Elephant Shell

Author: Garin Pirnia
05/01/2008 | Chicago Innerview | | Feature
Shakespeare once declared that "brevity is the soul of wit" a sentiment with which Canadian 4-piece Tokyo Police Club must certainly agree. In 2006, they released their first EP, A Lesson in Crime, clocking in at a mere 16 minutes. Full of razor sharp hooks and perpetual handclapping, they immediately garnered comparisons to The Strokes. Tokyo became one of the most touted acts of the year while promoting infectious tracks "The Nature of the Experiment" and "Citizens of Tomorrow" predicting a future run by robots. Last year, they teased fans again with the Smith EP. Finally, a couple of weeks ago they released their debut full-length, Elephant Shell, on new label Saddle Creek. Spanning just 28 minutes, their raw rock sensibilities remain intact while a polished gleam resides over material that morphs into straight-up pop bliss.

Keyboardist Graham Wright spoke to Chicago Innerview about recording songs for the ADD-minded and making it to the big time. "When we write songs, we're not consciously trying to make them short," says Wright. "But with the EP, we looked at the fact [that] all the songs were short. There were ten or eleven songs that we could've put on the EP. We could've made it an album, really."

Yet securing two well-received EPs still might not keep them from acquiring "The Voxtrot Syndrome" releasing a bunch of excellent EPs and having the full-length bomb. "There is always pressure there and you have to try and ignore it the best you can because feeling the pressure isn't going to help you make a good record. So we did our best to just pretend there was nothing and I think that may have been part of why it took us so long [to come out with a full-length] we had to get ourselves to a Zen point where we weren't worrying about it anymore."

The guys shouldn't fret. Shell is a solid debut containing songs like "Juno" and "Tessellate" fit for multiple listens. The foursome met in grade school and have been friends ever since. "I think the four of us speak a weird musical language to each other that would be really hard to get anyone else in on," says Wright. The band has toured the world and has noticed people in the U.K. take a different approach to bands. "I think people in the U.K. are developing a very fine bullshit detector where they're starting to figure out the difference between the bands that genuinely deserve the hype and the ones riding the coattails. We hope we fall into the first category."

On tour, Wright compiles a well-written, albeit serious, bathroom blog documenting various bathrooms around the globe going so far as taking pictures and giving them ratings. Despite gracing the covers of magazines and giving high-profile performances at Lollapalooza and Coachella, Wright doesn't consider the band to be famous...yet. "When we first start playing after a few months off, I always want to play small places to get my confidence back," says Wright. "By the end of tour, I'm always like, bring it on! Fields! Giant arenas! It's awesome playing in front of a big crowd."

This is a precarious time in Tokyo's career, a make-it-or-break-it moment. Wright mentions that something crazy could happen with the release of the record that'll catapult them into another direction and "transform everyone's expectations," but he's also realistic that people just might not respond to Shell. "I'd love to get as much success as we can and I think mainstream real honest-to-God-big-time-success is always a goal of ours. And if we can achieve it, awesome. But if not, we'll keep doing what we do."
Elephant Shell

Elephant Shell

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