Today’s Feature, August 9-10: The Tokyo Police Club

January 18, 2008 at 5:23 pm (Today's Feature)

It’s hard to believe that a band with such a startling collection of media praise could just as easily never existed. The Tokyo Police Club (TPC), a band that has played in North America, Europe and Japan only formed “by accident.” Surprised? The critics probably are
too. Popular UK music magazine NME (The New Musical Express) went as far to state that the “Tokyo Police Club are a bold, inventive, brilliant band, And that’s the absolute truth.” It’s acclaim such as this that makes it so hard to believe that Greg Alsop, Josh Hook, Dave Monks and Graham Wright got together only by chance – They decided that the unyielding chemistry they once created while constructing music was too potent to let go. Within a simple basement, in an ordinary suburb of Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, something clicked, and TPC was born.

Well, “TPC” wasn’t exactly born – they weren’t sure of a name at the time. The name of the band actually came out of one of their hits, “Cheer It On” off of “A Lesson in Crime.” Their most recent release, the single “Your English is Good,” is grabbing hoards of attention, showcasing the bands unique mesh of sound that includes dynamic group vocals and unrelenting bass and drums drawn together by sharply placed guitar and keyboards. While TPC has been celebrated by media
outlets such as Exclaim!, Rolling Stone, and Pitchforkmedia.com, perhaps Toronto magazine EYE
Weekly sums it up best, “they are undeniably catchy and raw, marrying danceable hooks with talk of robot masters and global emergencies, providing an upbeat soundtrack to our troubled times.”

So if TPC is coming to your town (and chances are these tour masters are), get to the show! Your senses will not only be tempted by the vibrant and catchy rhythms, but you’ll also find that this band understands the visual aspect of a show is “at least as important as the sound.” Be sure to read their XXQ’s before you head off.

XXQs: Tokyo Police Club

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Individually you each played in different groups but how and
when did Tokyo Police Club (TPC) form as a band?

Tokyo Police Club (TPC): Well, we’ve never really played ‘individually’ in bands, we’ve always
been together, just in different forms with different members and such. Tokyo Police Club was just the last of many incarnations…

PEV: There is an old expression, “what’s in a name?”. So, I have to ask, what is the story behind the band name, Tokyo Police Club?

TPC: It was in the song “Cheer It On first,” we needed a name and we thought it would be funny to take it from a song.

PEV: Tell us about your first live TPC performance. Where and when was it? What was going through your head?

TPC: Our first show was in Toronto, at a place called the Kathedral…Virtually no one was there, but I remember enjoying myself…We didn’t really put much thought into it being our First Show, so I don’t remember much about it now…We did get a recording of it, but I think we lost it a long time ago. Fortunately.

PEV: Hailing from the suburbs of Newmarket, Canada, what was the music scene like in Newmarket growing up? Who were some of your earlier inspirations or artists that you really connected with?

TPC: Newmarket never had much of a music scene that connected with me. There was the usual suburban assortment of punk and hardcore bands, but that was never really a part of my life. I didn’t really know that ‘indie music’ existed until I was 16 or 17, so my early musical influences were limited to bands like Radiohead or…Radiohead. That was pretty much the only really excellent band that I knew existed for
a good few years.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

TPC: I always thought of music as something that I’d want to do with my life, and I’m sure I talked about it a lot even before I knew how to play any instruments. I never seriously thought it was an option until things started picking up with Tokyo Police Club, and I still
remain skeptical.

PEV: When you get together to write music, what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?

TPC: For a long time, we did all of our writing and rehearsing in various basements of parents, mostly in Josh’s. Recently we’ve moved out of our parents houses, though, and we did some writing in a garage in Toronto. It was musty, hot, and smelly, and hopefully we’ll find
somewhere a little more luxurious next time.

PEV: Your latest release, the single “Your English Is Good”, has been getting great reviews. What can people expect from this kind of sound and when can we expect more to accompany the single?

