it to just be my ideas or my values, I want it to be a collaboration, as government is supposed to be. Even if this subverts the government or exists outside of the government or even transcends it somehow, I think the best thing we can do is figure it out for each other and as individuals.

To be honest, I think that now is a great time for The Party Party, especially in the way that you’re describing it. This election season has been fraught with negativity and, as cheesy as it may sound, I feel like this positive energy is a breath of fresh air.

And maybe that’s the most important action of all, that this just creates a feeling inside of us that makes all of the issues more approachable. And there’s nothing wrong with the negativity, too, because some of the negativity is very warranted and it’s part of the process, part of the growing process. There is pain involved with growth.

But we do owe it to ourselves to stay optimistic. We don’t want to tap out through frustration or through disillusionment. We want to stay motivated and keep our eyes on the prize.

Okay, so I’m in. I want to get involved, I want to help out, I want to join The Party Party. What can I do? Are there offices, is there a campaign, is there a street team that I can join?

The best thing you can do to be involved is to talk about it, to reflect on it, and to celebrate every moment of life—The hard parts and the not so hard parts. I really do think that.

And I’m proud of that aspect of The Party Party most of all: I’m not asking anyone to do anything other than celebrate the fact that we exist at all. That’s the most obvious thing, but that’s also the thing that gets overlooked amid the distractions. And again some of those distractions are very valid issues, but they should never overshadow the one thing that we have in common which is that we’re alive and here together and we have to figure out a way to get along.

***

And then the interview was over, I survived, and I did so without gushing like the excited fanboy that I am. Throughout our conversation, I was taken back by W.K.’s sincerity, openness, and general “normal-dudeness.” In the end, as we were saying goodbye, I made a point to thank him. I’ve included that exchange here, to show just how kind-hearted this famous man, who follows 80,000 of his fans on Twitter, really is:

I think that’s all the questions I have. Again, thank you for taking the time to speak with me…and even though I promised myself I wouldn’t say this, I’ve been a huge fan of yours for over a decade now. As cheesy as it may sound, your party tips have been a legitimate source of positivity in my life. 

That’s very kind of you and I really do appreciate it. It’s very encouraging to hear that. Just to know that someone else is relating to these things. When I post those party tips, I’m doing it for myself, too, I’m trying to cheer myself up, too, trying to stay focused. The fact that you relate—that we’re bonding over these same principals—is very encouraging to me, it gives me that extra boost to keep going. Thank you for saying that.

Follow Andrew W.K. on Facebook and Twitter for more updates on The Party Party (as well as inspirational #PartyTips and an overwhelming supply of positivity). 

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