June 30, 2010

Tampa Tribune: Canadians bring new wave pop to Ybor


Canadians bring new wave pop to Ybor
by Curtis Ross

Television producers whose shows have story lines involving young bands, please call Tokyo Police Club. They want to work with you.

The Canadian quartet has experience, too. It appeared in an episode of "Desperate Housewives," thanks to a friend who works on the show.

In the episode, the husbands of the main characters form a band. The story called for them "to be shamed by some younger, energetic, hip band," said TPC keyboardist Graham Wright.

The band's friend talked them up constantly, Wright said, so the producers gave TPC a call. "We got the call and flew to L.A.," Wright said by telephone while traveling to a tour stop in Baltimore.

"It was ridiculous," Wright said with a laugh. "We were treated like actors, sort of like we were the talent. We had stand-ins. For two hours someone would stand behind my keyboards while they got the lighting right while I ate brownies at catering.

"We want to do more of that. Please call us."

Wright and his band mates -- drummer Greg Alsop, guitarist Josh Hook and bassist-vocalist David Monks -- likely will be a bit more high-profile this year, TV appearances or not. Their second full-length album, "Champ," was released Tuesday. It was produced by Rob Schnapf (Beck, Elliott Smith).

"He's a fantastic producer. I can see why he's had so much success," Wright said. "He's a nice guy, although he has a very dry sense of humor that can be mistaken for him hating you." The band brought Schnapf in to help shape and focus their songs.

"Rob was definitely hands-on because we asked him to be," Wright said. "For this record we wanted input, a fresh pair of ears. Do we need a second chorus instead of a bridge? Should we swap this around? He has a wealth of experience at bringing the song out in a way people can understand."

The band's new wave-influenced pop was first formulated in a basement and then through near-constant touring.

"When we wrote (2006 debut EP) 'A Lesson in Crime,' we were hanging out in the basement with no intention of making a record. It was free, anything went. No rules," Wright said.

The EP gained a buzz on the Internet, which brought the band several festival dates and an opening stint for Weezer. Somewhere in the midst of it all, the band wrote and recorded its full-length debut, 2008's "Elephant Shell."

"We were in a weird place of trying to capitalize on the EP but having to make a new record," Wright said. "We were trying to write songs between tours. It was just insanely rushed. I barely remember writing those songs."

The band took much of 2009 off to write and work on "Champ."

"We said, 'We'll be in a room in Toronto. We'll let you know when we're ready,'" Wright said.

"In terms of how we felt, it was more like 'Life of Crime.' We could do anything we want," Wright said. "We decided, 'We're just gonna do what we want and worry about it sounding like us later.'"

Tokyo Police Club
WITH: Passion Pit
WHEN: 8 p.m. Monday
WHERE: The Ritz Ybor, 1503 E. Seventh Ave., Tampa; (813) 247-2518
COST: $20 advance, $25 day of show

Music writer Curtis Ross can be reached at (813) 259-7568.

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