One is hard-pressed to find a more festive American than Andrew W.K. The muti-talented musician, artist, motivational speaker and TV host announced his arrival with his 2001 debut I Get Wet, and its narcotically-catchy anthem, “Party Hard.” The ensuing decade saw the classically-trained musician release a slate of hard-charging rock albums celebrating the time-honored art of partying, as well a record full of J-pop covers and an album featuring only improvised piano pieces. He has published advice books and delivered motivational speeches at some of America’s most prestigious universities, including Yale, New York University and Carnegie Mellon. Anything but a vapid party animal, Andrew’s unwavering positive attitude and magnetic charisma saw him recently commanding headlines amid rumors of a State Department appointment as Cultural Ambassador to the Middle East.
A frequent guest on late night talk shows, The Daily Show, Fox News and the host of the Cartoon Network’s popular Destroy Build Destroy, Andrew implausibly finds time to not only write new music, but to produce the work of others as well. As the holiday season approaches, he has teamed up with Twisted Sister to host a benefit for the victims of Hurricane Sandy on December 16, 2012 in Patchogue, New York.
2012 has proven to be an exquisitely brutal year for so many of us, and as the year finally begins to loosen its grip around our throats, we at TNB Music could think of no better person than Andrew W.K. to help our readers navigate their complex holiday challenges. Once again, we put out a call to the masses, asking you to send us your thorniest holiday questions to be passed along to our unnamed guest advice columnist. TNB Music is both privileged and thrilled to announce Andrew W.K. as this year’s Secret Santa.
Without further ado, here are the solutions to all of your problems. Even the ones you didn’t realize you had.
TNB Music Editor
Every year my extended family draws a name of a family member for whom to bring a gift to our holiday family reunion. This year I got our family’s answer to Christmas Vacation’s cousin Eddie. Imagine a dude in a dickie waxing his ’81 Camaro twice a week and building a cannon fueled by Mad Dog 20/20 and Aquanet that shoots cantaloupes. What do I get this guy!?
Luck of the Draw
Wow. It’s hard to sum someone up at all, especially in a few words, so…(laughs) I’m also someone who has a very hard time getting gifts for people. The most obvious question is, “Do they already have this thing?” or “Is this something they’d never want?” You want to avoid either of those situations because they could be awkward for everybody involved. But remember that at the core of every gift giving experience, even if it’s assigned to you in this type of Secret Santa tradition, it still is a gift, and it’s still meant to be as fun and lighthearted and kind and easy as that implies. It’s not like you’re being asked to guess this guy’s deepest desire. It’s not meant to work like that.
If he likes his car, you could get him something for his car. Maybe he has the same car polish that he always uses, or you might even be able to get him a gift certificate for a store that sells automotive supplies that he might enjoy. You could also get him something that’s completely unrelated to his interests, with the idea of expanding his horizons, like some kind of book that you’ve really enjoyed. I don’t think that’s an inappropriate way to share gifts, either. You can give gifts to share part of your personality or passions with someone else, rather than try to match their personalities and passions. I often give gifts that have made my life better. But anything that shows that you care is key. Even if he’s difficult or doesn’t respond to your gesture, you can still feel good about it. The fact that you even wrote in asking about this, shows that you care. If you want to be bold, you could print out your question and my answer, put it in a nice little card and give it to him and say, “Here, my gift was not knowing what to give you, and I’m going to give you that.” As long as he has a good sense of humor he’ll get a kick out of that.
My boyfriend is a huge Lord of the Rings fan and now he keeps talking about the new Hobbit movie. Should I buy him some Hobbit-related presents or just break up with him and try dating someone who is emotionally older than seven?
I’ll take that as a joke, but it always bothers me when people make fun of other people’s passions and interests. I always wonder where it comes from. Obviously there’s all kinds of things that all kinds of people are into that I don’t relate to, but I certainly relate to being into something. That’s where I can share common ground. I might not know a lot about J.R.R. Tolkien or the Hobbit movie or Lord of the Rings, even though I do, but I can mostly relate to someone caring about something that makes them happy; something that interests them and that they have a passion for. One nice thing you could get him would be a more supportive attitude.
I don’t know when this tradition started of making fun of people who really like stuff a lot, but maybe sometimes it comes from the person or the fan culture itself, and they sort of make fun of each other. And that’s great, by the way. It’s great to have a sense of humor about the world in general, but especially yourself. But this idea that liking things very passionately, like music or certain movies, is immature and should be discouraged; that growing up and becoming an adult requires eliminating your passions is so embarrassing and pathetic, it’s hard for me to even understand where it comes from. I think you’d be a better girlfriend, and probably a better human all-around, if you supported people’s passions. Especially if they didn’t do anything to harm you or anyone else. It might be a nice gift to yourself to take a look at where that’s coming from.
