JPNSGRLS

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JPNSGRLS
Also known as The Beauties, Japanese Girls
Origin Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Genres Garage pop, Alternative rock, Post-punk revival
Years active 2010-present
Labels Light Organ Records (Canada)
Associated acts Mounties (band), Hot Hot Heat, Steve Bays, Ryan Dahle, Limblifter, Hawksley Workman, The Zolas, July Talk, Dry the River, The Katherines, The Oceanographers, Highs, Allusondrugs, Fake Shark, Turbowolf, Fine Times, Take Two, Little India, The Matinee, The OBGMs, Highs, The Heavy
Website jpnsgrls.com
Members Charlie Kerr
Christopher McClelland
Graham Serl
Colton Lauro
Past members Hasan Altintas (Bass)
Simon Eltermon (Bass)
Sam Rutledge (Drums)
Oliver Mann (Lead Guitar)

JPNSGRLS – pronounced “Japanese Girls” — is a four-piece Canadian garage pop band formed in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2010. The band consists of Charlie Kerr, vocalist/lyricist, Christopher McClelland, bass guitar, Graham Serl, drums, and Colton Lauro on lead guitar.

History

The band members are all originally from the Greater Vancouver area. Kerr and co-founding lead guitarist Oliver Mann formed a core project in 2007 while still in secondary school, with McClelland joining in 2009 and Serl rounding out the lineup in 2010.[1] Live shows were integral to the band from its beginning, performing in battles of the bands, and packing out any venue that would allow teenage performers and their audiences.

Prior to 2010, JPNSGRLS was originally known as The Beauties, but due to a name conflict with an existing band, changed its name to Japanese Girls. This name was chosen as a tribute to another band they admired - an all-female Japanese indie band called Mass of the Fermenting Dregs.[2] However, upon realizing it caused difficulty when searching for the band online, they stylized it to the current JPNSGRLS.

The band is a fixture on the Vancouver independent music scene, and is known for its hyperkinetic live shows. While Kerr is the sole lyricist, JPNSGRLS takes a democratic approach with all members contributing to the building of the songs overall.

JPNSGRLS was nominated for the Sirius XM Canada Independent Music Award for 'Emerging Artist of the Year (English)' in April of 2015.[3]

In January of 2016, after the recording of their second full-length album was completed, Oliver Mann announced via Facebook that he was leaving the band for other pursuits. 'As some of you already know, 2016 will be a big change for me, in the fact that I have recently decided to leave JPNSGRLS. It was a tough decision to make, but something I had been thinking about for a long time. Being in a band as active as JPNSGRLS required an enormous dedication of time, and to make it work I had to put a lot of other aspects of my life on hold. It was a struggle to continuously weigh the opportunity and cost - and in the end, that weight was bringing me down from even enjoying being in the band anymore,' he said. 'Being a part of JPNSGRLS was amazing, and I am sad to leave it. I got to see so much of the world and am very proud of what we had accomplished over the last 8 years. Most importantly, I got to enjoy the journey with some of the most amazing people I have ever known. I want to thank everyone for all your support over the years, and hope that my departure from the band won’t stop us from being creative together in the future. I am already very excited for what JPNSGRLS will be accomplishing in 2016, and I hope you will be too.'[4]

After JPNSGRLS mounted a search and auditioned several musicians, Colton Lauro became the band's new lead guitarist in the spring of 2016. Lauro, also from the Greater Vancouver area, was previously a member of Hillfolk - and has also worked with Lanie McAuley and Black Wizard, along with being a session musician.

Discography

The Sharkweek EP (2013)

JPNSGRLS made their debut with The Sharkweek EP in June 2013, distributed by Light Organ Records. The EP was produced and engineered by Justin Brown, and co-produced by the band and Mike Paton.[5]

Reviewers noted the band's unique combination of syncopation, cohesion, modernity and experimentation with lyrical content, musicianship and influences.[6] The first single and video released from The Sharkweek EP was Vancouver Grizzly, and the video for the follow-up single Monarch Butterfly debuted on Diffuser.fm in January 2014.[7] JPNSGRLS also played in BIME Festival in Bilbao Spain in November 2013, in support of the EP.[8]

Standalone single Red and Green was included on Light Organ's Christmas album Sleighed, also in November 2013, with the video released at Christmas 2014.

