We saw a lot of great acts a few weekends back at Pitchfork Music Festival, one of which is a duo that has a lot of things to be celebrating at this point in time. Their new record Celebration Rock is being hailed as one of the best records of the year, and even one of the best summer albums ever by Rolling Stone. Brian King and David Prowse of Polyvinyl Records‘ Japandroids have a lot to be happy about.
We got the chance to sit down with Prowse, the absolute pummeling drum machine of the band during the festival last weekend, where they discussed meeting J. Spaceman of Spiritualized, being starstruck, their new record and even a little baseball.
Smile Politely: When I first contacted you about the interview, you gave me your phone number. Do you usually do that?
David Prowse: Personally, I’m into the idea of having contact with fans. You know, we don’t answer Facebook messages, but we do answer the Japandroids email and it’s posted everywhere. Obviously, there is a line you gotta cross. For example, you get innodated with too many emails, so we drew a line in the sand where we wouldn’t respond to those, but if anybody emails us, we will contact them directly. I think that is important because the fans give us this chance to have us live this kind of life. We are very loyal to our fans in the same way our fans are loyal to us. It’s important to be accessible, I guess.
SP: Congrats on Celebration Rock Breaking the Billboard Top 40. Were you surprised?
DP: The record is done way better than I thought it would. It’s a bit strange and exciting. We wanted to make a record that was better than Post-Nothing and we thought it was a clear improvement, but I personally never thought would be much more successful than Post-Nothing. We wanted to make a record that we were proud of and thought was better. We never thought about if it would be more popular. Now that we are on tour, it has become quite obvious that the new songs are eclipsing the old songs pretty much instantaneously. As soon as the record came out, people are excited about the old songs, but people are much much more excited about the new songs. A strange thing for sure.
SP: At Primavera, you got to meet J. Spaceman.
DP: I didn’t really meet him — I rode an elevator with him and refrained from trying to speak to him because he is an artist that I idolize. He didn’t do anything intimidating besides being himself. I didn’t make the move. I was having a conversation with someone else about how we are a “real band” now that gets to tour, but I still view myself as a music fan. Yea, I get to live this life, but when I run into musicians I really admire, I view myself as a music fan and not as a peer to somebody like Jason Spaceman. I’m just still that kid that has seen him play a million times and listened to his records a million times.
Now that I’m a paid musician, I don’t all of a sudden think that I’m on the same level as him or anything like that. That idea seems absurd to me. Yeah, I was in an elevator with him. Primavera is a really strange beast where all of the artists stay in the same hotel, so you run into a lot of artists. Last time I was at Primavera, I ran into a lot of artists like Steve Malkmus and Frank Black, all of these musical idols, but I didn’t talk to one of them. I was that weird, awkward dude who maybe said “Hi,” but that’s about it.
SP: Speaking of Primavera, you got to see a reunited Refused. Would you ever consider a Japandroids reunion?
DP: [Laughs] It’s a really strange question to answer because it is weird to think about reuniting before you have broken up as a band. The idea of thinking about a reunion seems totally absurd. I don’t think so. Who knows, I guess. Most bands who reunite don’t seem very genuine. One of the things that was impressive about Refused was that yea, they are a reunion band, but they owned it and absolutely slayed. A incredibly powerful performance. They were the best band I saw at that festival.
There are a lot of times where reunions is nolstalgic and fun to watch them play, but it is sad at the end of the day because it isn’t the real thing and most of the members aren’t interested in being near each other and they are not interested in playing together for money or whatever. Refused to me seemed like a genuine thing where they wanted to play and they wanted to put on the best show possible. They blew me away, honestly. They were great.SP: How was the Cubs game?
DP: It was really fun. I grew up on baseball. I’ve grown up on baseball, my dad is a really big baseball fan, and my brother and I are really big on baseball, so getting to see a Cubs game at Wrigley Field is a pretty amazing thing, even though I don’t follow baseball as much anymore.
SP: What is your favorite Jason Spaceman work?
DP: Probably Ladies and Gentleman. Probably the record I listened to the most was Live at Royal Albert Hall, which came out right after Ladies and Gentleman. I really love that era. The album that came right after that Let It Come Down was the album I got into Spiritualized on, but Ladies and Gentleman and Live at Royal Albert Hall are incredibly powerful records.
SP: Have you ever cried to Broken Heart?
DP: [Laughs] No!
SP: Did you hear Chief Keef made a surprise visit to the festival?
DP: I also heard he was here. I have never heard of him to be honest with you. People were really hyping him up. I actually ran into him at the artist lounge area briefly. He is a super young dude and a rap phenomenon or something. He is a big deal apparently.
SP: I found it suprising that you are from Vancouver but have never been interviewed by Nardwuar. Any thoughts on that or on Nardwuar?
DP: I love Nardwuar. I’ve watched a million of his interviews. We (Brian and I) have actually met him many many times over the years when he goes to shows. When he comes to shows, he dresses like that day to day and he still dresses in that plaid and suspenders. He will still have that tartened baret on and suspenders and stuff. We have met him a bunch of times randomly at different music festivals and stuff like that. I hope to do an interview with him but it just hasn’t worked out so far. We are big fans.
SP: You recently toured with Vancouver hip-hop artist Candece Weapon. Would you guys consider touring with different genres or other hip hop?
DP: Totally. We had a great time touring with Candece Weapon. From a selfish point of view, it is amazing to tour with a hip hop act because logistically, it is much easier to set up. The soundchecks take twenty minutes and you don’t have to move things. It was the easiest tour we have ever done. They are awesome guys and we love the music that they have made. Afterwards, we were half joking and talked about just touring with hip hop.
SP: Any Vancouver bands you would like to recommend to the readers?
DP: Apollo Ghosts is my favorite Vancouver band. White Lung are a really great band. New Sensei, Korean Gut, No Gold, Movieland, Hermedic, Previous Tenants, Ghosthouse, and Frog Eyes.
Live photos by Sean O’Connor.