Reviews

Elephant Shell

04/01/2008 | Reax | www.reaxmusic.com | Feature
Canadian and politeness go together like Canadian and maple syrup, or Canadian and malt beer, or Canadian and earmuffs, or Canadian and prog rock (see the global phenomenon that is Rush). So it's no surprise to find Tokyo Police Club vocalist/keyboardist Graham Wright to be the most humble of rock stars. His Toronto band mixes up dense prog orchestrations into lightening post-punk two-minute jabs that are gobbled up over and over again. On the heels of the release of their LP Elephant Shell, the self-effacing Wright spoke with me about the role of nostalgia in defining great albums and dealing with the criticism of TPC's songs being too "short."

REAX: On your blog, you describe the new LP as an album to play after a night of partying, as you ride home with the girl you've been eyeing all night. Is TPC becoming a band of romantics?
Graham Wright: All four of us are in serious long-term relationships, so we've been romantics for a long time. I think we are just getting more comfortable with it. But that's not to say that is what the album is about. It's really not at all. They are not songs about driving home with your girl at the end of the night. It's just that to me, it feels like that. It feels like one of those records when I was sixteen/seventeen years old that would soundtrack my summer, that I would have nostalgic memories through now. Listening to the record, it almost feels like that to me. I feel nostalgic despite the fact that we just made it.

REAX: What are some of those "nostalgia" records?
GW: As someone who is just a huge music fan, any music that I am listening to and anything I love inexorably becomes tied to whatever events are going on at that point. As I look back on my life—and here I sound like a ripe old man and I'm still 21 [laughs]—whatever happened stayed in context to whatever record I was listening to at the time. A big one for me, I was just thinking of this the other day, when I was in 8th grade I got Kid A by Radiohead. Up to that point I didn't really listen to music that I am very proud of listening to. First, it was a huge turning point for me in terms of learning to listen to music that was good. Also, you're in grade eight, you're going to high school, puberty and all that crap. It's a big time in anyone's life.

REAX: "Your English Is Good," on the new album, has been out a while now, but it contains great choral elements. Is that the direction of the new album?
GW: To a degree. Not a ton of it. The group vocal thing was something we were really into when we first started to write music. It was one of our go-to devices. When we were writing that son, we were thinking, "This song is good but it needs something. Let's just all shout. [Laughs} And, then we just did that. I really do think it added to the song, but we've become a little more even handed with our distribution of those kinds of devices, with the way we use them. I hope we've learned to appreciate subtlety a bit more. So, those elements are still in the new songs but not in such a blatant way.

REAX: Do you think with this new album you will shake the ridiculous criticism that your music is too short?
GW: No. We definitely won't. Before, we got away with it by making an EP that was sixteen minutes long. It was short, but it was an EP. They are supposed to be short. Now we are releasing a full-length that is twenty-eight minutes long. Albums are supposed to be long, so if anything the criticism—if there are any criticisms—will get more vocal. But, I've never really seen it in the criticisms that our songs are too short. It's just that people want to hear more of our songs.

REAX: So is the band going to turn prog anytime soon?
GW: If I say that we will never write a song that is over three minutes long, I guarantee the next song we write is six minutes long. Our thing is to do what we do and just follow the music. We never at the beginning say we will write short songs. The song writing process is a very isolated thing. When writing, we are not thinking of the TPC catalog or the album. We're just thinking of the song and what serves it.
Elephant Shell

Elephant Shell

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