Fresh from the release of their second album “Champ”, and returned home from their recent European jaunt, Amy P caught up with Greg Alsop (drums), Josh Hook (guitar), David Monks (vocals, bass) and Graham Wright (keys/percussion), otherwise known as Newmarket, Ontario’s Tokyo Police Club.

Hello, Tokyo Police Club! How are you? What have you been up to recently?

Hello “Line of Best Fit”. We’re doing well! We just got back from Europe and right now are busy rehearsing for our US tour and doing massive loads of laundry. (Pre-tour ritual).

You have recently released your second album, Champ. Sophomore albums are infamously hit-or-miss, having to live up to the standard of the debut release. Did you have any difficulty moving on from Elephant Shell? Were you nervous about how your established fanbase would react?

This album was actually a lot less pressure for us to write and record than Elephant Shell, so it was a way easier and less stressful process overall. We were really concerned when recording Elephant Shell about trying to find the right balance between “what people have come to expect from us” with “natural growth and progression” and that’s kind of like trying to please everybody- you really can’t do it. This time we were a lot better at just trusting our gut instincts for the songs, even if it felt like something that might stray a little further than what people might recognize as “our sound”, and I think it makes all the songs feel a lot more confident and varied throughout.

Some may say that the title ‘Champ’ suggests that you feel the album is the best of TPC’s work so far. What was the actual reason for naming your album this?

I think of “Champ” in this sense as more of nickname for someone, like how you might call a friend or kid “Champ”, even if they’re kind of not really a “champion” of anything. It just felt like an endearing name to call these batch of songs… like they’re all our little brothers.

What was the writing and recording process for Champ? Did it come to shape while touring Elephant Shell, during the band’s time off or in the studio? Who has the greatest input into the writing process?

When it came time to really buckle down and start writing new material for this record, we decided to take time off from touring completely so that we wouldn’t have to divide ourselves between being creative and playing shows. You really have to be in different head spaces for each and we’ve found it’s really not conducive to try both at once. So, we played our last real show in early 2009 and then just holed up to write and record for pretty much a year and a half. It was great to have nothing else to think about but these songs, it just made us all really focused on what one another was doing and allowed us to try any idea that presented itself to us so that by the time we were ready to go in the studio to record, we had already tried every direction possible and were really certain of what we wanted to do with each song.

Many of the tracks on Elephant Shell have a dusky lo-fi quality to them, whereas Champ boasts a fuller, rockier experimental atmosphere. Were there any new musical influences for this album that didn’t come into play when writing your debut?

I started listening to a lot more hip-hop and r&b music. I love how those beats can still be as vibrant and full of energy at 90 beats per minute as a song at 180 beats per minute. I really tried to incorporate that when writing my parts for this record and choosing directions for songs so that they could rest and rely on a groove more than just blazing speed to carry them forward.

TPC have been together since 2006. Four years down the line, has the band dynamic changed much? How did the rest of the band react to Graham’s “Novels” project? Do you think there will be another “Novels” type record in the future?

No we’re all still great friends and the band is still solid. It’s important to have you’re own projects on the go though, outside of the band, especially when touring. Otherwise you don’t have anything to distract you from the boring routine of being on the road. We all loved the Novels record and I hope there’s another one in the future. It’s a great creative format.

You’ve toured extensively over the years. How have the crowds’ reactions changed as you’ve become more well-known?

I think we’ve gotten better at trusting a crowd to not lose interest in us and our music. We used to really rely on stage-props and playing each song as quickly as possible to try to keep peoples attention because we were afraid people would get bored… and that was for only a 20 minute set. We’re playing for over an hour now and we’re allowing ourselves to give the songs some space and the set some dynamics overall, so hopefully it feels like a more complete show experience and the crowds react to that. Plus, I feel like I’m getting older now and I can’t play those quick, punk style sets like I used to.

Over the last few years you’ve appeared at a huge number of festivals and supported a number of big names including Weezer, and more recently The Flaming Lips. What is it like knowing that you’re playing alongside incredibly famous musicians and being amongst other creative individuals in backstage areas and hangouts? What’s been your favourite experience from these times?

It’s pretty exhilarating to know that you were part of a bill with bands and artists that have inspired you since you were a kid. You just have to put it out of your mind while you’re actually playing, or it can really throw you off. I got to meet with Stephen Malkmus when we were at an award show in New York a couple years ago and I’m a huge, huge Pavement fan so I was kind of stressing about keeping my cool. It was great to be able to just have a normal conversation with him though, outside of just telling him I love his work. I really appreciate it when that can happen.

Finally, your fame has been picked up on by other sources of media; your music has featured on hit shows including Desperate Housewives. Do you see this as a positive thing? How does it feel knowing that your songs have been incarcerated into television history as well as musical back catalogues?

It’s definitely a positive thing. It’s just another outlet for us to potentially allow people to hear and maybe enjoy some of our music and we’re pretty excited about those opportunities when they come along. It doesn’t feel weird at the time, but I definitely think it would be a surreal experience to be watching television some years down the road and hear a song you wrote come in the background unexpectedly, after you’d forgotten about it and maybe weren’t playing music anymore. It’d be like hearing from a friend you hadn’t thought about in years… “Where are they now? Of right, watching old episodes of Desperate Housewives…”

Tokyo Police Club: ‘Wait Up (Boot of Danger)’