Andrew W.K. knows his strengths. The “Party Hard” singer and proprietor of Santo’s Party House in New York City is the Michael Jordan of having a good time. In the past, he’s spread the party gospel both in his old Village Voice advice column, and on Twitter, where he deploys zen koans disguised as party tips on a regular basis.
Last week, though, W.K. elevated his mission “to unify and unite people under a common celebratory philosophy” to another level. In an announcement video that dropped last Thursday — April Fool’s Eve — he declared his intention to establish a new political party dubbed the Party Party.
The party, W.K. explained, would transcend the vitriolic atmosphere pervading all levels of government and restore Americans’ faith in the political process. Was this an April Fool’s joke? W.K., who spoke to Rolling Stone about his plans for the party earlier this week, swears it’s not.
Your video reminded me of a column you did for the Village Voice. A liberal son wrote to you griping about his “right-wing asshole” dad. You told the writer, “The world isn’t being destroyed by democrats or republicans, red or blue, liberal or conservative, religious or atheist — the world is being destroyed by one side believing the other side is destroying the world.” You got a warm response from across the political spectrum for that piece. Do you think political division is the one thing we can all agree on right now?
That’s a very good way of putting it. One thing that we all do seem to be able to agree on is that fact that we’re not agreeing — agree to disagree. Certainly that column, that question that that guy sent in, and the reaction that I had writing it, and the reaction that people had reading it: that definitely was the early germination of this effort. I don’t think I’d really talked about politics — governmental politics specifically — very often, and it was a bit of a stretch for me to do so for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I’m not that well-versed or educated in politics. I usually haven’t felt that I’ve had anything in particular to add to the debates, to the conversations, to the arguments, to the constant commentary that is surrounding this sports-like atmosphere. It seemed there were already so many qualified individuals, and many overqualified, who had so much to say, and they dominated the conversation. But that column showed me that maybe I did, and maybe a lot of other people were relating to the same feelings I was experiencing and the same thoughts I was having. Certainly none of what we’re doing now with the Party Party would have happened if it was not for the encouraging response that people gave me to that initial piece of writing.
You say in the video you’ve already begun the process of filing the relevant paperwork. What does that entail?
That’s one of the areas that I have the least experience with. I’m not proud of this at all, but I’m someone who has relied on business managers and accountants and career managers to run the whole bureaucratic side of my life for the last 16 years, so anything, from filing tax returns to paying credit card statements, is something that I feel rather fortunate to have been out of the loop on. It certainly allows me to dedicate all my time and energy to partying, rather than filing documents and dealing with bureaucracy.
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Who else is involved with the party?
In the early days of this idea, around six months ago when it was clear that the conditions were favorable for something like the Party Party to come along largely due to the presidential campaigns, I started thinking how I could work with someone to handle the heavy lifting so, again, I could focus on the partying instead of the paperwork.
I initially had approached some political groups or people who were involved more with politics, some of which I had met in my experiences on TV, and on some news-style talk shows, and sort of working behind the scenes with experts or even pundits. Everyone was relatively cordial, but no one wanted to get involved, for a variety of reasons, and some of them were even vocally opposed to it. Out of respect for their privacy, I don’t want to name them. It was discouraging, honestly, but I didn’t take it personally. It was asking of them a lot to be associated with me, to associate with this. In general, I feel like when I’ve associated with someone the association has elevated me and perhaps lowered the other person.
So then I thought, well, maybe because the whole spirit of the Party Party is to focus on partying rather than politics, maybe working with someone in politics isn’t the best idea. So I contacted some friends I have in the media department of Playboy, of all places, and I started talking to them about it to see if they would be willing to not only handle the paperwork side and all the research there, just finding out if this could happen, and how it could happen, and what it would take, and then just see if they would work with me in producing the video and designing the website. Playboy stepped right up and they didn’t even put their name on it or anything. They didn’t ask for anything, they certainly didn’t censor me. I was thankful to have that help, and behind-the-scenes research into how to file the paperwork, and what it would take, and we got far enough to be able to fill out the initial submission, but there are so many steps and, actually, the further we’ve gotten into it the more I realize the government makes this as hard as possible to do. I don’t know if we’re actually going to be able to get it approved.
How many signatures have you collected at this point, and how many do you need?
It depends on which state we file in. We were trying to file it where most of my business is based, in California, and I think that there it’s 100,000 signatures. But the Party Party, it’s a state of mind, it’s not a political agenda, and even if we have completely bypass the powers that be, and the governmental institutions and structures and systems I’m completely confident that we can do that and still achieve our ultimate goal, which is to unify and unite people under a common celebratory philosophy. That might even be what it takes — it might even be more powerful if we do it without their involvement, because I don’t see [the secretaries of state, who oversee the balloting process in each state] being very encouraging or supportive. I don’t really blame them. Most politicians that I’ve dealt with have been polite, but not very party. That’s OK. We each have our strengths to offer and I’m not a politician at all. I’m not good at politics, so I leave that to them, and we’ll focus on the partying.
Tell me about your platform. Are there things that you’re hopeful can get achieved?
The only thing that I want to achieve at this point — the total vision for this adventure — is a sense of uplifting optimism, trying to see beyond anything that pushes us apart, tears us apart, and not necessarily discourage one another from engaging in argument and debate or fighting for your particular points of view, but to somehow foster a mindset and a state of being that allows all of that to happen and to still feel some type of camaraderie.
And when it’s most difficult to feel that brotherly and sisterly love is when something like the Party Party will be most useful. To be honest, I’ve been, like many people, dismayed by a type of conflict that seems to be almost encouraged, which seems to be almost desired, and it make me wonder who would benefit from this type of conflict. Who benefits from us being at each other’s throats? Who benefits from us being torn apart from one another in a state of constant wrestle, a constant state of despondency? And at some point, we know we can’t continue like that. It goes beyond presidential politics and governmental politics of a society — it’s the politics of being a human being amongst other human beings.
If the Party Party does get on the ballot, is it safe to assume you would be the candidate at the top of the ticket?
It seems so unimaginably distant — that possibility seems so remote, but I can’t rule it out because at the same time I never imagined that we would have even been talking about any of this. So if destiny desires that, I would never fight destiny. Can’t fight it. But at the same time, again, I have to focus on what I really, truly have to offer. We have to focus on putting our best foot forward and playing to our strengths, and I think that’s the beautiful part about this. We can all contribute in that regard. And maybe that’s the spirit of the Party Party more than anything: trying to contribute your best to the collective good of the country, and the world.
These people that we elect, they are never really able to do the hard work to solve our problems. They’re never really able to do the hard work for us. We have to be our own presidents, each of us — for each other, and in our own individual lives.
Do you have any parting words of advice for people feeling dispirited by the current political climate, or by the things that they’re seeing every day on the news?
I would just say: Look through it, look beyond it, look into yourself as honestly as you possibly can, and don’t lose your sense of idealism. Don’t lose your sense of what’s possible. Try to keep that energy up and thinking positively about the future and apply yourself to your own immediate surroundings with as much integrity as you possibly can and, in the face of so much discouragement and confusion, there are things that you and I can do, right now, to make things better. If everybody did that we probably wouldn’t be in these situations in the first place. The more we focus on what everyone else is doing wrong, the less energy we have to fix what we’re doing wrong.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.