by Kellie Abrahamson
Canadian indie rockers Tokyo Police Club are returning to the First Coast this month and we jumped at the chance to speak with keyboardist Graham Wright about their sophomore record (Champ- released June 8, 2010), their super-creative fans and life on the road.
EU: I’m loving Champ right now. How was the recording process this time around?
Graham Wright: It was a lot more relaxed than the recording process the last time around. We went out of our way to make sure that we had the time we needed to do the thing properly. Then we sort of stopped touring and stopped doing all the insane stuff that’s kind of hard to stop doing and just let ourselves have the time. We didn’t plan any deadlines, we didn’t plan any due dates, we just did the thing and when it was finished, it was finished and we just kind of went from there.
EU: Tell us about the deluxe edition of Champ that came out last Tuesday (January 18, 2011).
GW: It’s an iTunes thing. It’s sort of seems like common practice in the music industry these days. Once the thing’s been out for seven or eight months it’s natural, people start just forgetting about it because there’s a lot of music coming out and you want to remind people of it… Fortunately we’ve, in the time period since the record’s come out, we’ve generated a lot of content in terms of remixes that we really like and we’ve done some acoustic versions… This is a good way to A.) Get those out there and into people’s ears, which is always nice, and also to say “Hey, guys, remember this thing that we did? If you haven’t bought it yet, maybe you should.”
EU: So what’s on it that people may want to check out this time around?
GW: My favorite thing on it is the acoustic version of ‘Bambi.’ We started recording it just because we wanted to work out how to play it at acoustic sessions and stuff and we ended up, we were recording it just in a hotel room on a day off. I don’t even remember where we were, man, there was nothing around. There were hotels and a gas station around us and that was all you could see. So we ended up in a hotel room recording this version of ‘Bambi,’ and it just turned out really, really well. It was just one of those sort of magical moments where everything clicks and I think it’s a really interesting, cool, different take on the song… So that’s my choicest item on there.
EU: You guys always seem to have a new fan contest going on. How did that come about?
GW: I hate to sort of answer twice in a row sounding sort of mercenary, but you’re always looking for ways to promote, promote, promote and then the crucial thing there is to try to find things you can do that are promotional but are also not just lame and have been done many times before. If you’re just trying to sell something to people, if there’s a really flimsy means, it’s really obvious to them and distasteful for us to do that anyway. So it’s fun to come up with something. Yeah, we’re going to do this and we have to do this and we are, surprise, also trying to sell, but it’s also been fun and cool and different whether it’s a t-shirt design [contest] or the coloring thing that’s going on now [“Coloring Book” tour poster design contest: see http://tokyopoliceclub.com/news for more information]. Stuff like that is, hopefully, anyway, a little bit unique and people haven’t seen it a million times before and it just gives them something else they can do to interact with us.
EU: You really don’t see that a lot. It seems like you guys really care about getting input from your fans. How important is that interaction?
GW: It’s awesome. I’m constantly shocked at how awesome it is. I mean, we did that t-shirt contest expecting to pick a winner and use that t-shirt and I think we have two or three designs on the go right now just from submissions from that contest and we had to narrow that down from, like, 12 really awesome designs that weren’t made by some professional t-shirt designer guy that works for the company that makes t-shirts. We’ve gone through all those spots in the past and we’ve got better stuff from our fans. It’s awesome that people contribute in that way.
EU: Tell us about the Tokyo Police Club Magazine. What’s in it?
GW: That’s my favorite thing. That’s like sort of extreme. We wanted something else that we could have at the merch table on tour and we have a friend who… makes this amazing quarterly [‘zine] and it opened up this whole world to us, like, “What if we made this DIY thing” which is really also back to the roots of our band, you know. When I think of the genesis of Tokyo Police Club I think a lot about spray painting things in Dave [Monk, vocals/bass]’s garage and painting the bass drum to match the bass and building all these stupid things and, you know, that was what was fun about it for us was creating, not just the music but all kinds of other crap and this [magazine] is really back [to that]. So it’s got pictures and interviews with everyone and people wrote up little funny pieces and stuff… I think it’s pretty awesome. I got to keep a second, we didn’t get to keep any of the good ones because we only made 200 but I got to keep one of the broken, screwed up ones and it’s a prized possession.
EU: Will there be more issues or was this a one-time thing?
GW: We’d love to do more. Every time we have vacation we find something else to work on. We had about four weeks off over the Christmas break and the last two weeks Dave and I and [our friends] and Brooke, who does the ‘zine, we were all just holed up in an apartment in the city painting things with toothbrushes and printing and drying and hanging out and it was a really fun way to do that and be creative and we kind of thought of it as a one-off thing but I think in theory there’s a lot more we could do with it and it will be certainly fun to keep making it.
EU: It seems like you’re constantly on tour. Do you like being on the road at this point?
GW: Yes. From when Champ came out through sort of mid-December we were on the road more or less non-stop and by the end of that last tour I was feeling like maybe I could use a little break. And then I had a little break and even by the end of the break I was feeling like I was not ready to go back on tour and then we all met up the night before we left, all the crew and everyone to load the bus, and just immediately re-submerged into that would and everyone was in a good mood. We’re such good friends with everyone we tour with that it’s sort of like a reunion every time we get to go back on the road so I love it.
EU: Who are you currently touring with?
GW: Two Door Cinema Club and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin.
EU: How did you guys hook up?
GW: With Two Door we were looking for someone that we could do a co-headline bill with rather than your standard opener/support band and we’d gone on tours and we’ve played certain rooms and we really wanted to take a step up to substantially bigger rooms and I don’t know that we necessarily could have done that by ourselves and I think they were in the exact same situation and it just made sense that we tour together and we can play these [larger] rooms and can hopefully share some fans and exchange some fans.
EU: What are you plans after the tour is over?
GW: We’ve got a little break again. Actually we have a longer break so, I don’t know. I’m going to pursue some of my other interests for a month and a half and then go on tour again.