Japandroids is a Canadian rock band from Vancouver, British Columbia, consisting of Brian King (guitar, vocals) and David Prowse (drums, vocals).
Formed in 2006, the band rose to prominence following the release of their debut album Post-Nothing (2009). Their second album, Celebration Rock (2012), was released to widespread critical acclaim, with Rolling Stone listing it as one of "The 10 Coolest Summer Albums of All Time", and Spin naming them 2012's Band of the Year. Japandroids toured heavily in support of both albums, gaining notoriety for their live performances and extensive international concert tours. Between 2009 and 2013, the band performed approximately 500 shows in 44 countries across North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania.
Japandroids' music has been described as "one part classic rock, one part punk", due to their blending of classic rock influences such as Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, with punk rock influences such as the Replacements and Hüsker Dü.
Early years (2006–2008)
Japandroids was formed in 2006 by Brian King (guitar, vocals) and David Prowse (drums, vocals). The two met in 2000 while attending the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia, and upon discovering a mutual interest in music, began attending live shows together regularly in Victoria and Vancouver. In 2003, Prowse moved to Vancouver, transferring to Simon Fraser University. Eager to form their own band, King agreed to relocate to Vancouver following his graduation, doing so in 2005. Heavily influenced by the raw and energetic recordings of the Sonics, King and Prowse began writing and recording music in 2006, hoping to emulate the same style. While they originally intended to find a third member to act as lead vocalist, they later decided to forego having a specific lead singer and simply share vocal duties. The name Japandroids came from two other band name ideas: Japanese Scream (from Prowse) and Pleasure Droids (from King). Occasionally they would spell it without vowels, as JPNDRDS.
Frustrated by the lack of support for live music in Vancouver, as well as the difficulty of 'breaking into' the local music scene, King and Prowse regularly set up their own shows. Inspired by the do-it-yourself methods of bands like Fugazi, they would often arrange for a venue or space to play, rent PA equipment, design and distribute fliers and posters, as well as arrange for their friends to help run the shows. Japandroids performed their first live show on December 30, 2006. Over the next 2 years, they would perform regularly in Vancouver, but managed only short, sporadic tours due to conflicts with King's career in Geology. During this period, Japandroids self-released two EPs, 2007's All Lies, and 2008's Lullaby Death Jams. Each EP was limited to 500 copies, and would later be re-released as a compilation titled No Singles.
Japandroids recorded their first full-length album, Post-Nothing in the summer of 2008, with the intention of self-releasing it in 2009. However, by the fall of 2008, King and Prowse had become convinced that the band was going nowhere, and mutually decided to call it quits at the end of the year. It was agreed that their appearances at Pop Montreal in Montreal and CMJ Music Marathon in New York City would be their final live performances. It was also agreed that they would self-release the album early in 2009, but would not promote it. By December 2008, King was already attempting to assemble a new band.
In January 2009, Japandroids signed to independent Canadian label Unfamiliar Records, who were eager to release the album, despite the band's reservations about continuing. Frustrated by label interest only after they had decided to break-up, King and Prowse reluctantly agreed to continue Japandroids temporarily, and began performing live again. In March 2009, taste-making website Pitchfork Media awarded the song "Young Hearts Spark Fire" a 'Best New Track' designation, exposing the band to a large audience outside of Canada. Their debut album, Post-Nothing was released in Canada in April 2009, originally on vinyl only. Pitchfork immediately championed the album, awarding it a 'Best New Music' designation, and praising its rawness, energy and reckless abandon. Japandroids were subsequently signed to Polyvinyl Record Co. in June 2009.
Post-Nothing was released worldwide in August 2009 to widespread critical acclaim, especially in Canada where Exclaim! named it the second best album of 2009. It was long-listed for the Polaris Music Prize as well as nominated for the Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year. The album was also well-received internationally, appearing on many year-end lists including Pitchfork Media (#15), Spin (#16), NME (#39), The A.V. Club (#25), Pop Matters (#35), Stereogum (#21), and reached No. 22 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart.
