Are you game? 

Tokyo Police Club's second full length album, Champ, lives up to its name


Who: Tokyo Police Club

When: Sunday, Sept. 5

Where: Stawamus Stage, LIVE At Squamish festival

Cost: Weekend pass, $145.50, single day ticket, $79, kids under 12 free

After being locked away in the studio, readying their second full-length album for release, the men of Tokyo Police Club (TPC) were itching to hit the road again in the summer of 2010. Now, with Champ officially unleashed and on a roll with fans, the four-piece band (featuring David Monks on vocals and bass, Josh Hook on guitar, Graham Wright on keyboards and Greg Alsop on drums) has been touring North America with a vengeance, making up for lost time. All you need to do is visit their website and check out some of the videos they post to their blog - these guys are out to have a good time.

"I think it's been going better than ever. We just kind of stepped up our touring situation a bit," Monks said between sips of coffee, as he relaxed during a day off between gigs.

They've also been getting up-close-and-personal with some fans along the way (get your mind out of the gutter), launching the Champ Championship, a competition that lets fans challenge the band to a competition of their choosing. So far, they've done water balloon toss, soft-shell crab eating in Baltimore, and much more. So Sea to Sky residents: it's on you to come up with an epic challenge for the band when they roll into town next weekend to play the LIVE At Squamish Festival.

An indie rock band with roots in Newmarket, Ontario, TPC was born out of a basement jam session, formed from the rubble of a defunct group dubbed Suburbia. After playing some small shows throughout Toronto they were asked to play in the city's Pop Montreal festival. Soon, they were signed to the Toronto label Paper Bag Records and playing gigs at Edgefest, Osheaga, Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bumbershoot, Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds Festival. This year, they added Bonnaroo to the list. Last but not least, they're one of the headliners at the inaugural LIVE At Squamish festival.

Rolling Stone Magazine said that this band was "poised to become the biggest Canadian export since Molson." That's gospel, as far as the industry goes.

While almost two years passed between their debut album, Elephant Shell , and Champ , the musicians definitely weren't idle. In between, the band was busy promoting the debut full-length album and already at work writing for the next project. Breakneck Speed was written right after they mixed Elephant Shell . By last summer, they realized they had enough tracks together, so they headed to New York to demo them and get into pre-production mode.

"After Elephant Shell was written, we had the foresight to just keep writing and not let that momentum go away and have to pick it up again when you get to the next record," Monks explained.

The second time around, TPC seems to have taken a collective breath, each stepping back and doing their own thing - and doing it well - then coming back to the table to sort out their sound, collectively. The end result is an album that sounds distinctively free and edgy - like they just don't give a damn. Basically, they took more risks, experimented, and found their groove.

"I think the only thing we intentionally did was to have no intentions," Monks said. "I don't want to use bad musician terms like 'flow' and 'vibe,' but we definitely just wanted to do what came naturally, and what was fun."

They took a different approach to the writing process this time, as well.

"The core writing mentality had just changed. It was just like everyone felt free to do stuff on their instrument that maybe felt out of bounds before."

After some debate, they opted to lead off Champ with two favourites (literally - Favourite Food and Favourite Colour).

"That was really last minute actually, and I was definitely opposed to it," he recalled. "We were sequencing the record, which is something that you do at the very end, and I was talking to Rob about it, our producer, and I think for me it was pretty revealing to start off with a song that's just acoustic guitar for the first minute and a half or whatever. It took him to have the confidence in that song to say, 'It's good enough that you can make a statement with it and open with it, as opposed to burying it in the record.'"

So far, the new approach seems to be working. They've gotten some solid feedback from the fans, which is the only measure that seems to matter for these musicians.

"This is going to sound like I'm really jaded," Monks laughed, "but I'm used to hearing people sing old songs, like kind of old favourites of ours, but it's cool when they sing new songs."



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