If anyone doubts the strength of Canadian music these days, one should look no further than the Exclaim! 16th Anniversary Tour for evidence that our homegrown independent music scene is thriving and shows no sign of slowing down.
The cross-country tour is currently underway with Newmarket, Ont., band Tokyo Police Club — riding high as one of Canada’s top indie groups — headlining along with supporting acts Winter Gloves and Smoosh.
Ian Danzig, founder of Exclaim! — the free monthly magazine focusing on Canadian and international independent music — shared his thoughts with Metro recently on the success of the publication and tour.
Danzig actually launched the magazine with a concert early in 1992 and believes exposing people to new music is best done live, “we’ve always felt that the best way to turn people on to great music is to put the music in front of them.”
Danzig chooses artists for the tour based on one simple factor: “Same way we choose the music that we write about in Exclaim!, which is music that we love, stuff that turns us on.”
Numerous successful independent bands have graced national stages on previous tours, including Arcade Fire and DJ Champion. Danzig equates Tokyo Police Club to Broken Social Scene, but admits Tokyo’s success has been quite rapid considering the band only formed in 2005.
“The very first EP from Tokyo that came into our office, we immediately were unbelievably impressed … and we were immediately covering them so they’re a band that was always on our radar to have on the tour, well before the buzz really built up … they’ve got a new record coming out so we thought it would be perfect timing to do the tour with them.”
Tokyo Police Club’s debut full-length effort, Elephant Shell, has felt long-awaited to their fans, but as drummer Greg Alsop points out the band wanted to “work the EP (2006’s A Lesson in Crime) as much as possible.
“None of us had really expected that the EP would go to the lengths that it did,” he says. “We were able to tour off it for awhile … more people kept discovering it and we were able to keep gaining opportunities off it. We were never able to really sit down and devote the time that we felt we needed to writing, since we were on the road all the time.”
Elephant Shell is an infectious record that continues Tokyo’s tradition of songs sprinting to the finish line while incorporating hand claps and daring listeners to sit still. The indie darlings will be charming their way into the ears and hearts of music fans with the 11 new tunes, even on slightly morbid, but nonetheless fun tracks such as Graves.
Consisting of Alsop, guitarist Josh Hook, Dave Monks on bass and vocals, and Graham Wright on keys and vocals, the band “takes everything on a song-by-song basis.” Alsop admits “as a whole collective the album ends up turning out different than the EPs, but not really through a conscious decision.”
When asked if Tokyo is happy with the end result, the drummer enthuses, “Yeah, very, we’re really proud of it actually. It took a while to get there and a lot of hard work, but yeah we’re really pleased with the result and hope other people are as well.”