There’s a fine line between buzz and hype. No band knows this better than Tokyo Police Club.
After taking the indie rock community by storm in 2006 with their debut EP, A Lesson In Crime, the Newmarket-bred/Toronto-based four-piece found themselves trying to battle the overwhelming hype that came with their first full-length, 2008’s Elephant Shell.
Though it was a solid album, the band’s decision to subdue the frenetic nature of their EP and ripen their songwriting skills caught many people off guard.
“Going into Elephant Shell, we had never made a full record and as such had no idea how much time it would take to write and record one,” admits singer/bassist David Monks. “Plus we had sparse time between tours and three weeks to make the record. We all put a higher price on time off now. The tours are still gonna be there.”
The hectic experience prepared the band for when it came time to make their second album with producer Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck). Titled Champ, Monks says the pressure was off now, especially because they had retired from their “buzz band” tenure.
“Champ was fun. We just did whatever felt good and didn’t worry about things. When we were writing it, we were at home and there wasn’t all of this anticipation. There wasn’t a build up with this album, which left us in a good headspace. I think we all consider Elephant Shell to be our sophomore record, so with this one there wasn’t any of the ‘second record’ stress.”
Listeners may not hear a monumental leap in the band’s sound on Champ, but the extra time they took to make cleared up any confusion there may have been about the type of music Tokyo Police Club were making.
“The whole writing process of Champ was less self-aware than Elephant Shell,” explains Monks. “We felt like we didn’t have a sound we needed to fit into. With Elephant Shell, I think we fell back on that.”
Instead of trying to live up to the multifarious genre tags and descriptors the music received after their debut (Monks singles out “laser guitars” as a laughable favourite), Tokyo Police Club realized the wisest thing they could do was stay faithful to their own brand of fizzy indie rock. Champ is a testament to this consciousness.
Add Monks, “The reality is, when you find that new style or sound, whatever it is, half the people out there are still just going to say it sounds like ‘good ol’ TPC!’ Music is a funny thing.”