For nearly a decade, Tokyo Police Club have staked their reputations on being a prime force on the indie pop circuit. After writing and recording for more than two years, vocalist/bassist David Monks and company are back with a third full-length, Forcefield, their first since 2010's Champ.
It's easy to forget the band are still in their formative years as writers, with most members still in their late 20s. After a European run, they are glad to be back in the States for a proper tour. In the two and a half years since he started writing the material for Forcefield, Monks left his native Canada for New York, which inspired him to write enough songs to make up multiple albums. We caught up with Monks as the band made their way through the Midwest ahead of their show this week at the Observatory.
OC Weekly (Daniel Kohn): What's it like being back on the road in the States?
David Monks: It's good because we have a long-running history here. We were just in Europe, where people don't know us as well, and it's not like here, where everyone is very excited to be at the show.
Is it weird playing in Europe, where people aren't as familiar with the band? How does that compare to playing the U.S., where you've been established for a while now?
You always want it to be great, and the crowds over there are great. They sing along and have their own, different vibe; it's more clapping than singing and a less physical kind of energy. Every time we go over there, we're on the same level, playing the same clubs, which are much smaller over there, so it becomes about enjoying the trip and the travel as much as it is about your career and the tour.
Do you like playing those smaller venues?
The bigger the room, the better–there's no doubt about that. But I only like playing to full rooms, so I'd rather play, for example, a sold-out Webster [Hall in New York City] than a half-sold Terminal 5 [in New York City] or something like that. We always play to the rafters.
Why was there a relatively long gap between records?
We started writing at the end of 2011. The record took a long time, and we took a long time off because it was the first time we were looking at our career, thinking about the opportunity we have to make this record, and we wanted to make it dense. It was like we wanted to throw a really big rock at the car that is music culture and make a dent in it. We kept writing songs and finding better songs, and we had at least 50 of them. It was cool to have that freedom of making our album what we wanted it to be.
Was it healthier for the band to make an album this way?
Absolutely. We were able to grow and get our personal lives in order, too. Everyone figured their shit out a bit, and it's like, "Great, let's regroup and go out and tour in a sustainable way." It's great to tour behind an album you feel rock-solid about.
Even though you guys are still young, you're firmly established. Do you feel like you can still grow musically?
Totally. We've been at it for so long that we feel like we have a big road in front of us, too. We've been around for this long, so it's not going to fall apart now. We feel like we're getting better and more able to make the music we want to make, play the way we want to play, tour and live our lives the way we want to. It's getting easier to balance these things.
Tokyo Police Club perform with Geographer and Said the Whale at the Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com. Tues., 8 p.m. $20. All ages.