Music News & Reviews

Japandroids put the pedal to the metal

Japandroids play Cat’s Cradle on Wednesday.
Japandroids play Cat’s Cradle on Wednesday. Getty Images

Polite, folky acts are in vogue, leaving the rock landscape dotted with Mumford and Sons soundalikes. And then there is the muscular pedal-to-the-metal rock band Japandroids.

“We’re not exactly the masters of subtlety,” drummer-vocalist David Prowse cracks while calling from Ontario, Canada. “We’re definitely not paying attention to trends. We do what we want to do.”

The powerful Vancouver-based duo emerged five-years ago courtesy of the visceral tracks from its second album, the aptly titled “Celebration Rock.”

“The House That Heaven Built,” a fiery single that’s half punk and half classic rock, put the group on the map.

“That song and album kept us going,” Prowse said. “We pretty much have to close every show with ‘The House That Heaven Built,’ but there’s worse problems to have.”

It’s not surprising that the adventurous, uncompromising Japandroids, which also includes vocalist-guitarist Brian King, followed “Celebration Rock” with “Near to the Wild Heart of Life,” an album that often goes in another direction. Some synthesizers are added to complement the raw guitar and drum attack. The tandem rides some grooves and there’s more melody and variety this time out.

“We were compelled to deviate from what we were doing,” Prowse says. “There are more moods this time out. We had a different approach. Lyrics were written before music and that changed things since the music had to serve the words. Instead of writing in a major chord, we went with a minor chord. We surprised ourselves. It’s a good thing to change things around.”

The band has many influences; it’s as rooted in Bruce Springsteen and the Replacements as it is in the Clash. “The world of rock has had an impact on us,” Prowse says. “We weren’t just impacted by one style of music.”

It was five years between albums for the Japandroids, who will perform Wednesday at Cat’s Cradle. Prowse says they wanted to take their time and do it right.

“There was no need to rush this album,” Prowse says. “We felt that stress when we were making ‘Celebration Rock.’ We wanted to get it out there. But this time, we took our time.”

Another reason the Japandroids took a half-decade to craft a follow-up was that they were drained after touring behind “Celebration Rock.”

“We said yes to too many tours,” Prowse says. “The shows were fine but we were just exhausted after the tour ended. It’s worth it. We reached a new level with ‘Celebration Rock.’ We built a fan base and that’s part of the reason we didn’t rush back. We knew people would remember us.”

It looks like the Japandroids are on course for another long tour.

“I hope that’s so because we love playing live,” Prowse says. “We live for that. The shows are so much fun. But if we have another long run on the road, it’ll be fine. I just hope we’re not as exhausted as the last time we were out. I also hope we have the next album sooner than how it worked out this time.”


Who: Japandroids

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Cat’s Cradle, 300 E. Main St., Carrboro

Cost: $20-$23

Info: 919-967-9053 or