We're only three drinks into the night and my interview with Japanese Sunday has gone to hell. Guitarist Nick Lorentz is wearing my purse, bassist Avery Brown is doodling in my reporter's notebook, drummer Justin Jay is showing off his biceps and frontman Eric Kusanagi is making out with his girlfriend in the middle of the big crowd at the Turf Club in Golden Hill.
This is not rare behavior. But for four guys who barely opened their mouths during three hours of previous conversation, any activity is welcome.
"We're not silly guys," Kusanagi said in an earlier moment of calm. "Honestly, I don't even usually talk that much. But alcohol helps when we want to celebrate."
These locals have a lot to celebrate. After numerous lineup changes, Japanese Sunday has finally settled on a working foursome, released Tap, Taps, Lights Out to a sold-out Casbah crowd in May and are planning their first tour in the fall.
"But even if we never tour, I'll be happy because we put out this record," Kusanagi says. "It took three tries to get these songs recorded, and it needed to be done."
The first notes of Japanese Sunday popped up from Kusanagi's hospital bed in 2000. After three botched surgeries to repair torn ligaments in his knee, a friend brought bedridden Kusanagi a guitar. He soon discovered Nirvana, Radiohead and Sunny Day Real Estate-music he never heard in Los Angeles, where he grew up. (He says Asians in his community listened to rap or hip-hop or else they were called "Twinkies"-yellow on the outside, white on the inside.)
Kusanagi played with a couple of musicians before he found kindred spirits Brown and Jay (the latter also plays in San Diego band Hialeah). Lorentz, who plays with Fever Sleeves, came along this year to fill out the lineup.
"One of the biggest challenges we face is having players from other bands," Kusanagi says.
"But it's also one of our strengths," Jay adds. "We've seen what works and doesn't in other bands, and we can use that to focus Japanese Sunday."
Tap Taps Lights Out-recorded with producer Mario Quintero from Black Box Studios in Golden Hill and put out on Grayscale Records, an Illinois indie label -is an homage to indie-rock guitar deities. It's all fluttering crescendos and moaned lyrical rants to the tune of Mogwai or Bardo Pond.
"We are crazy about this band and this music," Jay says. "We can have a dozen more drinks tonight and tell you all about our band. But what really matters is that we're nuts about making music."
"And a little crazy in general," Lorentz says, laughing.
Jay looks over at Brown, who's laughing hysterically. Brown points down at the notepad on the table where he has sketched out a multitude of characters and quotes. At the bottom of the page-below gems like "Avery has nice teeth," "Justin is pretty pathetic in the sack" and a labeled drawing of a "really sad Mexican mule"-he has written one sentence in careful letters.
"The more depressed and crazy we are," it reads, "the better our music becomes."
Japanese Sunday plays with Numbers Like Dinosaurs, The Listening Group and Hijack the Disco at Scolari's Office on July 28. Show starts at 8 p.m. Free. 619-296-3546.