Music  |  Features

Catching Up With... Tokyo Police Club

July 16, 2010  |  6:00am
Catching Up With... Tokyo Police Club

Hometown: Newmarket, Ontario
Album: Champ
Band Members: David Monks (vocals, bass), Greg Alsop (drums), Josh Hook (guitars), Graham Wright (vocals, keyboards)
For Fans Of: Passion Pit, Arcade Fire, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Tokyo Police Club frontman and bassist David Monks describes his band's new record, Champ, with two words: carefree and confident. “It was kind of just being over all the bullshit you have to go through for making a sophomore record like Elephant Shell,” he says. Elephant Shell, which came out in 2008, was technically Tokyo Police Club's first full-length release, but Monks says their 2006 EP, A Lesson in Crime, felt to the band like their first proper album. “So, for [Champ], it was easy,” he says. “It was just so much easier to not pay attention to any of that.”

The lack of pressure is evident throughout the album, as Monks and his bandmates—drummer Greg Alsop, guitarist Josh Hook and keyboardist/vocalist Graham Wright—celebrate youthful insouciance and the teenage experiences they relived when they returned home to Ontario write the new songs. From being “at the movies / drunk and young" (on “Breakneck Speed”) to studying “wasting [as] an art” (on “End of a Spark”) Champ is loaded with ideas the band “thought would be fun” to dive into. Big-picture ideas and goals tossed aside, the foursome just focused on what sounded right, what made the music fun. “I feel like there’s a thing about our band that happens when we play together and its something I don’t understand,” Monks says. “You have to leave [those things] and respect that they’re awesome. […] You don’t need to tamper with it. It’s nice not to understand the entire framework and blueprint of a song, or how exactly it all comes together and sounds so cool.”

After releasing Elephant Shell on venerable Omaha label Saddle Creek, the foursome decided to change gears and sign with Mom + Pop to release Champ. “They weren’t an indie and they weren’t a major, so they were sitting right in between,” Monks says. “It just felt like a really easy transition because, once again, we were going up to another label with a higher ceiling and, yet we didn’t have to compromise anything and go with a full-on major.”

Through the new label, Tokyo Police Club was introduced to Rob Schnapf, who's worked with Elliott Smith and Beck, among others, and wound up producing Champ. “I think we were hesitant because we thought maybe a producer would come in and get super slick," Monks admits. "I don’t know what would be involved. [But] we got a really amazing vibe from him."

When the new record was released in June, Monks and his bandmates were in the middle of “one of the most fun tours ever” with Passion Pit, and they won’t be returning home for good until they wrap up another extensive North American and European tour at the beginning of December. But Monks says he’s excited to go back to places—like Brazil and Japan—that he didn’t take the time to explore during their first tour. “I don’t think I was really appreciating how awesome it was that I got to go there because it was kind of all in a whirlwind,” he says. “But I’m excited to go back this time and really take it in and be grown-up about it.”

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