Q&A with Tokyo Police Club's Greg Alsop
Any band that can crank out seven songs in the span of just 16 minutes and not give up a
thing is all right by me. And that's exactly what Tokyo Police Club did with their 2006 debut EP titled A Lesson In Crime. Their single off that EP, "Nature of the Experiment", which features bright vocal work and a controlled rage of guitars, is perfect if only for the sheer economy of songwriting, weighing in at a lean 2 minutes long.
Faintly reminiscent of New York indie/garage, their sound nods to groups like The Bravery and The Strokes, but still keeps the product of their efforts fresh. It's an identity that these four twenty-something-year-olds from Ontario have continued to fine-tune over the course of the last four years, through the recording of their follow-up EP Smith and the release of their full-length debut last April, Elephant Shell, not to mention their relentless gigging schedule, which has taken them to Coachella, Lollapalooza and on tour with Weezer and Angels and Airwaves. Tokyo Police Club find themselves on the road once again, and they'll be coming to South Florida for a stop in Delray Beach along their tour.
Still, drummer Greg Alsop took a moment out of the whirlwind of load-ins, load-outs, sound checks, fast food, gigs and groupies that is life on the road to talk to CrossFade.
New Times: Is it true you guys Learned to play your senior year?
Greg: Kinda, yeah. We all started playing together in high school and formed this band. I was in university at the time, I'm two years older than everybody else, but they were just graduating at that point.
NT: What was your motivation? Was it just to have a good time and get girls?
Greg: The motivation was really having nothing to do on a Friday night. So we'd all get together in somebody's basement and started jamming until their parents kicked us out.
NT: You guys released an EP titled A Lesson in Crime EP, which was only 16 minutes long, but it sold over 30,000 units and received a ton of hype, including rave reviews from Entertainment Weekly and Rolling Stone. What was that like?
Greg: We definitely weren't expecting that kind of success. We kinda started this band just to have fun. Maybe the year after we started to notice people react to our music. I mean we always had dreams that maybe someday we could make a career out of it or do something with our music. But there we actually started to see we might have the opportunity to explore that. So it's been amazing and we're really grateful for it.
NT: But now you guys have gotten the opportunity to tour extensively, hitting some of the biggest shows in the country, like Coachella, Lollapalooza, and last fall you guys toured with Weezer and Angels and Airwaves.
Greg: Well, it's really the only way to make a career of this at all, is to be on the road all the time. I mean, no one buys records anymore. The only way to do it is to constantly go out there and hope people go out and see you. It's great, but it becomes a little exhausting.
NT: But you guys have fun and make friends too, right?
Greg: Yeah, it's great to meet new people. Then you always have a floor to crash on!
NT: Are Weezer as much fun as they seem? I'd like to have a beer or nine with them.
Greg: It was a really different experience from what we've done before. Playing arenas was something we'd never experienced, or ever thought we'd experience. And it was interesting to see how their crowd would react to you every night. You had some people who may have heard of you before, and some people who actually had heard of you and just happened to be a fan, and some people who could just care less, and, uh, there were a lot more of those people than anything else. But it was a really positive experience overall.
NT: So let's talk about the release of your first full-length album, Elephant Shell, which dropped last year.
Greg: We spent a while working on that. Um, I don't know. We definitely had a bit of trouble at first trying to figure out exactly what we wanted to do with a full-length album. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves just trying to get it right, and I think that was really intimidating. So we went into the studio in 2007 to try to record it and after 3 weeks, we found nothing was working. So we left to tour for a month and started reworking songs live and we found that we really needed to have that core of a live band at the root of all our songs. So right after that we went back in the studio and three weeks later we had our album, and we're very happy with it and really proud.
Tokyo Police Club will be performing at City Limits in Delray Beach (19 NE 3rd Ave. Delray Beach, FL 33483) on Sunday, March 8th at 8:00pm.
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