The People in Your Neighborhood: Ian Vanek of Japanther

08/16/2011 11:32 AM |


Hey, look, it’s another edition of The People in Your Neighborhood, our ongoing search to find out where the coolest kids in Kings County hang out and whether any of them use the same laundromat as us. Over the course of the 2Ks, punk-addled drum-guitar maniacs Japanther have become synonymous with Brooklyn, solidifying their place as one of the borough’s definitive DIY bands since forming at Pratt in 2001. We checked in with drummer Ian Vanek to uncover some of his favorite people, places and things that make the borough home. Before delving into his enthusiasm for Rockaway Beach, though, take note of their free show on Thursday with Tokyo Police Club, Against Me!, Big Freedia and Team Robespierre at the House of Vans, where perhaps they’ll play a few cuts from their forthcoming album, Beets, Limes and Rice, due out on October 18 via Recess Records and Wantage USA. Or this, the ultimate love-hate letter to Brooklyn.

Japanther represent Brooklyn Heights and Bushwick.

Best place to people watch?
The Brooklyn Promenade

Best place to drink?
We only drink alcohol on special occasions… We mainly drink fresh juice made with the juicer Dan Graham gave us. It even comes on tour with us.

Best restaurant?
Pure Food & Wine and Vanessa’s

Best bookstore or record store?
We love so many around the city. Hermitage bookstore. The Arm Letterpress, Academy Records, Ciders Gallery. WOWSVILLE used to be my favorite garage records spot, and Sound and Fury on Orchard had tons of cutting-edge stuff and great in-stores (both shops R.I.P.).

Best grocery store/farmers’ market?
Sahadi’s on Atlantic Ave is a personal favorite. The dumpsters at Traders Joe’s are fun too.

Best laundromat?
We have a washer-dryer combo (I sweat a lot, a lot).

Best outdoor spot?
ROCKAWAY BEACH hands down.

Best place to attend a show/view a piece of art/see a movie?
East River Park, Central Park, Prospect Park have all played host to great shows this summer. I like The Film Forum, IFC, Lincoln Center and Morgan Library. Hell, I even like the new Mets stadium. Underground: Shea Stadium, Death By Audio and 285 Kent have been really impressive this year.

Best coffee shop?
I don’t drink caffeine, but I know [Matt] Reilly would want me to say 7-11. Big Gulp full of ice coffee.

Best subway line?
I live near the 4 train (also 2/3, N/R, F and A) However “my only friends are my legs.” I like to run, bike or walk places, mostly.

Best date spot?
The roof of the Clocktower Gallery (still got the keys). The sunset spot, the roof of the Grain Terminal. I don’t know, most girls don’t wanna adventure with me. I like abandon and forgotten spaces. I feel most at peace in burnt up buildings and rumble.

Best person whose name you don’t know?
The brand-new U.S. citizens smiling with certificates in hand outside the courthouse made my day…

According to neighborhood folklore, are there any celebrities living in the area?
Yeah, SNL cast members, Tyra Banks, Shakira’s ex-boyfriend does yoga downstairs… Honestly I’m clueless to most of that, unless it’s a pro wrestler. We once took a flight with James Hetfield back from Australia and the customs officer had to point him out to me. CLUELESS. Celebrity seems to be a sickness in our country, just ask some of our friends who traded it all in for dollar signs.

Which are there more of: dogs, bodega cats, strollers, American Apparel ads or old men on stoops?
In my neighborhood, strollers and old men outnumber the others but I keep it moving all day. Stagnation = death.

What’s missing from your neighborhood?
Less is more; I’m trying to simplify and get rid of material goods. Every neighborhood has it all, and if it doesn’t have it, I don’t need it (i.e. I’m happy to wait for tacos until we get to Texas or California again).

What has been the biggest change since you’ve moved in?
New York is in constant flux. The largest change since I’ve been in the area is the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge Park. I go there every day and it’s amazing!

It’s a Saturday night in August. You don’t feel like traveling very far but are antsy for a night out. Where do you go?
My brother and I biked in the pouring rain on Friday night to go see Kool Keith at 285 Kent. We both laughed at how soaked we got and stayed in Saturday night making a song for my Mom’s birthday. FUN!

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