Meet the Janoskians, the Aussie Boy Band (But Don't Call Them That) Who Consider Themselves "Professional Idiots"
These guys are best fucking friends.
A couple months ago, a video emerged on the Internet of five 18 year old dudes performing a song called "Best Friends." In the video, the guys run and jump around, singing the catchy, high-powered pop song in front of thousands of shrieking fans—all of whom who can only be described as fucking insane. Seriously. At one point in the video, these guys are chased down the street by like six thousand screaming women. Outside of these sexual pursuits, the group spends other parts of the video pumping their fists to the catchier-than-hell refrain—"Best friends / you are my fuckin' best friends / honestly / this is the best night ever!"—and they spend a lot of the time hitting each other in the nuts..
This band is called the Janoskians, and soon, they might be the most influential thing to come out of Australia since that joke Jim Carey made about shrimp in Dumb and Dumber.
The other night, I skyped in with James Yammouni and Beau Brooks, two of the Janoskians (which, by the way, stands for "Just Another Name Of Silly Kids In Another Nation"), and we chatted about everything from their crazy fans to what a "best friend" is to what it's like to make a living by being an idiot.
Noisey: Hey guys. What are you guys up to this morning?
Beau Brooks: Nothing to much. Just getting ready for the day. Woke up a couple hours ago. What time is it there?
10 PM. I'm in New York.
B: Oh, okay.
So you're in the future. What is the future like?
What have you been up to the past couple of weeks?
James Yammouni: We have been doing some interviews. Filming a bit for some future videos that are going to be released on Youtube.
B: We shouldn’t say what we’ve been filming?
Well, what have you been filming?
J: We’ve been filming something top secret.
Top secret. Okay. Tell America who the Janoskians are. I've been told you are like if Jackass tried to be a boy band.
J: That is pretty cool. It is funny to see different people’s interpretations of what we do. We started off just making videos, and they ended up being prank videos and people just loved them. Then, Sony picked us up because they noticed our fan base. We had our first public meeting and we got like 6000 girls there. That is when Sony, MTV, everybody was like, hey, they have a fan base, so let's sign them up and make music and do cool episodes on MTV and stuff. And so we went with the flow and we got so stuck in the flow that we realized that we are not actually a boy band. So we continued with our videos.
B: Yeah I don’t want to be a boy band.
Are you offended by the boy band label?
J: Yeah yeah. No one can get away with calling us a boy band. We get very offended.
Sorry. How long have you guys known each other?
J: We basically grew up with each other most of our lives, through primary school and stuff like that.
When did this become a thing?
J: Well, we have been going hard at it, going pretty seriously for about two years now.
How were you able to gather a fan base of 6000 people so quickly? What did you guys do to get popular?
J: That is actually something we have no clue about. We didn’t do it go gain a fan base. We didn’t do it to get popular. We just did it because we like pranking people and humiliating ourselves in public. We wanted to share it amongst our friends by putting it up on YouTube and then people found it. We don’t know how. And then they started sharing it and one day we decided that we would do a little meet and greet, because some fans were requesting it. And we expected one to two hundred fans to show up, but, like I said, 6000 did. It had to get shut down by police because it over packed and there were massive lines on the road.
From your videos, the fans seem pretty fucking insane.
J: No, but seriously, they are fucked in the head. They will run across the road when there is traffic. They don’t care. They are crazy.
That is insane.
J: We love our fans to a point, but when they start going crazy on us like that we are like okay we are going to back off a bit.
What is the craziest fan story that you have?
B: In Sweden, we brought up like 8 fan girls to our room. No, no, I’m joking I’m joking.
So it was only like 6 girls.
J: [Laughs.] Seriously though, we do have a mature fan who lives in Australia. She is about 50 and she has all of our signatures tattooed on her arm.
That is a compliment I guess.
J: Yeah, it is pretty crazy.
Do you guys direct your videos?
B: Yeah. We don’t think of it that professionally, like directors and producers and stuff. We just do it ourselves. We think of an idea that we think is funny and we just elaborate it on the day we are filming.
J: Yeah, it is definitely all our ideas. We don’t really like taking ideas from other people because it is not coming from us.
When did you write "Best Friends"?
J: There wasn’t a point in time when we decided to sing. Sony just signed us because of the fan base, like we were saying before. And we wrote "Best Friends" when we went up to LA.
Define "best friend" for me.
J: Best friend is like a song.
Yeah, but what does it mean to be a best friend? You say "best friend" like 20 times in the song.