Circulation (2014)

For their full-length debut, having now been fully signed by Light Organ Records, the band went into Vancouver's Greenhouse Studios with producer Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat, Mounties (band)), and engineer Greg Calbi (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, MGMT, Tame Impala, St. Vincent). Circulation was recorded in seven days without a click track. The album was released in North America on July 15, 2014.

Singles released from the album in North America were Mushrooms, Smalls, Tiger, Circulation and Southern Comforting, with official full videos released for Mushrooms, Smalls and Circulation.

Overall, reviews of Circulation were positive, and called particular attention to the record's energy and how it would translate live, and vice versa - noting the uplift of the rhythm section and the contrasting darker lyrical content.[9] Reviewers also noted that JPNSGRLS' combination of 90's alt-rock and post-punk revival created a complex modern rock sound that made it a 2014 musical peak.[10][11] AbsolutePunk's review indicated it was 'easily one of the best rock albums of 2014'.[12]

In dissenting reviews, Alan Ranta of The Georgia Straight stated that Circulation was 'a little inconsistent and under-developed' as a whole, but concluded that 'hooks abound...so the future holds promise',[13] while Ride the Tempo also made mention of 'uneven' results - expressing frustration that they believed that JPNSGRLS clearly had the capacity to be 'exceptional', while also admitting that the songs were 'solid and enjoyable'.[14]

Hit single Smalls went straight in at #1 on CBC Radio 3 Top 30 Canadian Indie Songs and held that place for 4 weeks in April/May 2014,[15] and went to #5 on the CBC Radio 3 Playlist overall the week of May 30, 2014.[16] It reached #24 on Mediabase's Alt Chart (Canadian Commercial Radio), and staying at between #26 and #28 for a further 8 weeks. The iconic video for Smalls, directed by Nathan Boey, and partly inspired by the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and the stop-motion films of Tim Burton, was put into heavy rotation on Canada's MuchMusic in July 2014.

Follow up single Tiger hit #1 on CBC Radio 3 Top 30 Playlist Chart for the week of August 6, 2014,[17] spending 8 weeks on the chart in total and even rising again to #2 the week of September 2, 2014. On the CBC Radio 3 Top 30 Indie Canadian Songs Chart, it went straight in at #7,[18] and remained on the chart for 8 weeks.

Circulation, the album, debuted on the CMJ 200 (American College and Community Radio)) at #96 in July 2014, spending 10 weeks on the chart with highest chart position of #35 in August 2014. On Exclaim! Magazine's !Earshot National Top 50 (Canadian College and Community Radio), Circulation debuted at #34 in July 2014 with highest chart #27 in August 2014.[19]

In the UK, BBC Radio 6 Music debuted Smalls in March 2015 with New Music presenter Lauren Laverne referring to the single as 'feisty' and remarking on the 'huge guitars'. The British press compared JPNSGRLS to their own independent music scene, with NME Radar name-checking Arctic Monkeys for comparative musicianship but making clear vocalist distinctions.[20] Q Magazine debuted first single 'Mushrooms' as one of '5 Songs To Hear This Week', for the week of March 9, 2015, instead referencing The Strokes for comparison.[21]

Circulation was released in the UK and Europe in April 2015. The video only single Brandon, directed by Rayln Gladue, was initially released exclusively on the German website Noisey in May 2015.[22] Both the song and its visceral video were inspired by Boys Don't Cry (film), a 1999 film starring Hilary Swank, which told the story of Brandon Teena, a trans man who was raped and murdered in Nebraska in 1993. The British Columbia Teachers' Federation listed the Brandon video as a recommended resource for teachers, relating to LGBTQ social justice issues. [23]

Divorce (2016)

JPNSGRLS debuted the first single Bully for You exclusively via the PopMatters website in April of 2016, with wide release set for April 15. The single was the first song to be released from the band's pending second full-length album, Divorce, due in July of 2016. PopMatters called Bully for You 'an empathetic expression of male sympathy over the every day misogyny that women must face.'

