November 6, 2007

Spotlight On Tokyo Police Club

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Back in San Francisco, the Sun caught up with the guys of Tokyo Police Club in their cracker-dusted van as confused fans milled around waiting to gain admission to the sold-out show and had no idea that the four skinny, college-age guys in the vehicle were the band. Occasionally, the guys narrated each other, so as to remain distinguishable on The Sun’s recording, and because that’s the kind of guys they are. (Read: Canadians narrate each other.) Here is an excerpt of that conversation:

Graham: Before you go on tour no one wants to be the one that’s vacuuming the van and no one wants to get together just to vacuum the van.
The Sun: Do you have a vacuum or do you have a dustbuster?
Graham: We were going to get a dustbuster; I don’t know what happened to that. We should get a —
Dave: Do they still make dustbusters?
Sun: Yeah.
Graham: Yeah they have those rad cone ones!
Greg: Ah.
Graham: Have you seen those commercials?
Sun: I mean, I don’t know the specific types, but …
Greg: Yeah…
Graham: The cones, they’re like, artistic.
Dave: You know what’s crazy about the first Harry Potter book? How the first 150 pages are just setting it up, and there’s a whole bunch of plot in the last —
Graham: That’s like every Harry Potter book.
Sun: Okay! Who has read and who hasn’t read the last one yet?
Graham: Only me and Greg.
Sun: You’ve read it?
Greg: Yeah.
Sun: Okay, [points to Dave] then only you can talk about it. [Laughs] I do not want it to get ruined for me … I’m like not into it that much, but …
Greg: Don’t worry.
Graham: We would never spoil it for you.
Sun: It’s funny, I feel like the last chapter — I’m not even going to look at you [to Graham and Greg] — but she wrote the last chapter after she wrote the first chapter before she wrote anything else —
Dave: In what?
Sun: She wrote the first chapter of the first book and the last chapter of the last book.
Graham: Oh really?
Sun: Before she wrote everything else. And the first chapter was about “the boy who lived.” That’s all I know.
Graham and Greg: Yeah…
Sun: Don’t say anything! [Laughs]
Greg: We’re not saying anything, but Graham, was the last chapter the prologue or the last chapter …
Graham: Epilogue?
Greg: Oh, epilogue. I’m sorry.
Graham: The one that she wrote before was the epilogue.
Sun: You know those people who every book that they read, they read the end first because it saves them time?
Graham: [Irate] The whole point of reading a book is to get the story, not to get the ending! Read Wikipedia if you want to do that … which I’ve done.
Dave: I like how on Wikipedia they always have that “Warning: Plot Spoilers.”
Greg: Yeah.
Graham: I always go on Wikipedia for TV shows and stuff that I don’t want to watch.
Sun: Do you guys ever look yourselves up on Wikipedia?
Graham: Yeah. All the time. We added this one thing that said Rolling Stone magazine called us like some ridiculous long fucking quote about how we’re like, the greatest pos-punk, anti-neo rock band.
Sun: I read that, was that Rob Sheffield that wrote that one?
Graham: [Laughs] Nobody wrote it. We wrote it.
Sun: No, I mean the thing on Rolling Stone. OH! Did you make that up?
Everyone: We made it up.
Sun: [Laughs]
Graham: Now every interview we ever do is like: “How does that feel to be honored so by Rolling Stone?” [laughs]
Sun: Did you tell those people that you made it up?
Graham: Yeah, we were like, “I’m sorry…” [laughs] That was a lie.
Sun: Okay, I’m really into geography: Canada. Main cities?
Graham: Toronto.
Sun: Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
Graham: Yes.
Sun: What are the other main cities that Canadians consider main cities?
Graham: What Canadians consider main cities is really different. You’ve got Regina, Saskatchewan …
Greg: Edmonton and Calgary —
Graham: Are pretty decent sized.
Sun: I hear that people get mad if you call it Re-gee-na. Which my friend thinks is really funny.
Graham: Well, it’s Re-ji-na. But we’re not from there. People from there might because they have nothing better to do.
Greg: What, Re-gee-na?
Graham: Yeah.
Greg: That’s not the name, though. It’s Re-ji-na.
Sun: Do Canadians think that’s as funny as Americans do?
Greg: Re-ji-na? Ahh, yeah.
Graham: When I was a kid.
Greg: Yeah, definitely.
Dave: Fuckin’ hilarious! Come on!
Sun: Do you call it Oran-gee-na or Oran-ji-na?
Graham: Oran-gee-na
Dave: Oran-gee-na
Graham: I didn’t know there was any dispute over that.
