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Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Friday 30th August, 2013 8:47AM

Canadian two-piece Japandroids tore up the stage at Laneway Festival earlier this year on the back of the release of their sophomore album Celebration Rock. They will finish up that same tour - they've been on the road for 18 months now - after three New Zealand dates, in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, and UnderTheRadar caught up with David Prowse to discuss life on the road and the future of his band.

Hey David, how are you?

I’m well, how are you?

I'm good thank you - I just had an interesting conversation with reception, trying to get connected to your hotel room.

Yeah I think a few people have had some problems with that - you made it through though!

I did! So you’re on tour at the moment?

Yes we are. We just played our first show of this leg of the tour and we’re playing a bunch of shows all over Asia, and then we’re coming down to New Zealand and Australia. So our first show was last night here in Bangkok and it was a success, it was really fun. We really had no idea what to expect in terms of how many people were going to show up and how it was going to go, but a tonne of people came and it was really fun.

That’s awesome. Have you toured that part of the world before?

We toured it a little bit when we came down and played Laneway Festival back in January and February - we did get to play a few places in Asia along the way. On this tour we’re basically trying to hit a lot of the cities here that we didn’t play on the last tour. On the last tour we played Hong Kong and Taipei and a couple of shows in Korea, and a couple of shows in Japan. This time we’re playing the Philippines, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok obviously, Ho Chi Minh city. We’re basically trying to play everywhere in the world haha, and we’re slowly knocking more and more off of the list as we go. It's unchartered territory for us on this tour which is really cool.

Considering you’ve played all over the world, in quite different geographical and cultural areas, do you notice a difference in how crowds react to you and take in live music?

Yeah, and last night was actually a bit like that. The most surreal – and I’m sure this is a pretty common answer from musicians who have toured a lot – live show experience, for a North American band anyway, is playing in Japan. Japan is a wonderful place and I really love every minute of time we have spent there, but there's a really strange culture around live music and shows. Basically everybody is really respectful but in kind of an unsettling way. You’ll play a song and people will be dancing around and having a good time and trying to sing along to the songs and stuff like that, but as soon as the song ends there is polite applause and maybe some hooting and hollering for a second and then complete silence. Like complete and utter silence, and there are hundreds of faces standing at you smiling, politely waiting for you to start the next song. It’s so quiet in these venues – in a rock club with 400 people – that Brian (King) and I can have a conversation on the stage without talking into the microphones - you could hear a pin drop.

The other thing that’s interesting about it too is that I felt like pretty much everybody in the audience in Japan wanted to get their photo taken with you and wanted your autograph. So it was interesting playing in Thailand because I feel like they have that similarity - albeit a little bit rowdier than our shows in Japan - but there was still that fandom feeling. I was outside smoking a cigarette after the show and somebody came out for an autograph and then these security guys came up and pushed me aside for a second and set up a picnic table so I had an autograph-signing station, because I guess they saw what was coming before I did. I was just like "oh I’m going to go outside and I’ll say hi to whoever’s out there". But there was this endless stream of people coming up to get their photo taken with me. It’s obviously super flattering, but a pretty funny interaction. These security guys knew what was coming and I was like “what the hell is going on”, and then “boom” this table pops up and I was like “wow this is a professional operation”.

That’s quite bizarre to hear as someone from New Zealand, because we’re known for pretending we don’t recognize celebrities. It's interesting how different cultures react to fame.

That's totally true, and it’s the same in Canada for the most part. In Canada people are more than ready to be totally wild in the crowd but then when they come up to you individually after the show they don’t have that same level of – I don’t know what the right word is without making me sound arrogant – idolatry, I guess. When you’re in the States people are more like “hey we should go get a beer”.

The last time we caught up with you was when you played Laneway Festival in New Zealand earlier this year. What have you been up to since then? Just touring?

Yeah, pretty much just touring. We’ve been touring for a year-and-a-half at this point, with some breaks in-between. After Laneway Festival we went to Japan and Korea. From there we went back to the States and we did a bunch of different festivals and TV stuff in March, then Mexico, then a tour with Gasoline Anthem, then Coachella and some touring around Coachella. Then we went on another tour of festivals and clubs in the US and Canada. From that tour we went on our own headline tour of festivals and clubs in Europe. Between Laneway Festival and this upcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand we’ve played at least 100 shows. It’s been busy but it’s been really fun obviously - it’s something that we really love to do and it’s a pretty amazing luxury to get to tour to so many different far flung places and have people come see you play.

Last time we talked, a lot of the conversation was about keeping the band indefinite; taking it one step at a time. At that time you didn’t even know if Japandroids would release a third album. Is that still the case?

Yeah it is. I mean at this point we can see that the touring is going to wind down - this is going to be the last proper tour we do for this record. We have a few festivals lined up in October and there’s talk of doing a few more shows here and there but really touring in earnest is done after we play New Zealand. So I think the big thing for both of us at this point is that we want to take some serious time off. I think one of the biggest things we learned from the process of making Celebration Rock was that we were really naive to think we could go straight into the studio and record a new album after touring for a year and a half. We were a lot more tired than either of us realised from touring that heavily, so I don’t think we’re feeling that same pressure to do something that quickly. Also a lot has changed for us, mostly in really positive ways. We have the luxury of having a bit more time and we don’t have to worry about taking time off the road because the record has done well and we’ve done a lot of shows so we’re doing OK financially, among other things. I think we’ve also learned some lessons for that whole process so we’ll take some time off, and then figure out what we’re going to do next. I don’t have any answers for you about what's next – I’d love to know as well but I think it’s something we have figure out after decompressing from how crazy our lives have been lately.


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