Band on Band Action: Matt Homan of The Japhies talks about the genuine rock n’ roll of RapeDoor and The Goondas, the nihilistic ways of Brain Tumors, and his fatalistic visions of the Indie scene
In Minneapolis, music is an obsession. Yes, everyone is a music lover, it shouldn’t matter where you’re from, but Minneapolis is different. In short, we’re snobs about it. But it’s much more than that. Our city-life thrives on our music, embracing and nurturing it the way L.A. nurtures film, or the way Miami nurtures tourism, or the way Arizona nurtures intolerance.
It’s more than something that simply exists here, it’s a hub of creativity, a womb of support and love—it’s an integral part of our identity. Our city is rich with art, and we’re proud of it, however, if you’ve lived in Minneapolis, if you consider yourself a Minneapolitan, you know Music forever remains King.
In these series we interview different local bands and have them talk about the music scene that supports them. Specifically, we talk to them about other local bands for, hopefully, some wet, wild, steamy-hot Band on Band Action.
Episode #2: Matt Homan of The Japhies
by D. Sykes
With a rousing live show and a shiny new LP on the way, The Japhies have become a highly respected outlet for the pure rock and roll that many in the Twin Cities have abandoned. A band with much more depth than the average cock-rock outfit, they pursue their music with dedication, without taking themselves too seriously or falling into the quagmire of irony and pretentiousness so common in these trying times.
I met up with their bassist, Matt Homan, to go turn in a jar of change for rent money and play Vice City. We laughed, we cried, we discussed the resurrection of the local rock scene and talked shit about people from Arizona.
D. Sykes: So what’s your deal? You once said your favorite band is Mötley Crue?
Matt Homan: I don’t really have a favorite band. I enjoy Mötley Crue because Vince Neil killed Razzle from Hanoi Rocks back in the 80s. They were drunk and they were going to the liquor store to get more drunk, and he fuckin’ wrecked his sports car and killed Razzle, dude…
That’s inspirational for everybody, really. Follow your dreams. That’s what I’m about dude, I guess really I’m a freedom fighter.
What other bands around town are you listening to?
The local music scene is not really my thing. I don’t want to talk shit—that dude from Howler got in a lot of trouble for talking shit.
And then they invited him to play Rock the Garden.
Like, everybody was super pissed off at him. But he was totally right. Almost everything he said was totally right, and if I was in the position that he was in, to say the things that he gets to say, I would totally say the same fuckin’ thing. But much harsher. It’s a very insular thing they got goin’ on here.
I don’t know. I don’t really like music.
Talk about the music fatigue for a bit. Because I feel like this sets in for a lot of musicians who are playing a lot of shows, and it’s starting to become a job for them, you lose that passion to go out and see other bands.
I like to check out what other bands are doing, but I don’t just sit there and take in what they’re trying to do—I’ve completely lost the ability to enjoy watching someone else’s band, ‘cause I’m just pickin’ it apart, especially if they’re playing something similar to what I do.
But do you ever see a local band and feel like they’re doing something you can feel a kinship with?
First time I saw Black Church Service I was like—fuck yes. My whole band was just very happy that they existed.
Do you feel like there’s a bit more of a genuine rock scene coming back here?
It really feels like it. There’s always been that offshoot scene of the RapeDoors and the Rock & Roll Whores type bands. They kind of take cues more from shock rock, it seems.
Yeah, Nicole [Rode, vocals and drums for RapeDoor] is shocking. But genius.
And Johnny Hardcore [vocals, Rock & Roll Whores], he’s got that whole thing going on too.
There’s always been that element, of just, y’know, straight rock. Straight, non-pretentious rock and roll. But it’s not really embraced by the Current or any other media establishment or fanbase in the Twin Cities. I’m not really sure why. But then they started paying attention to us for some reason. The Goondas are another straight rock band that’s been embraced by that whole Current-listening thing.
We saw them as competitors, in a way. Because there was nobody else. But now there’s, fuck man, there’s, BloodnStuff… We played with a band called Blueclaw, young kids. That was cool, I like those guys.
And I’m talking about rock bands that aren’t trying to be throwback acts. Doing what you like because it’s fun, not because this certain style of dress and this certain style of fuckin’ reverb through this amp is gonna go together real well. Playin’ music like it’s a cocktail dress or some shit.
