Laneway Special: Interview with Japandroids

Original article by Andric Tham, HYPE Magazine

2012’s Celebration Rock may not have been Japandroids’ seminal work, but it is their finest work yet – a spectacular album that the band calls “a fancy way to advertise our live show,” says drummer/vocalist David Prowse. “They are what we want people to come out to.” They are one of the many acts lined up for the St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival on Jan 26.

A primarily ‘live’ act, the music Japandroids makes is loud, fast, and all-out reckless. This is a band whose music doesn’t let up unless it’s stopping to build up to an even louder, faster pace so you can switch dance moves on the concert floor. It’s the rock music equivalent of an alcohol-fuelled frenzy from when you were still in your teenage years.

David explains, “At our shows, there’s sort of this exchange happening. It’s participatory. Our crowds are very involved in it. It’s a very special feeling to play your music and have them sing along, dancing along, jumping [to the music]”.

He adds, “I think, the main thing is to communicate a feeling to people, to share something with people, just to kinda say, ‘Sometimes I feel like this, and does anybody feel like that?’”

But the music they perform are hardly love songs; owing to their hard-hitting, stadium-worthy, party rock sound to the grandfathers of classic rock and pioneers of the punk movement both. Drawing influences from both genres, they’re able to make rock music that extols the virtues of almost all of our favourite rock tunes, from Nirvana to Bruce Springsteen, all without sounding like any other rock band that came before them.

The world is lucky to receive them, then. Fresh off their 2012 North American tour, the annual Laneway Festival is bringing them to Asia for the first time with their show at The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay, before going to Australia for the main leg of the festival.

This rock duo from Canada has been so busy touring that they haven’t had the time to celebrate. “We celebrate on the road,” David adds.

As a band that incorporates so many elements into their music and take it to the stage with such great fervour, there’s much to celebrate. It’d not be difficult to imagine their universal appeal to fans of rock music. They have made it onto virtually every “Best of 2012” list from music blogs to established music magazines like SPIN and Rolling Stone.

How did Japandroids master their bedroom craft so well that they became a serious touring band making stops around the world?

The band expressed that the reception to their album was more than they ever expected. “[When we started] we were playing to 5 people. We don’t love it so much then as we love it now,” David says. “At this point we’ve gone so far beyond what I imagined we would do. It’s amazing and surreal when we stop to think about it. When we started this band, we wanted to tour across the US and Canada. This is now pretty standard for us. We’ve toured so many other places beyond that.”

Despite the sheer technical sophistication of their music, the way they approach performing is remarkably simple. “You make a record that people will like, and you want to play shows. At least for me, I didn’t delude myself into thinking, I started a band, so in five years I’m going to be a rockstar playing a stadium, you know? We didn’t have those goals. So far beyond what we’ve imagined. It’s surreal.”

How does it feel to be such a success? “When they love you and they will,” the duo sings in the lead single off their second album. “And if they try to slow you down, tell them all to go to hell.”

All photos courtesy of Leigh Righton, Maoya Bassiouni and Simone Cecchetti.

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