Reviews

Elephant Shell

Author: Jeff Miller
03/25/2008 | Los Angeles Metromix | losangeles.metromix.com/ | Feature
Just two years ago, Tokyo Police Club was an unknown garage band in Toronto. But now the group is entering its second round in the blog-buzz sweepstakes, still riding the crest of a wave of adulation that followed the release of its angular EP "A Lesson In Crime." Much of the focus was (and remains) on bassist/songwriter Dave Monks, whose classic indie melodies—abrasive one minute, hummable the next—put Tokyo Police Club in the same realm as off-beat rockers like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Tapes 'N Tapes.

Like both of those bands, TPC has enjoyed a meteoric rise, from basements to packed clubs, stages at big festivals like Coachella, and a gig on "The Last Show with David Letterman," playing alongside the CBS Orchestra. And much of the band's success came prior to the April release of its debut album, "Elephant Shell."

We caught up with Monks in Austin, Texas, at the South by Southwest Music Festival, where he told us about what it actually means to play on late night TV, what happens when he plays the city they're named after, and which other indie rockers he'd like to take out.

When you go to Tokyo, do you call yourselves the Here Police Club?
The Current Location Police club? No, but I was thinking about how weird it would be if the L.A. Police Club came to play in L.A., or the Toronto Police Club came to play in Toronto. I can imagine how [the Japanese] feel.

You're running a contest to have a fan shoot your next video—how'd that come up?
It was MTV's idea. Videos are a funny thing. Being an indie band, we have zero money to make videos, and those things cost a lot of money. Any time an opportunity comes up for a low-budget or free music video, we're like "yeah"—and what better than to have a whole bunch of potential directors pooling their ideas? If someone's got a good idea for a video that we can go do, we'll do it. But videos are like an obstacle to me—I don't want a poor video to affect someone's perception of the song. I want to find someone else who's as passionate about making a video as I am about making a record.

When you guys did Letterman, did you feel like that was a milestone moment?
If we were running the marathon, that was the finish line—[but] we crossed it and then kept running. [Takes a deep breath] "Things are good, things are really good, oh my God, we're playing Letterman, OK, things are back to normal." It was a non sequitur. I feel like they made a mistake or something. When I went back to Toronto, people were like: "You played Letterman, that's crazy." And I was like, "That is crazy!" We're not humongous.

You're that weird humongous—you can pack a Coachella tent, yet still walk down the street without being recognized.
People have misconceptions of how big bands actually are. People think, "Those guys played Coachella, I bet they're loaded!" It's all so relative. I don't know. I remember I was at a party and one of the Constantines was playing in the basement. I was like, "Hello, people, this is unreal! Is his limo outside?" Now I'm like, "Oh, he probably lives on this street and brought his guitar over." There's a lot of gray area between garage band and rock star.

What indie rock band could Tokyo Police Club take in a fistfight?
Just fists, no chains?

Yeah.
I think we could take on the Horrors. Those guys are pretty scrawny looking. We'd get creamed by just about anyone. But we could take all of them in "Guitar Hero."
Elephant Shell

Elephant Shell

LP / CD / MP3