The story of Andrew W.K. and the most bizarre TV performance in music history

Andrew W.K. and Jaquie Brown
(Image credit: TV2)

It's 2002, and partying's very own Andrew W.K. is on the promotional trail for his debut album I Get Wet, released the previous November. The latest stop on the campaign finds him in Auckland, New Zealand, where he appears on Space, a late-night music and entertainment TV show.

It does not go according to plan. 

As the cameras roll, nervous-looking co-host Jacqui Brown can be seen crawling towards W.K., who has positioned himself beneath a grand piano. 

"I've been working on a few things in here," explains the musician, before leafing through a copy of the New Zealand Herald. He then tears the newspaper into shreds, his arms a whirling frenzy, and the serious business of interviewing is resumed.  

"Are you all nuts and bolts and man and gruff and GRARRRRRGH?", asks the clearly fascinated Brown.

"Nut. Bolt. Flour. Cheese, Fudge Brownie. Egg," responds W.K. "And a whole lot of love." 

The interview proceeds in this vein for some time. 

"Fruit. Yoghurt. Blackberry yoghurt," W.K. adds, before contorting his leg into a position where his foot is painfully wedged into the frame of the piano.  

Finally extricating himself from his hideout, W.K. sits at the piano and hammers at the keys for over a minute, his fingers a frantic blur, before finally launching into a version of his breakthrough single Party Hard.    

It doesn't last. Before we know it W.K. is improvising again, cartwheeling his fist into the piano keys as Brown and fellow co-host Hugh Sundae look on with a mixture of bewilderment and concern. He ends the performance by repeatedly whipping both arms around his body, lurching around the studio as the cameramen back away, before joining the hosts on the sofa and revealing that he may have just broken his thumb.     

"What's going through your mind when you're doing that?", Brown asks.

"In case I don't live tomorrow, and tonight's my last night on Earth, I wanted to know that I gave all I had to give," responds W.K. "For no other reason than for the sake of doing it. It's that simple."  

Last month Brown gave her side of the story to NZ website The Spinoff, saying, "He’s out of control. He’s like a performance piece on speed, swinging, hitting himself, jumping up in the air and breathing really heavily, making these animal noises. I’d never seen anything like it."

"The rehearsal was completely normal," she explains. "When we went to go live, it was, ‘Three, two, one’… down he goes. All I remember thinking is, ‘Fuck, oh my god, this is completely different to what I thought was going to happen.'

"I got down on my hands and knees and approached him. I tried my best to interview him but he wasn’t open to being interviewed. He was on an Andrew W.K. performance path… he didn’t play by the rules."

"I absolutely loved it. I love live TV. When you’re creating a show like Space, you want it to be exciting and interesting. Andrew W.K. is like the fairy dust. He’s what you want.

“He was weird, but he was amazing. He was one of a kind.”

Watch the full video below. 

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.