Japanese Television | Interview | New Album, ‘Automata Exotica’

Uncategorized June 25, 2024

Japanese Television | Interview | New Album, ‘Automata Exotica’

Japanese Television, the space-surf-psych-rock foursome, recently released their second album, ‘Automata Exotica,’ via Tip Top Recordings. The new record, inspired by UFOs, rituals, robots, Northern Soul, and nuclear themes, showcases a dynamic blend of mechanical rhythms and powerful bass lines, promising to be their loudest and rawest work yet.

‘Automata Exotica’ was recorded live to tape in three electric all-night sessions in a windowless room in Homerton by Kristian Bell of The Wytches. “We wanted to make a tighter, more compact record,” says guitarist Tim Jones. “We whittled the songs down to be as lean as possible. All the tracks are first or second takes, all of us recorded live playing together, with limited overdubs. No fat, just the energy captured.”

“It’s the sounds on those weird old “Exotica” comps if those bands were made up of kraut-rockin’ robots”

‘Automata Exotica’ was released in March, can you give us a glimpse into what listeners can expect from this album in terms of its overall sound and thematic exploration?

Tim: For whatever reasons, we were thinking a lot about nuclear weapons, robots, and UFOs. Also, I got a wild new fuzz which is all over the record.

Ian: Thematically, the album takes in UFO sightings, ritualism, Northern Soul, and nuclear weapons. Sonically, it’s a blend of fuzz guitars, haunted organs, crushing basslines, and pounding drums.

The album title, ‘Automata Exotica,’ suggests an intriguing blend of mechanical and exotic elements. Could you elaborate on the concept behind the title and how it ties into the music on the album?

Tim: ‘Automata Exotica’ is Space Surf. It’s Psychedelic Rockabilly. It’s the sounds on those weird old “Exotica” comps if those bands were made up of kraut-rockin’ robots.

Ian: The “Automata” part reflects the kraut-y motorik side of the band, while the “Exotica” part is the messy, garage rock element. Most tracks have a bit of both

This album was recorded live to tape. Could you share some further words about the recording process? How did it influence the overall vibe and energy of the album?

Tim: We recorded with Kristian Bell (The Wytches) who uses a sparse setup with us. All in a room, live, minimal shielding between amps, so lots of bleed between the mics, onto an old tape machine. We had no time to do it, so we’d finish work, head down to the studio in Homerton, and record till midnight. It was hot, and there was no natural light. It got creepy quickly.

Ian: Previously, we’ve recorded in Kristian’s local village hall, but this time we got him to bring his equipment to London and record in our usual rehearsal space. We could only work at night, and the lights would occasionally flicker on and off as we played.

In comparison to your debut album, ‘Space Fruit Vineyard,’ how does ‘Automata Exotica’ showcase growth and evolution in Japanese Television’s sound and musical approach? What would you say are some of the main differences between the two albums?

Tim: Time pressures on recording have meant it’s a much leaner record than the last. I’m very proud of ‘Space Fruit Vineyard,’ but less time to overthink and second-guess has been beneficial to this record.

Ian: I think this time around, we’d spent longer touring before recording it, so the playing is much tighter on this record. ‘Automata Exotica’ is shorter (which was an awkward chat to have with the label), but a lot more focused. I’d say it’s a boiled-down, concentrated version of the JTV sound.

What was the inspiration behind the artwork, and how does it complement the music contained within the album?

Tim: Rosa (Gamsu) did the artwork for our live EP and did a really nice job. The only brief we gave her was “Robots in the jungle.” I think it speaks for itself.

Ian: The lineup that recorded this album no longer exists, so we decided to put a picture of that band on the front just to generate conversation at the merch desk. Also, it’s hard to tell, but we’re standing on a tram in that photo, which is both “Automated” and a bit “Exotic” these days.

Are there any standout tracks on ‘Automata Exotica’ that hold special significance to the band?

Tim: ‘Typhoon Reggae Police’ started off as just the off-kilter organ line. It took a while to shape it into the song it is now. We stole the idea of an extended percussion break from GOAT, who we toured with this time last year. I’m glad we commemorated that magical week on the road with them in a song.

Ian: ‘Uranium Knights’ was a lot of fun to record, and we only did one take, which encapsulates the approach to the whole record. Also, my son calls the middle section “Monster Music,” which is very accurate.

What are some future plans for you now?

Tim: Touring. UK, France, and Germany in the next few months. Then an Eastern European tour later in the year.

Ian: I’m actually taking a break from JTV to raise a couple of children, but hope to get back into it after they break America.

Photo by JTV Photo

Let’s end this interview with some of your favorite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?

Tim: ‘Jungle Exotica Vol. II’ – the spiritual predecessor of ‘Automata Exotica Vol. I.’

Ian: Far from “new,” but I was listening to “Clear Spot” by Captain Beefheart in the run-up to making the album. It turns out Kristian is a fan of that record too. So, the transparent (red) vinyl is a little nod to that.

Klemen Breznikar

Headline photo: JVT Photo

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