Photo by Andrew Strapp
While many bands these days can hardly afford to wait years to put out a followup album, that’s exactly what Tokyo Police Club did. Nearly four years after their last record, the Ontario four-piece recently released Forcefield, a project they intentionally sought to perfect before sharing it with the world.
“It was never this much of a struggle,” recalls drummer Greg Alsop. "This time felt like going through the ringer. It was harder.”
The band is making their return at a time when the music industry has as short of an attention span as ever, and an album’s life cycle can sometimes be only a few months long—if that. So part of the struggle was that every day that passed was a day further outside of fans’ memory.
"We had that first, initial flash-in-a-pan buzz when we released our first EP,” Alsop admits. "But everything we released after it never seemed to quite live up to that first 16 minutes of music we put out. I guess it’s like that old cliché, that you have your whole life to write your first record and a month to do the next. I think what we were able to do with this album was give ourselves our whole life, theoretically. And we kept writing until we were satisfied with it.”
Although they were aware of the risk in waiting, the possible reward seemed bigger: “We wanted to be seen as a career band, like a group that’s going to be around for a while,” says Alsop. "When we first started, we were being labeled as this, 'young, indie-upstart band.’ Now, there’s one of those popping up everyday. This was about something bigger than just cashing in on the genre or sound of the moment. It was about creating an album that lives beyond this year, something you’d want to listen to again five years from now.”
Another sign the band is trying to stretch beyond those “indie-upstart” days is their openness to the opportunities of today’s market.
“It used to be a big deal if a smaller band's song was used by a corporation,” explains Alsop. “You were ‘selling out.’ Now it’s just the way the world works. If a brand or film studio is willing to pay you for your art and you feel good about it and it opens you up to more fans, isn’t that the point? That’s how you make a living. And we’re in our mid-, late-20s now. We’re trying to make a living, so if a brand wants to pay to use one of our songs, the art lives another day. And so do we. Because let’s face it, kids aren’t buying CDs.”
Forcefield is out now via Mom + Pop.