MANILA, Philippines – The most popular acts at last January’s Laneway Music Festival in Singapore were singer-songwriter Gotye, who penned the hit single “Somebody That I Used to Know,” and Norwegian indie-pop darlings Kings of Convenience, who opened the 12-hour show.
The band that made the most impact, however, was an unassuming rock duo from Vancouver, Canada. Few in the crowd knew who Japandroids were when they were called out to the stage, but by the time they finished their fiery 45-minute set, many in the audience had become booty-shaking, head-banging converts.
Japandroids is composed of Brian King and David Prowse. Formed in 2006, they play a pulsing, insistent brand of rock that recall the raw, unbridled sounds of AC/DC and Bruce Springsteen. Many first-time listeners are surprised to find out that they’re actually not a full band with a bass player and rhythm and lead guitars.
For a two-person band, they sure make a lot of noise.
“If there is any one ‘thing’ that makes [us] work, it is probably simply experience/practice,” said Brian King in an exclusive email interview with this writer earlier this year. “We’ve been playing together for a very long time now, but the dynamic was not always as strong as it is today. It took many years of playing together (and a lot of trial and error) before we managed to figure out how to sound exactly like we do now.”
Talking about the band’s beginnings on their website, King and Prowse say the band almost quit performing together just a couple of years after they officially became Japandroids in 2006. It was soon after they had released their debut album, “Post-Nothing.”
“[We] had more or less broken up by the end of 2008; by 2009, we were focused solely on self-releasing Post-Nothing as a final act,” said King. “It was around that time (March, I believe), when trendy American blog Pitchfork Media posted our song ‘Young Hearts Spark Fire’ on their site, instantly exposing us to legions of potential new fans.
“The reaction from that single post was enough to convince us to postpone our break-up a little longer and see if any momentum could be built around this newfound notoriety. And it turned out that it could, and we haven’t looked back since.”
It was largely because of their incendiary live performances that the band started building up more and more notices. By the time they released their sophomore album “Celebration Rock,” they had become indie rock music sensations in their native Canada and elsewhere.
The Laneway Music Festival in Singapore was their very first experience being a part of a traveling festival (Laneway also has editions in parts of Australia, where the festival has its roots). When a reporter asked backstage why many of their songs involve alcohol, King answered with a wry smile:
“Many artists write about what they know, and we know about alcohol, so, for us, it’s about being honest. Plus it helps us loosen up.” – Rappler.com
Japandroids are coming to Manila for the first time on August 19 at the Hard Rock Café. The show is presented by Kindassault. For more information, visit the Kindassault Facebook page.
Paul John Caña is the managing editor of Lifestyle Asia magazine and is a live music geek. Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @pauljohncana