A Grapevine service announcement Be patient: That eruption is expected to last until 2015
Culture
Music
The House That Heaven Built

The House That Heaven Built

Words by

Published August 22, 2012

Japandroids is a two piece rock ‘n’ roll band from Vancouver, Canada, who have been playing up a storm and winning new fans for the past few years. And now they’re coming to Iceland, playing a show at Gamli Gaukur that will for sure be the stuff of legend! We called up one half of the band, guitarist/vocalist Brian King, and asked him some questions about touring, their new record and rock duos in the modern world to help you get acquainted and hyped for the show!
MAKE UP THE BREAKDOWN
Tell us about your story. Is it true that the band almost broke up before your debut was released?
We were very dedicated to the band for a number of years before anything kind of happened, really. Recording, self-releasing, setting up all our own shows. With ‘Post-Nothing,’ we thought it was going to be more of the same. There was nothing to indicate that anybody had any interest in putting out our record. We just thought that this was it, we might play in another band and another band after that and eventually maybe something would happen. But it did not look like it was going to happen with Japandroids.
Then you got offered to perform at Pop Montréal and CMJ in 2008—was that a turning point for your band?
Those shows changed everything for us. Those were the final two shows that we planned to play as a band. Being from Vancouver, flying out to Montreal and then New York to play shows was a really big deal and exciting. We considered that as ending the band on a high note. Because no one else we knew had got to fly out to those cities to play shows. The show that we played in Pop Montréal, there were only about 20 people at the show, but one of those people happened to write for Pitchfork, and someone else in the room happened to have a small record label and liked our record and wanted to release it. So having those two people in the same room to see us play really helped to expose us to a lot of new people. The person who had the record label convinced us to stay together a little longer, because he wanted to release our record. As soon as he did, the guy from Pitchfork wanted to review it. That’s when things really started to take off. We decided  we could stay together a little longer in order to get to go on one tour because that was a one thing we’d always wanted to do. One tour turned into two, turned into three, turned into going to Europe, turned into going to festivals and the next thing we knew it was two years later and we had lost our day jobs. We knew that after the tour was over we would have to go back to them, so we toured as much as we could.
NOT A LOT OF MONEY AND FAME IN ROCK ‘N’ ROLL
You’ve described Japandroids as being a two-piece trying to sound like it’s a five-piece band?
We never planned on being a duo; it wasn’t like we wanted to be a duo like The White Stripes, The Kills or Death From Above 1979. We always wanted to have more people to play with, but we just couldn’t find those people. Most of the bands we listen to had four or five members. We wanted to sound like bands like The Replacements or The Rolling Stones, bands that had two guitars, bass and a singer and a drummer.
Is it hard to be in a rock band today?
It’s harder than it was when I was growing up in the ‘90s. When you turned on the TV or the radio all you ever see or hear were rock bands, but now what’s really popular isn’t dominated by guitar, there’s more pop music, hip hop and R‘n’B . If you just wanted to make money and become famous, you would be a DJ.  You really have to love rock ‘n’ roll to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band today.  There is not a lot of money and fame in it anymore.
NASHVILLE
How was making ‘Celebration Rock’ different than making ‘Post-Nothing’?

It was totally different. When we were making ‘Post-Nothing’ we were a local band just making an album for fun, because that was a cool thing to do. We did not have a following, fans or a record label and had never been on tour. We placed no expectations on ourselves. When it came time to make this record, we had a lot of fans, a record label and we felt a lot of pressure.
You wrote the album in Nashville, how did that influence the album?
We were working on the album in Vancouver for some time and it was going really slow—we were getting really frustrating and uninspired. So we decided to do something really different from what we had done before. We wanted to go to some place that was far away from our home. We decided to rent a house in Nashville, Tennessee, drive down there, take all of our instruments and set them there. It turned out that we wrote songs there really quickly. The first single off our record, “The House That Heaven Built” was the first song that we wrote there. So it worked really well for us.
Why Nashville?
For a number of reasons. First, we wanted to go somewhere in the South of the US, because we really like it there. We also wanted to go somewhere that was far away, far from home, where we didn’t know anyone. If we would have gone to a city where we knew people, we would have ended up hanging out, partying and not working. We did not know anyone in Nashville, and we had to get to know the city for ourselves. That was really inspiring.
What can an Icelandic audience expect from your Reykjavík show?
We are only ever as good as the audience we play for. The more the audience gives to the band at the show, the more and more the band gives back. We are always ready to give a bit more. If we show up and the audience are excited and have a lot of energy, then it’s going to be a really wild show. Because we have never been there before and I don’t know if or when we might come back, we only have this one chance to make it a really memorable night—so we are really going to go for it. We are going to play longer and play more songs that we do usually. It will be an epic night, I can’t wait!
THE ALBUMS

Post-Nothing (2007): Japandroids self-produced their debut album, ‘Post-Nothing’ in the summer of 2008. In January of 2009 they were signed to an independent label in Canada and shortly after their song “Young Hearts Spark Fire” was named as one of the tracks of the week by tastemaker website Pitchfork.com. Later that year Polyvinyl Records re-released the album worldwide, to widespread critical acclaim.

