The inspiration for Italian Japanese’s song “NYC” dates several years back before the band even came to be. Allen Nicholas and Chris McLaughlin were recording demos in Boston, escaping to New York City on days off to visit friends. A female bank robber was running rampant in the City at the time, and she became the subject of Nicholas’ daydreams.
“During that period of time, we developed a fondness for the city, especially the lower east side,” says Nicholas, “I would hear about this girl that the cops could not seem to nab and imagine what it would be like as her partner in crime, running around NYC robbing banks like Bonnie and Clyde.”
Fans of soaring guitars and shoegaze anthems should be thankful. Looking back just a few years, it’s possible Nicholas might never have returned to music. Much like his Italian Japenese bandmates, music had fallen from Nicholas’ good graces back then, and he found himself lingering on a hiatus that was looking increasingly permanent. All that touring, pouring his every effort into his pervious bands, he was just kind of done with it all and ready to move on.
But, as it often does, inspiration stepped in to guide Nicolas back again, first to recording a few songs on his own as sort of a creative cleanse, and then to assembling a band based off his friends’ outstanding responses. Soon, Italian Japanese was formed with the vigor of an artistic resurrection.
An all-American band built on pounding rhythms, dynamic guitar work, and fully charged vocals reminiscent of ‘80s and ‘90s rock and roll, Italian Japanese founders Allen Nicholas (lead vocals, guitar) and Chris McLaughlin (guitar, keys) met up at a San Diego taco shop. With guitarist Sean Rodriguez and drummer Justin Greene, they released their debut album The Lush Romantic Weirdness in 2009, along with a video for their song “Le Pony.” Collectively, the band members had played SXSW and the Leeds Music Festival, as well as road trips with the Warped and Bamboozle tours.
Allen Nicholas moved to the Silverlake area of L.A., leaving members based in San Diego and Orange County. Original bassist Noah Willis returned to his homeland in Italy and was replaced with Joaquin Develasco.
Through their songs, tales of the road and romance erupt with the challenge that comes in facing new conflicts and the comfort of finding your way through them. “I just hope down the line that our songs can be something that people relate with a certain time or place with nostalgia,” says Nicholas. “Whether it’s happy or sad, to have that kind of effect on somebody is amazing.”
In January 2012, they released a new single, “Two Islands.” “It’s a relationship song about being in love with someone, and then realizing that you’re basically living on two different islands and there’s no way this is going to work,” says Nicholas.
“It’s coming to the realization that this person that you want to be with, it’s impossible. It’s just not going to work out.” That was followed by a new song, “NYC,” based on the true story of an elusive female bank robber.