It’s been a long time between drinks for Canadian rock band Japandroids—exactly five years since Celebration Rock‘s release. But Brian King and David Prowse have made their triumphant return with their record Near To The Wild Heart of Life, also announcing an exciting seven-day Australian tour kicking off this month. TEO caught up with Brian to find out exactly what went on after their last album and how they made this one differently.

TEO: I tell you, this album Near To The Wild Heart of Life was long awaited! What went on for you guys between your 2012 release and this one?
Well, a lot actually! It doesn’t seem that way to a lot of people; it seemed like we just disappeared and reappeared magically, but for us it was a very busy time. We toured our last record Celebration Rock for almost two years. Finally, at the end of 2013 we had toured ourselves into the ground—we were burnt out physically and mentally. We had achieved a lot and I think we realised the first era of the band had come to an end.

We ended up taking six months off and when we met up again, we were really excited about continuing the band and making other records. But we had a slightly different idea about how we wanted to go forward; the first two records and tours we did, we felt we had done all we could do with the band; with those kinds of songs and that kind of sound. We almost wanted to start the band again, to the point where I even considered changing the band name because I thought whatever we’re going to do now, I’m not sure if it’s Japandroids anymore.

We eventually decided to hell with it and tried to write an album, record it and see what happened. So, that’s what we did. It took us a year to write the album and by the end of 2015, it was recorded. It then took two years to mix it, and then it was about getting back into shape to play some shows again.

How would you say you’ve evolved since Celebration Rock?
I think we very purposefully wanted to try and expand on our song writing, we spent a lot of time trying to write different kinds of songs. We experimented with the structure, tempo and instrumentation, and we wanted to see what we were capable of. And that became one of the most fun and creative periods of the band—there were no rules and whatever sounded cool we tried to make a song out of it.

With recording, we had always recorded in a very strict way; we did it live with our instruments, as we would play it on stage. So, this time we tried to have some fun and this was our very first attempt to make a real ‘studio record’. I like to think there are some spectacular successes and I acknowledge there are some spectacular failures! But it was really fun.

One last burning question: how does it make you feel when someone shouts out at a gig ‘These are the droids we’ve been waiting for?’
There’s a reason we’re still together after all these years and there’s a reason we play so many shows. It’s because of our fans and their enthusiasm and their energy, we have a very symbiotic relationship with our band and our audiences and they’re what keeps us going and working hard and giving it everything we’ve got. We live for those kinds of moments.

– Tuesday 11 July at Corner Hotel, tickets

GEELONG – Wednesday 12 July at The Barwon Club, tickets

SYDNEY – Friday 14 July at Factory Theatre, tickets

NEWCASTLE – Saturday 15 July at The Small Ballroom, tickets

BRISBANE – Sunday 16 July at The Brightside, tickets

ADELAIDE – Tuesday 18 July at Fat Controller, tickets

PERTH – Wednesday 19 July at Rosemount Hotel, tickets

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Photo: Leigh Reighton