Words and Photos by Matthew Ismael Ruiz
No one throws a party quite like Andrew WK. Happy-Tom, the makeup-wearing sailor-bassist of Norwegian punk band Turbonegro, knows this. So when his friend, Henning Andersen, CEO of the World Snowboarding Championships, asked him for help finding his "musical ambassador," for his inaugural event in Oslo, the answer was easy.
"He's kind of like the president of the universe," Happy-Tom said. "For this week, he'll be the president of the World Championships in Oslo."
But first, Andersen had to bring Oslo to New York--and WK's club Santos Party House--for a raucous opening bash celebrating the first annual WSC. Billed as "The Championships' own shining star and guiding light," WK used his significant expertise in partying to host an exclusive pre-party in the club's basement before a sold-out Turbonegro concert that rocked the faces off an adoring crowd.
The scene in Santos' basement Friday night was laid-back, and the mood was festive. The drinks flowed generously as a pack of tall, gorgeous Norwegian women (including Norwegian handball legend Mia Hundvin) stalked the floor, pulling journalists into a side room for interviews and photos with the likes of Andy Finch, Jamie Lynn and Ty Walker.
Lynn made a point to tell us of his appreciation for the WSC's snowboarders-first ethos, evidenced by their invitation to We Are Snowboarding's Chas Guldemond (also in attendance) to help set the purses for the inaugural event.
"It's a contest put on by snowboarders, for snowboarders," Lynn told us, shortly before stripping off a denim Turbonegro jacket and flexing with WK for photographers. "It's got industry backing, but it's the snowboarding industry. Terje ( Haakonsen) especially gives it the legitimacy and integrity that a World Cup event needs. It's refreshing to see someone with 20 years of experience give back to the youth of today."
Even resident OG Haakonsen appeared relaxed, swilling a cocktail glass filled with red wine as he brushed off nervous glances from younger pro boarders in muted awe of his presence. But even though the party was meant to celebrate the culmination of countless hours of hard work, his eyes remained set on Oslo in 2012 and beyond.
"I think the riders should own their own tour," he said. "If the riders don't stand together, they're going to keep getting watered down. Instead of making 10 grand a contest they should be making 100. And not every weekend; it should be every third weekend. Because you need (time) to learn some new shit, you need to heal. I really hope this could be a start for the riders to get together to shape the future of our sport. This is our thing."
While eyes are on the future for those at TTR and the WSC, the party on Friday night was just as much about Andrew WK and the "Party Hard" ethos he plans to bring with him across the Atlantic come February.
"We are transporting the physicality, the headspace, the psychic mindset of this place to Oslo," WK told us.
He also revealed the first of undoubtedly many performers scheduled to appear at the pop-up version of Santos in Oslo. "(We're) using this great Santos Party House mindset to throw parties and celebrations every single night. Thanks to the WSC, a band that I've played many shows with before, Dropkick Murphys, are just one of the many bands and entertainers that we will be bringing in as part of this grand celebration."
About 90 minutes before Turbonegro took the stage upstairs, Andersen played the music video for "GO GO GO GO," the high-octane anthem he co-wrote with WK. The video was followed by a short set by a full band featuring Henning and WK. The band opened with the first-ever live performance of "GO GO GO GO," followed by a few WK classics, including "Party Hard."
The 14-year old Roxy rider, Ty Walker, in attendance with her father, gets her name dropped at the beginning of the WSC's anthem, but the Justin Bieber fan admitted that WK is a bit "too hardcore for me."
But for Haakonsen, musical partnerships like the WK-WSC marriage come naturally to the sport, even serving to inspire unexpected copycats.
"The full atmosphere of events is what's important," he said. "Action sports show all the original sports how to do it. Suddenly they have music at the cross-country stadiums. They used to laugh at us, call us "circus"...now they're just copying us."