I caught up with spunky Canadian quartet Tokyo Police Club at Red Bull Studios in Los Angeles to get the skinny on their ambitious new musical project 10x10x10x10, joining forces with Polaroid. The vanguard undertaking has Tokyo Police Club recording ten different songs plucked from the past ten years, ten hours a day over the course of ten days.
The band revealed one song per day via the project’s official website, http://www.polaroid.com/en/movement/galleries/tokyo-police-club. The band documented the proceedings by taking daily Polaroid photo diaries and filming the entire recording process. Additionally, each song has special artwork created from a Polaroid image shot that day in the studio. Frontman Dave Monks explains, “I think partnering up with brands is always something you want to be cautious of, but I think everyone has a soft spot for those old Polaroid pictures. We’re gonna do something cool with all the pics at the end. Everyone who comes in the studio takes different pictures. We already took 200 in the first few days!”
In a time when the record industry is hastily evolving, 10x10x10x10, intends to elicit new fans, expand the band’s Internet exposure and broaden their fan base of fellow power-emo tune lovers. “We wanted to reach out to people who wouldn’t normally cross paths with our regular Internet whereabouts—people who wouldn’t normally find us on the Internet.”
The adventure began at 12pm on Tuesday, August 23rd when the band first arrived in the studio to rehearse, record and broadcast a cover song in the ensuing ten hours, premiering it the following morning through some of their exclusive media partners including Entertainment Weekly, Filter and Spinner. Working their way through the past decade chronologically from 2001 to 2010, their song selection is slightly random, very diverse and sometimes ironic (Miley Cyrus’ Party in the USA). They cover everything from The Strokes, Queens of the Stone Age, Moby to American Idol Kelly Clarkson and Harlem Shakes. The band enlisted a little help from a few of their musical friends (Passion Pit, M83, Jamie Jackson) when they popped into the studio for impromptu guestspots. This project of multifarious cover-songs showcases the band’s unique ability to remain faithful to the original and still sound like Tokyo Police Club.
The high-energy indie rock outfit consists of vocalist/bassist Dave Monks, keyboardist/vocalist Graham Wright, guitarist/percussionist Josh Hook, and drummer Greg Alsop. Making their exuberant debut in 2006 with their EP, A Lesson in Crime, the band unleashed their stellar high energy indie-pop tunes on the world. To truly appreciate their form, one must be open to snappy one-two punch, hook-filled pop music—ready to feel bubbly yet somewhat downbeat. In 2008, they put out their first full-length album, Elephant Shell on (Conor Oberst backed) Saddle Creek.
In June of this year, the foursome released their sophomore album Champ, chock-full of strobe-lighty dance-floor firestarters, fueled by another ruthless round of touring across the world. Most recently they paired with Passion Pit and Two Door Cinema Club and made their third appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.
TPC has come a long way in these last six years, “We started out being labeled as Canadian whippersnappers or young fresh-faced indie upstarts—weird assessments of our youth, but I feel like we’re finally shaking that off and at the same time growing into a type of band that’s more flexible. We’re more confident now and have a broader palette of sound,” Dave says. “We had some good success in the beginning with the stuff we made at 18/19[years old], but there’s no urge to recreate that because you can’t. It came from being unskilled, instead of resorting to cleverness or working out something really intricate, we just played with energy and played it fast, which made it work. But we’re beyond that now. There’s this other thing now, something else has revealed itself and I want to find out what that is, what we’re capable of—there’s something out there we can get [at] now that we couldn’t before.”
With only a single day to complete one song, there was no time to second and third-guess themselves, and without the hoopla of a major label pushing them in a certain direction, the band was able to capture the spontaneous energy of a song progressing naturally. “We’re only ever ten hours away from the whole song being done,” Dave says. “There’s been some hectic moments so far but the timeframe is what makes it fun and light because the best part of recording is the last day of the last song. It’s just like having that fun last day all the time. You’ve got to be okay with not having to spend lots of time on every song.”
So where does Dave see himself in ten years? “In 10 years I will be 34…I don’t want to be touring, but I do want to be making music. Don’t know if I’ll be living in the city. A girl would be nice.” With a slight afterthought pause he adds, “In 10 years I’ll be living in a house in Halifax [Canada] by the ocean and I’ll make music with a ukulele and a shaker and put it online for free and make my money off of Red Bull sponsorships.” [laughs]
You can stream the entire 10x10x10x10 project at Soundcloud and view its track listing below. It’s due out digitally through Dine Alone Records, October 4th. Expect additional details in the coming weeks on the packaging of all ten songs with commemorative pieces from the project. Also you can catch Tokyo Police Club live at the LA 101 Festival Oct 23rd at The Gibson Amphitheatre.
1. 2001′s “Southside” by Moby (w/Morgan Kibby from M83)
2. 2002′s “Sweetness” by Jimmy Eat World (w/Michael Angelakos from Passion Pit)
3. 2003′s “Under Control” by The Strokes
4. 2004′s “Since U Been Gone” by Kelly Clarkson
5. 2005′s “Little Sister” by Queens of the Stone Age (w/Orianthi)
6. 2006′s “Long Distance Call” by Phoenix (w/Ray Suen from Mariachi El Bronx)
7. 2007′s “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem
8. 2008′s “Kim & Jessie” by M83 (w/Jamie Jackson)
9. 2009′s “Strictly Game” by Harlem Shakes
10. 2010′s “Party in the U.S.A” by Miley Cyrus