Interview: Tokyo Police Club — Wistful rock 'n' roll…
Mon, 07 Jun 2010 07:26:45
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Tokyo Police Club keyboardist Graham Wright just finished soundchecking in Washington, DC when he settled in for a chat with ARTISTdirect.com's Amy Sciarretto. His four-piece rock band, which hails from Newmarket, Ontario, Canada—which is near Toronto, for the geographically inclined or uninformed—was on tour with Passion Pit, winning over fans one gig at a time.
The band formed in 2005, released an EP in 2006, an album in 2008 and are now gearing up for their second full-length, Champ. The album walks the indie rock tightrope without a net, crafting songs that are equally moody and melodic. The well-spoken Graham, 23, was up for talking about the band's "wistful" music, sports, having a good high school experience and life on the road.
First things first. Any Canadian rock band myths you'd like to clear up?
I find that it's the opposite. The myths are more about Canadians, whereas Canadian bands have a good rep. Like Arcade Fire, who blaze the trails, which is helpful for us, since people are stoked on Canadian bands. I try to live up to what they've started.
Why do so many Canadian stereotypes exist? Canada really isn't that much different than America!
That is an excellent question. It might have to do with the inferiority complex that Canada has. We are a little more quaint and reserved and I think we compensate for that by being the nice country. You know, though, some of the nicest people I have ever met were in or from Alaska, which is like the Canada of America.
Let's talk about Champ. It's a bit of a melancholy album. When I listened to "Favourite Food," it had a sad thread through it.
[Singer/bassist] Dave [Monks, is the primary songwriter, so I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I like to think that we have happy songs, too, and that Champ is a happy record. As dudes who are creative and make music and stuff, it is common for anyone in a band or in the arts to sort of be a little more emotional than the average person and feel things a little more. I think it's a nostalgic wistfulness that comes through in our music. It's not bummed out music; 'wistful' is the word I am looking for to describe it.
That is the perfect word to describe it.
And that is a happy emotion in a way. It can sound and look and feel like sadness, but it is positive. It never ceases to be positive.
"Breakneck Speed" is another song that sounded wistful, to use your word, to me.
It's definitely the same thing: it's melancholy and you're looking back, but it still has a catchy 'Oooh' in the chorus, so that is a silver lining to the cloud.
Would you consider Tokyo Police Club to be an indie rock band?
We're a rock band on an indie label, so by that token, we are an indie rock band. People consider us that, since that is the music we make. We like to move beyond that and just be considered a band, but I am not opposed to the term 'indie rock.' You have to categorize things in life to make it make sense and I have no problem with it.
Tell me, do you have any cool, non-music hobbies or skills?
Part of the band, myself included, are big sports fans, much bigger than one might stereotype a band as being. Indie rock bands are more bookish and sort of the "not cool" kid in school, but I am not athletic. I cannot play sports, but I love hockey and baseball. I like to try and play while on tour, and another thing, jumping off the topic and question a little…we had no teenage angst. Certainly we're not jocks, but we had longer hair and dressed worse, but we did our thing and it was the thing that makes you a nerd or outcast. We had a good sense of humor. We had no teenage angst. We had good high school years. High school was easy on us and we have no complaints.
That's totally not the norm. Most bands and creative/artistic types ruminate on their not-so- easy high school and teenage years.
The world has enough teenage angst bands. We can be happy.
A little bit.
What else can we expect from Tokyo Police Club in 2010?
A whole lot of touring. We already started and we are taking a week off soon and then there will be even more touring, for the next two years. Expect to see us driving around playing shows. Which is a good thing, absolutely, as I have been waiting for this! I have been wanting to get on the road and not have time off.
Since you are so excited to be touring, what is your favorite thing about life on the road, since it's not a lifestyle or way of life that most people can appreciate or do themselves!
At the best of times, it's the shows. The best thing that can happen is a great, transcendent show, where everything clicks. There is no experience in life to parallel it, but it is super inconsistent. Those magical shows are few and far between, but that's what really makes them special. I love larking around with my friends. We are all best friends, in the band and in the crew, so it is seven dudes on a bus, having an awesome time, not believing that we get paid to do this.
Have you checked out Tokyo Police Club yet?