Japandroids toured extensively to promote the album, earning praise for their energetic live performances. The Post-Nothing Tour consisted of 7 individual legs, and included over 200 shows in more than 20 countries. While primarily headlining their own shows, Japandroids also toured supporting acts such as A Place To Bury Strangers and Health in Europe, and The Walkmen in North America. The tour was originally scheduled to begin on April 23, 2009 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. After performing only one show, Japandroids were forced to postpone and reschedule the remainder of their first full-scale North American tour due to a health emergency. On the morning of April 24, 2009, King was checked into Calgary's Foothills Medical Center to undergo emergency surgery for a life-threatening perforated ulcer. Touring resumed June 13, 2009 after King's recovery with a performance at Vancouver's Music Waste festival, and continued interrupted through to the final show October 27, 2010 at Maxwell's in Hoboken, New Jersey. Among the dates of the Post-Nothing Tour were numerous festival appearances in North America and Europe, including Pitchfork Music Festival, Sasquatch!, Bonnaroo, Osheaga Festival, Roskilde Festival, and Primavera Sound.
Initially, the duo desired to include several more tracks on the album, but were unable due to insufficient funds. Many of the un-included tracks that the duo had written for the album were later recorded and released in 2010 as series of limited edition 7" singles. These tracks include "Art Czars", "Younger Us", and "Heavenward Grand Prix". The same year, Japandroids re-released their first two EPs as a compilation titled No Singles. The band has stated that both the 7" singles series, as well as the No Singles compilation, were designed to appease fans desire for more music, as they would not be able to record a second album until 2011 due to an extensive touring schedule.
Celebration Rock (2011-2013)
After taking the bulk of 2011 off to work on new material, Japandroids revealed that they would tour North America throughout August/September playing primarily smaller, intimate venues in order to test out their new material prior to the recording of their second album. During these shows, the band debuted several new songs including "Fire's Highway," "Adrenaline Nightshift," and "Evil's Sway." On March 26, 2012, Japandroids announced that their second album Celebration Rock would be released by Polyvinyl Record Co. on June 5, 2012, preceded by a limited edition 7" of the album's first single "The House That Heaven Built" on May 15, 2012.
A video for "The House That Heaven Built", Japandroids' first and only music video, was released that summer to promote the single. The black-and-white video, directed by Jim Larson and produced by Pitchfork.tv, documented one week in the life of Japandroids on tour using footage from the east coast portion of their spring 2012 US tour, including live footage from shows in Toronto, Montreal, Boston, New York City, Brooklyn, and Washington, D.C.
Celebration Rock garnered widespread acclaim from critics, who praised the album's blending of classic rock and punk rock influences, as well as King's newfound lyrical ambition. As Ian Cohen of Pitchfork noted, "Japandroids have gone from having almost none at all [lyrics] to packing their songs with an astonishing command of legend and literalism that all but dares you to feel something." The album was especially well received in their native Canada, with The Globe and Mail (Canada's newspaper of record) naming it the best album of 2012. The same year, Celebration Rock was short-listed for the Polaris Music Prize as well as nominated for the Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year.
The album was also well received internationally earning a Best New Music designation from Pitchfork, a 9 out of 10 from Spin (who also named Japandroids 2012's Band of the Year), and a 4 out of 5 from Rolling Stone, who later listed the album as one of The 10 Coolest Summer Albums of All Time. The album also appeared on many year-end lists including MTV (#1), The A.V. Club (#2), USA Today (#2), Spin (#3), Village Voice (#4), Pitchfork Media (#5), Rolling Stone (#8), and reached No. 37 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Japandroids toured heavily in support of Celebration Rock, performing over 200 shows in more than 40 countries between March 2012 and November 2013. The Celebration Rock Tour consisted of 13 individual legs across North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Oceania, including numerous festival appearances: Coachella, Bonnaroo, Sasquatch!, Pitchfork, Firefly, Governors Ball, Fun Fun Fun Fest, Free Press Summer Fest, and Metallica's festival Orion in the United States, Primavera Sound, Optimus Alive!, Paredes de Coura, Pitchfork (Paris), OFF, Latitude and Longitude festivals in Europe, Vive Latino in Mexico, Fuji Rock Festival in Japan, and St. Jerome's Laneway Festival in Australia.