Greg: Oran-ji-na? [Everyone laughs]
Graham: I can’t imagine that it would be called Oran-ji-na. [Still laughing]
Sun: That’s what my friends all say.
Josh: Yeah, that’s pretty great.
Sun: I don’t really know exactly how I’m going to distinguish your voices.
Graham: Before we say anything, I should be like GRAHAM.
Sun: You could do that.
Dave: You should just say that in your normal voice, because if someone is bellowing on the recording…GRAHAM.
Graham: We should just do it all like narrative: Graham looked hesitant, and then replied…[laughs]
Sun: You could do that.
Greg: Let’s see how far we get doing that.
Sun: Okay. My main question for you is that … basically, you guys are my age. You’re the age of most kids that are in college right now. So what’s it like to have people like me, or that guy that you were just talking to in the café, call you up, or call your publicist up, and say, “I wanna know what these four kids think about … everything.” What your favorite movies are, what influences you, whatever. What is it like to have random people care what you’re thinking? [Laughs]
Dave: Totally weird?
Graham: I have to narrate your answer, Dave.
Dave: Oh right!
Graham: Dave pondered the question [laughs], looking bemused …
Dave: Well, I think it’s a pretty strange ordeal —
Graham: He said. [Everyone laughs]
Dave: Yeah, I guess I just don’t really think about it like that. It is ridiculous and stupid …
Greg: It just happens so frequently. We do, on the road —
Dave: Said Greg.
Greg: Oh yeah.
Graham: Greg interjects.
Greg: We do three interviews, maybe, a day. Four interviews a day sometimes, and you just get used to it quickly. Like the first few times we did interviews, we were like, “Why would anyone care what I have to say about, like, the state of the music industry?” Or something like that.
Dave: Yeah.
Greg: And I still wonder that. I don’t think my opinion should be that valid, and printed up for hundreds of people to read, but you just kind of have to put it out of your mind and go, “Oh, that’s how it is.”
[Dave makes hand motions and points to himself]
Graham: Dave looked like he had something to say.
Dave: I think it’s just as weird as the rest of the whole “being in a band” thing. It’s also really weird for me to say, “I have a manager and a publicist and an agent.” I’m just some dude, and I’m 20 and I have a manager.
Graham: His eyes betrayed the poor truth behind his soul. [Everyone laughs]
Sun: What did you guys think it was going to be like before you started? On your website, and I don’t know who wrote this, it may have been one of you guys or whoever, but it said that you guys were practicing your interviews in front of the mirror forever. Did you think it was going to be really glamorous?
Graham: I used to do that. [Everyone bursts out laughing]
Dave: Graham admits to an embarrassing past!
Sun: What kinds of questions did you ask yourself?
Graham: I don’t even remember. I was just a kid. I can’t believe no one else did that! Remember in The Commitments how he’s always interviewing himself?
Dave: He said, darting the gaze of the others in the room.
Josh: Desperately looking for somebody else to share his —
Graham: I’m not embarrassed! [Everyone laughs]
Sun: How long have you guys known each other?
Graham: How long have we known each other? …Said Graham. [Everyone laughs]
Sun: I wanna know how long you’ve all known each other without knowing that he used to do that.
Graham: For like nine or ten years. And I’m sure I’ve told you guys that before.
Sun: So since middle school?
Greg: Yeah.
Dave: Yeah, and I’m sure we could have assumed as much.
Graham: I was playing air guitar with a wooden guitar that I found in someone’s garbage. Obviously I was a jerk.
Sun: Is that really air guitar?
Graham: True.
Sun: I guess it is?
Graham: It was like half-air guitar. Air chords and strumming, but the guitar itself was wood.
Dave: I think the “interviewing yourself in front of a mirror” thing … [pauses and looks directly at Graham]
Graham: Said Dave. [Everyone laughs]
Dave: … Is pretty classic. I guess everyone thinks about that. [Gets really quiet] Yeah. Graham’s cool.
Greg: I think it’s really more like, we all had this dream of being in a band, some more the other aspects than just playing the music onstage. But we all had to make that decision, and it sort of is how I thought it would be.
Dave: There are more in-between steps than I thought there was. There’s more like, well we’re not totally broke and unheard of, but I also am wondering how I’m going to pay rent next month. And I hate this band.
Greg: Cried Dave. Yeah, there’s way more just boring drives across middle America. There isn’t that whole “I’m in a band and every moment of this is awesome!” which I definitely thought being in a band was about.
Dave: There’s moments of it that are decidedly not awesome.
Everyone: Yeah.
Dave: Like 14 hours worth of moments that are not awesome yesterday.
Sun: Where did you drive from yesterday, Colorado?
Everyone: Yeah.
Sun: Lots of flyover states.
