Canadian guitar-and-drums duo Japandroid’s 2012 album “Celebration Rock” is one of the most acclaimed rock albums of the past decade, living up to its title with fist-pumping anthems about living life to the fullest.
While the album brought the duo to unexpected levels of popularity, they faced a big challenge figuring out what to do next.
Five years later, the band returned with “Near to the Wild Heart of Life,” which takes its sound in new directions. The anthems are still there, but so are acoustic guitars, loops and even synthesizers.
amNewYork interviewed with drummer Dave Prowse via email.
What was your vision going into recording this album?
The writing of this record was largely defined by what we did NOT want to do, rather than having a clear vision of what we wanted. After a couple of full-length records, a couple EPs and a bunch of singles, I think we felt a bit boxed in by our sound. We were both much more excited at the idea of moving beyond what we had done in the past, rather than just cruising along and making “Celebration Rock (Part 2).”
Were you surprised by how much “Celebration Rock” connected with people? What do you think drew people in about it?
When we made “Celebration Rock,” as with [2009 debut] “Post-Nothing,” we simply tried to make the best record we were capable of making. ... Very early on after “Celebration Rock” was released, it was very clear that we were making a pretty big jump in terms of popularity. It was very exciting. I’m not entirely sure why, but our fans connect with us in a very rare way. A lot of our fans don’t just like our band, they LOVE our band. They scream along to every word at the shows. They see us every time we play their city. They fly to places just to see us play. We are very, very fortunate to have that kind of connection to our fans.
Are you worried about trying to reproduce the new songs live with just the two of you?
In the past, our albums have always been glorified live recordings, so we’ve never had to think about “live” vs. “studio” versions of our songs. So, yeah, this is the first time we’ve ever really had to worry about honoring the recorded version of a song in the live setting. It’s a challenge, I suppose, but I think of it more like a fun little puzzle to work on. I think there is room for these songs to grow and evolve in the live setting, and it will be interesting to see how we play them in a few months, compared to the way we played them last night. It’s fun to challenge yourself!
Do you ever think you might add more members?
Never say never, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.