Andrew W.K.'s Lost Album Coming Out In Double Disc Edition
After the recent release of 55 Cadillac - a compilation of improvised solo piano compositions - Close Calls With Brick Walls and Mother Of Mankind deliver the slamming, inspirational music for which Andrew W.K. is loved, coupled with new sounds and feelings rarely associated with his traditional work.
Close Calls With Brick Walls was recorded in multiple sessions throughout 2004 and 2005, using the full Andrew W.K. touring band for the first time. With a full instrumental band, the new album includes exciting new performances, styles, and rhythms. The lyrics are more complex although still very playful, and Andrew's voice has grown into something much more distinct and expressive.
The roots of the album and the changes it signals lie in the story behind the unorthodox path Andrew took to fame and, specifically, the dramatic contrast between his early years as part of a free-spirited music scene in his hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan and the transformation in attitude and image and personality that came about after he had assumed the role of Andrew W.K..
The trademark white t-shirt and jeans he wore in public was also adopted in order to help create an easily-identifiable image. And it worked. Audiences embraced Andrew W.K. as the long-haired, straight-talking, everyman rock icon who oozed positivity and made his fans feel that not only was it OK to be different but that it was OK to be yourself and not feel embarrassed about being awkward or unusual.
In one sense, Close Calls With Brick Walls is the sound of Andrew W.K. reclaiming and embracing aspects of his personality and his music that were obscured and closed off to him by the process of generating an image and a persona that could be sold to the public. The cover of the album even suggests as much. It features an image of Andrew W.K. standing, arms crossed and dressed in his trademark white tee-shirt, in front of a brick wall that is painted a shade of indigo so dark it appears to be swallowing all the light around it. There's a gleam in his eye and a broad smile pasted across his face. But, oddly, he doesn't look as if he's having fun. The entire package seems to pose a conundrum.
Since the initial 2006 release of Close Calls, Andrew's career has certainly moved in all sorts of surprising directions. He did a lot of things that were unexpected, yet offered little in the way of explanation for behavior that, on one level, seemed quite natural and, on another, entirely unnatural. Instead of promoting and touring the album in the U.S., he went on a lecture tour as an inspirational new-age motivational speaker. He cut his hair. It grew back. He stepped out of his dirty whites and into a tailored suit to model for gentleman's magazines like Esquire and V-Man, he produced a Grammy-nominated album for reggae artist, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, opened a night club in New York (Santos Party House) and became the host of the Cartoon Network game show, Destroy Build Destroy. He recorded a solo piano album and went on tour with a classical string quartet.
And so the story comes full circle. The world catches up with Andrew W.K. and, in return, he releases Close Calls With Brick Walls, the album that the world was almost denied from hearing by forces beyond his control. But rather than crash into walls that barred his way to make that happen, he broke them down brick by brick and then stepped on through to the other side. And where he goes from here… who knows?