It Got 'Hot Tonight' with Tokyo Police Club in Peter Clark Hall

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Written by Jaimee-Lisa Cotter

Newmarket based group Tokyo Police Club came to Guelph recently on the last leg of their tour with fellow Canadian Bands The Pack AD and Said the Whale. Bassist and vocalist Dave Monks and keyboardist Graham Wright sat down to chat about breaking the mold on their most recent album Forcefield, ulcers, and taking the easy way out.

CANNON: I wanted to talk to you about venues. You guys are one of those bands that still play really intimate venues. I think the biggest place I’ve seen you guys is Sound Academy?

GRAHAM: That’s like a backhanded compliment? I don’t know haha

CAN: It's a good thing. You guys are popular enough to play larger venues. Didn’t you just do a European tour a while ago?

GRAHAM: Well Sound Academy, that’s a bigger room for us. We’re not popular enough to play arenas and stuff.

CAN:  I feel like you guys could

GRAHAM: Yeah we’re not underplaying on purpose. Sound Academy is like a full play for us. But, there’s a lot of…

[At this point there was a mumbled interjection from Josh and Greg]

DAVE: Hey, you guys aren’t even in this interview! No comments from the peanut gallery, don’t you know we have an allergy over here?!

CAN: Do you actually have a peanut allergy?

DAVE: Yeah! It’s not that bad. And also, I used to not eat any nuts because when I was a kid, my mom was just like “Just, no nuts. It’s easier, no nuts at all”. I don’t think that was totally true, partially it was paranoia and now we go hard on the almonds. I can eat almonds now.

CAN: Yeah, high risk snacking. Moving on from snacks, I also wanted to ask you guys about Argentina. It’s the first thing you guys have really done like that: the longer song, the three part component. Were you guys nervous about reception to that? Or were you feeling pretty good about it?

GRAHAM: I think we were excited to break the form. And we just knew; we just liked it enough. Before a song comes out you hear it a lot of times—more than anyone else is ever going to hear it. And by the time it came out we were still psyched so we had a pretty good sense of it going over well.

CAN: That’s got to be a pretty good feeling. So was that your favourite thing to produce off of Forcefield? Or did you have another favourite?

GRAHAM: That’s my jam… that one was always fun. Even when it was hard it was fun.

DAVE: It was always exciting because you didn’t know quite where the ‘now I see it clear’ part was going to turn out at the last part or whatever. It was always pretty cool.

CAN: Now is there a difference between your favourite song that produce and made on the album, versus your favourite song to perform?

GRAHAM: My favourite songs to perform are always the easiest ones. You enjoy yourself: you have fun, you jump around, the hard songs you’ve got to stop and listen to yourself.

DAVE: I really like playing Favourite Colour now. I used to loathe playing that one.

CAN: Just because it gets played so much?

DAVE: Nope, because it’s just high in my range.

GRAHAM: And you have to hit all those stops right on

DAVE: Yeah, ugh the stops.

CAN: It’s the most work...

GRAHAM: Yeah. That one’s rough for me because I never have time to stop and tune my guitar before it, so I’m always paranoid my guitar is out of tune. So I always have to go right up to my amp and listen to it

CAN: Album wise, what do you guys think is—not the best thing you’ve put out, but what has been the most fun thing to work on? 

DAVE: Hmmm. It’s hard to have a perspective on that.

CAN: I guess because you guys are touring all the time, you’re still playing all of these songs

 GRAHAM: And just making them was super different. They happened so far apart. They were all really fun in their own way and they were all really difficult in their own way. I guess A Lesson in Crime was just all fun because we did it in three days and we were eighteen and we didn’t know what the hell we were doing

[A slightly confused looking security opened the door and came in with a small plastic cup in his hand, and looked awkwardly between myself, my camera man, and Dave and Graham]

SECURITY GUARD: Uh, did someone ask for warm water with salt?

DAVE: Yes! Thank you!

CAN: Getting the vocal chords loosened up?

DAVE: I have an ulcer. Wait uh, what do you call it… a canker!

GRAHAM: A canker. Very different.

[Dave took a swig of salt water and was swishing it around]

JOSH: You have to spit that back in there

GRAHAM: You don’t have to. It’s not bad for you. It’s like swimming in the ocean. When I got my teeth out when I was a kid I had to rinse with salt water on our vacation to Florida. I think it’s an old wives tale.

CAN: Hometown vibes. Do you guys like playing closer to home? I know you guys say Toronto because no one knows where Newmarket is, or Bradford or any of those small towns. But do you guys have more fun playing closer to home? Or do you find it doesn’t matter where you go, you get the same amount of hype?

GRAHAM: Toronto makes a difference, for better and for worse. But other than that, the rest of the Ontario stuff isn’t too crazy.

CAN: How so for better and for worse?

GRAHAM: Well I mean we have more fans there, people that know the songs better, which is great, but then like your family and your friends are there, and I personally get a lot more nervous playing for people I know than for strangers.

