More than five years ago, Charlie Kerr and Oliver Mann found themselves in two different bands but faced similar problems.
“I was playing with a couple of musicians who wanted to screw around and I wanted to play in a band and Oliver was in a similar situation,” Kerr said. “He wanted to commit to doing music but his band mates didn’t and we got together and created a different band about six years ago and that band became Japanese Girls.”
The progressive-rock band, Japanese Girls, is commonly spelt JPNSGRLS to avoid inappropriate and unwanted Internet search results. Since forming, the band has grown to include bassist Chris McClelland and drummer Graham Serl.
On Wednesday (March 19) the Vancouver-based band performs in Nanaimo as part of a 10-day tour through Western Canada in support of the Mounties.
“I haven’t played in a lot of places in Canada. I am not even sure I’ve even been to Nanaimo,” Kerr said. For me, it’s similar to when we played in Europe because I get to travel and do the thing I love most while I am traveling, which is pretty tight.”
Although Kerr has yet to perform in a handful of Canadian cities, he and his band have played to crowds in Spain. Last year JPNSGRLS played at the BIME Festival in Bilbao, Spain.
“That was the most surreal incredible feeling I’ve ever had. I wrote those songs in my dad’s basement in Vancouver, some of them when I was 17 and 18 and fast-forward a few years later I am playing them on a stage in Spain to people who don’t speak English, yet somehow they know words and there is a thousand of them,” Kerr said. “It was so gratifying and validating as an artist because I think we all have our doubts about ourselves but when you do something like that you kind of have this pep in your step.”
JPNSGRLS live performances are highly energetic and designed to get the crowd moving, according to Kerr.
“Our live shows are what we do best and we’re really excited to play,” Kerr said. “There is a lot of chaos to the way to I sing and the way Oliver plays guitar and the way Graham plays the drums and the way Chris plays the bass. We’re inspired to make people berserk, that’s pretty much it.”
JPNSGRLS released their first record, The Shark Week EP, in 2013. The album was also released as a limited edition 12″ vinyl to Light Organ Records this past February and included a bonus track.
“We only worked on it when we got free studio time because our friend works at Nimbus,” Kerr said. “It would be, like, four in the morning and I’d have to go and record vocals for two hours. Then I would have to go to school at 8 a.m. I was a wreck for all of college while we were recording that album.
“It was a really cool album to make because it was so DIY,” he added.
JPNSGRLS commonly perform within Vancouver, having played to crowds at The Biltmore, The Rio Theatre, The Media Club, The Railway Club and The Red Room. One of the stops on their tour includes The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver and will be extra special for Kerr.
“One of the first shows that I saw ever was at the Commodore Ballroom and the fact that we get to play there is something that I never thought we would get to do,” Kerr said. “I hope that show goes well. It’s nerve wracking but it is really exciting to play there.”