When Brian King started up Japandroids with David Prowse, he made a couple of assumptions right off the bat:
(A) That they’d eventually find a bassist and singer to fill out the guitar-and-drums skeleton. And (B) That the Vancouver, B.C., rock duo probably wasn’t going to be the next darlings of the indie-rock media.
He was wrong on both counts.
“We were just like any other local band at home. We worked during the day and played music at night, we put on shows, we put out our own albums, and all the usual stuff that bands do,” King said in a telephone interview.
“And then I woke up one day and the band had been discovered by the Internet.”
Japandroids’ 2009 full-length debut, “Post-Nothing” – lauded by hipsters for being unpretentious and carefree – collected big props from tastemakers such as NME and Pitchfork, elevating the band to international fame and a deal with respected indie label Polyvinyl Records.
Months before its release, Japandroids saw minor success but had hardly reached beyond the Canadian border. They had played a few big gigs.
And with the new record on the way, King and drummer Prowse considered throwing in the towel.
“Nobody really knew who we were, but we got a tour. We were going out East to play a couple of shows and put out a full-length album, (and) it seemed exciting to end the band on a high note,” King said.
“Someone from Pitchfork was at our show in Montreal, he found a song from the album and put it out there, and the next morning I had 15,000 e-mails from friends saying, ‘You should go look at this website.’ I was at work so I was checking the Internet on my coffee break.”
Defined by raw groove, anthemic hooks and shouted, double vocals, King and Prowse embrace their minimalist configuration and maximalist energy output.
“At this point it would seem strange to add someone else. So much of our identity is just the two of us,” King said.
“When we decided we were going to keep going as a two-piece that was a part of the motivation. We didn’t want to sound like a two-piece even though we are one.”
In the early days, King said, he and Prowse didn’t know anything about overdubs. And they maintain that live aesthetic in the studio.
“All of our recordings are the same – one drum kit, one guitar, two vocals,” he said.
King said he’s still getting used to his newfound fame, but Japandroids didn’t give much thought to the future from the beginning.
“We went from nobodies to a million people knowing us,” he said. “It’s a difficult adjustment to make.
“There’s a certain purity to making music when no one knows who you are because you’re making music for yourself. It’s hard to sit down with a guitar without thinking about how people are going to react to this, and is all this going to go away.”
And, he added: “If we had known what was going to happen to the band when we named it, we would have given it a lot more thought.”