One of the most polarizing figures in rock over the past year has been Andrew W.K. People either love his party-friendly music or really, really hate it. Britain’s New Music Express calls him “bigger than Jesus” and the new “saviour of music.” On the other hand, another review famously compared his music to vomiting garbage trucks. Andrew W.K. Love him or hate him, Andrew Wilkes-Krier has had a wild ride over the past 12 months. Talking on the phone from the mastering facility in New York, where his new album is being prepared for a September release, he talked about the good and the bad that’s come with fame. “The best thing has been the feeling that there’s a lot of people out there who love the same things I love. Not in particular my music or me, but the fact there’s a lot of people who love music like I do. It’s an amazing feeling to work on something and put so much into something and have people respond to it. It’s a very humbling experience,” he said. I Get Wet, his debut album, has been praised for its joyousness and playfulness and party songs like “Party Hard,” “Party Til You Puke” and “It’s Time To Party.” “This music wasn’t made because of bad things or as a response to something that is wrong, as much great music is,” he said. “This [album] was a direct response to what I felt good about. I just realized that of all of these songs that I’m singing, I haven’t yet wrote a song about something I’m mad about. That’s what I find in music. I always walk away from music feeling better, even if I’m listening to depressing music, or a sad song. I feel better at my core.” Much has been made about the cover photo, for which W.K. hit himself, hard, in the face. The jarring picture of blood running down his face made it memorable. “It wasn’t really a brick; that’s an exaggeration. It was a small piece of concrete about the size of my hand,” he said. “I just wanted a cool photo. I achieved what I wanted.” Some of the blood on the album, he reports, was fake. W.K. expressed much appreciation, and a lot of astonishment, about the reaction he’s gotten, both good and bad, to his music. “There’s so much of this that’s been a surprise. It’s wonderful and it’s all wondrous,” he said. “It’s mystery. It’s not set in stone; it’s going to go where it goes. I’m still following my heart and still doing what I want to do. The songs on my new album are a straight dedication to the people who love music and who love being alive. I’m talking directly to them and pouring my heart out to them. “Who knows how this album will be received? In some ways, I can see this being even more black and white and even more polarized reactions. There’ll be more people hating it and hopefully even more loving it.” W.K. played Warped Tour in 2002 and is looking forward to its party atmosphere again this year. “I anticipate that it’s going to be a free-for-all,” he said. “When you bring so many different people together who are all focused on the same goal, namely, make the most out of a day and have a lot of fun and be productive. Everyone there from the bands to the audience to the organizers is there for the same reason. And that’s why it’s so successful.” A.F.I. In the decade since A.F.I. started as a high school punk band in Ukiah, Calif., they’ve become an established and respected group that doesn’t fit easily in any category. Their music is punky, but isn’t quite punk. It’s hard but not necessarily hardcore. Combining aggression with tenderness, A.F.I. has toured almost nonstop for 10 years and generated strong sales with their albums. The band says their audience is comprised of punks, college students and skater kids, which makes them perfect for the Vans Warped Tour. Talking on a cell phone after the second Warped date in Bozeman, Mont., Adam Carson, the co-founder of A.F.I., said things are going as expected on tour. “It was a pretty typical Warped show, in that it was kinda hot and really sunny and really crowded,” he says. Told that Friday’s forecast for Indianapolis calls for hot, humid weather with temps around 90, he said, “Ninety degrees is pretty moderate for Warped Tour.” The heat isn’t necessarily a hardship on the band. “We only play for half an hour, so it’s not too hard. I drink a lot of water, apply a lot of sunscreen, so it’s not like we’re running a marathon every day.” Carson said he’s looking forward to hanging out and listening to the many friends who are also on the Warped Tour, but one band has a special prominence. “I imagine that every day on this tour, I’ll be going over to see Rancid,” he said. “Rancid is, more than any band, responsible for A.F.I. being where they are right now. They really inspired us to really look beyond the scene in the Bay Area and realize that with a lot of hard work we could begin touring and set ourselves up as a nationally touring band. We watched the steps they took and the decisions they made, and they’ve always been inspiring to us both musically and personally. I grew up loving the band and was fortunate enough to become friends with them. They’re among my favorite people and definitely my favorite band ever.” Carson and singer Davey Havok founded the group in the early 1990s. “Back then, we exclusively listened to early ’80s punk rock and hardcore. Stuff like the Circle Jerks, Minor Threat, the Angry Samoans and the Dead Kennedys. Those are the roots we come from,” he said. “But as the band has progressed, we’ve grown as musicians and people and have developed wide and varied musical tastes and incorporated a lot of those influences. We’ve come a long way from just listening to punk rock and just being a punk rock band.” Asked if some fans expect bands to remain the same and get disappointed when they grow as artists, Carson laughed. “Those are the same type of people who’d get bored and stop listening if we made the same record three times in a row,” he said. “We’ve gotten that for years and years. There’s a contingent that always wants us to sound like the older stuff and then there’s people who appreciate the stuff we’ve done. You can’t always please everybody, so the best thing to do and the most honest thing to do is to please yourself.” Without even realizing it, the band has assumed the role of musical veterans, something that leaves Carson a little bewildered. “I guess we have been a band for a long time, even though it doesn’t really feel like it, and we’ve made a lot of records that people really enjoy listening to, which is also sort of a weird concept to get used to. Suddenly, we find ourselves in the situation where we feel like we’re on the older scale. There are bands that maybe grew up listening to us, but that’s a surreal thing to consider.” Chronic Chaos The Indiana hardcore/punk band Chronic Chaos is playing 14 dates on the Vans Warped Tour, including Friday’s date in Noblesville. For guitarist Chris Swinney, it’s the second straight year he’s been on the tour, but his first as a musician. He was a roadie for the band Sewing For Nancy for a few weeks last year. He got on this year’s tour after sending the concert producer a demo CD. Chronic Chaos produces a sound that’s not instantly classifiable, even to its fans. “Somebody said we’re too punk for the metal kids and too metal for the punk kids. But I hate that; it just sounds so retarded. I think we’re more like ‘guitar-driven, technical punk/metal.’” The band blends the frenzy of heavy metal guitar work with a more punky vocal style. It’s gotten them opening dates for many notable groups, such as Agnostic Front, the Suicide Machines and Sloppy Seconds. Together for seven years, Chronic Chaos is from Upland, Ind., near Muncie and grew up listening to Metallica and Epitaph Records acts like NOFX and Pennywise. “We’re all really excited about playing Warped,” Swinney said. “I never expected to hear back from the producer. Our first show is in Kansas and we [left] Monday.” The band will play seven dates now and seven in August.