interview by RJ Cubarrubia
photos by Brittney Bush Bollay
Vancouver garage-punk duo Japandoids consists of two friends making loud, catchy, and strangely accessible music that sounds like a punk rock summer soundtrack for kids who just like to have fun. Best friends David Prowse and Brian King play loud, fast, and hard, and their debut album, Post-Nothing, has been a word-of-mouth hit, leading to a proper record and worldwide distribution deal with Polyvinyl. Things looked grim earlier this year after Brian’s emergency surgery for a perforated ulcer forced the band to cancel their tour, but luckily the boys are back at it, with a full set of tour dates ready this summer. I sat and talked with David and Brian after their KEXP in-studio to talk about the surgery, the upcoming tour, the Vancouver scene, and more.
This was supposed to be a huge year for you guys, with the new album coming out around the world, and you had a lot of touring scheduled, but all of a sudden there was a medical emergency. What happened? What went down?
Brian: We left to start what was going to be a six-week tour and we played the first show of the tour in Calgary. The next morning, when we were still sleeping, I woke up in just an excruciating amount of pain. Luckily we were ten minutes from the hospital and Dave hobbled me to the hospital and a couple hours after that I was in emergency surgery, spent the next ten days in the hospital, canceled the whole tour, and that was April 24. I’ve just been recovering for the past six weeks trying to get ready to do take two of the same tour. I have to be able to rock out.
Definitely. What’d you do in the hospital? Did Dave come visit you or anything?
Brian: He did! I think I was actually… Well, he was there.
David: Brian was pretty high for the first few days.
Brian: I don’t remember the first few days, like, at all. I know he was there, though.
This tour this summer, this your first big adventure, right?
Brian: Yeah, we’ve kind of done one-off things. For a long time, we couldn’t, like, take a million years off of work and stuff like that because we didn’t have money to do that, so we would do one-off shows. Like, we played CMJ last year and we just went to New York and played a couple of shows. We did Pop Montreal and did the same thing, where we just flew to Montreal, played three shows in three days and came home. We’ve done it in Toronto and then we’ve toured a little bit around here; we played Seattle a couple times and stuff. This is will be an interesting adventure.
You self released two EP’s but you have a label behind you now, Polyvinyl. How’d you get with them? That was recently, right?
Brian: It was very recent, yeah.
David: They felt sorry for us.
Brian: They got a hold of our record and then they got in contact with us. Our record, I guess, is just floating around, and now a lot of people have heard it.
In your music there seems to be a lot of love but kind of some hate for your hometown. Do you guys love it? Hate it?
Brian: Yeah, there’s definitely like a love-hate relationship. I think that Vancouver, especially the music community, is… How would you describe it, Dave?
David: There are a lot of great bands in Vancouver but there’s just a lot of forces working against them. It’s very isolated; it’s hard to come down the West coast because of the border, and then it’s very far from the next major market in Canada. It’s like twelve hours to the next big city. And it’s Calgary, which is where bad things always seem to happen to us. And there’s no KEXP in Vancouver, that’s for sure. There’s just a lack of venues and there’s a lack of real support for all the great bands that are in Vancouver.
You guys are really good friends with a goofy name. Was the name just a spur of the moment thing where it just clicked, like putting together two names?
Brian: It was actually a combination of two names. I really wanted to name the band Pleasure Droids and Dave really wanted to name the band Japanese Scream and neither of us wanted the other name, so I just combined Pleasure Droids and Japanese Scream into Japandroids. At the time, I don’t think either of us really loved it, but it was something that just kept going.
David: Brian is the Dangermouse of band names, mash-up king.
Thanks, guys. I can’t wait to see you play again.
Brian: Cool, thanks.
David: Thanks, man. We’ll see you soon.
Japandroids’ debut album, Post-Nothing, is out now via digital download on Unfamiliar records and will be released worldwide on August 4 on Polyvinyl records. They will be playing at The Vera Project on July 25 as part of the Capitol Hill Block Party and then on August 8 for KEXP’s 7th Annual Summer BBQ at Seattle Center’s Mural Ampitheatre. For more information, visit Japandroids’ Myspace page.