Tokyo Police Club on pressure, success and their upcoming show

When I first discovered that music extended further than 97.1 and Good Charlotte, Tokyo Police Club was one of those initial bands that truly captivated my musical tastes. After a strong series of blogger hype garnered from their earliest EPs, they released their debut full-length Elephant Shell, which was praised for its smooth melodies cast alongside more angular rhythms. Last June they unveiled Champ, and it was met with similar acclaim. Keyboardist Graham Wright spoke to The Signal about the latest LP and the band’s upcoming show in Atlanta.


How did you end up naming the new album Champ?

Graham Wright: We were stuck and we played this game where you look through a dictionary and it was supposed to result in three word phrases, but all three of the phrases were really stupid. So luckily someone found champ — it was Greg who found champ, to give credit where credit is due — and we thought it was just fine.


How was the approach to Champdifferent from Elephant Shell?

Wright: We gave ourselves time and relaxed and took it easy and didn’t make deadlines and didn’t really answer the phones for a few months, and just pulled ourselves into a room/studio and did it that way. Which we discovered was the best way to do it.


You guys received a lot of hype from your first EPs. When you were recording Elephant Shell, did you feel any pressure?

Wright: Yes, honestly, I don’t think that we altered what we did because of the pressure. It’s funny because everyone around you does everything they can do to alleviate the pressure and in so doing makes it really really apparent that there is pressure. They sort of protest too much. It was there, and it didn’t help, but I hope it didn’t hinder. I think the more difficult thing with Elephant Shellwas that there was not a lot of time to be spent on doing it, so there was always this sort of feeling of impending deadlines and rush, which is why we did the opposite thing with Champ.


A lot of your songs have fun, shout-along parts that work well with an audience. Is that intentional?

Wright: Um, I don’t think we ever have, I think we tried it on other songs probably. I feel like there are some times where we said to each other, ‘This would be awesome at a show,’ but I don’t think that’s ever quite worked. It seems like the good ones are the ones that come naturally.


How has your songwriting evolved from your earlier EPs?

Wright: I think we’re just a lot more confident now. The most important thing is that a lot of times we’re more willing to do things that are obvious. I think that there’s a real temptation as a musician to shy away from things that are easy or that come to mind first, just because you want to be unpredictable or you want to be interesting, and that is important. But you realize as you go that you also want to be enjoyable to listen to, and sometimes things are cliché for a reason. It’s okay to do the first thing that comes to mind, sometimes. Sometimes you scrap it and do the 90th thing that comes to mind. But it gets easier to do what’s best for the song, and hopefully look at it in a less biased way.


When you guys first started, did you ever think you would get this popular?

Wright: Yes and no. I always sort of shot my mouth off a lot about my confidence in what we were doing. In a lot of ways, I never really saw myself doing anything with my life other than this. I sort of arrogantly didn’t plan to do much else with my life than this. It worked out that way, maybe some of my bluster managed to pay off, maybe deep down in my heart of hearts, I was never really that confident in our ability to pull it off. It’s a bit of a pipe dream.


At your upcoming show at the Masquerade you’re playing with Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. How did that come about?

Wright: You know, when you go on tour you just look for other bands that want to go on tour at the same time that make sense to play with, and that name came up. I feel like we sort of came out with those guys around the same time, I don’t know that we really sound anything like them, but just in terms of where we were at in 2006/2007, I feel like our band names got mentioned in the same sentence a lot. So it’s cool at this point to do something together with them finally.


WHEN: Jan. 25, 7 p.m.

WHERE: The Masquerade (695 North Ave.)

ADDITIONAL INFO: Two Door Cinema Club and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin open the show.