CAN: Just more pressure?

GRAHAM: Knowing my mom is listening to me sing, does not make me sing better.

CAN: Really?

GRAHAM: I don’t know, my mom has been telling me I’m singing flat since I started singing. She’s not wrong…

CAN: It’s constructive criticism. It’s a mom thing.

GRAHAM: Exactly. And she’s a music teacher, so…

CAN: That explains it. I know you guys do a lot of covers. I’ve seen you a couple times before and I know you guys throw in a cover song here and there.

GRAHAM: There’s actually no cover on this tour.   

CAN: Really? Ah, that ruins my next question.

DAVE: Was the question ‘Is there a cover on this tour’?

CAN: No, not exactly. I was going to ask about your favourite Christmas song to cover, because I saw you guys one year at Sound Academy with Hollerado for the Jingle Bell concert, and you guys did some sweet Christmas songs

GRAHAM: Yeah, we did ‘Baby Please Come Home’, and the year before that we did… umm….

DAVE: Oh! We did Springsteen’s ‘Santa Clause is Coming to Town’

CAN: Yeah, what was your favourite?

GRAHAM: Those were the only two, and I preferred the first one, the Springsteen one, because I got to play the sax.

CAN: See that’s a lot of fun

GRAHAM: OH we also did ‘Let it Snow’. I hated ‘Let it Snow’. Too many chords.

DAVE: Those were the only two… wait was that a different Christmas show we did it?

GRAHAM: We did ‘Let it Snow’ both years.

CAN: You guys made it snow in the Sound Academy. It was so cool.


CAN: My friend got some in her eye and we found out it was dish soap

GRAHAM: She signed a waiver…

DAVE: Those are the only Christmas songs we’ve covered. Was that your question?

CAN: It was ‘What is your favourite Christmas song to cover’, but speaking of playing the sax, did you guys hear that bobby keys died today? Sax player for the Rolling Stones?

GRAHAM: Donny! (Tokyo Police Club’s Touring Manager) You’re not keeping us informed!

DONNY: Sorry.

GRAHAM: Haha, that’s the least sincere apology I’ve ever witnessed, I love it

DONNY: Ancient, dying musicians aren’t in my Facebook feed

 CAN: I heard it on the radio this morning

GRAHAM: He’s no Clarence Clemons, speaking of dead saxophone players

DAVE: Too soon?

GRAHAM: Nah, it’s been a few years

CAN: So are you a brass man then?

GRAHAM: I played the sax in high school

CAN: And you enjoyed it?

GRAHAM: Yeah! I did at the time because I was good at it

CAN: Was that like the grade nine thing where you had to pick an instrument to learn?

Graham: I picked it in grade six, because it had the same fingering as the recorder, which was the only other instrument I knew how to play. And then my parents made me take lessons the year before we actually started learning music in school, so by the time we started music classes, I was amazing at it

CAN: The perks of having a music teacher for a parent.

GRAHAM: But then I just never tried ever because I was better at my instrument than everyone. So then by the end of high school I was like ehhhhh……

CAN: But now you’re in a band and doing real things and you’re a musician so it worked out fine.

GRAHAM: This is true. [Graham takes another swig of salted water] The audio for this interview is going to be hilarious. Every answer is just punctuated by this ‘sphhhhht’

CAN: That’s fine. It’s going into print anyways.

GRAHAM: You’ve got to transpose that sound effect, just like “sound of water splashing”.

DAVE: That’d be so funny. It would probably take up half your word count.

 CAN: So, you guys went bowling, you’ve been curling, what’s some other fun stuff have you done on the tour with Said the Whale so far?

GRAHAM: What else have we rolled down a narrow line? [laughter]

CAN: Yeah you guys have got a thing for lanes. Some go-karting maybe?

DAVE: Shuffleboard! We always try to go go-karting

GRAHAM: Greg was saying the other day we drove by a go-kart place. I feel like we’ve been trying to go go-karting for like eight years now and we’ve never done it!

CAN: There’s a really great one right outside of Guelph in Campbellville. But I don’t think it’s open in the winter.

DAVE: The quest continues.

CAN: So I think that’s all of my questions, everything I really wanted to talk to you guys about today.

GRAHAM: It was all just a build up to go-karting! We’re going to take the van and just drive around the closed track tomorrow. It’s all good. You should come, it’ll be fun.

CAN: Yeah just grab an empty parking lot somewhere in Guelph!

DAVE: Donuts with a trailer on always go well!

CAN: Well thank you for your time guys, it was nice to meet you. And we’re looking forward to your set!

GRAHAM: Yeah thanks for swinging by!


Regardless of the absence of a Christmas song cover, Tokyo Police Club went on to play a well-crafted set list and performed three interactive encore songs that had the crowd riled up for the finish.

The guys are also currently long-listed for CBC music's Best Earworm of the Year Award for their 2014 single “Hot Tonight” off of their Forcefield album. 

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