You know, in movies and TV shows, those characters—people who try to extinguish other people’s joy—are generally presented as being assholes. I don’t think you’re supposed to emulate someone who makes fun of someone’s passions and where they find joy. Those are characters to learn from, so you can say, “OK, I want to make sure that I’m not doing that.” So you know, be a nicer girlfriend.
I never seem to carry through with my New Year’s resolution. What’s one lasting resolution I can make that will improve the quality of my life in 2013?
White Plains, NY
I’ve thought about this quite a bit, and maybe the answer is to not make resolutions. Carry your life forward as if everyday were like New Year’s Day; when you’re truly ready to do something, you’ll do it. It doesn’t take resolving to do something on a certain date. That carries a lot of pressure and it has an exhausting quality about doing that every year. Then having the year go differently than you expected or not following through on what you resolved creates guilt and frustration or disappointment. Just resolve to not make any resolutions and just be your best and do what you want to do all the time.
We’re always like, “It’s Mother’s Day today,” but every day should be Mother’s Day. Or “Today’s Earth Day!” Well, every day should be Earth Day. It’s great to have a day to stop and think about it, but that’s like saying you only get to party on Fridays or on your birthday. Look, if I’m excited about life, I can celebrate that every single day. So I would resolve to not make any resolutions, and I’m doing that this year, too.
Unless of course your doctor’s telling you that you need to do something or you’re going to die. Then you should probably do what he says… (laughing)
My roommate and I just moved into a new place in October and we want to throw a holiday party for all of our friends. What do we absolutely need to have at the party to make it a success, and how should I go about sleeping with my roommate because she’s really, really hot.
Los Angeles, CA
That’s like my dream. That’s really awesome, but of course it could be really awkward, too. She could have a boyfriend or you might have a girlfriend. It’s actually an awesome kind of tension, and that’s the beautiful thing about roommates—you’re not living with your girlfriend, but if you do become boyfriend and girlfriend, then because you already were living together, it’s not this huge deal to move in together, because you’re already doing it. And then if you break up, she still has her own room and it goes back to that nice autonomy that roommates have. You can kind of do your own thing, assuming she’s cool and you are as well.
So I would go for it. What’s the worst case scenario? You move out if it’s really awful and unbearable, but it could be this really great thing and just to touch her skin for a little while could be really good.
As for the holiday party, the first thing that comes to mind is trash cans. I know that’s kind of a boring aspect to parties, but for some reason, it makes a party truly better. It’s not just about keeping the place clean or making it easier for you or your roommate to manage clean up; I think it makes the party better because first of all, not every surface will end up covered with trash or bottles or whatever. There will be more room to party, and it can also act like sort of a bonfire or a centerpiece. Not that people need a meeting place at a party, but I’ve been to so many parties that don’t have a trash can, and it creates a low level tension or anxiety. Not that you’d even be able to notice, because it’s subconscious. But I’d say beyond having music, refreshments and good cheer and attitude, a trash can in an obvious place—not under the kitchen sink or out in the garage—but a nice, full-sized trash can with a bag in it, right in the living room.
It also depends on how crazy you’re expecting this party to be. If it’s a cocktail party for four friends, then you probably wouldn’t need a big trash can, but if you’re going to have a big blow-out, you’re not going to be able to host everybody the entire time and help them learn your house, so beyond the bathroom, the trash can is the most important thing. And those things, by the way, can actually double as each other—the toilet can often be used as a trash can, especially for food and digested food, and then a trash can can also be used as a bathroom, worst case scenario, and you’d rather have someone use the trash can as a bathroom than the floor, or something worse, like a potted plant or your sock drawer.
My boyfriend is a statistics professor who can quote long scenes from Pulp Fiction (while looking you in the eye…whether you want him to or not…) and whose musical tastes recessed somewhere right around Boys Don’t Cry. What can I get my boyfriend to make him cooler, more modern, and possibly even less awkward?
Barely Hanging in There
Here we go again. What the hell is the problem with these girls? I really wanna know. I have more questions for her and that other girl than they would ever have for me. How did this happen, that you thought it was OK to try to even change your boyfriend? Like it’s your job to make this guy conform to this abstract idea that you have of what a boyfriend or husband or man should be? All of that energy should be put into yourself and let him do whatever he wants to do. It’s so incredibly discouraging. You should be extremely thankful that this guy has even been with you this long, however long it’s been. I would have been out of there so fast the minute you tried to do anything like you’re describing.
Now maybe this is some sort of game that you guys play, and you have this fun dynamic based around insulting him and being irritated by him. Maybe it came from some kind of TV show like Everybody Loves Raymond where it’s become this sort of stereotypical adult relationship, but I don’t think shows like that are supposed to be used as models. They’re entertaining and laughed at as comedies should be, but not to be emulated as in, “Well I want to have a relationship like that.”
