Growing up with London-based indie band Lost in Japan
The band breaks down their journey from jamming sessions at school to their newly released self-titled debut
Hard-working London, Ont., pop-rock band Lost In Japan have only been together for a couple of years, but they’ve already got two releases to their name — the most recent of which is their selftitled debut full-length album, released last month.
The band — featuring Addison Johnson (vocals and guitar), Nolan Peake (bass), James Wiseman (drums), and Chris Hoekstra (lead guitar) — formed while attending the music industry arts program at London’s Fanshawe College, and began jamming together before officially forming in late 2016.
The group’s new album is the followup to their 2017 five-song EP, “Ghost and the Wolf,” and, in a phone interview earlier this week, Johnson said the band wasted no time between releases.
“As soon as the EP was released, I think we waited two months and then we were back in the studio working on this record,” he said.
“We wrote it over the span of the next year, and we were just going in and recording three songs and leaving, (then) writing three songs and going back in and recording. It took a while to do and honestly, we just wrote the last song off the record I think two months before we actually released the record, so it was pretty close together. But it’s cool to see how fast it came together and it’s doing well, too, which means we did something right, so it feels good.”
The album’s dozen songs are connected by lyrical themes addressing the band members’ coming of age and collective realization that letting go of the past was the first step to moving forward, said Johnson.
“There’s big changes going on in our lives — we were all done school and feeling nostalgic because, you know, it’s growing up, you’re out of school and you’ve got to start your career, work on your job, and a lot of the time you can get caught in trying to recreate the past,” he said.
“But we kind of realized while we were writing these songs that you can’t really do that, it’s about creating new memories and finding meaning and not holding onto the past, because that can only just bring you suffering in the long run. And we thought that was a really profound concept, so we just wanted to talk about that in a lot of our songs.”
The album was funded in part by the $6,000 the band won in the Made in London
contest sponsored by classic rock radio station FREE 98.1, and the group also won the London edition of the Jim Beam Make History Talent Search. By lucky circumstance, three of the tracks on their new record were produced by Moe Berg, former frontman for CanRock legends the Pursuit of Happiness, at EMAC Recording Studios in London.
“We were supposed to record at a studio here in London, and our producer couldn’t make it to those sessions, so Moe Berg actually stepped up and offered to record three tracks with us,” explained Johnson. “He’s awesome, he just knew exactly what to do.”
The rest of the album was recorded at the Sugar Shack studio with producer Kyle Ashbourne, with whom the band has a close musical connection.
“Kyle’s amazing, we consider him a fifth member of the band. He knows exactly what we want and he also helped with some of the writing process as well,” Johnson said, “just knowing exactly what part should go where. He knows his stuff.”
The group, whose radio-ready indie pop has drawn comparisons to Tokyo Police Club and Arkells, are in the midst of a run of dates in Ontario and Quebec to promote their new album, with their eye on a cross-Canada tour next summer. The band’s current tour will bring them to Harmony Lunch in Waterloo Nov. 15, which Addison estimated would count as their 10th show in the region.
Playing a number of gigs with Kitchener band Hugo Alley and bass player Peake’s Waterloo background have helped the band gradually build a following here, Johnson said, along with the group’s crowd-pleasing live performances.
“We’re there to make people feel happy, that’s our goal,” he said. “We want people to walk away feeling like they felt connected with us, and we want to connect with them as well.”
Lost in Japan is Addison Johnson, Nolan Peake, James Wiseman and Chris Hoekstra