The Japhies have revived the corpse of rock and roll, bringing a visceral, raw energy to live performances as well as dynamic songwriting.Their music, performances and persona have inspired a wide array of classifications. But possibly the best description of The Japhies has come from Ciaran Daly of The Idle Hands, a staple band of the Minneapolis rock scene, after experiencing a live show: "The Japhies were decanted from a test tube of Iggy Pop's semen mixed with the accumulated DNA of the 80s sunset strip."
Local radio personality Cyn Collins (Spin With Cyn) has quickly become a diehard advocate for the band: "A newer band becoming well-known for their unpredictably killer live shows, The Japhies are one of my favorite new bands this year, a band to be watched as they are taking off."
The Japhies are currently recording material for their highly-anticipated full-length album due out the spring of 2012.
Ben Hovorka - Guitar
Anthony "Gorgeous" Gore - Drums
Matt Homan - Bass Guitar
Reed Wilkerson - Lead singer
The Japhies EP
EP played on the following radio stations:
89.3 FM The Current MPLS/STP
93.7 FM MPLS/STP
Radio K (U of Minn.) MPLS/STP
90.3 KFAI MPLS/STP
The River (Omaha, NE)
full length LP out 2012
The Japhies' art-free rock
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By Michael Rietmulder It's about 10:30 p.m. on a recent Saturday, and the live-music room at Caus...By Michael Rietmulder
It's about 10:30 p.m. on a recent Saturday, and the live-music room at Cause Spirits & Soundbar is full. Headliners the Rockford Mules are playing later, but the band most people came to see is taking the stage now. A wiry figure in a sleeveless denim jacket creeps up to the microphone and tells the crowd something it already knows.
"We're the Japhies and we play rock 'n'roll," lead singer Reed Wilkerson declares matter-of-factly, before thrusting -- literally -- into a rowdy set that would find him and his bandmates on the floor, on top of the bar and flicking off passersby through the window. By the third song, tufts of hair are flying -- on stage and in the crowd -- and the skinny frontman is parading around as much as the small stage permits, feeding off bassist Matt Homan's energy with arena-rock panache.
Wilkerson's simple, declarative statement is the only introduction needed for a band whose songs operate on such a primal level. It's the kind of loud, recalcitrant rock music that once upon a time made guys want to pick up guitars, if only to look cool and impress girls. Think late-'70s Aerosmith speedballing liquid adrenaline, with "Appetite"-era Guns N' Roses swagger and a hint of the Stooges.
By the end of the night the quartet, rounded out by Ben Hovorka on guitar and drummer Anthony Gore, has sold all of its merch, and we firm up plans to meet at their Minneapolis studio for an interview. After unloading gear and several minutes of jokes with "Don't print that" appendages, we settle into their shared space around 2:45 a.m. to chain-smoke and, you know, talk about the band.
"Most of us are kind of at an age where all our friends are graduating college, getting good jobs, starting families, and none of that really has any type of appeal to us, because we have [the band] and this is what we want to do," Wilkerson says, over the sound of a crappy prog-metal band practicing in a nearby room.
For a band with an uncanny ability to make every night feel like Saturday night -- and a band named for a character in Jack Kerouac's "The Dharma Bums" -- the Japhies are a disciplined group of rocker dudes, actively setting goals and working diligently toward them. This work ethic has served the stentorian foursome well, as they say they now have a contingency of fans (not friends) who come to every show, and they belong to the slim company of bands that have received airplay on both 93X and the Current. Now they're one of three new bands selected to play Vita.mn's Are You Local? contest on Friday.
The Japhies are a celebration of all the fun, rock 'n' roll clichés that have fallen out of favor with the indie generation -- cool hair, ostentatious tattoos, a cocky onstage demeanor and our-dicks-are-bigger-than-yours riffs -- and because of this, Wilkerson says they've gotten flak from other bands in town for not being artsy or "MCAD-approved."
"Look at a band like AC/DC," Homan interjects, slouched on the floor with his Van Halen chest tattoo peeking through his open jacket and his girlfriend draped over his shoulder. "That is not artistic music. It's super simple, but they connect with a lot of people."
And that is precisely the band's chief objective: making accessibly raucous music to reach people with diverse palates, regardless of how many people dog them for it.
With an album in the works to follow up last year's debut EP, a strict adherence to traditional rock tenets can be expected from this band of Led Zeppelin fans, even if that's unfashionable during music's Pitchfork period. "Rock 'n' roll will never die," Wilkerson says. "It just goes to sleep for a while and comes back and rips people's faces open."
As the interview winds down, I gather my things and thank them for staying up after the show to talk with me until 4 a.m.
"I was going to be up anyway trying to see how many girls friended me on Facebook," Wilkerson jokes.