Kerr's statement on the song was that it is "an observational protest song about the ceaseless, unfair treatment of women from the point of view of a cisgendered man. It explores the passivity and complacency of misogyny in society throughout the ages, from the beheading of Anne Boleyn to modern day disrespect for female lives and bodies around the world.”[24] In an interview with Jon Williams of The Zone 91.3, a radio station out of Victoria, BC in Canada, Kerr expanded on this first by referencing the historical trope of rock music misogyny and not wanting to be on the wrong side of that, but also saying that he was "frustrated by stories from female friends, of oppression and unfair treatment", and that "maybe it's not our place as men to comment on it, but I haven't seen men say much." He finished by stating that it's "a difficult thing to articulate" and that he wanted to "let the poetry of the song speak for itself...every word in that song is very much chosen with a lot of thought and heart in mind." [25]

Even before wide release, Yangaroo had Bully for You as the Number One 'most active Indie' for the week of April 11, 2016 - meaning the 'most streamed and downloaded Singles during the given period on releases not directly promoted to radio by any of the 'major' record companies'. Bully for You debuted on the Billboard charts at Number 49 on the Canada Rock National Airplay Chart, for the week of May 28, 2016 - remaining on the same chart the following week. [26][27]

Venerable German alternative music site Visions noted the socio-critical theme of the single and shifts from the band's previous work, along with the band's continuing ability to segue seamlessly between indie, pop and blues rock.[28] Other music sites also commented on the explosive nature, both musically and lyrically, of Bully for You, with one stating it was 'raucous rock at its best...filled with intense riffs, impassioned lyrics and exciting instrumentation.' [29]

On May 10, 2016, JPNSGRLS live-streamed a one-off video event via the Light Organ Records website. This served as live shot video for the second single Oh My God, and also to announce the July 22 release date for the Divorce album. The Gondry-esque video showed Kerr, initially in a balaclava, being chased by a police officer through a purpose-built set in the Light Organ headquarters - half-destroying the set in the process - and ending up caught with the band while performing in studio. The video was later released in regular format via the New Noise Magazine website.[30]

Musical and other influences

JPNSGRLS' wide-ranging musical influences include Nirvana, Frank Ocean, Queens of the Stone Age, Tame Impala, Led Zeppelin, Franz Ferdinand, Rage Against the Machine, Phoenix, White Stripes, Death From Above 1979, Foo Fighters, Pixies, Radiohead, Modest Mouse, St. Vincent, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tokyo Police Club, Black Sabbath, Dirty Projectors, Local Native, and Gorillaz.[31]

The band is also highly influenced by film. This is reflected in several lyrics, and in the band's videos. JPNSGRLS has also long been a supporter of the LGBT community and women's rights, as evidenced by the singles Brandon, Mushrooms, and Bully for You - along with several gigs they have played over the years supporting women's causes.

Tour history

In 2014, JPNSGRLS toured extensively in Canada, the United States, and Asia.

Beginning as tour support for their labelmates Mounties (band) across Western Canada, the band then played several individual gigs, festivals and showcases - including JUNOFEST in Winnipeg, MB, Music Matters Live in Singapore, NXNE in Toronto, ON, Rifflandia Music Festival Victoria, BC, Canadian Indie Week, Toronto, ON, and the CMJ Music Marathon, New York City.

In March 2015, JPNSGRLS made their debut at SXSW in Austin, Texas.[32][33]

In April and May 2015, the group embarked on their first full-length tour of the UK and Europe, with individual dates in England, Germany, France and the Netherlands, along with several festivals - including the Hit the Deck Festival in Bristol/Nottingham, The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, and the Liverpool Sound City Festival.[34][35][36]

Both the European and British press were impressed by the band's live shows on this tour. The German press remarked on JPNSGRLS' particular mix of influences and how they played out live, calling their sound 'a bit grungy, a little blues, a pinch of post-punk, the full program alt-rock - and implemented on a very unique, modern way'.[37]

