[BUDDY ROCK] Japandroids had the breakup talk. After three rough years booking their own little shows in Vancouver, B.C., the exuberant power duo was planning to call it quits, self-releasing its debut, Post-Nothing, as a posthumous epilogue. Offered slots at festivals in Montreal and New York, the band delayed the split for a few weeks. An influential Canadian critic caught Japandroids' set in Montreal and tipped off colleagues in New York. Next thing you know, the band was touring Slovenia.
Drummer David Prowse has certainly repeated the story many times, but tells it again, generously and thoughtfully, from Rome.
"After that happened, it really put a certain perspective on things for us," he says. "We are aware that this is a bonus, and that it came very close to not happening.... So there's definitely a feeling of trying to do as much as you can, see as much of the world as you can, play as many shows as you can, in the time you have, because it's not going to last forever."
This is the spirit of Japandroids' second record, Celebration Rock, in a nutshell. It's a loud, kinetic shit show of sloppy chords, triumphant vocals and Prowse's thunderous pounding. It's a lot of fun—as it was intended to be.
"A pretty obvious theme for a lot of people was basically just, 'I listen to your band when I want to feel happy,'" Prowse says. "So with this new record, we wanted to push that part of the show, and that part of the band, that much further.... The purest part of our band is when we're playing those kind of songs and are in those kind of moments. So we wanted to have that feeling for the entire record."
The response has been incredible—at least from a certain strata of dudes weaned on Nirvana and Andrew W.K.
"Honestly, I don't see people respond to bands like us the way they do very often at all," Prowse says. "It seems like you normally have to be a much, much more popular band. For example, I went to see Springsteen like four years ago, and every song that Springsteen plays, everybody loses their goddamned minds. It's Bruce fucking Springsteen! I'm not saying we have that kind of a following, but we have that strong of a following on a small scale—for 300 people in each town, rather than 30,000."
So it makes sense that most of Celebration Rock is, well, celebratory. If it sometimes sounds surprisingly fierce, that's probably because it's made by and for a beleaguered generation in desperate need of a cathartic fist pump. Only as the album winds down are there pangs of the band being, perhaps, too old for this shit.
"Remember saying things like we'll sleep when we're dead/ And thinking this feeling was never going to end?" Japandroids' Brian King sings on "Younger Us." "Remember that night you were already in bed/ Said fuck it, got up to drink with me instead?"
Having already almost broken up before anyone knew Japandroids existed, Prowse says he has "no illusions" of the band continuing for another 10 years.
"I've come across bands that I really liked that don't seem to care about what they're doing the way I hope they did earlier," he says. "And I think that's just a really, really sad thing, and there's just no way that Brian and I would ever become that thing because it would basically ruin everything we've done up to this point."
SEE IT: Japandroids play Wonder Ballroom, 128 NE Russell St., with Bleached, on Tuesday, Nov. 13. 7:30 pm. $16. All ages.