When approaching Andrew W.K. about any topic, one must bear in mind that a common theme in his response will most likely be partying. But at Canterlot Gardens, a My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic convention held in Strongsville, Ohio, on Friday, the man behind "Party Hard" preached a new virtue to a packed room: individuality.
Calling the convention "the most intense experience of my life," he said that the attendees were "a group of people I can relate to in that they're like no one else. Congrats on being individuals . . . and part of a herd."
It was a fitting message for those in attendance, most of whom are counted among the subculture of bronies – older teens and adults (often male) who watch the show despite being outside its target demographic. At the convention, fans from across the world converged to meet their favorite voice actors, buy a wide array of pony-themed merchandise and attend panels, such as the one headed by Andrew W.K., who became a beacon of ebullience within the community after his association with the character of Pinkie Pie, who represents a cheerful, celebration-filled disposition.
Flanked by Klisk Midori, Canterlot Gardens' PR head, and Rocket to Insanity, a gas mask-wearing emcee who helped corral the attendees, W.K. peered out at the audience from behind black sunglasses and proclaimed the worthiness of coming together as individuals in such a community.
"It's a humbling experience . . . to be a part of something, even if it's like a neighborhood," said the 33-year-old New Yorker. "It doesn't mean you're giving up a part of yourself. We choose to get together and celebrate our uniqueness."
The sense of inclusion and acceptance that had greeted him, W.K. said after his panel appearance, exemplifies the good-natured fandom that advocates a lifestyle of "love and tolerance."
"They didn't react badly to someone who might not understand," he told Rolling Stone. "You convert the people – you kill them with kindness, essentially. It's more wanting everyone to feel this in whatever way they can."
During his panel, Andrew W.K. encouraged not only individuality, but also a sense of ecstasy. "The amount of joy being conjured up in this room . . . it will spread through the whole universe," he said. "You should feel proud of that; that's a real achievement."
He also countered the belief that the brony fandom is illegitimate because of its controversial nature – an older fanbase with a male majority built around a show for a much younger, generally female audience. "A lot of adults confuse growing up with a sense of seriousness, boringness," he said, noting the importance of becoming a "super child" – an adult who can still take time to live like his or her younger counterparts.
"Whatever you want to play with, it's OK. It's not only OK, it's good," he said. "This is a forward-thinking, advanced movement that is ahead of the curve."
Andrew W.K. also took questions from attendees, wherein he was toasted by a man with a flask (W.K. appeared to chug water), shot confetti from a "party cannon," complimented the fashion sense of a male wearing an Andrew W.K. shirt and Pinkie Pie scarf, and even had some words about nay(neigh?)sayers of the fandom, most visibly Howard Stern and FOX News' Red Eye program. ("I’m going to convert them all," he said of the latter.)
Post-panel, the self-proclaimed "professional partier" seemed excited and humbled by his status as an honorary brony. "I had high expectations; I've been to conventions before and I've spent time with very passionate groups of people, but this is certainly unique, in a fantastic way. Mainly the atmosphere – there's a feeling in the air that goes beyond the actual events. It's like seeing a new color or a new flavor. It's a new tone of joy."
He also expressed the possibility of recording a new album, which he hopes to have released in 2013.
Going into the panel, Andrew claimed he still had much to learn about bronies and the show. So what knowledge did he gain from the convention?
"I've learned that it's just begun," he said later, laughing. "This feels like my initiation, in a wonderful way. This is like fuel to me. It's energized me and has enriched my life and my soul. It confirms the best hopes I ever had for humanity."