You might remember the amazing Brooklyn band Japanther from an interview we did with them a few years back, but as usual they’re at it again, innovating and doing exciting promotions. In the above video we hear a little about a very cool event they did at a restaurant in LA. I recently caught up with Ian Vanek, the bands thunderous rhythm doctor, to have him explain a little more about what the band did for this project, why it was personally important and how the natural instincts of the band have become an almost accidental promotional tool.
1. Explain the Automat Project you guys did in LA.
The piece was entitled “69¢ Only”and was a part of residence based restaurant program called Thank You For Coming. Our dear friend and collaborator Jenn Su had the wild idea that a “resident” would come and change her restaurant every month or so. We were aware of all the hurdles Jenn was facing while opening TYFC and we felt fully challenged by her invitation to be one of the first residents. Social justice often takes center stage in Jenn’s actions so we wanted to challenge her in return. This is roughly how we arrived at the 1930′s automat theme for our residence. Cheap, quality food without a hassle. At that moment we wanted to be the cheapest game in town. So Jenn proportioned several small meals into 69¢ servings, we made some 69¢ Japanther wooden coins and started sanding and painting and making a huge mess.
2. Explain the money side of things for this project.
Thank You For Coming is open for business. They have hours and a cash register and all that. We were one of the cheapest restaurants in LA but we had our eye on the bottom line. The ingredients were carefully proportioned, tons of people volunteered their time and we went foraging a lot.
3. What kinds of reactions did you get from customers, fans, etc? Anything surprising?
Children seemed to get it the best. It’s a game and you always win! We got so many amazing reactions and gifts from participants. Too many to write down really. Sasha Grey was there one night with 12 of her friends. Our friends at various label and zines mailed stuff in. Kids of all ages getting amped on the idea of an automat was huge for all of us. Everything after that was just icing on the cake.
4. I was at one of your shows recently and saw a tape that was titled (quite cleverly) “Eat Like Lisa, Act Like Bart”, and from having known you personally, I know that food and health is important to you guys. This seems like a very local, community-based project that is way outside the realm of what normal bands consider for promotion. Specifically, why was this project important to you guys?
I think Japanther’s choice to stay involved with creativity was a natural one. Promotion is so far from our minds while creating that often times the bi-products go unnoticed. Restaurants and specifically “pop ups” are just another fun way of being creative. Lots of people host dinners all over the world in a variety of creative manners. In no way are we an authority on health or food we just love the dialog it creates.