Reviews

Elephant Shell

Author: Wendy Kale
05/15/2008 | Colorado Daily | www.coloradodaily.com | Live Show Preview
The members of Canada's Tokyo Police Club were happy just making music in their basement. The indie rockers didn't even learn how to play musical instruments until their last year of high school, but the group's venture is paying off -- Tokyo Police Club is now one of the hottest bands on MTV and the Internet.

Things happened at record speed for this band, so the group had to come up with its name on the spot. The Tokyo Police Club moniker was pulled from the band's song "Cheer It On" minutes before a gig. That's just the way this indie band rolls.

"The four of us had played in various high school bands together and then played some dumb local gigs," said drummer/ percussionist Greg Alsop. "We never thought we were going to break out -- we thought we'd just be doing the band as a hobby. We decided to take the name Tokyo Police Club from our own song. The name definitely gets people's attention -- and apparently it has other connotations. People see Tokyo Police Club on the bill and they're intrigued."

A combination of that intrigue and punchy, indie-pop tunes started attracting fans to Tokyo Police Club shows. The band lived outside Toronto, but the group didn't follow the city's native music scene. This was one band that wanted to follow arena-sized, modern rock acts like Interpol and Arcade Fire.

In 2005 the Tokyo Police Club started playing small club shows in Toronto. The buzz spread quickly to Montreal and the band was asked to perform at the Pop Montreal Festival. In a nanosecond Tokyo Police Club was signed to Toronto's Paper Bag Records. It's all par for the course for this band.

"We grew up in a suburb of Toronto, but we never were part of that whole music scene," said Alsop. "We were the band that would go out and see bands like Interpol and The Strokes. Those are our main music inspirations. The Montreal Pop Festival gave us our big break. We applied to play there on a whim; we only practiced for a week before our performance in a band member's dorm room!"

Paper Bag Records and band fans loved the Tokyo Police Club's indie-garage brand of pop. By 2007 the band was earning slots on the U.S. Coachella and Bumbershoot festivals, and playing the prestigious Glastonbury and Reading festivals in England. And, on Sept. 14, Tokyo Police Club will play the Monolith Festival at Denver's Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Besides packing concert venues, Tokyo Police Club has sold over 30,000 copies of its debut 2006 EP "A Lesson in Crime." Critics and fans alike applauded the band's post-punk sound, so the group decided to head back to the studio in record time.

"I think people really like our 'wide-eyed' post-punk sound," said Alsop. "We got that name, because even thought the music's punk - it's also full of awe. Our live shows are full of spectacle and they have a lot of kinetic energy. We have a lot of enthusiasm for what we do and we try to display as much passion as possible when we play."

The Tokyo Police Club's hyper-kinetic performances have earned the band over three million hits on its MySpace site. Over 2,000 fans a day log onto the site to hear select tunes from the group's EP and new CD.

The band's newest CD is dubbed "Elephant Shell," and Alsop says it takes the Tokyo Police Club's sound to the next level. The non-stop barrage of tunes features the group's signature guitar riffs, sharp keyboard grooves, and emotive vocals.

"We wanted to wait until we had some time off before we worked on 'Elephant Shell,'" said Alsop. "We've been pretty busy touring, and it's pretty impossible to write on the road. We did come up with sketches of songs when we were touring."

The new Tokyo Police Club CD "Elephant Shell" came out on April 22. National college and indie rock stations have already added the new record to their playlists. The Tokyo Police Club's new video single "Tessellate" has been picked up by MTV and VH-1 and it is currently in heavy rotation on both TV video networks.

"We're really proud of this record," confirmed Alsop. "It feels like we flushed out the songs more on this record and the songwriting is more confident. Considering we didn't learn how to play our instruments until a few years ago, that's pretty good. The CD also has a real sense of nostalgia - the lyrics are about reflecting on the past and about looking back on moments in your life that really affected you."

Alsop says his favorite tune on "Elephant Shell" is the downtempo song "Listen to the Math." The Tokyo Police Club drummer says the song is a departure for the band and explores some new musical avenues.

Tokyo Police Club is hoping the release of "Elephant Shell" will add even more exciting moments to the band member's lives. The last 16 months have been a whirlwind of tours and festivals, but this group wouldn't trade a minute of the fast-paced momentum.

"This has all happened so fast," said Alsop. "The best thing was being able to play all these festivals with bands we look up to - like Interpol and Arcade Fire. To be on the same bill as those bands is pretty amazing! It's happening fast - even if we're still traveling around in our van. We get to travel and play for people. Five years ago we never dreamed of this."

This is one band that won't get ticketed for speeding up its career.
Elephant Shell

Elephant Shell

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