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Tokyo Police Club makes a splash in smaller US cities

The Canadian rockers will play at 7:30 p.m. Monday at The Blue Note.

By Parker Tarun | Feb. 4, 2011

Tags: Concerts Music

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It’s a story that’s only beginning. Still, it's a testament to the power of demand in the Information Age that a quartet from the suburbs of Toronto has enjoyed the colossal success that Tokyo Police Club.

They’re frail guys, sporting black-rimmed glasses, gutsy voices and a seminal chemistry between outright rock and electronica.

After the healthy appraisal of their two EPs and their first LP, Tokyo Police Club released Champ to much acclaim this past summer, and have been showing up across the country to pitch it to its fans.

Harder and more energetic ditties are to be expected from Tokyo Police Club than its Canuck peers, and it has its isolated origins to thank for that.

“We were never really part of that burgeoning Toronto music scene in the 2000s,” drummer Greg Alsop said. “The city was an hour away. So, when we were going to see bands it would be the big touring acts, like The Strokes or Radiohead or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.”

Champ wasn’t factory-farmed from any designated studio time. The album’s 11 songs started revealing themselves while on tour for Elephant Shell, their first LP.

Vocalist and bassist Dave Monks is the primary songwriter, but Champ was a bricolage for which all members brought in ideas.

The album, as is Tokyo Police Club’s style, sounds much like a live record, bursting with Alsop’s pulsing drums, the scaling keys of Graham Wright and mercurial guitar riffs from the aptly-named Josh Hook.

Last month, a deluxe edition of Champ was released, packaging live recordings, remixes and an acoustic take on current single “Bambi."

“As far as alternate acoustic versions, I’d say that’s the one that actually weirdly works the best, which is strange because it is such an electronic song,” Alsop said.

Touring for Champ has amplified the band's scope, and brought their chemistry to a new level.

“When we first started touring, we could fill maybe, maximum, a half hour with every song,” Alsop said. “This is a lot more of a confident set. It doesn’t feel like there’s any low points.”

For just the four of them though, they’ve strived to rouse venues with personality and a refreshing performance.

“We’re a lot more comfortable on stage — it’s kind of a weird way to say it — but acting the part of rock stars,” Alsop said. “It doesn’t always cross over if you’re kind of a timid indie band up there.”

That mantra in mind, Tokyo Police Club has tried to personify the energy of their sound, skittering across the stage, Wright almost having a panic attack toggling between instruments and Alsop hammering on his drums, while Monks baits the audience into screaming “Give us your vote” during live staple “Your English Is Good.”

Crowd interaction differs from city to city, but Tokyo Police Club plays a high-octane set regardless.

The band is looking to close the fandom margin and make a splash in the Columbias of the United States the way they have in the New Yorks.

“It’s something I’d love to do more,” Alsop said. “Hit all those smaller cities between the bigger ones.”

For Alsop, being able to play for a crowd in a town like Columbia is as much of a rush as playing either coast.

“It’s a surreal experience to be a band from Canada and show up in the middle of America and have anyone come out to your show,” Alsop said.

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