Dynamic duo

Japandroids put the ‘wham, pow, bam’ in indie rock

By Tim Anderl
Photo: Japandroids play Columbus June 12 [l to r] Brian King and Dave Prowse; photo credit: Leigh Righton

It is nearly impossible to fathom that the sound generated by two-piece Canadian rock phenomenon Japandroids isn’t the result of a much larger powerhouse sextet or septet. With sights set on making as much noise as humanly possible, guitarist Brian King and drummer Dave Prowse run and dominate the gauntlet of rock ‘n’ roll tricks and sub-genres.

After self-releasing two EPs, Japandroids released Post-Nothing via Polyvinyl in 2009. They toured extensively throughout 2009 and 2010, playing more than 200 shows in more than 20 countries and quickly gained notoriety for their extremely energetic live performances. Their latest album, Celebration Rock, lived up to its title, garnering high praise from the tastemakers at Pitchfork, Spin and Rolling Stone.

Dayton City Paper caught up with Prowse as the duo prepared for a summer run of dates to discuss the record, the power of back ground vocals and whether or not they’d ever come to blows with Danzing. This is what he said …

We are coming up on festival season and I imagine you guys are playing a bunch of those. Are those ideal venues for your band or do you prefer the intimacy of a club?

I think we have a pretty good tour coming up that is a “best of both worlds” kind of deal. In theory you can play to a lot more people at festivals, although I hope we’ll be playing to a lot of people at our regular club shows. It is also nice to be able to play somewhere that is a little more intimate where there isn’t a giant barrier between you and the audience and you can play for a hell of a lot longer, which is always fun. -Dave Prowse

I always enjoy what kind of backstage beefs come out of these things. Have you ever been a part of one of those?  

A what? -DP

A beef. Like, have you guys ever punched Danzig in the face or anything like that?

(Laughter) Fortunately, no. I have not punched Danzig in the face, nor have I been punched in the face by Danzig (laughter). We are pretty peaceful dudes. We come from your gentle northern neighbors. -DP

What drummer did you grow up idolizing and wanting to be?

Some of the biggest influences for me were drummers that played locally in Vancouver and Victoria. They were people that I could actually watch regularly and try to emulate.    -DP

Celebration Rock came out about a year ago. Are you still on the tour cycle for that or are you working on the next record?

We are still pretty knee deep in it. We are finally getting to the point now where we are talking about the last shows for the album cycle. The next thing on the horizon is starting to be stationary for a little while and thinking about another record. -DP

The background vocals seem to be a crucial part of your performance.  How important is that element in creating an interactive atmosphere in the live setting?

I think it is pretty instrumental. We definitely clued in that we’d tapped into something, when people would sing along to very specific parts of that song. Once we had that feeling, we recognized it was an amazing thing to interact with an audience like that and to see that they felt like they were as much a part of the show as we were. It was an amazing feeling to have and we got greedy for that. So, on this last record, we wanted to have more of that feeling throughout the record and we wanted to have a really strong record from start to finish where we felt like people would be excited for whatever song it was, would be wanting to sing along and would be willing to engage with us in that way. That was a very conscious decision on the new record because those parts are so fun to play live. -DP

So here’s the question on everyone’s minds: When will you do a triple bill tour of Japan with Japanther and Japancakes?

(Laughter) Very good question (laughter). Coming up with a band name is one of the worst parts about being in a band. It is difficult to come up with something you feel like you could live with for any length of time. When we came up with the name Japandroids, we had no idea that we’d have to live with that name for seven plus years. That is just one of those funny things where you pick something and then you are stuck with it for better or worse. -DP

Japandroids perform on Wednesday, June 12 at Newport Music Hall, 1722 N. High St. in Columbus. Tickets are $5. Doors open at 7 p.m. For more information, visit japandroids.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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