Tokyo Police Club formed in 2005, when the members of the Canadian four-piece were all still in their teens.
In 2007—after releasing well-received EPs A Lesson in Crime and Smith, they played Coachella, Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, Lollapalooza and Bumbershoot, plus The Late Show with David Letterman.
All before releasing a proper full-length. (That came later, 2008’s Elephant Shell.)
So yeah. While some bands toil away in obscurity for years before getting a crack at the spotlight, Tokyo Police Club’s career trajectory was as close to an overnight success as actually happens in the indie rock world.
Now a few years removed from that—and with a sophomore record, Champ, that hit this past summer—the members of the Newmarket, Ontario (just outside Toronto) band are still successful, but back on Earth after a meteoric rise. And they’re grateful for that.
“I think it is a little more grounded,” says keyboard player Graham Wright, speaking via phone from a tour stop with the kind of politeness stereotypically associated with his home country. “I think that because things went so well so quickly at the beginning for us, I think my expectations probably went in a certain direction. As far as I knew, that was normal, and that’s how fast things always progressed.”
Wright says that him and his bandmates—singer/bassist Dave Monks, guitarist Josh Hook and drummer Greg Alsop—are seeing more “natural” growth at this stage in their development.
“I’m impatient sometimes,” Wright says. “It’s never progressing quite as quickly as in my ideal scenario it would be. But that’s totally understandable, and not really reasonable to expect it to progress any more quickly than it’s going, especially in this day and age.”
The key, Wright explains, is to keep moving forward even if the rate of the band’s achievements may have slowed down.
“It’s definitely been moving at a good clip,” Wright says. “And we’ve seen upward progress—which is the most important thing. It hasn’t plateau-ed yet, and that’s my biggest concern. As long as it keeps getting a little bigger all the time, then it feels like we’re moving forward.”
Tokyo Police Club probably wouldn’t have such a positive attitude had Champ not been well received. Luckily, it was: retaining their endearing pop sensibilities in songs like “Wait Up (Boots of Danger),” the album was met with nearly unanimous positive reviews. After finishing up their current North American tour, the band heads to Europe for 16 dates in November.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled,” Wright says. “We went in and busted our asses, put a lot of effort into making it exactly how we wanted it. We really felt that we succeeded in doing everything we wanted to do. As far as how it’s been received, that’s just an awesome bonus.”
Tokyo Police Club are one of many popular, critically acclaimed indie rock acts to emerge from Canada over the past decade—see Arcade Fire, The New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene, Metric, Feist—which Wright attributes in part due to the country’s arts funding.
“The Canadian government is extremely generous in supporting the arts,” Wright says. “That started to work in a big way not before Arcade Fire, and Broken Social Scene and Stars started to break out. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”
Still, Wright would like to point out that Canada is a big country, and far too large of a geographic area to pin down as a “scene.”
“I’m a huge New Pornographers fan,” Wright says, “but they’re from the west coast, we’re from Toronto. There’s really no relation between the two bands at all other than the fact that we happen to be north of the border.”
Tokyo Police Club w/Tygers of Wrath, The Shape of the Earth at The Glass House, 200 W. 2nd St., Pomona, (909) 865-3802; www.theglasshouse.us, www.tokyopoliceclub.com. Fri, Oct. 8. Doors open 7PM. $16.