When you can say you’ve been in a band almost half your life you’ve probably found your career. When the same thing can be said of Toronto-area indie rock quartet Tokyo Police Club who are all in their early ‘30s it’s something else entirely.
The band are back with a new album entitled TPC, an album keyboardist and guitarist Graham Wright says was fun to make due to its simplicity compared to two EPs the band issued in 2016.
“We made the EPs remotely basically,” Wright says. “We were almost never in the same room with each other. Everyone was living in different places and it was easy but it wasn’t terribly fun. This one was easily the most fun we had making a record. It’s probably in the top five fun times I had just about doing anything. It was a blast top to bottom.”
The group, releasing the new album on Oct. 5, were also blessed by their creative confines, namely a church in rural Ontario.
“We were pretty certain for a while that the natural reverb that the church we were writing in was essential to the sound of the record,” Wright says. “So we decided we were going to do the whole record there. And then cooler heads usually prevailed, they built all these beautiful rooms for recording in so maybe we should just record in one of those.”
Tokyo Police Club also took a more direct approach to the creative process.
“We didn’t put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be note-perfect on the songs and know exactly how they go and exactly how we were going to play them before we go into the studio,” he says. “It used to feel like math, it really shouldn’t but we were in there with our gloves on and just in there and building it like it was an Ikea shelf. But this one it didn’t feel like that, it felt like music.”
One of the biggest differences you’ll hear on TPC is what you won’t hear, namely Wright’s keyboard work found on previous albums. He says he found it a bit daunting at first but settled in shortly thereafter.
“I was playing guitar on everything and it worked out really nicely but when I got into the studio and you’re in this really nice and cool LA studio. You can feel the money getting spent. I was like, I never played guitar on a Tokyo Police Club record before and now all of a sudden I’m doing it on every song. I’m playing the rhythm guitar and the drums count in and then I start before anyone else.
“I was really insecure. I was surprised. It’s not like I was playing any hard parts or anything but there were a few days where I was kind of flipping my shit about playing guitar on the record. But as soon as you relax it ended up going pretty decently.”
What also turned out pretty decently was the frugal music video for “New Blues.” Similar to Vampire Weekend’s “Diane Young” with its extremely slow motion visuals, “New Blues” only shows a lit sparkler from start to finish.
“We were at the church one night and I think Dave (singer Dave Monks) or Josh (guitarist Josh Hook) had brought sparklers because we’re out in the wilderness and there’s not a whole hell of a lot to do,” Wright says. “And we didn’t even have a lighter because nobody smokes in the band. So we were like, okay let’s light these sparklers. But then we were like, ‘Oh shit we don’t have matches we don’t have anything.’
“So we rolled up a bit of paper towel and turned the broiler on in the over, and just held the paper towel against the broiler until it caught on fire. Then we lit the sparkler and I started filming them with my iPhone in slow motion.
“We were looking at it and we were saying, ‘This looks really fucking cool! And strangely beautiful.’ So as far as making, Josh and I got a bunch of sparklers and we filmed various sparklers in places around the neighbourhood. But the one we used was the one off my roof at sunset. Josh is just out of frame holding the sparkler and I’m holding the camera in the air.”
While looking forward the band also looks back somewhat during “Ready To Win,” with Monks citing an early appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman as a learning experience.
“Dave’s voice was just blown out,” Wright says of the appearance. “We were young, we didn’t know. You don’t know any better than to just yell and shout your head off all night and then not sleep and you think you’re invincible.
“If you watch the video for it he soldiers through it and it’s not bad. But we’re young, we’re on Letterman, our record label is there. It’s our big fucking full-length, much anticipated debut. It just felt like, ‘Oh we have to do everything perfect.’ We’re nerds we watched Dave and we did our homework. We thought, ‘Oh we’re doing this wrong, we’re supposed to be doing it perfect.’ Now I know it was Letterman and it was just to impress my grandma.”
Tokyo Police Club launches a North American trek in mid-October with several multi-night stands in select cities and plans to tour well into 2019 behind TPC. And all the while they’ll keep their list of accounts they follow on Twitter to one: @IsTheDomeOpen.
“It just amuses me that when I go on our Twitter it’s the only thing I see on our timeline,” Wright says. “‘The dome is open today and was open for the last five days.’ It’s good to have one thing in your life that brings you joy.”