Andrew Wilkes-Krier better known as Andrew W.K.—defies even the most persistent attempts at categorization. A party-rock superhero, easily recognized by his filthed-up all-white uniform (picture a Robert Ryman painting after a debaucherous night out) and now infamous bloody nose, A.W.K. exploded onto the scene in 2001, with his debut I Get Wet (which included the massive hit "Party Hard"). Since then, the classically trained pianist's career has splintered off into a seemingly infinite set of paths. He's been—among other things—a motivational lecturer turned advice columnist (Village Voice), a children's-show host (Cartoon Network's Destroy Build Destroy), and a nightclub owner (downtown N.Y.C.'s Santos Party House). Least expected of all perhaps, the man recently accepted an offer to host a free-form radio show about life itself from none other than Glenn Beck on the latter's conservative-leaning network, The Blaze. Two months after debuting America W.K. (Saturdays from 10 A.M. to 12 P.M. E.S.T., afterwards available in podcast form), episodes have covered a range of topics from depression to the human spirit to Andrew's experience almost becoming U.S. cultural ambassador to Bahrain. I partied with Andrew by phone to talk about radio, the mind versus the heart, and playing Twin Peaks' BOB . . . What exactly constitutes a "party" in your view? Have you partied yet today?

Andrew W.K.: Yes, I have today—I just took some vitamins. That constitutes a party for me. I would define "partying" as a very conscientious celebration of existence in all its aspects. A constant effort to remain aware of the overwhelming grandeur of that experience, and celebrate it as a positive thing, even in its most challenging or painful moments. Now, the word "partying" beyond that—or within that, rather—is free to mean everything that constitutes a celebration for that individual. So, that's why taking vitamins counts as partying—and that's a good example because you're trying to formally extend the quality or improve the quality or deepen the quality of your physical existence. But I chose that word to fixate on many years ago because it was the simplest word that sums up all these feelings of excitement and joy very easily. And I felt that anyone could relate to it—even people who think they can't relate to it. Not even liking partying counts as partying! The most basic premise—and this is how I've thought about it perpetually—is in your own life, the experience of having a life at all, trying to build from a foundation of believing that it's good. And that's probably been the biggest challenge for me, personally.

Your career as an "entertainer" is incredibly eclectic — was this expansiveness part of your initial design or no?

Well, these kinds of areas have gotten harder for me to even sum up myself. If you'd asked me 10 years ago, I probably would've thought that it was all very intentional, and I had a plan and that I was setting goals and working towards them. But going back even to the very beginning 20 years ago with the very first inklings of how this started, I was never really in control of any of it! I was just present. There are some other forces at work, difficult to describe in and of themselves, but whatever they are they're the ones that have been making this happen. Sometimes I think that those forces are just the desires and will of a lot of other people. A lot of other people's wills combined are stronger than just mine.

As of May this expansiveness now includes America W.K. on Glenn Beck's conservative radio network, The Blaze. How did this come about? Spontaneity?

Yes, but at the same time like many of the things that have happened there's a cause and effect and a chain reaction of one thing leading to another. I think once you put yourself out there with the desire to impact people, the people that have been impacted want to follow through to have more. So early on after our concerts, when all I was really doing was touring and recording music—this was in the early 00s—people would want to meet me like they would anyone that they like in a band or something. But then they would ask me questions that were not about band stuff, they weren't about the music, they weren't questions about even really me and my life—they would ask me questions about life in general. They wanted to talk about the things that I wanted to talk about, too! So it wasn't even like they were a fan of "me"—they were a fan of the same subject matter, which the music was covering in its own very intense amped-up rock 'n' roll way. And it's very hard to not engage with someone when they're talking about the stuff that you're really interested in. So that just continued and led to doing the lectures. That led to really branching out in interviews and realizing that we could talk about this stuff, that it wasn't off-limits. That led to doing a monthly advice column in a rock magazine in Japan for 10 years, which eventually led to the Village Voice advice column, and that's what Glenn Beck saw. So, it was really that chain of events. And that's a perfect example of what you were asking before, because I never said at any point, "O.K.—well, I'm gonna do an advice column, and then I'm gonna turn that advice column into a radio show, and it's all gonna expand into a philosophy of partying." It's revealing itself to me as much as it is to anyone else; I'm just trying to do it.

