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  • The Japanese Popstars Talk "Controlling Your Allegiance"

    Mon, 20 Jun 2011 07:47:51

    The Japanese Popstars Talk "Controlling Your Allegiance" - In this exclusive interview, Gareth Donoghue talks to ARTISTdirect.com editor and "Dolor" author Rick Florino about "Controlling Your Allegiance" and so much more...

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    On Controlling Your Allegiance, The Japanese Popstars siphon hyper catchy hooks through a lush electronic landscape.

    The Northern Ireland trio builds a sound that's simultaneously impactful and infectious on cuts like the catchy "For Lisa" and the monumental "Joshua". Each and every flourish swirls into one cohesive ride that's bound to make you press play again as soon as it's over. You'll be pledging your allegiance to The Japanese Popstars after just one listen. This is boundary-breaking brilliant electro.

    One third of The Japanese Popstars, Gareth Donoghue, spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about Controlling Your Allegiance, working with Lisa Hannigan, and season 4 of The Sopranos.

    Did you have one complete vision for Controlling Your Allegiance or did it come together song by song in the studio?

    I suppose at the start we tried to have an idea. We worked on the album over two years. We were gigging most weekends and traveling a lot during that time. The initial idea changed and grew organically as we secured each vocalist one by one. The album kept evolving and taking on different tones. We wanted to develop from where we left off on the first album and take positive steps forward both in songwriting and accessibility. The answer is both "Yes" and "No" [Laughs].

    What's the story behind "Joshua"?

    It was probably one of the first ideas that was actually penned. It was initially written as a house track. We didn't have many ideas for vocalists at the time. I'd watched WarGames the night before on the computer, and it was called "Joshua". I thought it'd be a really good name for a song. We had the instrumental tied down. About a year before, we'd remixed a track for The Editors. We knew we wanted to work with vocalist Tom Smith because he's able to nail epicness, and his voice suits dance music. We approached him, and he was into. He already had some ideas for the vocals and where he wanted them to go, and we worked together. We were really pleased with how it ended up.

    Did you always know that it would end Control Your Allegiance?

    We put a lot of thought into the sequencing of the album, and "Joshua" seemed to be right track to end with. It wound everything up and left a good taste in everyone's mouth. We always try to end on something that's a little bit long and has a journey to it. I think "Joshua" definitely has that.

    Can you delve into song for "Lisa"?

    Lisa Hannigan sings on that one. When I first heard her, she was singing backup for the folk singer Damien Rice. She went on and did her own thing. We just thought her voice was beautiful. It's almost like Beth Orton back in the day, and we had a couple of tracks that we thought it might work well with. She lives in Dublin, so she took the train up one day. She's so talented. She came into the studio and just nailed the vocals straight away. She kept the whole story behind the track very secretive. It's obviously something very personal to her. She draws on personal experiences for her lyrics. The whole package is something we're very proud of.

    Is it important for the songs to have a visual side?

    It's funny you should that. When writing an album, we try to make sure there's a theme through the tracks. In our production style, everything is quite bright and in your face. Even the soft stuff is mixed quite hard in the mix. We try to keep it interesting so it doesn't get too same-y. That's just how we do it.

    What influences your art outside of music?
    Definitely movies! We're obviously kids of the '80s so the culture of teen movies of the '80s will stay with us forever as well as the music from that era. We love our old '80s ballads, and we have a playlist on the road of the worst ballads of the '80s ever [Laughs]. Decky is very much to his comics, anime, and video games. Gary is a big soccer fun. Personally, I spend very little time away from music. There's a bit of video-gaming, but that's about it. We'd love to get into video games.

    If Controlling Your Allegiance were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?

    That's a good question! Can it be a DVD box? I'd say The Sopranos: Season 4. It's my favorite season. It just had everything. It was a real journey. There was lots of character development and fun. Tehre was some sadness and tender moments as well. Overall, it was a really good season.

    Rick Florino

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