J: Maybe more than that. [Laughs.] And the tour we were on was "Not A Boy Band," and it went out during the tour, just before our latest world tour. We didn’t want a poppy song. We didn’t want it to be or to have that boy band feel. And that is why I think "Best Friends" is really not a boy band song. It is more of a Hives song. Something you can dance to and jump up and down to.
A best friend is somebody that always has your back no matter what.
B: I thought, like "Best Friends," I could feel myself listening to the song with my best friends. So it just gave that sort of vibe.
What was your "best night ever"?
J: Well, every night when we are with our best mates we always have the best night ever whether it is like getting wasted or just talking crap all night. We always have the best night together. Once again it is kind of the vibe. I can see myself listening to it talking shit with my best mates while having the best night ever.
A lot of your videos are you guys just, like, running around and hitting each other in the dick. Are you concerned with what the perception of that is?
J: If we cared about other people's perceptions of us, we wouldn’t really be where we are. I think it is because we don’t care about people’s perceptions is a reason why we are famous for what we do, and are well known for what we do. We don’t really care who is watching us as long as us five boys are having fun and like proving each other to ourselves through stunts and stuff. We don’t care what other people think because we are just having fun.
B: Our who motto is that there are really no rules and that is another reason why we aren’t really a boy band because there is really no things that we try to keep up a good boy image. We just do what we want to do
What is your goal with this group?
J: It is the same answer if you asked us two years ago. We have no goal. Tomorrow we would be happy if we were on the streets just as long as we are with each other and we are having fun. Even if two people watched our videos we would be happy because it is just us having fun. And we don’t really care about all the getting famous and shit like that because we are going to be doing this anyways.
Have you been to the States?
J: We toured the states not long ago actually, a few months ago. We went to Chicago, Philly, LA, New York.
What were the crowds like?
B: Oh they were huge. We actually sold out House of Blues in New York twice. Two consecutive nights.
J: The crowds were all packed out which was amazing. There was also a lot of jumping up and down. It was crazy.
What did you think of the States?
B: It is just exactly like watching a movie here in Australia. Everything is identical to it.
J: When you are younger you hear quotes like, "America is where dreams come true" and stuff, but you don’t really experience it until you are there. I’m really excited to go back up soon, it's really fun.
Is it frustrating when you come to the States because you have to be 21 to drink here?
B: It is very frustrating, but it does keep the youngness in us alive because we can get mates to go sneak us and get us alcohol.
J: Or we can just sneak into clubs like we have been doing.
B: it is more fun when you do it undercover or something.
J: Yeah everything is much funner to do when you are not supposed to be doing it.
Are there any other things that you guys aren’t supposed to be doing that you do?
J: [Laughs.] Not that we can mention to you.
Is there anything about which you feel misunderstood?
J: Yeah, I guess. People take us as serious and professional role models and people think that we are trying to do this job for money or for fame and that we need to be sensible and responsible. But my answer to that is that we are not role models at all. If you want to be our fan because you think we are role models then you are our fan for the wrong reason. And you should only be a fan because you support what we do and you see that we are having fun. Otherwise there is no point in even following us.
With a certain amount of fame though, isn’t there an inherent responsibility? Is there any part of you that changes because more people are now aware of you?
J: There is definitely a line we can’t push now. Especially when a big part of society is watching us. We all know not to push the further lines, but that is not going to stop us from having fun at all. That is the responsibility I think that we should take.
You've taken a lot of shit from the press for some of your pranks. Does that change your approach?
B: It hasn’t changed our approach about how we go about doing our things because when we started, we didn’t act like role models. I think Australia is the sort of country with media that supports its own at first, but once they are at a state where they are living their dreams, like us—you know, going over seas and stuff—that is when they like to bring people down. That's one negative side of media sometimes and it is something you have to deal with and it can’t really change us.
J: That is exactly right. Media doesn’t usually show the good stuff. It shows the bad stuff. Like it or not that is what gets the media ratings. That is what gets all the television ratings. They like to really highlight and exaggerate the bad stuff that happens.
B: But not Eric Sundermann. He is great. [Laughs.]
Do you plan to go back to college?
J: Well, university can’t teach us anything that we haven’t learned through this experience so I don’t think we would want to study there, and become professional pranksters or professional idiots. We will keep going at this while we are hot.
So you kind of consider yourselves professional idiots?
J: Yeah, that is exactly what we are.
What does your mom say to that?
J: Um, she sells our merchandise. She likes it. It is fine.
A lot of people consider Eric Sundermann a professional idiot. He's on Twitter — @ericsundy