Behind The Scenes Of Andrew W.K.’s New TV Show

Amrit Singh | February 2, 2009 - 3:00 pm

Over a career that’s seen him evolve from outsider musician to outlandishly infectious personality, Andrew W.K. has covered his pop cultural bases: writing and producing his way through a master list of musical genres, appearing on talk shows and his own shows, spreading the Joy Of Life one seminar at a time. And he’s only 29. All of which is to say: We are lazy, and he is ready for a new TV show.

You can learn a lot about Andrew by spending a day with him. During CMJ 2007, we enlisted his high spirited expertise to host a series of videos taking the fans in the street and bands of the fest to CMJ Party School. Along the way we introduced him to Bradford Cox, Bon Iver, No Age, and Dan Deacon, each of whom were excited for their sit down as long-time fans, but none more so than Dan Deacon who told us: “Coming from a more extreme background, he found this way to cross over and reach more people. It’s not so far from what I’m trying to do. I really respect that.” The respect clearly was mutual; it helped Andrew identify his new show’s first guest.

In every interaction with artist or passerby that day, W.K. broke down barriers to meaningfully connect with his conversation mate, no matter how guarded the interviewee, how fleeting the interaction, or how much tape was left in the camera. In hindsight it all seems like a perfect dry run for this new project. So when we heard Andrew was inviting 100 fans to sit in the audience for the pilot to this closely guarded new series for Adult Swim, we sent photographer Ryan Muir to bring back some sights, and asked Andrew to provide some insights. The photos capture the set and the scene, including music performances, intense dance moves, and heart-to-hearts with CMJ-mate Dan Deacon and of course Andre Royo aka Bubbles from The Wire(!). Andrew tells us more:

As mentioned, this isn’t Andrew’s first TV show; that would be MTV2’s Your Friend, Andrew W.K.. But don’t expect this to be Still Your Friend…: “With this new show, I wanted to do something entirely new for me, but also totally focused on following my impulses,” he immediately offered.

More specifically: “The show is about having fun, partying, rolling around, rolling over, piling up, skipping forth, and ambling about. In addition to that movement, we also dance, strut, talk, ponder, and probe deep into the questions about life and how to live it. During this pilot, we discussed puking and alcohol, standing tall, underdogs, and how to have sex.”

The title’s still under wraps, but worry not, it’s very much a TV show. We know this because Andrew says “It’s very much a T.V. show.” But there’s more proof: “[It’s] made for television broadcast, with a 5 camera crew, a full dolly-grip, and a complete system of cable-stocks and bindings.” Fair enough.

Ryan’s photos show a colorfully lit, slightly surreal playhouse sort of a vibe on set. The inspiration for the look and props, however, are rooted in the reailty of Andrew’s family home in Michigan.

“We had a sub-basement, meaning that in our basement, there was an additional stairway leading down to another lower level. When we first moved to Michigan from California, we didn’t know the sub-basement was there. We discovered it after about two weeks after moving in, while unpacking the wine-cellar, and we were blown away by the sub-basement’s contents.

“The room contained a huge arch-like structure, painted blue with beautiful yellow and orange lights all over it. There were also lots of odd objects: small dolls, glass bottles, popcorn boxes, old watches, toys, rubber spiders — it was an assortment of dream-like treasures. My dad found out later that it had belonged to the original owner of the house, who had worked in the entertainment and display case business. We used this as the model for the show’s look and style.”

As the pics suggest, the show is filmed before a live studio audience seated in bleachers overlooking the main set. “This perspective gives a real sense of glory to all the moments we captured on film. By the third hour of taping, we had also covered the edges of the stage with tape and rubber bouncy balls, to create a barrier for any fluids, foams, or fears. Fortunately, no one in the audience noticed this protective edge.”

And it’s not just familiar faces like Dan Deacon and Bubbles Andrew’s protecting. This show is also about talking to the kids. He shares a sample interaction from the pilot:

“One of the girls we had on the show was scheduled to have a private conversation with me in front of the audience. It’s important to understand that every aspect of what we filmed that day will be changed, privatized, edited and re-edited during the final post-production process. As a result, this wonderful girl felt comfortable telling us her life-story, but didn’t realize that in the future we would already be discussing what hadn’t happened yet!” [Ed Note: This show is starting to sound like LOST.]

“After that, I did a “Fall-Fast” dance on the stage, and practically fell right off onto that girl’s head! She was fine though — no one saw what happened. But we got it on film! However, that part will probably be re-privatized and kept from future view.”

Bummer.

Andrew’s return to to the ranks of the TV show host will broadcast on the Adult Swim network. We’ll letcha know when it’s set to debut. In the interim, please keep this in mind: