From the unassuming small town of Newmarket, Ontario, Tokyo Police Club is a band fated for big things. From their 16-minute debut EP, A Lesson in Crime (2006) to their recent 2011 Juno nomination for alternative album of the year, members Dave Monks (vocals, bass), Greg Alsop (drums), Graham Wright (keyboards) and Josh Hook (guitar), have steadily gained momentum in their unwavering climb to all-out rock ‘n’ roll success. Drummer Greg Alsop reflects on an action-packed 2010 and how Tokyo Police Club has changed for the better by freeing themselves from a predefined style.
2010 was a big year for you. What were your favorite moments?
Releasing Champ was a huge accomplishment. We worked on that for months on end, so to finally get it out and have people enjoy it was humongous for us. And being able to tour off that record for 6 to 8 months straight makes us really happy, too. Playing Coachella obviously was amazing and, uh – it sounds like a cliché – but everything else seems like a blur (laughs).
What are the little day-to-day things that tell you the band is making an impact?
Mostly, it’s the interaction with our fans. Playing every night and having people pack a venue and sing along makes us feel like we have some really dedicated fans that are into our entire body of work rather than just a couple singles. It’s so rewarding.
You’ve toured with esteemed bands like Weezer and Flaming Lips. Are you often fans of the bands you play with?
I don’t think we’ve ever opened for a band we weren’t already huge fans of. Those dates in 2008 with Weezer were just mind-blowing. That’s a band I’d been listening to since I was 10 years old, so be able to meet them, share a stage with them and learn from them was definitely formative for us as a band.
Do your fans’ favorite songs align with the band’s favorites?
Every so often we get a request for a song that we’ve stopped playing because we no longer feel the same connection towards it – but we have a set list of about 14 to 18 songs that we can play without any of them being a drag for us – even after having played them for almost five years now.
With your blog, vlogs, Twitter account, etc., you seem to maintain a lot of ongoing communication with your fans.
It’s necessary. You fade out of people’s consciousness so quickly with all the new music coming out. You need to remind people: “Hey, we’re here and we’re coming to your town and don’t forget about us.” Also, we love meeting the people who listen to our music and talking with them after shows. Being online means you can maintain a relationship with them even if you can’t get to their town to play.
How did you come to work with Rob Schnapf on your latest LP, Champ?
We’ve been huge fans of pretty much every record that he’d done: early Foo Fighters, Beck, Elliot Smith, and out of all the producers we talked to, he had the clearest idea of what we wanted to do. But it’s not like you plug into the Rob Schnapf machine and all of a sudden you have a hit album. He’s adaptive to your style.
Your bio states that with Champ, you “challenged and redefined” your songwriting. How so?
We moved beyond what we had originally set as our band’s M.O. – to write fast, angular, two-minute pop-punk songs. This time, we got more comfortable playing around with different genres and allowing ourselves to move beyond how we had defined ourselves as a band and as musicians and as songwriters.
So you’ve grown?
Definitely. We’re more capable with our instruments now. You can only write the same song so many times before you get bored, so you need to deviate and try whatever comes to mind. You change with the times, too… you’re influenced by what you’re listening to and what others listen to. You always want to sound modern and on the forefront of what’s getting people excited.
You must be pleased to have been nominated for alternative album of the year at this year’s Junos.
[We were] up against some pretty hefty competition…but even just being considered and being included with other such great artists is an amazing honor.
For Tokyo Police Club’s spring tour dates with Dinosaur Bones, Hollerado, and Said The Whale, visit the band’s official website.