However, it was the normally stoic British music press that were the most moved by the band's performances and indeed the anticipation of same. In Brighton, the band 'had a line down the street to try and witness their much lauded performances',[38] while the Nottingham press declared that JPNSGRLS 'were not only a pleasure to watch, but a pleasure to listen to, playing an incredibly tightly-woven set of songs, full of intensity and gusto.' [39] In Birmingham, Kerr drew particular attention as 'he gyrates and dances like Jagger, (and) wraps himself around the mic stand like Julian Casablancas'.[40]

But it was JPNSGRLS' final date on this tour, in Liverpool at the Sound City Festival, which cemented their international live reputation as one where anything can and does happen. Kerr, already known for his physical dynamism onstage, accidentally split his head open on metal risers holding Serl's drums in place. Undeterred, both he and the band continued the set to a double encore with Kerr bleeding profusely, stating, "How's this for a deal? I bled for you, you can dance for me." It was coincidentally the day before Kerr's birthday and he ended the set by saying, "In just two hours I'm going to turn 24, and I can't think of any better place to be than here with you and a head trauma." This left the local press commenting on the 'insane beauty' of the band.[41]

Throughout the rest of 2015 into early 2016, JPNSGRLS continued to perform at festivals, individual gigs and showcases across Canada and the United States - once again taking in CMJ Music Marathon and the Taste of Edmonton, as well as new ones with Sofar, Breakout West, and the Pemberton Music Festival. One reviewer called the latter performance 'genuine, passionate and intimate'.[42] [43][44][45]

In April of 2016, JPNSGRLS embarked on a two month international tour. The first leg of the tour was a cross-Canada jaunt that finished at Canadian Music Week in Toronto. The second leg will segue to the UK and Europe - these dates include opening for The Heavy, including the festival Camden Rocks, and individual gigs. In Europe, the band will travel to Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. [46][47]

