Published Jan 26, 2017There's simplicity to Japandroids' music that belies the Vancouver duo's massive sound. At their core, it's just guitarist Brian King, drummer David Prowse and lots of blood, sweat and shouting. So when word got out that the band's third album, Near to the Wild Heart of Life (out now on Arts & Crafts), would potentially flip that script, fans were left wondering what to expect from these purveyors of fist-pumping rock anthems.
Here are five things to know about Japandroids' new album.
1. The album's genesis was the debut performances from Dan Boeckner's Operators.
After the gruelling Celebration Rock tour, King and Prowse took some time off, during which King moved to Toronto. In spring 2014, Prowse came to visit and the two ended up playing with Boeckner's new band at their first shows. "Dan's a friend and he asked us if we'd like to play some Wolf Parade songs with him," King says. "That was one of those moments where you don't realize how much you miss doing something until you do it again. Even though we weren't playing as Japandroids, that feeling of being on stage together lit that fire."
2. What the band didn't want was more important than what they did want.
"Our modus operandi since we started was that Japandroids were a live band and we wanted the record to reflect the live show," says King. For Near to the Wild Heart of Life, they wanted to break their own writing style. "It never occurred to us to write a song that wasn't at a breakneck pace. It never occurred to us to slow things down, to experiment with different kinds of instrumentation or different sounds. Nothing is off the table now."
3. Lyrics took priority over music.
"When we made our first record, we were primarily concerned with the guitar and the drums. Vocals and singing and writing lyrics — neither one of us had a desire to do that. With this one, the guitars and the music took a bit of a back seat. I'd never say that I'd found my voice, but I think that I've discovered a way that I write that I like and I've become comfortable with that. I don't or can't write in the way that a lot of the great artists that I love are able to write. It just comes down to embracing your own personal idiosyncrasies."
4. Their music tastes have changed.
"At this time in our lives, we're listening to music that's not necessarily similar to the music we make. As we've gotten older, we've discovered all kinds of new music and our listening habits and tastes have changed. With this record, we've started to let those influences seep in. When we were writing this record, I wasn't listening to a lot of stuff that was really rocking, or really fast or what you could call Japandroids-esque."
5. They remain their own biggest influence.
"Musically, more so than other bands or other albums, our biggest influence was ourselves in a way. That's a really pretentious thing to say, but what I mean is that we had these two records that sounded very similar. The biggest influence musically was trying to get away from that and expand on what a Japandroids song is and could be."