FREE PRESS SUMMER FEST COUNTDOWN
David Prowse of the Canadian rock duo Japandroids answered some questions about their latest album Celebration Rock, playing Texas music fests, and being self-aware about their success. This week the band makes a stop in Austin for a show at Emo’s, and their first stop in Houston to play the Free Press Summer Fest. Interview by Lee Ackerley
Lee Ackerley: Celebration Rock sounds incredible, what was the process in making it? Any departure from how you madePost-Nothing?
David Prowse: I don’t think it was a radical departure, but we certainly just wanted to continue to grow as musicians. We recorded this in studio with the same engineer, it is still just the two of us playing. We kept the formula very similar to Post-Nothing. Mainly because we played a couple hundred shows, and going into Celebration Rock we improved so much as musicians over that time, just playing that much that we are capable of doing something better with the same tools.
Do you write while you are on tour?
It’s pretty minimal the amount of writing we do on the road, some ideas might come, but we’re just focused on tour and we’re not a band that will jam out during sound check. I don’t know how bands do that to be honest. So we started from scratch with Celebration Rock right after we finished touring for Post-Nothing.
You just came through town for SXSW, how do you like the festival?
Well, this was our third time down there. It was certainly quite different from what I expected it to be. [SXSW] is unique and pretty amazing to hear the shear amount of bands that are playing, its like every band you can think of all down there for a week period and they’re all playing 17 shows. It’s pretty absurd the amount of music that can be seen. From what I understand the past history of the festival is that it was a place to discover up-and-coming bands. I don’t feel like it is that way anymore; it’s not like Japandroids are undiscovered. We played a show with the Stooges, I mean do the Stooges need to play SXSW? I’m glad they did, and it was fucking awesome! But it’s not exactly what I thought SXSW was about. It seems to be changing in that sense, but it’s still a pretty amazing thing so I cant knock it.
How did you end up playing FPSF?
Honestly, one thing that played into it was that we had never played Houston ever so it seemed like a good opportunity to play. At this point in our career, we’ve toured a lot in the last five years or so, and we make an effort to play every place we can. Houston is one of the last major cities that we haven’t played yet. It’s actually pretty mind-blowing considering how big it is. So that’s a real exciting thing for us, and also since it’s a festival it’s your own weird world. You get to lay in front of a lot of people, and then you get to check out a lot of bands too.
How did you end up on the Polyvinyl label?
I guess it started when we were picked up by a really small Canadian label called Unfamiliar that actually doesn’t exist anymore. It was basically a hobby label run by two people in addition to their normal jobs. They put out 500 copies of Post Nothing in Canada, and then Polyvinyl heard about us after that. We started getting buzz after that. We had a few American labels approach us, including Polyvinyl, and they ended up putting out Post-Nothing about four months after it was released in Canada.
Brian King and David Prowse
I ran into a cassette tape of yours, are you big fans of the cassette comeback?
I have to be honest with you; I really don’t understand cassette tapes. I’m not that big of a fan, I mean they’re cool, and I’m starting to understand it a bit more, but I haven’t had a cassette I can listen too in a long time. We used to record a lot of our jams for the band on cassettes and I remember having cassette tapes as a kid. I feel like there is a nostalgia factor for some people and then it’s interesting for some people who’ve never used them I guess? Anyway there’s a guy who does cassette releases for Polyvinyl and he wanted to do one for us, so we were like sure why not. I’ve seen that more and more, I have friends who have put out tapes for their bands. When I actually saw the tapes it was cool, but up until then I was just thinking this is weird, and then after I saw it, it was cool seeing them because I remember having Nirvana’s Nevermindand Pearl Jam’s Ten on tape, so it was nostalgic like that. But I don’t know. I don’t know how I feel about cassettes, but I’m definitely confused.
You talked about playing onstage with the Stooges, what has been your biggest ‘Holy Shit’ moment since the band started taking off?
This life is becoming more normal as it goes on, but it’s pretty much been a succession of those moments. I think when you’re doing whatever you do in life, you don’t always pause to reflect what is going on, but every once in awhile I’ll stop and actually think about what’s going on in my life and how absurd it is. For example, we played Coachella, and it’s obviously a prestigious and big festival, but Brian and I road tripped out there eight years ago from Vancouver when we were kids, just to go see a bunch of bands that we loved. If someone told me that in 2005, when we were there, that eight years later we would be playing on the same stage as The Kills and whoever else I would have told them that they are completely fucking insane. And then we got to do that. There have been so many moments like that. Like if you had told me that we would share a stage with the fucking Stooges? You know its just like ‘Get out of here!,’ that’s such an impossibility. It’s probably good that most of the time I’m not reflecting on it too much, because I’d probably lose my mind just thinking about it. But those moments happen on a regular basis. I think we are a good band, definitely. But I am also painfully aware that there are a lot of bands out there that don’t get this opportunity. We have a lot of friends in bands at home that are in really great bands but they haven’t had the opportunity to tour as much as we have and they haven’t gotten as much love as we have. It’s not necessarily that they’re worse than us, a lot of it has to do with luck, the right person writing the right review, playing the right show on the right day. You have to be good but you have to be lucky too, and we know how lucky we are.