Back in 1995, when the Warped Tour first started, it was stacked with exciting bands that were more than flashes in the pan: No Doubt, Face To Face, Sick of it All and Sublime for the first year; Pennywise, Rocket From The Crypt, NOFX and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones in 1996.
Fast forward to 2010 and the tour has lost some of its luster. Out-of-place corporate sponsors and military recruiters have turned the day-long counter-culture festival into a frustrating mess.
But the fact remains that a handful of solid bands are on board every year. This year, Fake Problems, Alkaline Trio, River Boat Gamblers, The Bouncing Souls, The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, Dillinger Escape Plan, The Casualties and Face To Face (still on the tour after all this time) will make the trek to Noblesville worthwhile.
But even if those bands weren't playing this year, one might still endure the relentless sun — and the unlistenable music of We The Kings — just for a chance to see American party metal icon Andrew W.K.
After several under-the-radar EPs, Andrew W.K. stormed onto the global music scene in 2001 with I Get Wet, an immediate attention grabber with its bloody album art. Songs like "Party Til You Puke" and "Party Hard" established AWK as the soundtrack to all things good.
In the years following his sophomore album, 2003's The Wolf, Andrew W.K. all but disappeared from the national spotlight. He parted ways with Island Records under mysterious circumstances, and his third album, Close Calls With Brick Walls, recorded in 2006, has only recently (March 2010) been released in the United States.
But now, with a headlining gig on the 2010 Warped Tour, a new show on Cartoon Network ("Destroy, Build, Destroy"), two covers albums released in Japan and plenty of internet buzz, it appears that Andrew W.K. is back in action.
In a phone interview from Austin, Texas (where he is currently filming "Destroy, Build, Destroy), Andrew W.K. gave some (cryptic) insight as to what happened during his "lost years."
"I had lots of crazy business issues from 2005-2010," Andrew explained. "People tried to take control over me. They tried to compromise what 'Andrew W.K.' is all about. I had to detach myself in order to maintain control."
Those who are trying to take control remained anonymous throughout the interview, but one assumes he's alluding to at least one person in particular: the mysterious Steev Mike.
Steev Mike first came to life as a pseudonym used by Andrew W.K. during the performer's early years; Mike earned a production credit for I Get Wet, among other accomplishments.
But that alter ego came back to haunt Andrew W.K. when, in 2004, someone claiming to be Steev Mike hacked Andrew W.K.'s official website, andrewwk.com, and proceeded to charge the performer with being a fraud. In one cryptic message addressed to Andrew W.K. himself, Steev Mike noted, "You know how much I love your music, because I created it. You know that I love the way you look and act and talk and sing and dance because it was born in my brain."
And soon the Internet was abuzz with rumors that there were multiple Andrew W.K.s. Recently, Andrew W.K. addressed the issue head-on, asking in a statement: "Please don't believe Steev Mike. I used to call myself Steev Mike a long time ago and it's nothing now. Someone is trying to confuse you and make me look bad."
"All of that is over now," Andrew said from Austin. "and I am better for it. Dealing with all of the legal issues and rumors were just challenges for me to overcome. It really enlarged my world. But now I am in complete control. Andrew W.K. is me and me alone. I have complete freedom now."
During the height of his legal woes, Andrew W.K.'s legendary touring band was dissolved. His band, which included some of the best metal musicians in the country, was formed in Florida by Donald "D.T." Tardy, the drummer for legendary death metal band Obituary.
His new band consists mainly of new faces, with the exception of one die-hard veteran, the stone-faced guitarist Sergeant Frank.
"Sergeant Frank has never missed a show that I have played with a full band," Andrew gushed. "I met him for the first time at the shoot for the 'Party Hard' video and he has managed to remain surprising and unpredictable. He really is amazing."
Andrew W.K. was one of the first acts confirmed for this year's Warped Tour.
"We're playing the entire tour, and I am so excited!" he said. The whole Warped Tour culture is very positive. The people are as pumped to watch me play as I am to play for them! They are so open-minded."
A promotional video for Andrew W.K.'s "I Want to See You Go Wild," released June 28: