Tokyo Police Club Talk Champ

Tokyo Police Club Talk <i>Champ</i>
Tokyo Police Club's first release, 2006's A Lesson in Crime, is one of the most beloved debut EPs in recent memory. As singer/bassist Dave Monks admits, this glowing reception meant that he and his band-mates found the process of recording their first full-length, 2008's Elephant Shell, a daunting task.

"It didn't feel like a debut, it felt like a follow-up, and it definitely had the pressure of a follow-up, which sort of left us feeling a bit boxed-in sometimes," he recalls, speaking to Exclaim! on the phone from New York City.

Tokyo Police Club are now preparing to release their sophomore LP, Champ, which is due out in Canada on June 8 via Dine Alone and will be streaming here on starting Tuesday (June 1). For this album, Monks explains, the pressure had lifted.

"We just got the whole sophomore thing out of the way with Elephant Shell," he says. "We weren't trying to prove ourselves, we were just doing what felt good."

The group's positive studio experience was aided by the fact that they recorded the album in L.A. "It felt like we were making a summer record," Monks enthuses. "L.A. is so nice in the winter; it's just like 18 degrees every day."

This sunny atmosphere helped to shape the album, which trades in the group's previous jittery post-punk for driving pop rock grooves and buoyant, uplifting melodies. This is best exemplified by the bouncy penultimate track, "Not Sick," which features a joyous refrain of "Happy belated / Always golden / Still the greatest." Equally uplifting is the start-stop love song "Favourite Colour," which jokes, "Like Casey and Jojo / Like Sonny and Cher / You're Tina but I'm not Ike."

Perhaps the biggest difference compared to the band's previous releases, however, is the track lengths. Tokyo Police Club are usually known for their brevity, so it's a surprise to note that most of the new songs contain multiple sections and stretch over three minutes.

"I think it might be a confidence thing," observes Monks. "With the EP and Elephant Shell it was sort of like, 'Aw shucks. Here, we'll be out of your hair in a second.' But I think on this one we have more confidence in our ideas to play them out a bit longer."

This confidence was partly due the influence of producer Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, Beck), who recorded Champ in a variety of studios around L.A.

"He has all his gear - y'know, his studio knobs and buttons and stuff - in these flight cases, so he can just travel to a studio, and he knows what to do cause he's been there for a while. So he opens up and sets up shop and it sounds amazing."

Tokyo Police Club will be on the road all summer, although they currently only have two Canadian dates booked: a Toronto show with Spoon and the Flaming Lips in June and Edmonton's Sonic Boom Festival in September. Expect a fall tour of Canada to be announced soon.

Tour dates:

6/2 Baltimore, MD - Rams Head Live*
6/3 Washington, DC - 9:30 Club*
6/7 Norfolk, VA - The Norva*
6/8 Richmond, VA - The National*
6/9 Atlanta, GA - The Tabernacle*
6/11 Manchester, TN - Bonnaroo
6/12 Orlando, FL - Club at Firestone*
6/13 Miami Beach, FL - The Fillmore*
6/14 Tampa, FL - The Ritz Ybor*
6/16 New Orleans, LA - House of Blues*
6/17 Houston, TX - Warehouse Live*
6/18 Austin, TX - Stubb's*
6/19 Austin, TX - Stubb's*
6/21 Dallas, TX - Palladium Ballroom*
6/23 St. Louis, MO - The Pageant*
6/25 Royal Oak, MI - Royal Oak Music Theatre*
6/27 Philadelphia, PA - Mann Center*
6/29 Brooklyn, NY - Prospect Park Bandshell*
6/30 Manhattan, NY - Governor's Island*
7/1 Boston, MA - Royale
7/8 Toronto, ON - Molson Amphitheater^
7/15 London, UK - Scala
7/16 Suffolk, UK - Latitudes Festival
7/17 Herk-de-Stad, BE - Rock Herk Festival
7/23 Jackson, MI - Land of Nod Festival
7/24 Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop
7/25 Buffalo, NY - Town Ballroom
7/27 Washington, D.C. - Black Cat
7/28 Columbus, OH - The Basement
7/29 Indianapolis, IN - The Vogue
7/31 Kansas City, MO - Record Bar
8/1 Omaha, NE - Slowdown
8/3 Denver, CO - The Bluebird Theater
8/4 Salt Lake City, UT - In the Venue
8/5 Las Vegas, NV - The Beauty Bar
8/7 Tuscon, AZ - Plush
8/8 San Diego, CA - Casbah
8/12 Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theatre
8/15 Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater
8/16 Seattle, WA - Neumos
8/19 Minneapolis, MN - Varsity Theater
8/20 Chicago, IL - Metro
9/4 Edmonton, AB - Sonic Boom Festival

* with Passion Pit
^ with the Flaming Lips and Spoon