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Japandroids Broaden Their Musical Horizon On ‘Near To The Wild Heart Of Life’

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Photo: Japandroids press photo

Japandroids has never been a band to take things slowly. The Vancouver duo won over fans and critics for its bare-bones rock -- and for an energetic live show.

Drummer Dave Prowse says he and guitarist Brian King wanted to capture that energy on the first two Japandroids records.

"We approached an album almost like a live show," Prowse says. "Brian set up his amps, turned everything on, had a specific setting for his pedals and his amps. And then we just ripped through a bunch of songs."

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Those two albums -- “Post-Nothing” and “Celebration Rock” -- are rough around the edges. But they sound intense.

The band toured non-stop behind those albums. Prowse says four years of rowdy live shows took a toll. And they’re in their 30s now.

"We’ve both become painfully aware that we’re a lot older now than we were when we toured during ‘Celebration Rock,’" he says. "It’s taking a little more out of us to play with the same energy."

So when it came time for album number three, he says they needed to re-evaluate how they made music. That led to a realization.

"We don’t have to make every Japandroids record be this super-dogmatic document of the live show. We can experiment."

And they did experiment. They ditched the live feel. They spent more time on individual guitar and drum tracks. They included instruments like bass guitar and synthesizer.

Those “experiments” are standard for most rock bands. But Prowse says it was a big stretch for his rock band.

"Even the idea of playing acoustic guitar on a Japandroids recording was a little bit crazy to us since we’d never done anything like that before!"

The result is the new album “Near To The Wild Heart Of Life.”

It doesn’t have the raggedness of the previous Japandroids albums. But the band believes it has the same spirit. Because Brian King says energetic doesn’t always mean loud and fast.

"We might be playing a slower song or might be playing something that doesn’t have the same 'Ra ra we're going out tonight!' vibe that the early records do," he says. "But do you still sound like you’re injecting your passion and intensity in it? I think that’s how we measure if it’s good or not."

And Japandroids has no intention of slowing down as they get older. King is as happy as ever to be playing music.

"Now that we’ve entered this world there’s so many things we could explore," he says. "That’s one of the things that makes playing in Japandroids in 2017 just as exciting as when we started the band in 2006."

That excitement is alive and well for Japandroids on “Near To The Wild Heart Of Life.”

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