My favorite place to play is Palmer’s. Any band we play with there is fuckin’ awesome.
I think your band is, if not the only, one of the only bands that’s getting played on both the Current and 93X. What is it about your music that’s getting people from a mainstream rock station to play it as well as the supposedly indie-rock station?
I’m not really sure…You see all these people in the Minneapolis music scene, and other music scenes too, and they have these awesome guitars and they got this cool gear, and they never open it up…they all have the resources to own Camaros and shit, and they drive the speed limit. [The Japhies] try to open it up, make it loud…I think a lot of the crossover appeal probably has to do with Reed [Wilkerson, vocals]—Reed’s voice, Reed’s demeanor, Reed’s persona…that’s really what ties all the music together. Ben [Havorka, guitar] and I will get together and do some pretty strange shit musically and lyrically, and Anthony [Gore, drums] is always doing a lot of stuff that isn’t necessarily “okay” in modern indie rock. There’s a lot of weird elements going on there and Reed adds a kind of palatability to what we do. He really ties the room together.
Any current favorite local records?
I like this band called Brain Tumors [he hands me a pair of tapes]. These are two different albums. Check them out and look at the track listings.
Everything they put out is called Whatever Man, Fuck Everything.
And the tracks are all called “Bullshit” and “Who Cares” over and over again.
That’s fuckin’ genius. They’re maybe my favorite local band. The shows are fun, they don’t take themselves too seriously…[they] swear that they play their songs for real sometimes, I’ve never seen it…mostly it’s just this huge loud fast thing of noise, and the singer’s throwin’ beer at everyone.
I’ll go to the punk shows and the hardcore shows; that’s really the only time I go out to see local music. It’s like the most organic, non-pretentious scene in the city. And initially I thought all those people would be fuckheads, but they’re all pretty fuckin’ nice, dude. They just do their own thing, they don’t give a shit about the Current and they don’t give a shit about Vita.mn, they don’t give a fuck about the City Pages, and that’s really nice. They’re just loud, and they’re gross, and it’s fuckin’ cool.
Any other major thoughts about the music landscape here right now?
It’s shifting, right?
It is, I think.
I mean, that’s kind of cool. That makes me hopeful. We’ve lost that whole thing with the Replacements. We’ve lost that whole kind of attitude. I’m not from here so I only hear what people tell me it was like before. But indie rock…really didn’t go away with grace. Indie rock didn’t bow out when it should’ve. I think people are just fuckin’ sick of it, and that’s too bad for indie rock ‘cause it’s gonna get shit on for about ten years until people come back to it.
I’m hoping that maybe rock and roll is still relevant. I feel like it is. I’ve loved punk and metal and classic rock my whole life, and I think a lot of other people have, too.
Indie rock, I just never really got. The droning guitars, the not opening up your gear to its full potential, the lyrics you can’t hear ‘cause there’s so much fuckin’ reverb…I don’t get it. Play your fuckin’ Jaguar all day long, it doesn’t make your music good. You play that Les Paul like a bitch, dude. Get an acoustic, that’s what you meant to play. If you wanna be a singer/songwriter fuckin’ do that, there’s no shame in that! Do your thing. Go get some Maker’s Mark and a…fuckin’ vegan muffin or whatever. I dunno, fuck off.
But there’s people in Minneapolis who support rock and roll. Mary Lucia’s a big supporter of rock music.
She is, yeah.
I have a lot of respect for that.
I guess my part in all that is, like, I have this fantasy world that I try to manifest where rock and roll is powerful and rock and roll can be consumed for four hours straight in a night, and that whole attitude can be conveyed to people and it’ll do some good in the world. But people don’t see things the way I see things. That’s just the way I wish the world was.
I like Minneapolis’ reaction to us. I like when people hate the Japhies, I enjoy that. I really do, so keep it comin’. And I like when people like us, that’s cool too.
As long as it’s a passionate reaction.
Right. That’s really it—like, I’ll take hate, dude, I will take you hating me. That’s fine. You’re still fuckin’ talkin’ about me. As long as I’m in your consciousness one way or another, that’s a win.