Tokyo Police Club is a Forcefield and you’re invited

by James Brotheridge

musicTokyo Police Club
w/ Said the Whale
Riddell Centre Multi-Purpose Room
Saturday 8

First thing you’ll notice about Tokyo Police Club in concert these days: they’ve got a big backdrop hanging behind them.

“When we first started out, we thought backdrops were lame, but now we’ve come full circle,” says guitarist Josh Hook. “This will be our first tour with a big, full-band backdrop.”

What changed his mind about backdrops?

“We just thought that they’re kind of cool.”

Tokyo Police Club’s been through a few reassessments in the past year or two. The foursome — originally from Newmarket, Ontario, now spread to the winds — made an immediate impact with their 2007 EP A Lesson in Crime. It’s the kind of record that makes music reviewers overuse the word “frenetic”, but what can we do? It’s completely justified. But going into making what would become Forcefield, Hook, vocalist and bassist David Monks, keyboardist Graham Wright and drummer Greg Aslop decided to try aiming for a more pop style of songwriting.

One influence on the new album was 10x10x10, a covers record TPC released in 2011.

“We looked at that as almost an exercise in writing, in taking songs that you wouldn’t normally play in their original styles and breaking them down and understanding the song at its core is a great song, whether it’s ‘Since U Been Gone’ or ‘Southside’ by Moby,” says Hook. “It was about realizing that we could play those songs and they would still hold up and we could put our spin on them. And just because a riff sounds like a pop riff or more of a rock riff, it’s still cool and it’s fun to play. It doesn’t automatically put that style out of your wheelhouse.”

That understanding is reflected in Forcefield, which came out earlier this year. The songs are all single-ready, from actual single “Hot Tonight” on down.

They also reflect a lot of what made Tokyo Police Club great to begin with. The energy is still there, Monks is still an interesting and fun singer, and the group still digs into real situations.

On that last point, there’s a recurring theme of financial matters on the record.

“I didn’t need the money but the money was nice,” sings Monks on “Hot Tonight”, and “You’re still in your twenties and you’re still getting paid,” elsewhere.

Hook doesn’t want to comment on the lyrics too much –– he’s the guitarist, after all –– but he can speak to the mindset of the band.

“Another way to look at it is, you’re in this band and it’s what you’ve been doing since high school,” Hook says. “There comes a time when you’re mid- to late-twenties and see all your friends with real jobs making salaries, and you’re very aware of your situation and how fragile it can be. You take two years off, and that’s two years where you’re not on tour and you’re not releasing — the one thing you can do to make a living. That comparison can kinda drive you nuts.

“You have to look back at the reasons you’re doing it and the creative freedoms it provides you.”