Wednesday, August 30, 2006

7 Questions with Japanther

Ever since last week, when we noticed that Japanther was going to be playing a show at Rubber Gloves this Thursday, their album Dump the Body in the Rikki Lake has been getting some serious play around WSJR headquarters. Their brand of lo-fi bedroom electro noise is very rhythmic, joyous and accessible, but they take more than enough chances with their sounds and composition to make them extremely interesting and hard to define. I can't say that I've heard a band quite like Japanther before (although you could make an argument that there is something of a Swell Maps/This Heat influence present), and I'm really looking forward to catching their show this week, as I hear that their live performances are known to get a bit insane at times. We've posted an MP3 from the Rikki Lake album below, and even you pop kids out there that might not normally be inclined to listen to such things should check it out, because they have enough melody packed in their songs to please you too. We asked them some quick questions via email, and here are the answers:

Is it true that one of you met Calvin Johnson early in life and spent some time with him. Whats the story there? It seems like K Records might have been a big influence on the way you guys record and perform, if not on your music itself. What kind of influence do you think Calvin and K have had on your music?

My name is Ian Vanek and I grew up in Olympia, WA. I was extremely lucky to meet a billion great people who influenced me and gave me ideas to chew on. Without a doubt K influenced me as did Kill Rock Stars and all the other indie labels around OLY.

Your music seems extremely hard to pin down or classify. What are some of Japanther's primary musical influences?

Cartoons and laughing really influences us the most. We are not musicians and really don't want to be.

What is going on currently with your record label? Planning any releases from now until the end of the year?

Tapes Records just released the new JAPANTHER"Don't Trust Anyone Over Thirty" CD as well as the Bent Outta Shape LP/CD.

I read that you guys participated in some kind of synchronized swimming performance by creating a soundtrack for the swimming. Could you describe this project to us in a little more detail, and tell us how the idea came about?

The idea was cosmic. We saw Esther Williams in a hotel on the tele and laughed about making our own water ballet. Later in LA we got an email asking us to write songs for just such a ballet. The resulting"Dangerous When Wet" was staged (pooled) in May 2006 at NYU. It featured an olympic swimmer soloing to our song and a punk troupe called "Aqua Doom." Our friends at SAFE clothing even made costumes for the event. It was truly surreal from my vantage point.

I also read that you guys consider Japanther to be more of an art project than a band. What do you think the difference is between the two labels, and why do you think drawing such a distinction is important?

Bands are a dime a dozen and often times have very similar goals. Japanther was started as a means to make art, travel, laugh and dance. Songs were and are secondary.

Being a band from Williamsburg seems as though it would have its advantages and disadvantages. How do you like living and working there? I've heard people say that Williamsburg is on a downward spiral right now artistically and socially, but I've also heard that its starting to get more exciting and creative there since the hipster "buzz" about Brooklyn has died down. What do you think?

I tend to think it's getting better as more and more folks move there. You know Strikes and Gutters, man. Ups and Downs. We are barely home so it doesn't effect us as much as it might effect other bands. We can't afford a practice space so we play at home and that shapes our sound. New York is a hell of town with cycles upon cycles. Give it a chance and judge for yourself. All this shit magazines and blogs are writing about Brooklyn is hot air.

Can we expect any new recorded material from you guys in the near future?

We just finished our "Don't Trust Anyone Over 30"CD and our "Dump the Body In Rikki Lake" DVD. They will hit the stores officially in the fall but we are touring with them now. We also have a split seven inch with Juiceboxxx coming out and split seven inch coming out with The Good Good in Europe.

"Critical" MP3



Anonymous Anonymous said...

These guys have been coming to 1919 in Fort Worth for years. They put out a split 7" with the Sneeze, a Fort Worth band that eventually became BestFWends...

6:40 PM  
Blogger shannon said...

that's such a cool sound!

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Tom said...


8:56 PM  

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