PITTSBURGH -- A familiar chant has echoed around PPG Paints Arena since the start of the 2015-16 NHL season. Every time the Pittsburgh Penguins score -- and they've scored a lot during that span -- the same hard-rock mantra rings throughout the building as the hometown fans celebrate.
So let's get a party going, let's get a party going. Now it's time to party and we'll party hard.
The Penguins' goal song crescendos into its signature reminder to the hometown crowd of a simple directive: "When it's time to party, we will always party hard."
The song, by Andrew W.K., is the appropriately titled "Party Hard." The breakout hit from W.K.'s debut 2001 album, "I Get Wet," it's just one of the rollicking anthems on the record, along with tracks like "It's Time to Party," "Party 'til You Puke" and "Fun Night."
The success of "Party Hard" opened up a variety of opportunities for W.K., but he never imagined the song would one day find a home on the resident playlist of a pro sports arena.
"That's actually how I was able to connect to sports, through music. I loved the way music was used in the broadcasts, the highlight reels. There was the cinematic, dramatic, theatrical quality that music lent itself really well to sports," said W.K., whose real name is Andrew Wilkes-Krier. "Even if I didn't understand every aspect of the game itself, I loved the surrounding culture and the passion. It was actually a dream of mine early on that I could participate in that atmosphere and contribute to it in a way."
The fulfillment of that longtime dream can be directly attributed to the efforts of a Penguins fan named Nicholas Doblick -- who, under the online pseudonym PSAMP, began the campaign to change the team's official goal song to "Party Hard" after the New York Rangers eliminated Pittsburgh from the 2015 playoffs. The movement steadily gained traction on social media, and the Penguins selected it as their new anthem early in the 2015-16 season. They even invited W.K. to a game to partake in the festivities.
For the rocker, who grew up in Michigan hearing about the exploits of the Detroit Red Wings, attending that Penguins game was special -- but, in the end, unfulfilling.
"They didn't score a single goal. I went to the game and I didn't even get to hear the song because they never scored," W.K. said. "I took responsibility for that. So I promised the Penguins I would never attend another game again unless it was at the beginning of the season or the stakes were really low.
Penguins bench partying... pic.twitter.com/kTr9uWTrLo
— ANDREW W.K. (@AndrewWK) February 10, 2016
"It's something I don't take for granted at all," he said. "I was just really moved. It means a lot to have that song be useful."
As it turns out, W.K. is uniquely qualified to lend his music to a sporting event. A broad-shouldered frontman whose ultra-physical live performances are known for a level of athleticism that rivals most sporting events, the singer approaches the stage the same way an NHL player might prepare for a game. That extra preparation is a necessity for a performer who has taken to wildly flailing his limbs, whipping his long brown hair and even carrying fans on his shoulders while onstage.
It's only fair that the king of party anthems take the proper precautions before every performance.
"This is how I'm supposed to perform, and I have to live up to that demand," he said. "Time in the gym has always been valuable. I watch video from some of our shows and try to learn from them, like you would review game tape. You think, 'Wow, that little moment right there that didn't occur to me turned out great. We should try to do that more.'"
The parallels between the singer's mentality and those of world-class athletes don't necessarily end there. W.K. actually slammed a small piece of concrete into his own face to cause his nose to bleed for his debut album's cover. The cover art for "I Get Wet," showing W.K. with blood gushing from his nose, was an instant attention-getter upon the album's release.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 10, 2016
"I just realized something. As sports go, it seems like hockey is the one you most frequently see bloody noses," he said. "So maybe it was something bonding us together early on."
More than a decade of dynamic live shows and anthemic rock songs helped W.K. cultivate a loyal following across the world. But he never dreamed he'd someday hear his song blasting out of the speakers at professional sporting events to the delight of thousands of fans. That appreciation was only magnified when the Penguins embarked on a lengthy Stanley Cup playoff run last season that ended with the club capturing its first championship in seven years.
The repeated calls for Penguins fans to party hard continued this season. Pittsburgh now sits two victories shy of winning a second consecutive title and will host Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night (8 ET) at PPG Paints Arena. Thanks to a campaign launched by a single fan that snowballed online, W.K. now has a chance to again indirectly and very inadvertently be a part of an epic playoff run in the City of Champions.
"It was just like the crowning achievement on top of this unlikely amazing experience that I got to be a part of," he said. "I just feel very thankful that I'm able to see the glory and hopefully contribute to it in some form or another. The fact that they made it all the way to the finals again this year, I'm not shocked because they're a fantastic team."