An Interview with Janus

Posted by on Jan 8, 2009 in Music | 4 comments

This past Saturday while haunting Chicagoland, I attended a show at The Metro. I walked into the main room to find a sprinkling of people awaiting the opening band. I sat back, had a beer, and chatted to friends with a nice, easy view of the stage. An hour and a half later, I find myself standing on tip toes trying to get a view over a small legion of heads which had quickly filled the room. These heads and I all had one thing in common, we had collected together to hear the musical musings of Janus.

A few months ago, I was stalking around on MySpace looking for bands to feature when I stumbled on Janus’s website. The first song I heard was “Your Arms”, a song which left me humming the chorus for the next few hours. When I found they were playing in Chicago, I decided I’d like to see them live.

When Janus came on stage and struck their first riffs, it was a welcome change from the opening bands.  Their heavier riffs mixed with the singers more melodic voice filled the room and the crowd with some much-needed energy.

After the show, I had the opportunity to talk with David, the band’s lead singer, and here are some tid-bits from our conversation:

That was a great show. You guys had a lot of energy. The fourth song you played, “Your Arms”, you guys seemed to really get into it there.Yeah, I think so. I’ve never jumped off stage at metro before, that was the first time and everyone seemed to be really into it. The closer I got, the more animated people got.

What’s your favorite song to perform live?

My favorite song to perform is Maybe It’s You, which is a slower one, and the guys, that’s the first one they want to cut when we have no time, but I like it. It breaks up the set a little bit and it also means a lot to me personally.

What’s the special meaning behind it, if you don’t mind me asking?

It pretty much sums up any argument, any disconnect I’ve ever had in any relationship where you start expecting the other person to think like you, be more like you, and those expectations get put out there and when people don’t live up to them, that’s when the arguments start, that’s when the fighting starts. It’s about realizing it and recognizing it.

You guys had a record come out pretty recently, and it’s got this whole war theme going on, is there

 something to that?

Well the album is called Red Right Return. Our first album, it came together really quickly… it just felt like what other people wanted us to be and we decided to write a new record and the whole idea behind it was lets get back to playing for ourselves.

So we wrote this new record and I said to the guy lets get back to doing our own thing. So Red Right Return is actually an old nautical term, it means, ships when they are returning home to port, they say Red Right Returning, keep the red buoy on the right side to stay safe to port, and it seemed to fit. The whole theme to the record is a 1920’s Russian constructivist kind of look, and the bombs were just a really quick sketch but they turned into our iconI didn’t want a picture of us on the record, I wanted a concept, I want a whole theme, and push the record out under this whole umbrella of another persona. How did you guys get started?

Mike and I started writing songs together when I was in a former version of this band, a three piece, and it wasn’t really working, I wasn’t able to play and sing very well, and he just has a much better ear for music and guitar than I do, I started singing and he came in the band and started writing and he and I became John and Yoko and just happily ever after since then. Then we picked up Al, and then lost a drummer, and then picked up Johnny, and he’s just phenomenal, he’s amazing.

How did you guys come up with your sound?It was an accumulation of the things Mike and I do. Mike is into heavier music, and I’m into all sorts of stuff. I listen to a lot of mellow stuff, and I try to sing as much as I can the stuff he writes. He pulls me in his direction and I pull him in my direction, kind of leaves us stuck in this gray area of not really sounding like anyone. What’s your writing process like? Mike usually comes to the table with a shell of two or three parts, and the guys will jam on it and I will just kind of start making up non-sensical words on top of that and then I’ll start to feel the bones of a song and start to play with it and put melodies to it and work on the lyrics, just start recording demos and refine it from there. Mike sometimes helps me out with melodies because he writes a lot of keyboard parts.

As my first face-to-face interview, talking to David was a lot of fun, so I would just like to thank him for making it so easy on me. The guys all seem very down to earth, and really enjoy what they do.  Personally, my favorite topic of the evening was when a fan made a comment about keeping Mike out of trouble, which forced me to ask the guys what trouble they get into. I couldn’t help but laugh at the following answer, which perfectly described my evening with the band of guys I was attending the show with:

So Mike is the trouble- maker? What kind of trouble do you guys get into?Whenever we are together collectively, it’s like a weird sociological experiment happens, like a bunch of younger males get together in a room the more they de evolve into a bunch of six year olds, and Mike just goes straight dick and fart jokes. It’s really perverted.  

You can find Janus’s new record, Red Right Return, on Itunes, and can also get a good taste of it on their MySpace website:

They have an upcoming show on Saturday at Austin’s Fuel room before they head to New York to showcase their new album, so go check them out!

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