Robots no more 

Toronto’s Tokyo Police Club finds muse in missed disaster

Toronto band in Whistler for Outdoor Concert Series at Telus ski, board fest, photo submitted
  • Toronto band in Whistler for Outdoor Concert Series at Telus ski, board fest,
    photo submitted

By Nicole Fitzgerald

What: Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival

Who: The Tokyo Police Club

When: Monday, April 16

Where: Festival Mainstage

Admission: Free

Two years of sandwiches for breakfast can drive any man crazy.

Oh what Graham Wright, keyboardist and vocalist for Tokyo Police Club, wouldn’t do for a box of Krispix or Special K to start off his day.

But with a year-round touring schedule that keeps the singer up late and sleeping in past hotel breakfast calls before shoving himself into a touring van to hurry up and wait, what can you do?

“It’s hard to be on tour all the time,” Wright said enroute somewhere between South and North Carolina. “It’s difficult to be inspired to write. I hate to say it, but it’s stagnating and a boring way to live. You spend 23 hours out of any given day sitting somewhere doing nothing and maybe an hour a day playing music. It’s easy to become complacent. I brought all these books, but all I do is watch sitcoms (on my computer). That’s why it is so hard to write when you are on the road. I couldn’t think of anything less conducive to being creative while on tour.”

Only two years in, the Canadian band based out of Toronto made up of just turned twenty-somethings, are rising fast, with the band’s EP A Lesson in Crime earning critical acclaim all over the globe.

“Tokyo Police Club are undeniably catchy and raw, marrying danceable hooks with talk of robot masters and global emergencies, providing an upbeat soundtrack to our troubled times,” wrote an Eye Weekly critic.

Robots are alive and well as band members routinely pack and unpack their gear for live concerts in both North America and Europe.

But a global emergency, or at least a Tokyo Police Club emergency, provided an inspirational detour and gave Wright the will to survive the highway life.

Who knew that the band’s drummer, Greg Alsop, getting sick would be such a blessing in disguise?

“We had to make do without him,” Wright said of three U.S. shows earlier this week. “It’s obvious how important drums are to our music. With only four of us and stripped back arrangements, there is not a single instrument that can be taken out that the music will be okay with.”

What the incident did was force the foursome of Wright, Alsop, Josh Hook and Dave Monks, to reinvent how the group played their music. With help from another band, Tokyo Police Club didn’t just hit garbage can lids to create an insane percussion section — they hit inspiration.

“For the first time in a year, more than 150 shows, I didn’t know what was going to happen next,” Wright said. “It was so inspirational. It was good to get back to that feeling where everything is on the edge, where we are all yelling out at each other and counting bars. It was great to get that feeling back.”

Taking music as it comes, Wright regained a sense of future possibilities, where the road can twist and turn in any direction, at any time.

“It made me feel free to try new stuff and not be so afraid to do something that could be totally disastrous rather than just playing it safe,” Wright said.

The group began in spontaneity with the four friends getting together to play music and barbecue burgers on Saturday afternoons for fun. The band name, song lyrics and even music were all done in fun rather than sprouting from ambition. The result is a high-octane showing of indie garage rock yattering on about a postapocalypic future enslaved by robots.

“We were 18 years old when this all came together,” he said. “We didn’t think anyone would hear the music we were making. We wrote songs that amused us with no deeper meaning behind it.”

Wright’s sense of play renewed, the band makes ready for Whistler’s biggest play date, taking to the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival’s mainstage on Monday, April 16.

The 10-day festival concert lineup from April 13 to 22 is Canada’s biggest free outdoor concert series.

Other acts to look forward to include Sam Roberts, The Beautiful Girls, Toots & Maytals, Finger Eleven, Buck 65, Stephen Marley, Bassnectar and Zilla.

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