The Japandroids machine burning down boundaries
Coming of age in an era of digital file-sharing was crucial for Japandroids, allowing them to reach audiences which couldn’t physically buy their records, as one half of the duo, David Prowse, tells Ian Maleney
After the success of your first album,
Post-Nothing, you got your first opportunities to really tour a lot and being on the road seems like the natural way for the band to be. How did you find that initial touring experience?
So far, the places we’ve played shows, there’s always been at least a handful of people who are aware of our music. Especially with the way that music can travel so easily across borders now, it can be digitally shared between anybody so it’s a lot easier for us to play places where you can’t actually buy our record. People have heard the songs before and are familiar with the music even if they can’t physically buy a copy in their record store.
In turn, that digital sharing must have been important for you and especially Brian, growing up in such a small town. Do you see it as a way to reach a wider community?
When we were about 16 or something like that, that’s when the internet first really kind of exploded in terms of digital file-sharing of music. That’s when Napster became such a powerful file-sharing platform, I guess. When you’re 16 that’s also kind of the age when you’re really devouring new music as well. It’s a time of your life when you’re just constantly discovering new music and you’re really excited to hear about all kinds of new bands. Obviously there is a downside, it’s not as easy to be a “professional musician” these days, compared to those days. We probably don’t sell as many records as we might have if we were a band in the nineties, but it also allows us to travel to a lot of places I don’t think we would have been able to go to. So it’s a trade-off I think we’re both pretty comfortable with.
It seems like you write songs to connect with people, more so than ever on
Celebration Rock. It’s something you could see as another by-product of growing up somewhat isolated. Do you think that’s the case?
To some extent, that’s kind of a subconscious thing, but I think with our concerts and our relationship with our fans, there’s a very communal kind of feel to it. On this album, maybe there was a conscious decision to write more inclusively. I think, lyrically, Brian thought about that a bit more because of all the shows we’ve played and because of that general feeling we get from playing live and wanting to keep that feeling going and extend on that so every song in the set is like that. Initially it wasn’t a conscious thing. We were just playing the music we wanted to play, without any kind of audience in mind or anything like that. We didn’t have an audience.
“I think with our concerts and our relationship with our fans, there’s a very communal kind of feel to it”
Often with a two-piece band, there’s this tension because the two are so reliant on each other. It can make performances of that sort really intense to watch. Is it something that you’ve felt?
Yeah, if something goes wrong with one of us, there’s nobody else to pick up the slack! When it’s a two-piece band, it’s just the two of you on stage and you can’t just replace one member and keep going because it’s about the connection between two people onstage. Obviously for us, it’s always been the two of us and it always will be, as far as Japandroids go.
That visible relationship often breeds a kind of honesty or sincerity; you just work with what you’ve got and people tend to respect that. And, going on the lyrics and your live shows, it seems like you’re a very sincere band.
Well, thank you! I totally agree. It is that kind of thing where, when you play on stage in front of a crowd, you just kind of have to go for it. Sometimes little things go wrong and sometimes big things go wrong too, sometimes your amps blow up on stage, but there’s nothing you can do in that moment besides play as hard as you can and put on a good show for the people who have come to see you play. What are you going to do to ensure that this is a memorable experience? It’s really important to us that every show we play we can be proud of and when we look back on it, we can say we played the best show we could that night.
Japandroids play the Workman’s Club, Dublin, on Thursday, and Mandela Hall, Belfast, on Friday 17th. Celebration Rock is out now on Polyvinyl Records