Thursday, August 12, 2010

BDK Interview - Ian Vanek

Meet Ian Vanek.

Ian is one half of Japanther.

Japanther like to put out records like crazy.

This is one.

And these are some other ones.

Most of all they like to tour as much as possible and play for people.

People like this.

And This.

And This.

Anyway, you get the point.

To play drums in a band with only one other instrument you have to be on the ball if you want anyone to pay attention.

If you want to play drums in a 2-piece band whose objective it is to give a room full of people one the most energetic experiences they've ever had, you'd better be fucking tight or everything will surely go to hell. And well, if you'll allow me to briefly sexualize our instrument, Ian Vanek plays drums the way you would hate-fuck your ex girlfriend after you find out she blew some guy while you were in Quebec (but before you tell her you know).

Ian let me interview him, and while I was hoping for a little more insight into the mind of a madman, what I got back was, well, I don't know what I got, but it's something.

1. How long have you been playing drums?

I've been drumming since roughly 1984'-85'

2. How long have you been touring?

On the road regularly since 1997 on.

3. Tell me about your newest record.

Our new record "Rock and Roll Ice Cream" is on Menlo Park recordings and came out Feb 26th 2010.

4. What are some of your favorite albums?

My favorite albums are "Dump The Body In Rikki Lake", "Tut Tut Now Shake Yer Butt" and "Skuffed Up My Huffy". The new album is pretty amazing too. Michael Blum who produced "Like a Prayer" produced it and made it sound great. It's that wall of sound, sixties shit that we have always been after.

5. When did you first get the inkling to play drums and what was the musical climate like when you started?

I was born into a race of drummers in Washington State in 1980. My father had a snare drum in the rafters from the time I was born. He also gave me a nameless, sparkly blue trap kit from a thrift store for my fifth birthday. When I was an adolescent I watched great bands in Seattle bars with a fake ID.

6. How did you end up in NYC from Washington?

Oh shit, real talk. Hadda bail on the jakes before I caught a F. Moved to DC first for a summer then went to art school in Brooklyn. Oly and NYC are night and day. I still rep Oly hard though. We have friends, family, and fans out there. I live in New York for the time being... Capitol of the untidy states of amerikkka. Brooklyn Borough.

7. You guys hit the road like madmen early on. Were audiences fairly responsive initially?

We had a Germs-esque feel then. Very wild, short, fun shows that mostly art school girls would attend. Our first show was opening for Lightning Bolt and Pink & Brown. From then on things just got more exciting.

8. People always talk about the incredible things that happen on tour, but I've been on tour and I've always been interested in how shitty things can get. What's one of the more terrible moments you've had on the road?

Chipley, Florida. Engine catches on fire whilst fueling. We all handled it like champs though. I ran in the gas station and got the extinguisher then Mikey & Alex stayed behind to get it fixed and The Pharmacy drove us to Pensacola, Florida. The show must go on.

9. By hiring Michael Blum are you fulfilling some sort of secret Japanther goal of mirroring Madonna's career? If so, when can we expect your Justify My Love phase?

No, I'm not really sure, that's the exciting part. Matt and I have been lucky enough to play together for going on 9 years. Maybe "Rock and Roll Ice Cream" is "Justify My Love" and we ARE in the phase now. DEEEP>

10. I've always found your playing pretty unique in the way that it takes the powerful and spastic qualities of early DC hardcore bands but it's sort of held together by a deep rooted technique (if that makes any sense). Did you ever have any formal training?

My father showed me some things but I never really had formal training. "Parra-Diddle Parra-Diddle". I guess I've read about it a lil' over the years, but mainly just "rest transparent".

11. What kind of drum gear do you use currently and how loyal are you to it?

Sticks that are natural and uncoated do me well. I like riveted cymbals but we play it all. Not going to name drop products because we play what sounds good. Keep experimenting your whole life.

12. Finally, if you could punch one drummer in the face, who would it be?

I need these hands to drum. Would rather take it to the skins...

Note: All of the photos I used are from Google images. I know that with some searching and internet detectivery I could come up with a photo credit for each one and probably a website too, but most of them had nothing on them from the source page and I don't have time to start rifling through old web content trying to find everything. If you took one of the photos I used and want credit just leave a comment. If you want it taken down, then leave a comment as well, no hard feelings. If you don't care, awesome. thanks.


  1. cool interview i really enjoy Japanther's music especially their latest album

  2. More accurate response to the final question after tonight's gig in Halifax, England..

    "Finally, if you could punch one drummer in the face, who would it be?"

    "So long as she was pregnant, I'd punch her twice!"