Approximately seven years ago Graham Wright (Singer/keyboardist of Tokyo Police Club) dreamt of being in a band. So much so that he was willing to do the indescribable to get there. No, not audition for the next episode of Making the Band, but, he was willing to dig through someone else’s trash. No, Really.
“I found a fake wooden guitar in someone’s garbage once when I was like 12 and I dug it out,” Graham willingly shared in an interview. “I would just pretend to be in bands and play along air guitar to all the songs I listened to on my CD player.” Well now, he still does that, except replace his bedroom with sold-out venues, his mirror with a crowd of fans, and the second hand wooden guitar with a well tuned piece of rock machinery, and you’re all set.
Newmarket, Ontario’s Tokyo Police Club released, A Lesson in Crime, to a world obsessed with Canadian indie. They were scooped up by Paper Bag Records and now dazzle the masses with their experimentally constructed indie rock. For Graham, this is how it was meant to all work out, you see...
“I’ve wanted to be in a band for a very, very, very long time , and I always have, in some form, [been] making music and writing songs since I was in the 9th grade. That’s always sort of coincided, with yea know, you enter high school and your voice drops, you grow hair in new places and you join a band. And for as long as I’ve been who I am now it’s always been part of my life. It's been a long time that I’ve even thought of another option.”
Although their album A Lesson in Crime has been in the stereos of many Canadians since April 2006, they just recently signed an American deal (with Saddle Creek) and can now officially say their album is sold internationally.
The band is shocked at the growing success and have finally learned to appreciate the album themselves. After all, Graham realizes, the albums that become your favorite are the ones that take some warming up to. They recorded A Lesson in Crime in only three days. “For a long time we listened to it and we would be like, ‘Oh no the guitars are flat there’ or ‘I wish I played it with this or that’, so we all sort of gave up listening to it for a while and then just a couple weeks later we put it on in the car just for fun. We actually just heard it as it was and we ended up just really enjoying it again. It ended up being really cool. We’ve definitely grown to like it,” he explained.
This throws us into a conversation about the albums that don’t hit you at first, but when they do, it’s the best thing ever. Graham explains for him, Jeff Buckley was one of those revelation inducing moments. “Every record I love is something that grows on you,” Graham told me. “The kind of record that shows you everything it has to offer the first time you listen to it, is a record you can get sick of pretty fast. There’s that record Grace by Jeff Buckley and everyone always told me that it was this fantastic miraculous life changing record, and I bought it, and the first time I heard it I didn’t get it at all. So I put it aside. Then like a year later, literally, I listened to it again and I thought, ‘ok maybe there’s something in this... but no’, put it aside, than like a year later again I listened to it and suddenly it clicked and it was all I listened to for a few weeks. So that was a long drawn out process.” We chat about other albums who have had that effect on us and Graham comes up with a pretty accurate analogy, “ It’s like a sitcom where the males and females pretend they hate each other and in the end they fall desperately in love.” Exactly!
If anything, music deserves some patience and some of the most powerful and brilliant bands of our time are the ones that aren’t quite accessible. They're the ones that push the boundaries of music and play with no limitations. The Canadian scene has seen a huge uprising of bands with this attitude, as of late. With bands like Broken Social Scene and Metric gaining surreal amounts of attention, it’s fair to say that this Canadian indie kick is not overrated but in fact, long overdue. Most would tie Tokyo Police Club in with this phenomena, and it has helped them in several ways, but they actually don’t want to labeled as a “Canadian indie band.” They are just simply trying to do their own thing. Graham explained, “As much as I love each and every band in this big Canadian explosion, and I don’t mean this to sound like I’m trying to take away from them, but we don’t necessarily want to be lumped in with that. I mean, we are Canadian, and we’re really happy about that, it’s a really wonderful place to make music and the whole Canadian explosion has been a huge gigantic help for us because ten years ago we would never be able to tour the US or get a record deal. But at the same time, we don’t want to be thought of just another one of those Canadian bands. I hope people don’t listen to our music and say, ‘oh it’s a Canadian band, they sound Canadian.’ I hope people listen to our music and say, ‘they sound good.’ If that’s the case and we’re really lucky, we’re doing something right.”
It’s fair to say that Tokyo Police Club are doing more than a few things right and if things keep heading in the direction they have been, we can expect to see great things from these ambitious young and excruciatingly talented musicians. After all, great talent doesn’t go unnoticed. Right?