ALEATORY #23: Japancakes

Though he's said it here before, Davecat feels it's worth repeating: a band's name can make all the difference. If you've got a stupid name, people are going to be less likely to seek out and listen to your music, however great it is. However, if your name is as awesome as Athens, Georgia group Japancakes, your music practically sells itself. Knowing nothing about their 2001 album The Sleepy Strange, Davecat picked it up at the record store based on name alone and has been hooked ever since. Their most recent album, 2007's Loveless, is an full-length, song-for-song cover of My Bloody Valentine's classic shoegaze album, interpreted in their beautiful instrumental style with shimmery guitar, pedal steel, and cello. Brant Rackley, Japancakes' drummer, took the time to speak with us last month, and we are honored to have one of our favorite bands as our 23rd Aleatory.


7. Favorite composer?

I'm assuming for classical? If so, I'd say Bach. I remember the first time I heard Cantata No. 140 (Sleepers Wake). It's still stuck in my head. Something about the way the strings float around is amazing. It would be a good song to cover and make our own. Heather and Neff could work some magic on that one. As far as modern composers, I'd have to say Brian Eno. He just makes interesting music. I think I listened to Music for Airports for a year straight. Sometimes it's best to hear the music that's not there.

8. Favorite author?/Favorite book?

I can't sit still long enough to read much, classic ADHD stuff. I do like reading David Sedaris books. His stories are hilarious. Being able to be that honest about family and yourself is quite a feat. I need the number of his therapist. Favorite book(s), All the President's Men, any Dr. Suess, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. I have two kids, so most of my reading these days consists of children's books. I'm a big fan of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

9. Favorite song to start (or end) a mixtape with?

Starting song is a toss up between R.E.M. "Harborcoat" and Stevie Wonder "Living for the City". Ending song is toss up between Aretha Franklin "Ain't No Way" and Superchunk "Hyper Enough", the first one makes you long for more, and the second gets you all jacked up and ready to go do something.

15. Favorite exhibit or subject at the museum?

Andy Goldsworthy exhibit. He makes some of the coolest art I've ever seen. The patience that guy has is insane. If you've never seen his work I would highly recommend checking it out. Also, watch "Rivers and Tides", it's a documentary about him and his work. I can't really explain it without sounding like a babbling idiot, but to me it's simple and familiar in an awesome and completely foreign way?

18. Favorite pick-up line?

Do you know of anything that will get blood out of a clownsuit?
I'm married...it worked once.

21. Favorite album(s) from the past year?

I liked:
  • Bon Iver - For Emma, Forever Ago. Very stripped down simple record, totally full though.
  • TV on the Radio - Dear Science. These dudes simply do some cool stuff with music.
  • David Byrne and Brian Eno - Everything that Happens will Happen Today. This record feels good. Picking out all the little loops, blips, and blurbs in this is amusing to me.
  • Girl Talk - Feed The Animals. Listening to this is like playing Musical Jeopardy. Very creative. Although I can't listen to it too much.

26. Favorite badass?

Inspector Jacques Clouseau. Every since I was a kid I wanted to be this guy. I got a thing for the bumbling detective.

27. Favorite chord/chord progression?

I got nothing for you on this one. I deal in simplicity, you know, pick up drumstick-hit drum.

28. What instrument would you most like to learn to play?

Piano, or anything other than drums really, but mostly piano.

29. Who do you wish more people were listening to?

Globally? Each other. Musically? Japancakes, every little bit helps.

32. Best thing you learned this week/month?

That the kind of UFO's that exist in my daughter's world, are fart-powered and they are only interested in collecting human underpants. She's a genius.

35. What's the best place you've randomly discovered while on tour?

We played some shows in France for the Sleepy Strange album. We were in Paris for a few days of the tour and there was a chocolate shop down the street from our hotel that was fucking great. I think it was a mother and daughter who owned/ran it. Every time we would go in there they would let us try all the new chocolates for the day. If you could marry a chocolate shop, I would. It just so happens that we also randomly discovered that Paris is the best place to; have your bass player step in dog shit (aprrox. 3-4 times in one day), chocolate bars filled with liquor, and one of the most hilarious clown paintings of all time.

41. If you could go anywhere in the universe, where would it be?

Where ever those UFO's my daughter draws are from. That place has got to be hilarious.

47. Biggest fear?

Although it's not very likely, being trapped under ice. That would be fucking terrifying, especially if you could see someone trying to help you. Realistically, something happening to my kids. I tend to freak out a little bit whenever I have to back out of my driveway. I have this horrible feeling that I'm going to back over one of my kids.

51. What are you currently obsessed with?

Gummy Coke Bottles. Fucking delicious.

52. At what point did you realize that music was going to be your full-time occupation?

This question doesn't apply to me. I only pretend it's my full-time job. Over-thinking and under-doing is my full-time occupation.

66. Worst song you've heard recently?

Anything by Kid Rock or Katy Perry. I appreciate "what" they do and they're obviously hard workers. I just don't get it. However, Jimmy Buffet is my least favorite ever, of all time, ever.

68. Favorite interview you've ever been a part of (aside from this one, obviously)?

We were interviewed in a van, in a parking lot on the Seine in Paris. It was cold, crowded, and hilarious.

69. There's got to be one: who has been your craziest fan?

Two come to mind. There was a guy in France who heckled the shit out of us. It was insanely funny though because he just spouted out the only bad words he knew in English. He'd yell stuff like "monkey shit" "I shit on your piss" "I suck your piss" Really funny, then he stumbled outside while we were loading up and knocked over a mirror I bought over there and broke it. Douchebag.

The other dude was in Athens. He hopped up on stage in a green monkey costume and just started playing the harmonica into the mic. Everyone in the band thought he knew one of us and it was just a friend having some fun. Turned out to be some random fan who thought his terrible harmonica playing would be a nice addition to our music. Again, total douchebag.

88. What's your deepest source for musical inspiration?

People trying. Hard to explain. I like to see people trying. Just anything. Something new, kids learning to walk, problem solving and determination type stuff.