Published May 23, 2012Just over three years ago, no one outside ― or really even inside ― of Vancouver knew who Japandroids were. At the time, they were a three-year-old band with a couple of self-released, limited EPs and not even enough gigs under their belt to fill up the back of a T-shirt. And according to guitarist/singer Brian King and drummer David Prowse, they were technically broken up. Flash forward to 2012, and they have one of the most anticipated indie rock records in the world.
"Putting out [2009 debut] Post-Nothing was the only thing we were going to do as a band," explains King. "When we decided we were going to work with a label and go on tour and see where this record could go, it was all on borrowed time. It was a very 'winging it' experience."
Adds Prowse, "It all just kept snowballing. Things went wildly beyond our expectations."
The success of Post-Nothing ― the Polaris Music Prize long list, Pitchfork's 15th favourite album, a cover story in this magazine ― was a dream come true for the duo. But once all the touring stopped, they literally had no plan.
"There was a feeling that when the touring stopped it would all be over," says King. "Neither one of us thought about continuing on after we stopped."
Celebration Rock is the name of the second Japandroids album. That it even exists is enough reason to cheer at a title like that, but if ever a title encapsulated an album it's this one. You wouldn't know it from talking to the guys who made it though.
"The second record has become both cliché and lore," says King. "Everybody knows the term 'sophomore slump,' everybody knows the story of the band that had the great debut and then their second one sucked. So, we experienced every possible second record cliché you can imagine while we were working on this one. I'm not embarrassed to say that, but I feel slightly embarrassed that for everything you know and read about bands having to go through that, it couldn't be avoided in any way."
Japandroids need not worry about "sophomore slump" being thrown at Celebration Rock by fans and critics. Once again recorded in VanCity at the Hive Creative Labs by Jesse Gander, it's a louder, riotous, more triumphant album that induces forceful chant-alongs through anthems like "Evil's Sway," "The House That Heaven Built" and arguably their finest song to date, 2010 single "Younger Us." They obviously suffered for their art.
"There was a lot of trying to figure out what to do: what kind of record to make, what to make it sound like, how to record it," admits King. "It was a real kind of mind-fuck for a long time."
"I won't lie, it was stressful finishing this album and making it as good as we thought it could and should be," continues Prowse. "It took a long time, much longer than we initially thought it would. I think a lot of that had to do with knowing a lot more people would hear it and we wanted to make sure we were proud of each song. And I feel we got to that place."