References

  1. 'Interview:JPNSGRLS' ASAP Music Blog, October 18, 2013, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  2. 'Japanese Girls talk band name, The Sharkweek EP, Vancouver’s live scene' The Flying V Blog, July 23, 2013, Retrieved April 3, 2015.
  3. '2015 SIRIUSXM INDIE AWARDS NOMINEES ANNOUNCED' Sirius XM Indie Nominees Website, April 8, 2015, Retrieved April 11, 2015
  4. Mann, Oliver (January 3, 2016). "Oliver Mann's Facebook statement on leaving JPNSGRLS". Retrieved April 15, 2016. 
  5. 'Vancouver's Japanese Girls Prep 'The Sharkweek EP' for Light Organ', Exclaim.ca, April 15, 2013, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  6. Japanese Girls The Sharkweek EP Review, Discorder Magazine, September 25, 2013, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  7. 'JPNSGRLS Monarch Butterfly Exclusive Video Premiere', Diffuser.fm, January 14, 2014, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  8. 'Japanese Girls', Interview, VIM Magazine (Spanish language) Issue 14, Page 13. Retrieved April 5, 2015.
  9. 'Circulation Review', Discorder Magazine, October 14 Issue, Page 31, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  10. 'Circulation Review', Today Online, Singapore, July 17, 2014, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  11. 'JPNSGRLS:Circulation', Review, PopMatters.com, July 15, 2013, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  12. JPNSGRLS Circulation, Review, Absolutepunk.net, July 15, 2015, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  13. 'Jpnsgrls's Circulation Sounds Radio Ready', Review, The Georgia Straight, straight.com, September 3, 2014, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  14. 'Album Review, JPNSGRLS' Circulation', Ride the Tempo website, August 13, 2014, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  15. 'The R3-30: Canada's Top Indie Songs for April 25, 2014', CBC Radio 3 Blog, April 25, 2014, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  16. 'playlist R3-30 Chart 396', music.cbc.ca, May 30, 2014, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  17. 'playlist R3-30 Chart 405', music.cbc.ca, August 6, 2014, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  18. 'The R3-30: Canada's Top Indie Songs for July 14, 2014' CBC Radio 3 Blog, July 14, 2014, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  19. !Earshot National Top 50 for Week Ending August 5, 2014, Earshot Online, August 5, 2014, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  20. NME (New Music Express), Feb 21, 2015, page 22, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  21. 'Five Songs To Hear This Week – Takaakira Goto, Tandem Felix, The Mirror Trap, JPNSGRLS, The Luka State', Q Magazine website, March 9, 2015, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  22. 'Das neue Video „Brandon“ der JPNSGRLS ist ein hängengebliebener Highschool-Streifen', Noisey (Vice), German language website, May 4, 2015, Retrieved May 31, 2015
  23. 'BC Teachers' Federation Social Justice Video Resources List', BC Teachers' Federation website, no date posted, Retrieved April 18, 2016
  24. 'JPNSGRLS - "Bully For You" (audio) (premiere)' PopMatters website, April 13, 2016, Retrieved April 15, 2016
  25. 'Jon chats with Charlie of JPNSGRLS' 91.3 The Zone website, Log of live broadcast, April 11, 2016, Retrieved April 15, 2016
  26. 'Top Downloads & Most Active Indies – Week of April 11th' Yangaroo Music Blog, April 11, 2016, Retrieved April 15, 2016
  27. 'Billboard Canada Rock National Airplay' Billboard Canada Rock National Airplay Chart, Issue Date May 28, 2016, Retrieved May 24, 2016
  28. 'VISIONS Premiere: Jpnsgrls streamen neuen Track "Bully For You" ' Visions, German Alternative Music Online Magazine, April 13, 2016, Retrieved April 15, 2016
  29. 'Premiere: JPNSGRLS – ‘Bully For You’ Gigslutz, April 13, 2016, Retrieved April 15, 2016
  30. 'Video Premiere: JPNSGRLS – “OMG What Is It?”' New Noise Magazine, May 23, 2016, Retrieved May 23, 2016
  31. 'Interview:JPNSGRLS' Karen McKenzie Vocals Music Blog, June 5, 2013, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  32. 'SXSW Schedule', SXSW Website, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  33. 'Jpnsgrls Publish SXSW Diary' Visions (German Language Music Website), April 3, 2015, Retrieved April 3, 2015
  34. Hit the Deck Festival Line-Up Hit the Deck Website, Retrieved April 11, 2015
  35. '150 artists added to complete #TGE15 Line up' The Great Escape Website, Retrieved April 11, 2015
  36. 'Sound City Announces Full Line-up Liverpool Sound City Website, April 8, 2015, Retrieved April 11, 2015
  37. 'Turbowolf/JPNSGRLS Review' Rock Hard (German Language Music Website), May 9, 2015, Retrieved May 31, 2015
  38. 'Highlights From Day One of The Great Escape' The AU Review, May 15, 2015, Retrieved May 31, 2015
  39. 'Review: Hit the Deck Festival – Nottingham – 26 April 2015', Nottingham Live website, April 26, 2015, Retrieved May 31, 2015
  40. 'JPNSGRLS, Wagon and Horses, Birmingham - 16 May 2015', The Rock Club UK website, May 16, 2015, Retrieved May 31, 2015
  41. 'Liverpool Sound City 2015 review: JPNSGRLS, Mouses, Jesse Sheehan, Close Talker, Young Benjamins, Ady Suleiman, His New Atlas', Get Into This website, May 23, 2015, Retrieved May 31, 2015
  42. 'CMJ 2015 Initial Artist Line-Up Announced! CMJ website, September 9, 2015, Retrieved April 15, 2016
  43. 'BreakOut West Announces 2015 Festival Line-Up' BreakOut West website, July 7, 2015, Retrieved April 15, 2016
  44. 'Taste Of Edmonton 2015 Artist Line-Up!' Sonic Radio 102.9 website, May 12, 2015, Retrieved April 15, 2016
  45. 'PEMBERTON MUSIC FESTIVAL RECAP: THURSDAY AND FRIDAY ARE ELECTRIFIED WITH PERFORMANCES BY THE BLACK KEYS, JPNSGRLS AND MORE', Permanent Rain Press website, July 23, 2015, Retrieved April 15, 2016
  46. 'Interview / Charlie Kerr Of JPNSGRLS', Independent Music News website, April 21, 2016, Retrieved April 24, 2016
  47. 'Camden Rocks Festival Line-up', Camden Rocks website, April 6, 2016, Retrieved April 24, 2016

External links