Someone informs him there were three.
Notoriously wild rockers the Japhies settle down to record an album.
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By Chris Riemenschneider If true, this might be one of the best compliments ever paid to a band. ...By Chris Riemenschneider
If true, this might be one of the best compliments ever paid to a band.
Japhies singer Reed Wilkerson -- who has raised quite a ruckus of late with his wild, Iggy-fied stage antics -- jumped off the bar at Cause Spirits & Soundbar one night last fall and scraped a young, female audience member bad enough for an ambulance to be called. Instead of suing, the girl allegedly told the band afterward, "That was awesome!"
"I told her she can get into our shows free for the rest of her life," said an astonished Wilkerson. "But she has to stand more toward the back."
The rare act to be played on local shows on both 93X and 89.3 the Current -- a testament to their classic rawwwk sound and punky attitude -- the Japhies have thus far built a reputation on their action-packed shows. At a Zombie Pub Crawl party at Palmer's, the crowd-surfing Wilkerson got thrown over the bar.
The quartet's members are quite proud of the notoriety they've attained, even when it has drawn ire and skepticism. That said, they are hoping to jump into new territory as quickly as possible.
Last week, the Japhies started recording at Flowers Studio with producer Ed Ackerson for a full-length debut they hope to have out by late spring. A sign of how serious they are about making a record that will add to their reputation, the band that sometimes played two gigs in one week last year hasn't performed for two months. In that time, they hunkered down and concentrated on writing songs.
"We love playing live, but until now we haven't quite figured out the right way to capture that energy in the studio," Wilkerson explained. "So our philosophy was to stop playing and really try not to think about the live performances at all, and just try to make the best songs possible, period."
Their new batch of 20 songs reflects a tumultuous year in their personal lives. The singer saw a couple of friends die in that time, and he and another member each broke up with longtime girlfriends -- splits that he said were "all about choosing between the band and the relationship." No need to say who won out.
A Twin Cities native, Wilkerson formed the Japhies with snaky guitarist Ben Horvoka, from Sioux City, S.D. Those two share songwriting duties with bassist Matthew Homan. All come from varying musical backgrounds -- so much so that they could agree on only one band to listen to in the van on tour last year.
"You can count on a heavy Zeppelin influence on the new record," said Wilkerson, who added that Robert Plant and Freddie Mercury (not Iggy Pop) have always been his main influences as a frontman.
"I can play guitar, too, but I'm sick of seeing so many Twin Cities bands whose singers just stand there staring at their fretboards."
The Japhies will finally end their stage hiatus Friday at the Triple Rock. The gig is billed as Wilkerson's 26th birthday party, but more important, it's being used to test-drive the new material. Not surprisingly, the birthday boy said, "it's only been two months, but it seems a lot longer. We are seriously itching for this show."
MUSIC REVIEW | Vita.mn's SXSW Send-Off: Hours of rock, sweat, and cheers
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Oh the suspense, the drumroll… Throughout the night both twitter and crowd reactions gave me the fee...Oh the suspense, the drumroll… Throughout the night both twitter and crowd reactions gave me the feeling that The Japhies would be the winner of the Battle of the Bands. So because of that, I was rather surprised when it was announced that Prissy Clerks were the winners. I hate to give bad reviews to bands that have really nice-seeming people, but I was actually pretty disappointed with Prissy Clerks. I just didn’t get anything new from their show. I thought the incorporation of the accordion was a good idea, but I couldn’t even hear it during the set. They had cool instruments, it’s just … their music. It was what I would’ve expected from any other indie rock band. There weren’t any innovative elements to it. Listening to The Japhies’ music now, I kind of wish they would have won instead.
Must See Local Bands (List of Lists 2011)
Best Local Albums of 2011 (List of Lists 2011)
Prissy Clerks win, Astronautalis triumphs at Are You Local?
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Prissy Clerks leader Clara Salyer, 19, at once beamed with pride and showed her nervousness as her b...Prissy Clerks leader Clara Salyer, 19, at once beamed with pride and showed her nervousness as her band walked out as the announced winners. They were greeted mostly by cheers but also to a minor chorus of boos from fans of runners-up the Japhies, who were chanting their band’s name before the winner was revealed. Nothing like a rock show turning into a high-school jock rally.
The Japhies certainly had the livelier stage show. Frontman Reed Wilkerson jumped atop the crowd at the end, and bassist banged a floor-tom in the center of the crowd during the 'Black Diamond'-like 'Runaway.'
Mistress of Sin
Can't Catch It From Dancing
Where the Empires Meet
Cold Hard Steel
Love Ain't Enough
You Ruined Everything
(roughly 1:30:00 max.)
There are no upcoming dates at this time.