Presented by 2016 Up and Downtown Music Festival (UP+DT) and Sonic 102.9 FM
Tokyo Police Club and guests
Born Ruffians, The Elwins
Saturday, October 8, 2016
Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:30 pm
The Starlite Room
This event is 18 and over
Individual Tickets to this event provide guarantee entry into THIS SHOW ONLY and do not entitle entry into any other event associated with UP+DT 2016. Line up subject to change.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: the Starlite Room is a private venue for our Members and their Guests. If you require a membership you can purchase one at the venue.
Prices posted on this site are for tickets purchased in advance only - price may be higher if purchased at the door on the day of the event.https://www.starliteroom.ca/event/1214213/
"We struggled with finding our spot as a band and owning what we were," says lead singer/bass player and principle songwriter Dave Monks. "Everyone expected us to come out with another record like (2010's) Champ, but we didn't feel comfortable going on the same road we were on. We wanted to go somewhere else; an upward move, not lateral, so we starting writing and looking around for something new."
But just because something is new doesn't mean it's also fresh. Today's music world is over-saturated; it's crammed to the gills with fleeting spotlight grabs, quick bucks, tired regurgitation and trend after soulless copycat trend, sure, but also with talented acts, shrewd maneuvers and catchy choruses that drop your jaw with their deceptively simple brilliance. Tokyo Police Club (Monks, keyboardist/guitarist Graham Wright, guitarist Josh Hook and drummer Greg Alsop) knew that a new direction could be their key–but that choice would not be without its pitfalls.
While writing, the band began to feel more and more isolated. Despite lofty goals and a fervent fan base, Champ had only bumped them up to the next ladder rung, not the express escalator to the top they may have expected. Days and weeks sometimes went by without any band activity. For the first time, two members moved away from Toronto (Monks to New York City, Alsop to Boston). "At times it felt like people maybe lost faith," says Monks. "And it really came down to the four of us gelling. When we came back to the surface, everyone was really excited again, like they had never left. But we had to go on this solo band journey.
"On Champ we were exploring new corners of our band," continues Monks, "and a lot of it was unintentional, happy accidents. This time around we wanted to have lots of those. We made an effort to make our songs more direct and understandable and maybe cross over to people who wouldn't normally listen to Tokyo Police Club. And then it was that act of balancing, keeping it 'us,' making something universal about it."
Their first decision was to provide themselves with the time they needed to make something lasting. "We spent so long on Forcefield but we had to, there's no other way it could have gone down," says Graham Wright. "We did everything we needed to do to make the record. And we were bemoaning how circuitous most of our process usually is: we go on this weird path and then three days later we end up exactly where we started. But we realized that you have to allow yourselves to go on these insane tangents because every once in a while they make you put three songs together into an eight-minute medley that's the best thing the band ever did. And if you were too busy trying to be simple and to follow your gut, you would never do that."
The eight-minute medley to which Wright refers is "Argentina," Forcefield's lead track, a polished, earnest, high-octane and slow-burning epic that began as three separate songs in the same key that were stitched together into a seamless conglomeration nearly four times as long as some of the earliest Tokyo tunes. It's a statement, for certain, but in the context of the process that birthed it, the song serves as more of a symbol of the foursome's renewed confidence and trust in each other than an experimental jumping-off point.
The eight tracks that follow sound like the Tokyo Police Club you know and love but somehow manage to reach a little higher into the rafters. The genuine spirit in the catchy choruses of lead single "Hot Tonight" and "Toy Guns" reflects the anthemic music that all four bandmates were inspired by while recording, and "Miserable" features a concert-ready refrain sure to infuse crowds of all sizes. This is a watertight sound that only a band of best friends could make, a band who after ten years of playing music together and over a decade and a half of friendship wrapped themselves up in a force field and gave it their all, realizing who they are in the process as well as what their songs bring to their audience and to each other.
"We became aware that the objective on the songs was to relate," says Monks. "It wasn't about being cathartic or poetic or shrouded in mystery, it was just to be super open. I've done that lyrically and we've done that musically as a band; we've been more forgiving to these songs and let them just be the kind of songs they are and not tried to make them flow with the trends. We're stoked on this record–we think it's the best record on the planet right now."
Even before dropping And I Thank You, their full-length debut, The Elwins – vocalist/guitarist Matthew Sweeney, drummer Travis Stokl, guitarist/keyboardist Feurd, and bassist Frankie Figliomeni – were one of Toronto's much-hyped hopefuls to fly the upbeat indie pop flag forward.
Since its release, they've done the rounds at the major festivals, performed alongside some of the world's biggest bands like The National and St. Vincent, and been trumpeted by media and industry tastemakers as a (sometimes the) band to keep an eye on. To those that listened, Play For Keeps is what you were watching for.
The 12-song collection builds atop the foundation of fun pop music they established with its predecessor. "We tried to take everything up to the next level, sonically speaking," says Feurd. "We wanted to be really open and try a bunch of things we hadn't done before."
Taking the best bits of pop and rock music from the past five decades (despite the guys having only been alive for a little over two), The Elwins have delivered a dose of dancy bliss that appeals to virtually anyone. "We definitely like making songs that make people want to move," Sweeney says – and move they will.
Cuts like "You Have Me" and opener "Bubble" are brilliantly endearing blasts of '60s-inspired pop not far removed from the band's earlier efforts. But meanwhile, lead single "So Down Low" laces some '70s garage swagger and extra grit into their signature sound. "Bringing Out The Shoulders" borrows from the best of '80s synth pop, and "It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over" could be a Katy Perry cover. It's not, but it could be.
It's a broad range of influence, but effortlessly blended and easily identifiable as The Elwins. The guys credit producer Derek Hoffman with putting a welcome modern pop sheen on the record. Meanwhile, mixing came courtesy of the dynamic duo that is Gus van Go and Werner F (Hollerado, Said The Whale).
"In a way, we didn't want to feel like we had to tie anything to the last record," Sweeney says of their progression. "We wanted to do whatever we were feeling good about."
One could say "feeling good" is at the very core of what The Elwins are all about, and nowhere is that more apparent than a live show, where the electric exchange of energy blurs the line between band and audience – sometimes sweaty, usually lively, always fun. With a packed 2015 touring schedule set to take them across North America, Asia and Europe, where they've had major success on three separate tours supporting And I Thank You, fans will have plenty of opportunity to join the party.
But while the music and performances never take themselves too seriously, the same can't be said for the band itself. "We're very passionate about this, and we have lofty goals for this album" Sweeney says. "For us, this is our job. We're about pushing ourselves as hard as we can to reach our goals."
As of now, that goal is to have Play For Keeps reach as many ears as possible; fortunately, the music is so magnetic, so immediately inviting, that it won't be much of a challenge. The work gets done by day, but come quitting time, The Elwins send out an open invitation to let loose and have fun.
Take them up on it.
The Starlite Room
10030 102 Street Northwest
Edmonton, AB, T5J 0V6