Nearly thirteen years ago, Tokyo Police Club were just a group of like-minded friends fresh out of high school jamming out tunes in their parent’s basements. Almost instantly, their single from their debut EP A Lesson in Crime (2006) ‘Nature of the Experiment’ picked up steam on The Edge 102.1 and their musical careers took off like a wildfire.
Following the immediate success of the EP, Tokyo Police Club released another EP titled Smith (2007) and three extremely well-received albums in Elephant Shell (2008), Champ (2010) & Forcefield (2014). They also put out a covers album called Ten Songs, Ten Years, Ten Days (2011).
Constantly on the road, the group never had a chance to slow down. But, their hardwork was worth it, as they earned many accolades (including a few Juno noms), appeared on late night television and toured the world. They even had an appearance on the television show Desperate Housewives.
It wasn’t until after the tour schedule of Forcefield that the group had a chance to relax and figure out who they were outside of the band.
“We were just kids. We didn’t really have any time to step back and think about anything because there was always something new on the horizon,” explained drummer Greg Alsop.
“It’s almost like we didn’t know what we had back then because we were so young and we didn’t really know any other way. It wasn’t until the last few years that we’ve been able to look back on that time and just realize how fortunate we were to have that happen to us.”
By 2016 the band had parted ways geographically. Singer and bassist Greg Monks moved to New York City and created a solo record and did some co-writing. Alsop was living in Los Angeles while keyboard player Graham Wright and guitarist Josh Hook remained in Canada.
Their 2016 set of EPs, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Radness: Part One & Two, were created via e-mail and the band lost some of the spark that kept them together. Following the release of these records, Wright, Alsop and Hook told Monks that they were ready to begin new chapters.
As the story goes, Monks said, “Fuck no. Definitely not. You don’t have to give me five records. Just give me a few more rehearsals and some studio time and then we’ll figure it out.”
From there, TPC (2018) was born. The 12-song album is the most immediate record the band has created. While previous works were full of glossy, energetic, synth-heavy pop songs, TPC stripped down the sound that had made them so popular and made their first real raw, rock record.
“I think the record is kind of a sign of the times too. Production was kind of pushing into that sound over the past, say five years. There’s a lot of bands doing that kind of glossy synth pop and we were kind of doing things influenced by what was out there,” said Alsop.
“But, once you detach yourself from that and look into what feels right to be playing at the time it can be a lot tougher. We just wanted to play guitars and drums loudly in a room together rather than crowding around the computer trying to find the right sound or to make things crystal clean.”
Opener ‘New Blues’ sets the tone for the record. The first lyrics heard out of the gate are Monk stating “I’ve been low / I’ve been down and I don’t want to go there anymore.” The song almost comes across as direct apology to the rest of the band.
The honesty continues moving forward, highlighted by the unlikely new single ‘Ready to Win’. The lyrics late in the first verse read “I fucked up on Letterman, I fucked up on stage / I fucked up on time and I fucked up to late / But now, I am ready to win.” Again, digging deep into his failures, Monks uses them to find redemption and offer a foot forward to those experiencing something similar nearing the end of the song.
“I can’t speak for all of us, but for the last 13 years as a band we’ve been through everything together. Its important to have that statement out there, to recognize that we’ve had a lot of success, but we’ve had a lot of missteps along the way. You can’t really fail if you don’t stop,” said Alsop.
The raw honesty in these songs are poignant and refreshing. Living in four different places pushed them apart, but TPC brought them back together. Maybe it’s for one final hurrah, maybe it’s the start of a new chapter. Either way, fans of the band should feel lucky and proud of the record, as it’s their most engaging since Elephant Shell.
“It was hard to be creative together. Hard to find the time together. But, we made the time for each other and made the most of it. We found the joy in making music together again,” said Alsop.
“It all goes by so quickly, the past 13 years blew right past me. You just have to be able to take a moment and look around at yourself once in a while and understand what’s important. Take a moment today.”