Interview: Brian King on the burning out and reigniting of Japandroids

Japandroids will be back in the country in just a few weeks for their first headline tour of Australia since 2013. For those who remember the tour, you’re likely to associate euphoric sing alongs, a lot of sweat and bodies flung around with the type of show Brian King and David Prowse brought through off the back of 2012’s Celebration Rock.

It’s a similar energy that has filtered through on their 2017 album, Near to The Wild Heart of Life, yet the Japandroids we hear on this record are different to that of on Celebration Rock, certainly different than what was heard on No Singles and Post-Nothing. No, Near to The Wild Heart of Life is King and Prowse in a completely new phase of their artistry. A hard crash forced the Canadian duo to recover off-road and re-establish their ideals of the band moving forward.

“We had played so many shows over such a long period of time, without taking a break,” King remembers. “Not just that, but they were the same kind of shows. We were playing the same songs in the same way. We’ve played hundreds and hundreds of shows together in only a few years’ time. We’d begun to get burned out of what we were doing. Taking a little bit of a break actually got us really excited to play with each other again.”

“The dynamic is actually much better and much more fun. We decided to purposefully let ourselves be free of all the rules we had placed on each other and on the band about how we would sound and how we would record. Whatever we wanted to do, we would just do it. We experimented with different sounds and different styles of song; we put all of that together and I think it’s been a long, long time since we’ve been this excited to play together and have had this much fun on stage.”

Having caught King in an elusive moment of down time for an interview last week, he speaks of the latest Japandroids album with the same level of enthusiasm I would have expected as if we were talking about it on the eve of its release back in January.

“I think this year, especially the last few months, we’re playing some of the best shows that we actually have ever played.” he says. “We started touring on this record with this really big North American tour and it had been a while since we had toured; the shows were all of a sudden, really big. Much bigger than we were used to when we had finished touring the last record. I think we didn’t exactly know how to handle that; there were a lot of rough shows and a lot of growing pains. Over the course of the year, we’ve learned in a way – there are a lot of changes in how we play live. We’ve learned how to put on a bigger and better show than we used to. This tour we just finished was interesting and the shows we had a few weeks ago in Spain for Primavera, as well as in Portugal and Italy, I think they were some of the best shows we’ve ever played.”

“The new songs, we’re still learning the best ways to play them, so there’s still a lot of experimenting going on. It keeps things really interesting and fun for the band, which then transfers to the audience. I think that the audience can tell if a band is having a good time, whether they’re feeling it or not.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bL5F2WtnJqs

The guitarist and vocalist comments on the upcoming Japandroids Australian tour with excitement tour, even if it’s only to continue visiting new places in the country with each tour. Having hit up Wollongong during their brief trip over late last year, King notes that the addition of Geelong and Newcastle on this tour has been completely deliberate on the band’s behalf.

“Every time we get to play Australia, we try to expand the cities that we play, so we don’t just end up touring Australia and always just becomes Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.” he explains. “When we were down there last year, we played Wollongong for the first time and this time, we’re going to play in Geelong and Newcastle – two cities we’d never even been to before. One thing I really like about touring in Australia is that we’ve managed to add something new every time we come down, which really keeps it exciting for us. ”

On drawing new fans in with Near to The Wild Heart of Life, King remarks on the album’s reception live so far and what it means to the band moving forward.

“It’s actually very bizarre,” he mentions. “There are a lot of people coming to our shows who didn’t really know about us before this album; they have no context for the other albums and of the other tours. It’s a really strange dynamic at the shows between people who have been fans for a long time, who have seen us play a lot and who really know the other records, and standing right next to them, these people who have just discovered the band a month ago. All they know is the new record. It’s very interesting, that dynamic, but at the same time, it is very exciting. It’s really great knowing that we can still be discovered by new people after being in a band all this time.”

“Really, what a Japandroids show is, is the band and the audience reciprocating back and forth with each other, to a point where neither one can give anything more. There’s a great energy and a great vibe and everybody leaves very happy and very satisfied by it all.”

Near to The Wild Heart of Life is out now.

Catch Japandroids on the road in Australia next month at the below venues…

JAPANDROIDS AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES

July 11th | Corner Hotel, MELBOURNE
July 12th | The Barwon Club, GEELONG
July 14th | The Factory Theatre, SYDNEY
July 15th | The Small Bandroom, NEWCASTLE
July 16th | The Brightside, BRISBANE
July 18th | Fat Controller, ADELAIDE
July 19th | Rosemount Hotel, PERTH

 

Photo by Leigh Reighton.

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