How has your experience doing the show been so far, compared to the motivational lectures or advice columns?

Well, it's all sort of one thing, but I'm always trying to get better at it. I wouldn't even call any of it "motivational" at this point because what we're trying to do is tear away at truths. And that ends up having—depending on who you are or what kind of mood you're in—a very frightening aspect, a very stressful impact, or it can be very liberating and empowering. For some reason it seems like some of these ideas require a formal setting. And it doesn't have to be a formal setting like a lecture hall—it can be a formal setting on a radio show or a formal setting in a written format, or like what we're doing right now, to set aside time where we're gonna decide to talk about this. It seems like maybe the weight or the depth of those kinds of avenues of thought really do well to have . . . sort of like playing a sport; I mean you can dribble a basketball around and shoot some hoops with friends, but if you're gonna really play a game of basketball you formally set aside the proper court with the proper time with the proper uniforms and the proper referee and scoring, and maybe even an entire formal organization called the "N.B.A."

I had never done a talk-radio show before. I had been on the radio a great deal but it was all based largely on the music, and usually very light-hearted and goofy. Occasionally we'd go into deep stuff. By the way, when I use the word "deep," I don't mean it as better—shallow is good, too. That's how you're able to appreciate the depth. But the more you start to tear away at the foundation—the basic premises of existence—it's so deep there really is no bottom to it, because we don't really know the answers to most of those questions. All we know is the answer to whether or not we engage in those questions. With a radio show I feel I'm talking to one person's mind. Maybe it's even my own mind. It's strange. There's an incredible intimacy but also a sort of an alien-like detachment that makes it completely unique to any other communication or art form. It's the most intense.

I've noticed on the show—and, I don't mean this pejoratively—a lot of repetition with topics looping in and out.

I've noticed that in a lot of the greatest literature, the greatest art, the greatest work of humanity towards truth. It seems like it has to keep looping back, because ultimately there's only one thing we're talking about. And it's sort of trying to find many different ways to get at it—to describe it, to access it. We take commercial breaks on the show, and I have great directors and am working with great producers that really help with giving me some fundamental skills. One of which is to reintroduce the topic after each commercial break. And at first that seemed sort of painful, like you're breaking your stream of thought—breaking the flow. But it's fantastic actually, because it's sort of a chance to wrap everything up and then represent it, and as I represent it I have a better insight. By the time I've represented it for the eighth segment, I have a whole new understanding of it myself. The whole show ends up looping like that and repeating, but clarifying perhaps or distilling itself.

Photo by Jonathan Thorpe.

That seems to me to resembles life itself, where you're having these repetitive experiences but when looping back in on them there's ostensibly—hopefully—some greater clarity.

Absolutely, that's a beautiful illustration of the idea right there. Even in the seasons—the way so much of life works through pattern in nature. But they're patterns that are leaning towards something. And a loop even more than a spiral—a spiral just goes indefinitely inward, a loop is sort of moving forward as it doubles back on itself. And that's the point of patterns when we can recognize them. It's not because it's the same—like you just said, that's such a great insight—it's not because it's the same, it's because we're constantly gaining deeper, greater abilities to appreciate what they represent. To notice the patterns, to extract meaning from them, to see through things, to interpret our own life in a way that reveals more of ourselves to ourselves. And it seems like it's all set up that way. Although there is certainly great comfort in repetition for a lot of us; it's there not just to be comforting, but to be educational.

Let's talk about your music. How does a classically trained pianist become embraced by his local experimental noise scene to go on to become an arena-rocker?

