PARTY HARD! How a Song Came to Define the 2015-16 Pittsburgh Penguins Season

Have you ever heard of Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier? No? Well, this is a story of him and how his biggest hit influenced a team trying to find their way to make that song one of their own.

In the year 2000, Wilkes-Krier, the son of a University of Michigan Law School professor and a violinist, was trying to find his way into the world of music. Going by the name Andrew W.K., he released his first EP, AWKGOJ. His music was originally described as “hedonistic, so-dumb-it’s-smart rawk.” Today, we call it “party music”. He sent copies of demos to every major record label or musicians that had connections to those record labels. One of those demos was sent to Dave Grohl, former drummer of Nirvana and current lead singer/guitarist of the Foo Fighters. He was impressed by Andrew’s demo, that he wanted his band to open up for the Foo Fighters in San Francisco. After a performance at the Mercury Lounge in New York’s Lower East Side, Island/Def Jam Music Group executive Lewis Largent decided to give Andrew and his band a record deal with Island Records. His first album, I Get Wet, was released. The cover of the album was a picture of Andrew’s face that was bloodied from the nose down. Originally, Andrew smashed his nose in with a brick to create the album cover.But since the effect wasn’t bloody enough, blood purchased from a butcher shop was used to enhance the goriness of the photo. The album’s first single, “Party Hard”, was the definition of what “party music”: upbeat, positive, and colorful, with a touch of anarchy. And you can sense it even from the way he dresses for every concert: in a plain white shirt, dirty white jeans, and wearing running shoes. Fast forward 14 years later. when Nicholas Doblick, a die-hard Pittsburgh Penguins fan who manages The Sports Daily’s Pittsburgh sports blog PSAMP (Pittsburgh Sports and Mini Ponies), suggested the Penguins Game Productions team to use “Party Hard” as their new goal song. (to read the full blog entry, click here) Over the last 10 years, NHL teams tried to find a niche into taking a song and using it as their own instead of going the conventional rout of using Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 2” or Blur’s “Song 2”. It worked in Anaheim with Pennywise’s “Bro Hymn“, “Kernkraft 400” by Zombie Nation in Boston, Joe Satriani’s “Crowd Chant” in Minnesota, and most significantly, The Fratellis’ “Chelsea Dagger” in Chicago. Change didn’t come easily, but during the Penguins 6th home game –  the game where Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma returned to Pittsburgh in his first game on the visiting bench after leading the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in 2009 – during the first minute of play, Pascal Dupuis’ first goal of the season lead to this:

Since then, #PartyHard has been the statement du jour for the Penguins this season. Even Andrew W.K. himself showed up to a Penguins game this season. And now with the Penguins just one win away from their first Stanley Cup Championship since 2009, this song can officially be permanently etched into Penguins lore forever ’cause like the song says when it’s time to party, we will always party hard.

For more on how Andrew W.K. reacted to his song becoming an NHL goal song, check out his interview with Digital Trends and his interview with PittburghPenguins.com.

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