Andrew W.K. is many things: a rock star, a motivational speaker, a Brony, a world-record drummer, a spokesperson for Playtex Fresh + Sexy Wipes and a profound (seriously) Village Voice advice columnist. And now the self-proclaimed "Party Messiah" is a legit subject of academic study.
Over the weekend, Southeast Missouri State University senior Michael Stamper tweeted that he'd passed his class by writing an essay about Andrew W.K.'s hard-partying ways:
Andrew W.K. retweeted it and sent this encouraging response:
You can't spell "party" without "PA," and you can't spell "GPA" without it either, so we reached out to Stamper -- who's set to graduate in December -- for the story behind his scholarly achievement.
MTV: What exactly was the paper about, and which class was it for?
Michael Stamper: This was for a Style In Writing class. It's a higher level course which aims to analyze how various authors articulate themselves within their writing ability.
The assignment was titled, "The Critical Essay on Performance Style." It required students to express a detailed understanding of the style of a public figure that they admire. My professor suggested the paper to feature an established entertainer, athlete or public speaker. As long as the paper depicted a critical analysis of how someone famous conducts themselves in front of an audience, it met the required criteria.
[Students were] instructed to analyze their chosen person as if the reader has never heard of them before. So, I began to ask myself how I could inform someone of W.K.'s "Party Style" if they never head-banged to "Party Hard" or read his weekly column in the Village Voice. What makes his style so compelling? How can the reader get a better understanding? To whom can they be compared? What elements are composed in his partying which makes for a good read?
MTV: Why'd you decide to write about Andrew W.K. (and his partying style) for it?
Stamper: I remember seeing the "Party Hard" video on MTV for the first time when I was 12, and I immediately fell in love with it. I was always drawn to artists who ... go absolutely batsh-t insane while performing. This isn't to say that those who don't aren't great in their own regard. As W.K. said, "I love seeing bands that don't move at all. Because, you can focus on different things like their facial expression or the beauty of their hand playing the instrument." It's just that his work demands that kind of performance.
Years later, I began to hear of his visits to universities as a motivational speaker. His speeches are naturally about partying, but also overcoming life's anxieties. That got me [saying], "This is coming from the person who made the iconic bloody face?" And then thinking, "That's awesome!" With this assignment, I felt that this was my chance for a nod in W.K.'s direction to how he influenced me as one of many inspirations while growing up.
A lot of my fellow students chose to write about a famous comedian or musician, and they focused primarily on how that person can handle an instrument or their form of humor. I didn't want to only describe W.K.'s ability to land high-kicks and fist pumps in front of an audience, but to include his outlook on life and the world.
MTV: Were you concerned the professor wouldn’t know who Andrew W.K. is, or deem the whole topic too academic?
Stamper: I wanted to share with my professor [how Andrew W.K.] considers his performance a failure if he doesn't leave the stage exhausted. At first, I was a bit hesitant to write about the guy with blood streaming down his face on the cover of an album called I Get Wet. But then I thought, "Why should I be embarrassed?" W.K. takes enthusiasm and happiness very seriously, and if I was denied the chance to express that through my writing ability, then I would have been misled with the paper's requirements.
People might think I was crazy to have risked an entire letter grade for the sake of a person I admire, but if I were to have received a critical mauling on my subject matter, then my degree isn't worth it. Hell, this professor is even the kind of guy who sings to his students and teaches his lectures with guitar rhythms. Therefore, wouldn't he appreciate partying?
MTV: We know you got an "A," but how else did your professor respond?
Stamper: The biggest criticism I had received wasn't about the subject at all. I had a few grammatical fallacies here and there, and at times my sentence structure was a bit wonky. Aside from that, he appreciated my decision to write about a person with such a passion to be alive. Not once did my professor mention anything negative about W.K.'s "party philosophy," or his message to "party 'til you puke."
[The professor] highlighted his praise at certain points, ensuring that W.K. was a good choice. He admired my comparison of W.K.'s performance to "a bat out of hell." I pointed out that such bat may try and extinguish the flames, while W.K. would revel in it. Then there was a paragraph which described how the first 30 seconds of [Andrew W.K.'s] concerts feel like Christmas morning, which my professor felt was a powerful picture to paint in the mind of the reader. The good grade was the icing on the cake to being able to strengthen my writing with the subject of partying.
MTV: Were you blown away when Andrew W.K. retweeted and replied?
Stamper: It wasn't the first time he actually responded to me on Twitter! Around this time a year ago, I tweeted about getting myself prepared for class early in the morning. A lot of fellow students were dreading the finals we would be facing in days to come, but as long as I had W.K.'s albums blasting through my speakers on the way to class, everything was all right. Not even 30 minutes later, I got a notification from W.K. himself telling me to kick ass that day.
Then around my birthday later that year, I mentioned him in a tweet about partying, to which he replied, "Dude, your profile pic kicks ass in a major party way! #Hardcore #KeepItUp." I think it's awesome how he reaches out to his fan base on Twitter. I'll see him making everyone's day left and right while responding to them. I'm pretty sure they appreciate getting feedback from him just as much as I have.
MTV: How will you apply the party knowledge you've studied to the non-classroom environment going forward?
Stamper: Utilizing every day as a celebration for being alive with a great amount of enthusiasm and passion is probably the most party thing I can do. It shouldn't be confined to a classroom, but serve as an outlet to everything positive in life.