TPC: Your English is actually one of our oldest songs, and its pretty unique among our songs because of how simple it is. We’ve never really done anything that straightforward, with every instrument just banging along, and I doubt we’ll do anything like it again. Its good to know that people are enjoying it, though.

PEV: What was it like recording your live album, “Live From SoHo”? Did you like the live atmosphere better than the in studio style?

TPC: I don’t know about live albums. I like records to sound really good, and we’re pretty perfectionist in the studio. Too often, live records lose the energy and spontaneity of performance and just keep the poor sound quality. I’d like to do a DVD, I think the visual aspect of performance is at least as important as the sound.

PEV: What can people expect from a live TPC show?

TPC: Lots of energy and hopefully not too many mistakes. Also brevity.

PEV: What is the best part about playing live?

TPC: When its going well, and I look up and see a sea of people jumping up and down and clapping along, and I realize that its my band that they’re enjoying so much. Its a pretty incredible feeling.

PEV: No stranger to recording studios, what was it like the first time you stepped into a studio as a band?

TPC: We didn’t have time to be in awe or anything, we had to get right down to business and learn fast how to work in that environment. Studio recording can be kind of intimidating, but we’d done some recording on our own so we were used to playing along with headphones or whatever.
I like having the option to tinker with things a bit, and add subtle parts that you don’t play live, though we didn’t do very much of that on the EP.

PEV: Even though you are still rather young, tell us about the earlier days of TPC.

TPC: Before a lot of the main attention and large crowds. We’re slowing learning how to be professional, and in the early days we’d often be out of tune or plagued by equipment that would break during shows. I have vivid recollections of desperatley programming new sounds into a keyboard while playing a different keyboard, because a third keyboard had broken and needed to be replaced. Our gear is still pretty spotty, but in the early days there was a whole lot of on
the fly fixes.

PEV: Is there someone you haven’t worked/collaborated with that you would like to?

TPC: I don’t know how well we would do collaborating. We work as a pretty tight unit, and letting someone in on that would be weird for us. Someday I’d love to have someone do string arrangements or something, but our songs don’t really call for that at this point…

PEV: Is there another band on the scene right now that you think is “on the rise” and we should all be on the look out for?

TPC: Our good friends in Ra Ra Riot are doing some pretty great stuff right now, they’re well worth a listen…

PEV: How has life on the road been for you? What are the best and worst parts of life on the road?

TPC: Its not bad. Personally, I’m not a big fan of touring. I’m sort of a homebody, I like to sit on my couch and watch TV with my girlfriend or go grocery shopping or something. All too frequently on the road I find myself wishing I could be sitting at my kitchen table in my underwear, eating cereal and reading. Then again, playing shows is amazing, and getting paid to travel around places like Europe and Japan is pretty incredible, so I can’t complain too much.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of TPC?

TPC: People always seem to be surprised that we don’t have any ‘wild touring stories’. We’re pretty quiet guys, generally.

PEV: When you get to relax or have some down time, what can we find you doing?

TPC: Not a whole lot of anything. I like to write, though I’m usually too lazy to get anywhere with it.

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to all your success?

TPC: We’re still the same guys to them. They knew us when we were just jerks playing to nobody on weekends. Now we’re just jerks playing to a lot of people every night of the week. But we’re still the same old jerks, and thats the important part.

PEV: In all your travels, which city, in the US or internationally do you feel has best appreciation for music? Which has been your favorite to play and why?

TPC: Montreal has great crowds, they’re really appreciative and I always feel really good about playing there. Same with Tokyo. Toronto is our home, so its obviously great as well, although Toronto seems to have more than its fair share of rowdies who bump into everyone and
annoy people.

PEV: So, what is next for Tokyo Police Club?

TPC: Touring, touring, recording, touring, touring, new album, touring, touring touring.

For more information on The Tokyo Police Club, check out http://www.TokyoPoliceClub.com

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