Japandroid’s upcoming Post-Nothing isn't your typical summer soundtrack. Enveloped in a distorted haze and described by the band as “lo-fi Hüsker Dü covers,” the Vancouver duo’s anthemic sound conjures the goofy sincerity of afternoons spent in sweaty basements. Prior to the band's Sunday Turf Club gig, The A.V. Club spoke with singer/guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse about their busy summer, being music snobs, and the trouble with the word “post.”
The A.V. Club: The band canceled its initial U.S. tour in April due to your emergency surgery for a perforated ulcer. How are you feeling?
Brian King: I’m feeling pretty good. I’m not 100 percent. I’m finding that by the end of a show, I’m pretty toast. But there was no way that I was going to cancel another tour no matter what condition I was in. We were pretty lucky to get a chance to reschedule our initial tour, and I didn’t want to know if we were going to get a third chance. As long as I could get up there and play, we’d go, and so far so good.
AVC: You could fashion yourself like San Diego grindcore band The Locust, whose drummer used to fall down vomiting at the end of sets. That could increase the intensity if any undue collapsing occurs.
BK: [Laughs.] Undue collapsing! I’m really hoping that doesn’t happen. We’re certainly not used to touring for this length of time. Dave and I are doing everything ourselves: managing ourselves and being our own merch girl. So it’s a pretty intense ride without having to worry about medical emergencies. We’re hoping that my insides survive the next two weeks, considering that touring mostly involves a lot of not sleeping and not eating and overdrinking. I’ve pretty much undone two months of recovery in one week of tour.
AVC: Why did you sign on to Polyvinyl in the U.S., and what kind of pressure were you under?
BK: We were being bombarded with more opportunities than we were used to, but to use an Omaha reference: We are fairly “bright eyed” about this stuff. I would say that there was some degree of pressure for us to get our shit together and pretend that we’re a real band. Polyvinyl wasn’t really a label we initially thought matched because we’re a bit of a departure from what they have been doing in the recent past. But that’s good. We like it that way, so there’s no competition. [Laughs.] We could just be the loud obnoxious band on the label and everyone can stay out of our way.
AVC: Some of the lyrics on Post-Nothing seem to reflect a sense of doubt. I read that before this record, there was a feeling of uncertainty about whether Japandroids was going to continue.
BK: A lot of that happened after the record was written, actually. It was happening when we were recording in the second half of 2008. We had already self-released two EPs and thought we’d be self-releasing Post-Nothing as well. So with three self-released albums in three years, and never getting so much as an e-mail from anyone wanting to help was disheartening. We both really wanted to do this very badly, but we questioned whether to continue.
This is a good time to ask a drum-centric question like: How do you drum so well, and how do you look so cool playing the drums? [Brian hands the phone to Dave Prowse while he finishes his beer.]
David Prowse: Ah fuck. I should never let Brian prep people who are asking me questions. So do you have a real question?
DP: I've already stated to everyone who will listen to me that Chad VanGaalen is going to win the award, but I don't necessarily think that's because it's my favorite album that's nominated.
AVC: Is it because he's due from prior nominations?
DP: Yeah, he's put out a really strong record and he's sort of in the same vein of people who've won before, like Final Fantasy and Caribou. Those are bands that all kind of have the same influences. It's really flattering for us to be nominated, but we're both pretty doubtful that we'll make the short list because the award is usually given to a pop kind of thing. I've got my money on Chad. We've been making bets with people and our name has never come up as someone who'd win.
AVC: As a result of naming the record Post-Nothing, most music journalists won’t use the word “post” to describe your sound, which has left you as “garage rock.” How will you respond with a follow-up?
DP: I'm sure the next record title will be clever in some way, but probably not genre-related. We both read so much about music, and it's just kind of ridiculous at how many “post” monikers there are. So we wanted to poke fun at that. In describing our music to people, I think garage rock works—it's just the easiest way to explain it.
BK: There has been a ton of invented genres used to describe us like shitgaze, electromash, no-fi…
DP: Shitgaze, really? [Laughs.]
AVC: The band seems to inject a sense of humor into its lyrics.
BK: There’s certainly a sense of sarcastic humor in our songs—or lightheartedness. Dave and I are huge music fans way before—and you can’t see me right now but I’m making rabbit-ear-style quotes—we were “musicians" and "artists.” I use those with intense sarcasm. It’s very easy to identify, as a music fan, what is real and legitimate and what is a bit more manufactured or pretentious. We are so critical of the bands we go see and listen to that we can’t even pretend to be anything else without laughing at ourselves. Even now, if we ever feel ourselves drifting into some kind of territory, we’ll just start mocking the other until we drift back into our status quo.