Interview

Q&A: Andrew W.K. Discusses His New Kids Show, Meredith Graves’ Essay, & Being A Male Model-Turned-Role Model

Andrew W.K.’s new family television show Meet Me At The Reck premieres tomorrow. The six-part series follows W.K. with a group of kids at a rec center in Los Angeles as they work on different projects. The show has a Sesame Street feel and brings along some guest stars like NASA scientist Michael Meacham and Jack Black. Today we’ve got a teaser clip in which Matt Sweeney (of Chavez and known for his work with Guided By Voices, Cat Power, and Will Oldham) and W.K. get into a drum building battle. I caught up with W.K. over email and asked him about his experience as a television personality, whether it’s interviewing politicians on Take Part Live or being a positive role model to children with Destroy Build Destroy. I also asked him about Perfect Pussy frontwoman Meredith Graves’ recent essay on the double standard of authenticity in music, which used W.K. as a key subject. Watch the clip and read our interview below.

STEREOGUM: What sort of programming did you watch as a kid? What’s been your inspiration for what you’ve done with Destroy Build Destroy and Meet Me At The Reck?

ANDREW W.K.: I watched mostly Disney shows and cartoons, and we always had as many Disney movies as we could get on video tape. I also liked watching lots of game shows. As far as my part in Meet Me At The Reck, I just did the best I could to be myself – Andrew W.K. – and to fulfill the desires of the folks I was working with. Making the show was a deeply enjoyable experience.

STEREOGUM: There’s a diverse cast brought together for Meet Me At The Reck. Are there any other people you would want to get involved going forward?

W.K.: I’m really open to anyone being on the show, as long as they’re nice and have something to offer the viewers and it’s something fun. It’s great to be able to learn something while we’re doing all of this. I didn’t really know how to do most of the things we featured on the show until I was taught. That was exciting!

STEREOGUM: You’ve become a role model for kids these days, what’s one thing that you really want to try and impart in them?

ANDREW W.K.: To think for themselves and to keep an open mind about the world and their own lives, and that it’s good to do what you want and what you’re told. And that having fun and being joyful is OK, even when life is hard. You know, just enjoy life right now and that it’s good if we don’t always think too hard about problems all the time.

STEREOGUM: Your old male modeling photos and acting head shots went viral earlier this year. What made you want to try that at the time? What made you decide to stop?

W.K.: I decided to stop in 2005 because that’s when I got into the Andrew W.K. thing and it’s obviously a full-time and long term commitment. I never really got any jobs or roles before then anyway, so I was happy to finally have something I could do forever that was also just me. As far as the photos go, they were basically about to get leaked anyway, and I realized who was behind it, so I decided to step in and officially acknowledge them instead of pretending they didn’t exist. I was ashamed of them for many years and always dreaded them being seen, so I decided to just go against my instincts and just release everything. It was scary and embarrassing, but it felt good to not let someone control them. It was the past and everything I did back then ultimately lead to this, so why feel bad about it?

STEREOGUM: You recently showed up on Take Part Live with Michele Bachmann and even joked around with her a little. Do pundits and politicians treat you one way based on an expectation they might have before they get to know you? What’s your attitude in that kind of situation?

W.K.: I just try to be professional and to do what I’m told. Everyone usually treats me very nicely. We always have notes about what I’m supposed to say and obviously how we should behave, so that makes it easier. I’m definitely not there to cause trouble, I just want to do my part and go along with what we’re trying to achieve. It’s satisfying when you realize that you’re all on the same team – even with people who the outside world thinks are enemies or opposed to each other. We ultimately are all working together and trying to follow along basically. It feels good to not have to think about that. I’m always surprised by how polite and straightforward most people are. And the ones you might think would be really nice are sometimes more mean. But no one has ever really been mean to me. Even if they were, I wouldn’t really take it personally. It was probably just part of what we were supposed to say for the show. It’s just a show, you know?

STEREOGUM: Meredith Graves is the lead singer of the punk band Perfect Pussy and she recently shared an incredible essay in which she praised you, but also used you as a lead-in to make some important points about how we perceive women in rock and the double standard of authenticity. Did you read it?

W.K.: She seems very nice and definitely a very, very smart person. A lot of what she was saying went way over my head, but I definitely respect her point of view, for sure. I think I got the point that she was trying to say about how people shouldn’t always be judging people on how they look or what they’re wearing or saying or doing. We don’t always need to think about people like that, you know? I relate to that attitude a lot. Just give people the benefit of the doubt and let them do their thing, right? I think that makes a lot of sense.

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Meet Me At The Reck premieres tomorrow via Maker.tv.