It’s a crazy world we live in. There’s a lot of things that could make a person go insane: racism, gender inequality, homophobia, transphobia, you name it. You could go crazy, you could get really depressed, or, you could throw yourself into your art and make a record. Ian Vanek did the latter. Or, rather, a combination of the former and the latter. The cofounder of Brooklyn art punk stalwart Japanther is releasing his third album under his new project Howardian, Do You Know I Wiggle, today, and it’s the second album the band has released this year. He calls it an “accidental” album that was borne out of sadness this summer around the Pulse nightclub shooting and other racism he was witnessing.
“I got so depressed I stopped eating and sleeping,” Vanek, 36, said. “After that experience I got really bummed out, so I went to Chicago and was really moved to write by depression/mania. I was in the studio recording for like 10 hours at a time. Instead of being really overwhelmed by everything that was happening, I purged it through music. Being a cisgendered white male, watching the struggles of other people, you take on the emotions of other people.”
It was recorded with the help of John Doe of X, which is pretty rad. Vanek, a multimedia artist in his own right, worked through the depression by making a really awesome, cathartic record of lo-fi scuzzy punk mixed with a healthy dose of psychedelia. Fear not, though, Japanther fans: there’s plenty of the garage fuzz and technical poly rhythms you loved in his first band. And here’s another instance of the world being crazy: we have the same last name. I got to talk to Ian Vanek about his life on the road (but also in Brooklyn), addressing injustice through art, and whether or not we’re secretly related (spoiler alert: probably not). (more…)