Q&A: Tokyo Police Club
By Nevin Martell on June 16, 2010
All hail the Great White North—homeland of the Royal Mounties, the loonie, and, of course, Canadian bacon. It’s also the birthplace of those lovable indie scamps in Tokyo Police Club. Comprised of singer/bassist Dave Monks, keyboardist Graham Wright, guitarist Josh Hook, and drummer Greg Alsop, the Ontario foursome has come a long way since its much-loved 2008 debut, Elephant Shell. There was a Desperate Housewives cameo as the fictional band Cold Splash and a couple of esoteric side projects, but now the quartet is back with an unabashedly ebullient new album, Champ. Opening with the one-two punch of “Favourite Food” and “Favourite Colour,” the sophomore set finds the band in fine form and in a fantastic mood. First single “Wait Up (Boots of Danger)” may be the poppiest thing the group has ever laid to tape, while “Bambi” is a jittering, skittering slice of bounce-pop. If you plan on spending your summer getting into all kinds of fun-loving trouble, this is the perfect soundtrack.
Wright took some time out during a long bus trip between tour stops to talk to FILTER about his favo(u)rite food, what song he wants to remix the most, and the inspirational power of the Winter Olympics.
The cover is part collage and part found art, but what does it mean?
Graham Wright: Dave had the germ of an idea that the cover should be an installation. Basically, a pile of cool, random crap. Our only specifications were that it should be colorful and bright.
That answer recalls a song on the album, “Favourite Color,” which prompts the inevitable question…
I never thought we’d write a song that would inspire people to ask us a question that I haven’t heard since the fourth grade. I can honestly say that I don’t have a strong opinion about the matter.
Okay, here’s an alternative song-title-inspired question: What’s your favorite food?
Cereal, because it’s easy to take on the road and it’s very comforting. I’m a big fan of Weetabix.
Passion Pit did a remix of your first single, “Wait Up (Boots of Danger).” What are your thoughts on it?
I think it’s so cool to hear our music redone in a way that makes me think of hanging out in a flashy club.
Can you see yourself doing any remixes?
I have a great idea for a remix of Yeasayer’s “Ambling Alp.” I just need the time, a lot of studio equipment and some saxophones. That’s all I’m saying.
You recorded this album in Los Angeles; did that help you create the upbeat tone?
This is the first time we didn’t record an album in the dead of winter. That wasn’t something we did consciously, it’s just the way the scheduling happened. I don’t think we were ever a somber band, but I think the California weather definitely crept into the sessions.
So you were hanging out in sunny California during the Winter Olympics, which are a huge deal back in Canada. What was that like?
It felt like we were in enemy territory. We had the TV in the studio on the entire time so we could watch it. We’re all Canadian, of course, but the studio team was all American, so we created this tradition where if one of our countries won a gold medal, we’d loudly sing the national anthem at the other country. We were actually back in Vancouver during the US versus Canada hockey game and, after the game, a bunch of the fans started to sing the national anthem, so we called [producer] Rob [Schnapf] and held the phone up.
Did any of that love of nationalistic sports bleed into the recording sessions?
Actually, there is a sample of us playing hockey during the first song. We were looking for something to put in there to texture it up a little and so we used a clip of Dave and I and some friends playing pond hockey over the Christmas break. F