By Josiah HughesFollowing last year's Rock and Roll Ice Cream, long-running Brooklyn DIY art punks Japanther will continue their busy career arc with another new album. The record, which counts as their 21st release, is called Beets, Limes and Rice and will be released this fall.
Thematically, much of the new album was inspired by the loss of Beau Velasco, the former Death Set member and close friend of Japanther who passed away in 2009.
"This is our first record we put out since he died, so we wrote some very emotional, strange, spiritual music," Japanther's drummer/vocalist Ian Vanek tells Exclaim!
With that in mind, the new album will still maintain the group's signature party vibe. "It's Japanther, we have our own sound," Vanek explains. "I think just for the person composing it, it can be very difficult to find amazement in your expression. It can be particularly difficult when you're sad to write about what you want to write about without making your music sound sad and fucking boring. It's definitely still a very fun record about being a young person in the world that's not afraid to die and not afraid to live."
Outside of Valesco's memory, the album was inspired by the duo's many different surroundings. Recorded in Los Angeles with Michael Blum -- the Madonna/Michael Jackson producer who also worked on Japanther's Rock and Roll Ice Cream -- the LP has elements of the California sun all over. "It has that influence of living by the beach, and going to the studio every day and going to the beach every night and having barbecues. That sound is there, very West Coast surf vibe," Vanek admits.
Ultimately, however, Vanek says that the record's themes are bigger than can be contained in a few statements. "The album starts out with 'first of all, fuck you all,' and that's pretty much the mantra of the record -- that we're making this for cathartic reasons -- as well as a collective spirit. It's not about commerce or media, it's about catharsis and being in love in a time of darkness."
That collective spirit has been deeply ingrained in the band for a full decade now, as they just celebrated their ten-year anniversary with a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg earlier this year. "We're really proud of that," Vanek says of their long history. "When we set out in 2001, we told ourselves that it was an art project and a performance project more so than a band because bands are very limited in what they're allowed to do and what they're allowed to say."
As an art project, Japanther are busier than ever with songs being licensed to French films, plays and a movie trailer. This doesn't include Beets, Limes and Rice, which is set for release on October 18 via Recess Records/Wantage USA. The album will feature cover art from Monica Canilao.
Japanther will perform in Toronto twice before July is over along with shows in Edmonton and Calgary in August. All dates are available below.
7/29 Toronto, ON - The Silver Dollar 7/31 Toronto, ON - Whipper Snapper Fest 8/3 Troy, NY - 51 3rd St SW 8/18 Brooklyn, NY - TBA 8/19 Missoula, MT - Total Fest 8/21 Spokane, WA - TBA 8/23 Edmonton, AB - The Wunderbar 8/24 Calgary, AB - Broken City 8/26 Missoula, MT - The Palace 9/10 Brooklyn, NY - Shea Stadium 9/24 Providence, RI - AS220 9/25 Boston, MA - Boston Compass 9/26 New York, NY - Bowery Electric 9/27 Baltimore, MD - TBA 9/28 Philadelphia, PA - TBA