Well, in a lot of ways, again, it's like I was set upon a path that I thought I was in charge of. But there's just no rational reason now looking back. It's just all so random. Music has a feeling all of its own. We sort of think of music as one of these things amidst other things, but it's not like anything! It's one of these fundamental aspects of humanity that nothing else can replicate. You can't say, "Well, there's breathing and then there's things kind of like breathing." There's just breathing. Music is just one of those things. My dad was taking piano lessons when I was about four and a half and seeing adults, grown people that I really respected, completely lost in the throes of their excitement for this thing called music just made it seem from a very young age like, "O.K., well this is just how life is. This thing will just be a big part of life." Like all of these other elemental aspects like eating.

Then in high school, that's when I realized that there was this whole other dimension of the world that was based on penetrating it and twisting it and distorting it and going after it in bizarre ways. I don't know if there's a word to sum all that up. A whole side of culture that was specifically based around blowing your mind. Freaking yourself out and getting way out into the outer-zone. Feeling strange, basically. And I was completely and immediately enamored with that feeling. Not understanding. Confusion. How it felt good to not understand. How that made things bigger and more full of possibility. It was one of the first experiences I had with a natural antidepressant. Eventually I was able to connect that excitement that that feeling gave me—the urgent curiosity—with a real melodic feeling. But again, there wasn't a lot of design in this. You know what it is? It's the difference between the mind and the heart. Because the mind is the one saying, "I don't know if I should do this." Why has any of this happened in the way that it's happened to this very moment without any planning in the traditional sense? I was always taught and really believed that you set these goals and you set these plans and you work them out and you scheme and you dream. And I would do that—but then all the things that would happen sort of happened aside from that. It was a very humbling—ego-crushing, really—moment when I just gave up. But it was the best thing I could have ever done—just completely give over to that force. People are like, "Oh, your career is completely illogical"—well, it's illogical to the mind, but not to the heart.

Now that David Lynch is back on board to direct Season 3 of Twin Peaks, are you still interested in landing the role of BOB?

Someone had created this photo comparison of me smiling and him smiling and we shared that kind of over-smiling intensity, like when a smile is so smiley that it starts to turn into more of a grimace. And then this sort of groundswell enthusiasm began to pick up, so I tweeted about it, never thinking it would ever be taken seriously. And then people got really excited about it because they thought that I really would do it. Now, the only problem is that I'm not an actor, but then I read a little bit more about the actor who originally played him, and, at the time, he was working in the capacity of the crew. And while it didn't necessarily give me more confidence in my abilities, it made me more confident in David Lynch's willingness to work with unconventional producing and directing modes. But I never really figured he'd take it seriously. Then I realized that I'd met his agent, and that my manager is friends with his agent, so we reached out that way and . . . that was a long time ago and I don't think it will ever happen, but you never know. I've always admired his films. He's created an access point to a certain feeling that is very intangible, but everyone can relate to it one way or another, even if you don't like it. Perhaps what we most get out of his work is his giving form to the formless, and giving shape and expression to the otherwise inaccessible but very present aspects of life that we don't get a chance to really interact with that much. We know they're there—it's that most real fundamental type of horror, where we realize that we're only experiencing a very small fraction of whatever really is going on.

Are there any projects queued on your horizon that your heart is particularly excited about?

I do everything that one would imagine me doing, working on all kinds of stuff seeing what happens as it goes. The only thing that my heart is really working on every day is trying to become a better version of myself. And everything else will sort of happen alongside of that. I used to think that it was the reverse, that you work on your work and if you have time on the side you kind of try to become nicer and more patient and more tolerant. And now that's the most important work and I realize that it always has been. The only real work, the only real effort that means anything is trying to rise above yourself to become worthy of this unbelievable opportunity—this adventure. And whatever happens along the adventure, it almost seems like it's not for me to even say. I show up to work every day, and each assignment I've been given, I try to fulfill.