Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The Tokyo Police Club band and crew roams around North America catching movies like "Inception" at IMAX theaters and collecting daily entries for a video blog that plays out as the most incredible leisure time that any group of young, mid-20-something men could ever possibly have. One of their favorite games is to feign an earnest recognition of some minor character or bit player in the now-ended island mystery, "Lost." Mostly the work of tour managers and merch slingers, but at the prodding and encouragement of lead singer Dave Monks, keyboardist Graham Wright, guitarist Josh Hook and drummer Greg Alsop, they approach someone and commence in grilling them about their amazing know-how, lines or behavior on the television program, pretending as if there were no veil to be pierced. It's all part of real life to them. It's mostly a device to fend off all of the boredom that could come with the long bus rides and the tedium of soundchecks and going through a similar routine from day-to-day, for months on end. Seeing this amount of role-playing and fakery, for entertainment's sake, doesn't seem like such an odd occurrence - this twisting of reality.
There has always been a wing of the Canadian band from Newmarket, Ontario, devoted to fantastical stretching and a bending of the actual, bending it all into a dreamlike macramé. Monks seems to get into his comfort areas when he approaches his content, first as a familial extension - bringing mothers, great grandfathers and other members of his clan into the fold - and then contorting some of those subjects into elaborate puzzles of make-believe. They are tangles and Bermuda triangles of matter that become more and more interesting as they turn on themselves and shift into different shapes - becoming smoke monsters and such. And one of the things that can be said for the songs of Tokyo Police Club that can be said about all of the greatest science fiction works of history is that there are always thick moral fibers to all of them. It is the cement of the story - that piece of advice and that word to the wise, that underlying current of morality and knowledge that defies any part of the story that seems far-fetched or implausible.
None of the pieces that appear on the band's latest album, "Champ," nor those on the previous album, "Elephant Shell," should ever be seen as science fiction, but there are aspects of these narratives that put us into the categories of crime noir and mash-ups of John Hughes movies and Kurt Vonnegut novels. It's really all one in the same and it becomes easier to understand if we borrow an idea that passes through at least two of the songs on "Champ." Monks brings up the idea of "watching all of your weekends and holidays" combining or living all of "our Sundays in a row," as if time and all of the events that happened within that stretch of time just got scrunched together into one solid glob that cannot be separated. It's as if time's flying or it's just becoming identical to what came before. Either way, there's a thread of time on "Champ" and almost a constant reminder that time isn't what we make of it, when we have any idea what we want to make of it anyway. Monks hints that it's sliding, singing on "Boots Of Danger (Wait Up)," "It's only on the weekends/Only on the television screen/Always with the girlfriends/Always with the conversation/Making up for lost time/And making it with me." There's more talk of lost time on "End of A Spark, "Your great-grandfather always said/Wasting is an art/Like the nights we spent in backs of cars." It's as if not time, nor reality can be trusted much. It could be best just to shake your head and enjoy the inconsistencies, should they be given the kinds of snappy, mathy beats that these boys - when they're not asking illogical questions about a fictional universe - give them.