Dave: And I wasn’t even driving.
Sun: Do you guys drive yourselves the whole time?
Greg: We’ve taken turns. Josh and I drive, as well as now Kim, our tour manager. She drives as well. So there’s three of us.
Sun: How long ago was it that you still thought that it was glamorous? When was …
Graham: The point of no return? When was the honeymoon over? Very quickly. [Everyone laughs]
Greg: Right after, I guess we talked to Paper Bag [Records.] Because I guess we talked to them and we were in the city [Toronto] and we were jumping around, really excited. And then shortly after that I dropped out of high school [The others giggle] OR NOT HIGH SCHOOL, sorry. [Everyone burst out laughing] University! … And started working at Value Village and practicing.
Dave: I think that all the parts that you fantasize about pretty much are there. Like we do get to just write whatever we want. We get to play shows to crowds that know our songs and sign the lyrics and clap along. And like, get free jeans, and all that stuff … [Everyone laughs] All that cool stuff is there, but when you’re a kid and you’re dreaming about being in a rock band, you’re not weighing out the pros and cons of driving from Denver to wherever in Nevada. All the good stuff is there, but there’s just a lot of crappy stuff that you didn’t think about.
Sun: Do you sometimes wish that you were back at university, doing what regular kids are doing?
Greg: Yeah.
Graham: I often wish that I had gone to university at all and done that. Sometimes I love that I’m not doing work, but sometimes I feel like I’m missing out so much on A. an education and B. that experience. But I guess we’re having a different kind of experience.
Dave: Yeah.
Greg: We’re definitely getting an education in the music business. The program that I was in, which was Radio and Television Arts …
Sun: What school was that at?
Greg: Ryerson in Toronto. All my classmates who are hoping to get into the music industry and stuff, I can have a conversation with them about current events and different aspects of it. So I don’t know. I guess I’m not really missing out on much other than waking up in a normal bed every night and being able to drag myself to class, instead of drag myself to this dumb van where I sit there for a few hours and stare.
[Graham rustles with something in the front seat]
Dave: I think that versus going to college or university and having one experience, I think we’re having something different that no one can really relate to unless you’re doing it.
Graham: Who wants Starburst?!
Dave: Oh my god, I would love some Starburst.
Graham: Greg, Starburst?
Greg: Please!
Graham: [To The Sun] Starburst?
Sun: Uhh, sure.
Graham: Or there’s other candy: there’s Skittles, Milky Way, Twix…
Sun: I think I prefer Starburst actually. It’s the mystery of what you get [in the two-packs]
Dave: Milky Way?
Sun: I think I did well [pink and orange]
Greg: I didn’t.
Sun: Two pinks! That’s so good!
Greg: My favorite are…
Graham: [Displays a chocolate candy] Choc-Aid! For life’s booboos! [Everyone laughs]
Sun: What is that again?
Graham: It’s Choc-Aid! Chocolate band-aids.
Josh: She said to take pictures with those two cameras and send them back to her.
Sun: Are you talking about a blog or something?
Greg: No …
Sun: Is that something that you have on a regular basis?
Greg: Not regular, but —
Sun: Not this exact thing, but people asking you to do favors?
Josh: Actually that girl asked me to talk to her friend who was sick.
Graham: Yeah, “I have my friend here that wants to talk to you…”
Josh: Why does your friend want to talk to me?
Graham: And she included a self-addressed envelope, WITHOUT a stamp. Well, sorry, Patrice, but you’re not gettin’ anything. [Everyone laughs]
Sun: [Points to the package from whence the Starburst came] Is this fanmail?
Everyone: Yeah.
Graham: This is our most elaborate fanmail yet.
Sun: So this [Starburst, already in the Sun’s system] could be poisonous?!
Josh: That’s why we gave it to you first.
Graham: You’re the test. Spit it out.
Dave: We actually got this letter that was sent to our label, a handwritten letter, Graham has it.
Graham: It’s in my bag!
Dave: It’s this girl who is asking for an interview for her high school paper.
Sun: From where?
Dave: Maybe, like, Maine?
Josh: Connecticut.
Dave: She was like, “This is my high school paper and I’m going to be the editor next year and it’s five years running and you can check it out on this website. Get back to me on cell phone, email, fax, myspace, or letter.”
Graham: I vote we do the interview by snail mail.
Dave: And then she was also like, “This is what I look like” and enclosed a picture of herself.
Graham: So that we could also stalk her on the street in case we need to do the interview that way. We’ll know who to look for.

Tokyo Police Club’s debut EP, A Lesson in Crime, and the follow up Smith EP are available at iTunes and Amazon and other music outlets, and The Sun is anxiously awaiting their first LP.