Reviews

Elephant Shell

Author: Alex Rendon
03/08/2008 | Closer | www.closermagazine.com | Feature
What adolescent musician hasn't dreamed of taking the stage before a sea of faces and rocking out at a colossal summer music festival? That reverie can be a great cure for a bout of senior-itis.
So it was that during their senior year of high school the quirky foursome that became Tokyo Police Club formed a band and jammed at guitarist John Hook's basement. Little did these suburban Ontario teens know that in a mere 18 months they would be struck by the lightning of rock 'n roll stardom and be catapulted onto the world's largest stages--Reading, Glastonbury and Lollapalooza-- and even garner an appearance on Letterman.
With barely more than peach fuzz on their faces, the quartet recorded one of the best received EP's of 2006, A Lesson in Crime, 16 minutes worth of affective, crunchy, post- punk perfection that caught the ears of Pitchfork, Blender and even Rolling Stone. The questions is, now that these young'uns have had a sweet taste of teenage fantasy and everyone is paying attention to their raucous output, can they extend their 15 minutes of fame?
Closer recently caught up with TPC's affable keyboardist Graham Wright. We spoke with him about the band's highly anticipated full-length debut, Elephant Shell, (out late April on Saddle Creek Records) on touring the world without even being able to legally order a drink in the U.S., and on the perks of fame.

-On the reason for keeping everyone waiting so long for their full length:
Touring was a big part of the delay-it's certainly the easiest excuse to tell people. We are not one of those bands that can tour and write music together really well. We need to be in a basement, just the four of us, with hours at our disposal.
-On pressure to capitalize on A Lesson In Crime's buzz-
We tried not to feel that way, because it does puts a lot of pressure on you, but at the same time it was hard not to. People are fickle, they don't pay attention to bands for that long, and if you drop off their radar there are hundreds of other bands that are ready to fill your spot.

-On Elephant Shell's more personable nature:
I don't want to speak too much for Dave (David Monks-Vocals, Bass) because he writes the lyrics, but it's a progression from being in 12th grade when we wrote the A Lesson In Crime EP and having fun writing songs and not taking ourselves too seriously. We enjoyed writing about silly stuff like robots and presidents of the world. Now we've gotten more comfortable in our skin as musicians and Dave's gotten more comfortable as a songwriter, and he's sort of reached a point where he's more comfortable writing more personal songs--without them coming across as cheesy or too heart-on-your-sleeve. It takes a bit of skill to write them in such a way where they are still kind of oblique.

-On signing with Saddle Creek:

[Saddle Creek] was the first American label that contacted us early on when we were first touring in the states. We did talk to a lot of labels through everything, we talked to big labels and really small labels, but we kept going back to Saddle Creek. They seemed like the perfect medium. I can email the head of that label anytime I want, and he'll write back in 5-10 minutes, but at the same time they are capable of selling huge numbers of records. We love Bright Eyes, and that's exactly what we want.

-On being brought to the backroom to meet Bright Eye's Conor Oberst:
It's funny when you tell people you signed on Saddle Creek, the first thing they ask is-- did you meet Conor yet?- like when you sign with them they take you to the back and introduce you to him and you kiss his ring and walks you into the fold.

-On designing a T-shirt for Playboy:
Playboy approached us to be a part of this, they do this thing every year when they get Indie bands to design these shirts, and then sell them on their website for charity. A lot of bands get really into it, we just a put a beard on the Playboy bunny and sent it to them.

-On partying with Hef:

We haven't been to the mansion as of yet, but I'm sure it's going to happen any day now.

-On partying with supermodels:
Well, we all have girlfriends. And no matter how much success we get, we won't be able to fool ourselves into thinking we are anything other than goofy guys from a small town in Ontario. I was always a nerd growing up and I still am

-On influences:
The Strokes were definitely a huge influence on Dave in the beginning, but after spending two years touring and playing shows all the time, he has gotten way more comfortable with his signing voice, his songwriting, and performance. With that comes his more natural voice.

-On impressions of South Florida:
All I really know about Miami I've learned from David Caruso.

-On drawing a crowd in dance- and hip-hop-crazed Miami:
Our music is definitely rock, there is no denying it, but a lot of people who say they only listen to hip-hop have told us that we are the only indie rock band that they like. We figure it's cause our drummer, Greg Alsop, has really good beats.

-On the next big thing to emerge from Canada:
Meligrove Band was a band that we listened to when we were in high school; they have been getting better and better. They haven't gotten the attention they deserve, and I always try to pimp them out as much as I can.
Elephant Shell

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