Thirty-six hours later, on the roof of Barcelona's Princess Hotel, I meet up with the band in less rock-and-roll environs. As we drink beers for breakfast at 3 pm — a comically appropriate way to interview Japandroids — the dudes reveal their obsessive music fandom. They geek out over the fact that Justice are sitting a few tables away, and then that Beach House are standing over on the other side of the pool. They're a band who would rather talk about the sets they caught last night (the Cure, the Rapture, the War on Drugs) than themselves. "The only reason we started the band was because we were such big fans of music, and live music," says King. "It's the last thing to do. You collect records, and go to shows all the time, and you talk about music all the time. Your music fandom gets to a point where the only thing left to do is play in a band."
King and Prowse met at the University of Victoria in the fall of 2000. King was studying ocean science; Prowse, anthropology. They obsessively attended shows together, seeing local bands plus any of the few touring bands that would come through town. "Definitely not every band wears their music fandom on their sleeve as much as we do," adds King. "Some of them just have this cooler image where they can't make it known. But we don't give a shit."
In 2006, after graduating, the duo moved to Vancouver, played relentlessly, and self-booked hundreds of shows for three years. But Vancouver's a tough place for musicians, and over the years, they watched band after band break up. In 2009, they were feeling similarly disheartened. "It was becoming painfully obvious that the band wasn't going anywhere," says Prowse.
"For our first band, we'd accomplished quite a bit," adds King. "It wasn't like it was a failure or waste of time in our minds. It was our first band. . . . We were pretty content with the idea of stopping and ending on a high." At around the same time they decided to break up Japandroids, Polyvinyl offered to release Post-Nothing. They decided to ride it out. But even now, they've never let go of that sentiment that their band could be over tomorrow.
"We made this record the same way we made Post-Nothing," says King. "Thinking, 'This is the last thing we're going to do, so it better be pretty fucking good.' If this was our swan song, it had to be of a certain caliber, going out on a high note."
In interviews, Japandroids repeatedly claim not to care about songwriting; their main purpose as a band is to play live shows, and they see songwriting as an "obstacle" to overcome in order to do that. But even so, Celebration Rock is one excellent record. A month after its release, it's already being universally lauded as one of the best albums of 2012, its strongest tracks being "The House That Heaven Built" and "Continuous Thunder." "That was our attempt at trying to write a song like the National," says King, of the latter. "That's the one song where we're not trying to make it as intense as possible the entire time. We thought the last song didn't need to be a blitzkrieg from start to finish."