The music of Eddie Japan has always existed in the spaces in between. It’s the elegant noise and cinematic melody that thrives in the slashes that bind genres together, allowing the celebrated Boston band to elicit a spectrum of genres – new wave, pop-rock, glam, indie, art-pop, romo, that new sound that has yet to have a name – over the course of one tightly-knit pop song. So it makes sense that the septet, set to release new album Pop Fiction via Rum Bar Records on April 28, have detailed a new single and video swirling around the idea of simply being elsewhere.
In this case, it’s “Time Machine,” a collaboration with Greg Hawkes of The Cars that hits the streams Friday, March 24, ahead of the official video premiere on Wednesday, April 5. The kaleidoscopic single aches and turns with weathered urgency and sharp sophisti-pop acumen, buoyed by the unmistakably recognizable efforts of Hawkes on synthesizer. Taking The Cars’ electronic-pop backbone and applying it to Eddie Japan’s seductive style of sound is an inspired pairing, and “Time Machine,” which follows last month’s ambitious “Walk Away” single, acts as the final aural appetizer before Pop Fiction and its loose libretto arrives next month.
“The song is about trying to get back to that early stage of a relationship when everything is magical – the rush of new love,” says Eddie Japan vocalist and songwriter David Santos. “It’s sort of the flip side, thematically, to the first single ‘Walk Away,’ wherein the relationship is coming to an end. The male character in the song/relationship realizes the error of his ways and wishes he could start over via time travel, figuratively speaking. We’ve probably all wished we had a time machine for one reason or another.”
It’s easy to listen to “Time Machine” and be transported with Hawkes back to The Cars’ ‘80s heyday, and assume that this pairing is a blip and a beep on both the band’s and artist’s radar. But for Eddie Japan, who have taken the stage with Hawkes to perform the music of The Cars, with an upcoming show at Daryl’s House on April 29 in the New York town of Pawling, the collaboration was the perfect tonic to enhance a career that’s already experienced highs at home and afar, from winning the 2013 Rock and Roll Rumble in Cambridge to bringing 2015 single “Albert” into homes across the globe through Rock Band 4 (allowing the single to rack up more than 1 million plays on Spotify). Hawkes produced the band’s prior album, 2017’s Golden Age, and has now essentially become part of the Eddie Japan family.
“In short, it’s been a fantastic thing for the band,” Santos says of the collaboration. “The shows we do with Greg playing the music of The Cars require quite a bit of attention to detail. On the surface, Cars songs may seem like fairly straight-ahead pop songs, but there are lots of tricky bits embedded into just about every track. There is an effortless sophistication to everything they did, and so we take getting that right very seriously. It’s made us a better band. And being able to collaborate with Greg on our own music, and then to have him appear in a video, it’s like a musical Christmas morning every time he’s in the room. He’s also just a lot of fun to be around.”
Hawkes’ personality comes shining through the screen in the “Time Machine” music video, filmed by Paul Tierney and Joan Hathaway, edited by Jon Downs, and shot at Hanover’s eXpozedTV Studios for the performance footage and at 186 Haunted Basement in Watertown for the thematic storyline. The location for the latter was designed and constructed by drummer Chuck Ferreira at his Watertown residence, a local hotspot for annual Halloween parties, and stars the Lipstick Criminals, who not only brought Santos’ idea to life in the live performance scenes (equal parts Rocky Horror, Grease, and Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” video) but also served perfectly as Hawkes’ mischievous lab assistants.
“While the idea of the time machine is figurative in the song, we thought it would be fun to make it literal in the video, and have Greg play a character,” Santos notes. “In some of The Cars videos, Greg added a bit of comic relief, and knowing that he also likes to go all-out on Halloween, we felt he would be into playing the part of the mad scientist. And speaking of Halloween, Chuck is a Halloween fanatic, and every year, he and his partner Natasha create a haunted house for the public in their basement. Last year’s theme just happened to be a spooky science lab, so with a few tweaks, Chuck was able to create an amazing set.”
Whether a literal “Time Machine” from the video or the figurative “Time Machine” in the single, both have the ability to transport. And as the viewer and listener travels from one place to the next, real or imagined, they just may encounter Eddie Japan along the way.
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