The idea that your input into his interests in life has any value warrants a strong dose of focused thought from you as to why you think you have that right and why you’d even want it.
If he asks you and comes to you and says, “I want to become cooler, and I know you’re the one who can help me do it,” then sure, you can work with him on that, but otherwise the job is to really shut up about any of his passions and love him for what he is. Imagine if he got sick or got into a car accident, God forbid, or something serious happened to him. Would any of this mean anything to you at all? No. So it would be a shame to look back and find yourself asking, “Wow, why was I so hung up on this ridiculous stuff?”
I got drunk at my cousin’s holiday party last year and blacked out. People are mad at me and I don’t know why. What should I do this year? I can’t get out of going.
Well, I mean, there’s two obvious choices. One is that you can just not go. I understand that there’s a lot of family pressure that everybody has to go, but you could just not go. Always remember that it is an option, although it sounds like one you don’t want to entertain. It’s your life. We choose to feel those obligations to family; we choose to respect and care about what they want us to do because we love them and because it’s important to us, but still, you don’t have to go if you don’t want to go, Unless literally they’ve handcuffed you and they’re dragging you there, which I actually could imagine happening in certain situations.
You know, maybe that’s something you could do—opt to handcuff yourself to the radiator or some very strong and heavy object in your house and then you truly cannot go, if you’ve lost the keys. Or, go to the party and handcuff yourself to some comfortable place or chair and if you want a drink, then someone’s going to have to pour it into your mouth. For a lot of folks, being blackout drunk could be a great thing, especially if you’re not so sure why they were so mad and of course, if you were blacked out and you don’t remember maybe breaking someone’s TV or even using someone’s sock drawer as a bathroom. Maybe that’s what happened in this situation, they used someone’s bathroom as a garbage can, or vice versa.
But it’s a tricky situation and when you don’t know what happened, life blurs between dream and reality, which can often be a wonderful experience. But it also can be very stressful, so if you don’t want to get blackout drunk at this party, you can also just make the choice to not care about any of this and just accept that if they’re going to be mad, they’re going to be mad, and just go with a low key vibe and have your own fun. It’s not your problem if they have bad attitudes.
Also, you could always just hang out with the family members who are cool, or maybe hang out in the backyard, like behind the shed by yourself. You still went, you know? Just make sure you have a way to get home safely. You could move into their backyard in the shed! And if you bring a trash can in from the party and put it in the shed, you’ve got a bathroom and a trash can ready to go, all in one. I’ve always had a dream of living in a shed one day; like a place just to yourself, but big enough where you could have a few people over, but just the sort of idea like it’s just my bedroom, but the whole building is my bedroom. Like a very small house. I always thought that would be cool. Not a motor home or a trailer so much—although those are awesome too and very similar—but just the idea that I’m building myself literally one room, that just big enough for what I need. Maybe it has a bathroom in it or maybe just a trash can. Maybe there’s no kitchen or maybe there is, but it’s cozy, it’s watertight, and it’s my party shed.
If your cousin has a shed like that, this could be the time to move in and occupy it forever. Your whole life could be leading up to this. Just bring a padlock so if they try to get you out of there, you can put up a fight for at least a little bit.
I hate when grumpy people make fun of other people who are looking forward to Christmas. I love Christmas and I always will. What’s the best way to deal with holiday grumps?
Just stay away from them. I wonder about that too. Have some empathy. Most likely there’s a very painful reason for them to not like the holidays. I’ve heard about people who hate Valentine’s Day because either they don’t have someone to celebrate it with or they just broke up with someone. It just reminds them of the pain. But there are easy ways to put yourself in that person’s shoes and imagine that it’s coming from that kind of pain.
Otherwise, if you don’t want to avoid them, you can try to cheer them up using the holiday spirit. Give them a candy cane or some small gift. Try to engage them in the good aspects of the holiday, like wonderful music or gingerbread or a golden oven-baked goose, or whatever you like about the holidays and share it with them. But definitely don’t pressure them to like it, because that’s what I think people are often responding to when they get grumpy.
There’s these expectations that they have to feel a certain way, and it’s really easy and natural to resent someone trying to get you to act a certain way or to try to change you. Then again, some people just might not like the cold or hate the smell of pine trees. Some people might not like the idea of gifts or they might have some personal reason that you might not know about, so give them the benefit of the doubt. Don’t try to force them to cheer up, and if they don’t like it, keep your distance and hang out with the cheerful folks and don’t let the rest of the stuff get you down. I think there are plenty more people out there who do enjoy the holidays, because there is so much to enjoy about them.
Happy holidays from Andrew W.K. and TNB Music!