Foo Fest headliner Andrew W.K.

By JIM MACNIE  |  August 10, 2011

WHAT'S BEEN THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT? I got to drive a WWII Russian tank. You see 'em in parks as statues or memorials. But to be around one that's actually moving, and ride on it, and fire it? To actually blow up another vehicle? That's when I stop, look at the sky, be as aware as possible, and say to myself, "I'm getting to do this."

YOU'VE TOLD ME PREVIOUSLY THAT YOU LIKE THE PROCESS OF DRIVING AND FORWARD MOTION IN GENERAL. STILL TRUE? Yes, that's one of the reasons I like going to Los Angeles, which is where lots of my business takes place. Driving out to the movie ranch in Santa Clarita where we film the show is cool. Being in the car in the morning and back home in the evening are special moments. Window open, listening to the radio. It's important to have that still time. Though it's a lot different to sit when you're on your way somewhere, when you're moving in a car. You're still in your thoughts, but you're not still at all. Weird contrast.

YOU BUILT YOUR LAST ALBUM,55 CADILLAC (2009) AROUND PIANO PIECES. WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO PLAY INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC, TO HAVE YOUR SOLE VOICE COME FROM THE KEYBOARD? It was terrifying. It took so much effort to not do anything. I didn't want it to be impressive, which was probably the most frightening part for me, or for anyone who has an ego. You want to do good work and impress people. But you can make an impression on someone while not impressing them with any kind of quality. One of the main goals for that album is just "this is a guy playing piano." It might not even be a good performance. I was trying to do the extreme opposite in terms of the music that I had previously recorded. Even if I didn't like the music, I was going to commit to the results. I still don't know how I feel about it. I'm proud that I committed to it. The best thing about the album is that someone with no other knowledge in my music hears it and becomes interested. Maybe that's what it was for: a way to meet a guy who otherwise would have never spoken to me.

IT HAS A CERTAIN "TRANCE" EFFECT TO IT. IS TRANSCENDENCE EVER A GOAL WHEN YOUR FINGERS ARE ON THE KEYS? Yeah, yeah. It was interesting to develop an improvising process. I'm a big fan of Terry Riley and Philip Glass and Keith Jarrett. My dad was always obsessed and talked about Keith Jarrett in a certain way that I didn't hear him talk about music . . . ever. It wasn't until years later that I understood those [solo] records are Jarrett making stuff up from scratch. I don't know if I would have been able to understand how special that kind of music is when I was younger. When you're as skilled as him and you choose to do it that way? What a gift. When I made 55 Cadillac I knew I was trying to translate something from the subconscious. If you're going to improvise, you might as well have it be completely free.

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