Tokyo Police Club are returning to DC on (tonight!) July 27th to host a (sold-out) show at the Black Cat to support their sophomore album, Champ. Following the completion of the band’s record, they had signed off to open for Passion Pit’s extended U.S. tour until kicking-off one of their own beginning in North America and expanding into Europe in the fall (check out our photos and review of their 930 Club show here-ed). In midst of their touring rampage, the Toronto natives have generously squeezed in some time for an interview. But first, please catch the guys in action in their first ever Champ Championships…water balloon edition!
Without further ado, here is my very up close and personal interview with their keyboardist, Graham Wright.
BYT: Having played in DC a few times now, are there any places in particular that you have grown fond of? Any places you’d like to visit that you have previously not had time to? Are there any venues that you all prefer to play at?
TPC: I went to DC with my parents when I was 11 or 12 and had a blast seeing the Smithsonian and all the historical stuff. We never have time to do any of that when we’re there on tour, but I’d love to do it again some time. I love playing at the Black Cat, I think this will be our third or fourth time there and it’s always a good time.
BYT: Lets dig back a little: what were some of your influences growing up?
TPC: I guess the band that made me really want to make music was Radiohead, although I always had an inkling which I can probably attribute to having musical parents who played a lot of records all the time. In which case I would have to say my earliest influences were Buddy Rich, The Alan Parsons Project, and Phil Collins. Thanks Dad.
BYT: No shame in Phil Collins. How did the four of you meet?
TPC: In school, the same old story. Dave, Josh and I have known each other since we were 10 years old, and we met Greg in high school. As for how we ended up in a band together, it just seemed like the thing to do at the time, and we didn’t know anyone else who liked Radiohead and The Strokes.
BYT: And today- what are your favorite songs to perform live?
TPC: Currently it’s the ones from our new record where I get to play guitar. For years I’ve been stuck behind the keyboards, and I’m enjoying exploring the sensation of wandering around the stage while playing.
BYT: It seems most bands have experienced that one show where everything goes wrong. If you have been unfortunate enough to have experienced this, how did it play out?
TPC: We were in Halifax playing at a festival and the power cable for my main keyboard shorted out before the show. Genius that I am, I didn’t have a backup. Undaunted (well, maybe slightly daunted) I figured out ways in which all of the sounds could be (poorly) simulated on my Casio, and we set about playing the show.
Everything was going well, given the circumstances, when we arrived at the point in the set where we played Tessellate, which at the time was our current single and thus the song that most of the audience had the best chance of knowing. The song starts with me hitting on sustained high E on the keyboard while Josh plays an awesome guitar riff. Greg counted in, and at the *exact same time* Josh’s guitar strap broke and his guitar fell to the stage, and I – with great gusto – hit the entirely wrong note. It was such a disaster that the only reaction was to laugh.
Since then, I have a lot of trouble getting nervous before shows. When something goes that wrong and you still manage to pull through, nothing really phases you anymore. I highly recommend to all bands that they have at least one show where something crucially important goes catastrophically wrong. It’s liberating.
BYT: In the spirit of the popular BYT forum game we love to play… if you could, shuffle your music library on your computer or your portable music player and tell me the first five songs that come on (no cheating).
1. “The Sun” by Aidan Knight. An excellent song by a dear friend. Good start!
2. “Flux = Rad” by Pavement. Frankly, I’m not the world’s biggest Pavement fan, and I don’t actually know how this tune goes.
3. “Chester the Molester” by Sloan. Hey, I love these guys!
4. “Railroad” by Will Currie & the Country French. Another dear friend of mine, and a great band that’s going to do very good things.
5. “Levitate Me” by The Pixies. Off the Come On Pilgrim EP, apparently. Not one of the Pixies songs I’m familiar with but probably excellent.
Wow, that was about as well as that could have gone. I was expecting to pull 5 Tokyo Police Club demos or something similarly embarrassing…
BYT: We’re not giving up though: what are some of your guilty musical pleasures?
TPC: I object to this question on philosophical grounds. I don’t believe in ‘guilty pleasures’. Music is wonderful and everyone should be fiercely proud of every song and artist they enjoy. I envy people who can legitimately enjoy all kinds of music. It must be very rewarding.
BYT: Being on the road for much of the year can take quite a toll on one’s dieting rituals. What are some of your favorite spots to hit on a night where, as they say, anything goes?
TPC: Mexican or Middle Eastern. In New York there’s a chain called San Loco that sells cheap tacos seemingly all night long, and I’ve hit it like a hurricane on numerous happy occasions. When that’s not available, nothing beats a good chicken schwarma, ideally smothered in hot sauce.
BYT: Would you say that you are currently in your “all or nothing” days or is that a period in your life that has passed?
TPC: If you mean my days of excess and partying, I’m afraid I never had them to begin with.
BYT: Do you find yourself frequently using the phrase “good to go”? If so, in what context?
TPC: I find myself saying it every time I’m at the starting line of a rocket car race. So yeah, pretty frequently…
BYT: What is the ideal pizza? What is your take on a pineapple pizza with just pineapples?
TPC: I’m a simple man with simple pleasures; nothing beats a good slice of pepperoni. As for pineapples, I’m all for them as a fruit, but you can keep them miles away from my perfectly good pizza thank you very much.
BYT: New record aside- Are there any side projects in the works?
TPC: Funny you should ask. I just finished work on my debut ‘solo’ album which will hopefully come out in early 2011. I also released an online EP called The Lakes of Alberta last year, http://www.grahamwright.ca is my website. Thank you for this opportunity to shamelessly self-promote! I usually have to shoe horn it in to some unrelated answer and it’s really crass and obvious…
BYT: If you were to collaborate with any current artist, who would it be?
TPC: Nico Muhly is doing some very exciting things with orchestral arrangements, so I think that’d be pretty cool. Or maybe a rapper…
BYT: Why is Canada cooler than America?
TPC: Its further north.
Give them your vote and catch Tokyo Police Club at the Black Cat tonight, at the 27th with openers Freelance Whales and Arkells if you know what’s good for you!