Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Tokyo Police Club

presspassSuccess in the music world doesn’t always come easily or flow smoothly after its realization. In order to maintain a high profile, win over new listeners and meet the demands of managers and record labels, bands can sometime struggle to find a foothold in the music world’s maelstrom that will wash out the unprepared before they even knew what hit them. Perhaps that’s why Tokyo Police Club’s handling of their breakout success has seemed so impressive, especially considering the quasi-demand they made in order to complete their latest album, Champ.

presspassSuccess in the music world doesn’t always come easily or flow smoothly after its realization. In order to maintain a high profile, win over new listeners and meet the demands of managers and record labels, bands can sometime struggle to find a foothold in the music world’s maelstrom that will wash out the unprepared before they even knew what hit them.

Perhaps that’s why Tokyo Police Club’s handling of their breakout success has seemed so impressive, especially considering the quasi-demand they made in order to complete their latest album, Champ.

Since their LP debut with 2008’s Elephant Shell, the New Market, Ontario-based, Canadian foursome spent nearly two years on the road. They toured, constantly promoting the album and their smash 2006 EP, A Lesson In Crime, that first marked them as rising stars in the rock world. But all the shows and all the cities had left them a little too ragged to properly complete a follow-up album, according to guitarist Josh Hook.

“You can’t really be working on a song and then, hey, we’ve got a show in D.C. Then come back, start writing again and we’re off to Pittsburgh,” Hook says.

So rather than let the cycle continue and put out a sub-standard sophomore album, the band drew a line and put off more touring until the album was completed. It was a pretty mature realization for a group of guys who had barely passed their 22nd birthdays, acknowledging that they can’t, in fact, do everything all the time.

It was particularly notable considering it was through their high-energy and impassioned live shows that they had first made their mark, bursting onto the scene with a performance at the 2005 Pop Montreal festival. Ever since, Hook and his bandmates, David Monks (vocals/bass), Graham Wright (keys) and Greg Alsop have been something of a staple on the festival scene, popping up at Edgefest, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Glastonbury, Roskilde and Bonnaroo among a host of others. And that’s just in addition to their regular touring schedule. It’s a grind to be sure, but one that the band is more than willing to undertake to further their foothold in the global music scene.

“With the state of record labels and iTunes and illegal downloading, hands down, the most important thing you can do is tour,” Hook says. “You want to interact with people, win them over and get them to be fans of you, not just your music.”

Winning over crowds isn’t always easy, even for a band on the rise.

“We got the chance to open for Weezer, and those fans were definitely there to see Weezer,” says Hook, recalling the crowd chanting for the main act’s name as soon as Tokyo Police Club took the stage. “You can handle it differently, but we decided to make the most of it and thought we’d make their wait for Weezer as enjoyable as possible.”

And judging from the mix on Champ, it certainly was that. With a sound that’s drawn comparisons to The Strokes and reminds also of Cold War Kids and a reined-in Modest Mouse, the album awakes with the synth-rich ballad of “Favourite Food” that escalates midway through to properly launch the LP. “Breakneck Speed” and the whimsical “Wait Up” – currently for sale as part of a promotion for the ASPCA – serve as the record’s finely crafted nucleus, which should break even bigger when performed live.

Music fans in the D.C. area will get a chance to experience exactly that with the band back on the road and performing at 9:30 Club Jan. 20. Doors open for the sold-out show at 7 p.m.

For more information on Tokyo Police Club, visit tokyopoliceclub.com.