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Because his fans see him as more pal than idol, W.K. gets gifts such as mix tapes, poems and demo CDs. "I try to save everything I get," he says. "It's a wonderful thing to have people want to make you happy. They just paid money to see us play, and I want to thank them, and here they are thanking me again. It really moves me. The fact that other people are counting on my music makes it way easier to get up in the morning. It gives me reason to be alive. That might sound really heavy or even corny, but it's absolutely true."
Many of W.K.'s sayings mix the heavy, the corny and the sincere in fascinating ways. Take "It's always more fun to like things than to not." On one level, it's an absurdly obvious assertion, but it has ramifications that aren't immediately apparent. For example, it explains why W.K. advocates the unironic embrace of anything that could be called a guilty pleasure.
"No guilt," he declares. "How awful. If you feel bad about liking something, then you don't really like it."
Although he's careful to establish that there's no wrong reason for enjoying his music, he also clarifies a few misconceptions. Occasionally, W.K. gets depicted as a throwback to hedonistic '80s hair metal or a premeditated reaction to an overpoliticized music industry.
"This is not a return to the good old days," he says. "And this is not about saying any other bands are doing things wrong. I think bands like Bad Religion are great, and it's important that they exist. We're not trying to make groups like that go away. This music is not a reaction against anything. It's just what we sound like when we're excited. I do what I do not so that other people will do it but because I think it's the right thing for me to do. Whether someone is talking about politics or singing about how much fun it is to dance, the passion is there. As long as people are doing what they love, they have a strength and freedom that's going to allow them to do good things. We're all just trying to find some kind of meaning in this life, and accomplish something while we have the chance."
On The Wolf, W.K. sticks to his established formula: Take a simple yet fiendishly catchy piano melody, cut to a full-band reprise of the hook, add an anthemic chorus about some form of frivolity. Lyrically, his output can be summarized neatly by the album's second track: I want to have a party/You cannot kill the party/Long live the party. There are also more three-word phrases than a teen-movie marathon: "Tear It Up," "Give It Up," "Never Let Down," "I'm Totally Stupid," "Really in Love," "I Love Music." Most amusingly, there's this charmingly awkward approximation of Muddy Waters' "I Just Want to Make Love to You" and 50 Cent's "In Da Club" chorus: I don't want to make life/And I don't want to make death/I don't want to make love/I just want to make sex.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, W.K.'s bad/mad, cry/die couplets occur late in the creative process. "The focus of my songs is on musical notes," he explains. "That's where I start from. The lyrics describe how I feel from listening to the melody. The way I feel is so incredible, so what am I going to do? Well, I'm going to use every instrument and every piece of recording equipment I can to come close to that overwhelming power that it's giving me. This music is put together to achieve unmitigated, unabolished physical pleasure. These songs are made to inspire excitement."