Manic Andrew W.K. makes a music video, Jersey-style

Rocker Andrew W.K. (center), with art director Jarrett Courtney (left) and director Shawn Caple, outside a Cherry Hill hair salon that was among the locations for a recent music-video shoot. KEVIN RIORDAN / Staff
Rocker Andrew W.K. (center), with art director Jarrett Courtney (left) and director Shawn Caple, outside a Cherry Hill hair salon that was among the locations for a recent music-video shoot. KEVIN RIORDAN / Staff
Posted: June 11, 2012

The rocker, actor, and postmodern media personality Andrew W.K., who calls himself "a professional party," is making a music video with a group of free-spirited filmmakers based in South Jersey.

W.K. (the initials stand for Wilkes Krier) hired the Gloucester County production company From Start to Film after its representatives made a pitch to his people outside W.K.'s March concert at the TLA theater in Philly.

The video will promote what the 33-year-old cult star dubs a "deluxe" 10th-anniversary rerelease of his I Get Wet album and may be released as soon as next month.

The filmmakers "had a great idea, and we ran wild with it," W.K. says, or rather, proclaims, in his buzz saw of a voice. "They're an amazing group of folks."

A trained pianist and popular Conan O'Brien guest who recalls Alice Cooper, without the guillotine, W.K. meets me in front of a Cherry Hill hair salon. Smiling in his signature white T-shirt and white jeans, he's about to head home to New York after finishing two days of principal shooting.

"We rocked out," says director Shawn Caple, 27, a Franklin Township resident who owns From Start to Film. He's currently editing 10 hours of footage into a 90-second video.

No small challenge: Andrew's high-voltage persona is a performance-art mashup of stand-up, vaudeville, and verbal blogging. (He can riff on seemingly any subject, from aliens to Occupy Wall Street, and is a frequent VH1 commentator.) With his inky, shoulder-length mane and kinetic exuberance, the guy's like a heavy-metal cheerleader — or a preacher for a theology in which partying is a sacrament.

"Andrew is the nicest guy," Caple says. "He's super-cooperative, and he understands the creative process."

Caple's collaborators are producer Justin Silverman, 28, and art director Jarrett Courtney, 23, both of Maple Shade; cinematographer Nick Murphy, 30, of Philadelphia; and location manager Newt Wallen, 30, of Cherry Hill.

A fierce fan of the I Get Wet album, Courtney says he and housemate Silverman came up with the concept for the video while they "were driving to the supermarket or Target or somewhere." Silverman cold-called W.K.'s management and began an e-mail correspondence about the idea, which he and Courtney were invited to pitch in person outside TLA on South Street.

"We could do it cheap, which they loved to hear," Silverman says, who is vague about the actual cost.

The shoot may have been inexpensive, but it wasn't simple: About 70 people, including actors and extras largely recruited via social media, were involved in last weekend's frenetic shoot.

"It was sort of like, ‘Let's put on a show,'?" says Wallen, who with his pals also creates content for an "infotainment web series" called Underbelly, about such things as "girls, ghouls, guns" and Pokémon.

During the W.K. shoot, "my car died from all of the running around," he says.

The locations were selected because they're "suburban-centric," according to Courtney. They included the salon owned by Wallen's aunt, Bernadette DeSimone, as well as a dental office in Maple Shade, a food store in Pennsauken, and a gas station in Mount Laurel.

The station was the setting for a scene in which Elk Township actor Jeff Blomquist appears to imbibe gasoline straight from the nozzle. To capture those few seconds of video, the team had to get creative on a shoestring. Using a hose connected to a working pump was out of the question, even in the mad world of Andrew W.K.

"What [Blomquist] drinks is water, of course," Caple says. "I got the hose from a friend of my father's who owns a junkyard. But I spent an hour trying to get that thing to work, until an Underbelly fan who's a plumber fixed it."

The serving of a fossil-fuel cocktail is among the calmer moments in the video, whose zany plot is a zealously guarded secret.

"What we can tell you," Silverman says, "is that Andrew W.K. turns your boring, mundane life into a party."

Contact Kevin Riordan at 856-779-3845 or kriordan@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @inqkriordan. Read the metro columnists' blog, "Blinq," at www.phillynews.com/blinq.


Meet Andrew W. K. and some of the people behind his new music video www.philly.com/andrewWK.

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