Celebration Rock (2012):Recently released, ‘Celebration Rock’ is heavily influenced by a mix of punk and classic rock. The band cites The Replacements, The Hold Steady, Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones as an inspiration for the album. Once again, the band was met with critical acclaim and the album was short-listed nominee for the 2012 Polaris Music Prize.
Japandroids are playing at Gamli Gaukurinn, Tryggvagata 22, on August 22. Doors open at 20:00. Tickets cost 2,490 ISK on pre-sale at www.midi.is. The band are set to be supported by Sudden Weather Change.



Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

WORLD PREMIERE: A FANCY NEW OYAMA TRACK!

by

The hepcats of Oyama are all set to unleash their monster of a début album, Coolboy, which will be released in Iceland via 12 Tónar on November third (those fortunate enough to live in Japan can get it in less than a week, via Imperial Records). After giving the thing a couple of spins, we can verify: Coolboy is a good album. Great, even. Lucky you, then, that Oyama would opt to premiere its first single, Siblings via the very website you are reading. In this very story you are reading! Yes, check it out, here’s Siblings: Now, that there’s a pretty

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Agent Fresco Release Parody Video

by

Math-rockers Agent Fresco may be in the middle of mixing their upcoming 2015 album, but they still found the time to release new video “Dirt Water,” which is a parody of previously released “Dark Water” video. It is directed by Bowen Staines of Don’t Panic Films, who has previously shot videos for Skálmöld, Sólstafir and The Vintage Caravan, amongst others. Check it out below, and compare to Dark Water. The video was released to promote Agent Fresco’s upcoming Airwaves shows. You can catch them on the following dates: November 5: Gamla Bíó at 21:40, during which they will exclusively play

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Lay Low: New Video, Tourdates

by

Humble folk singer-songwriter Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, aka. Lay Low, has just released a self-directed video to her song “One Of Those Nights” from the 2013 album ‘Talking About The Weather.’ Lovísa describes the song as “a stripped down hummaby that I wrote after one of those nights back home in Iceland.” Check it out! “Making my own video was something that I really wanted to have a go at, even though I don’t really have much experience,” Lovísa told the Grapevine in an email. “However, I did actually make a video for Benny Crespo’s Gang’s “Night Time” a few years ago

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Mengi Set

by

Amongst the fast-changing merry-go-round of music venues in Reykjavík’s city centre, something unusual sprang up around last Christmas: a small, homely, unassuming performance space on Oðinsgata, called Mengi. It appeared quite suddenly, passed around initially only by word of mouth, but quickly become a well-liked venue hosting three shows a week for an intimate, fifty-strong audience. One of the people behind Mengi is bassist, guitarist and composer Skúli Sverrisson. Having lived in New York for over two decades, Skúli had recently moved back to Reykjavík when the project began. “I had been living in a very big city for 25

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Akranes: Where Busted Amps Go!

by

After carefully lugging my vintage guitar amplifier all the way from New York to Iceland, I foolishly plugged it in without a power transformer. There was an unusually loud humming noise and then it started smoking. The smell of burned plastic gently wafted around my flat. My panicky brain immediately cycled through these thoughts: Smart move, Matt, not only will your wife kill you for nearly burning the place down, but also you’ve fried your amp. There was no avoiding the first problem. The second might just require a good repair guy. I started asking around and all of my

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Quarashi’s Music Video Odyssey

by

Quarashi is an Icelandic rap group founded in the mid-90s by Sölvi Blöndal, Steinar “Steini” Fjeldsted and Höskuldur “Hössi” Ólafsson (Hössi left the group in early 2003, and was succeeded by Egill “Tiny” Thorarensen). The band recently resurfaced with “Rock On,” their first single after a nine-year hiatus. We spoke with founding members Sölvi and Steini about their history as a band and what thoughts went into making their latest music video. “Switchstance,” 1997 Director: Arnar Jónasson (director of the documentary ‘Rafmögnuð Reykjavík’ (‘Electronica Reykjavík’) Steini: That was the first thing we did, in the way of a song and

Show Me More!