Q&A: Tokyo Police Club Drummer Greg Alsop Talks Vegetables, One-Hit Wonders Glass Tiger and Making Eye Contact With Rivers Cuomo
It's not often that, when you call up a band for an interview, the conversation gets kicked off by the interview subject asking the interviewer what to do with a vegetable that "looks like an old lady's finger."
And yet, when I recently caught up with Tokyo Police Club drummer Greg Alsop in advance of his band's gig in Dallas tonight at the Granada Theater, that's just what happened. In fact, he was so intrigued at how much his carrot resembled a finger, that he wasn't sure if he wanted to eat it or save it as a culinary oddity along the lines of Jesus' face a burnt piece of toast.
I suggested he take a picture of it and leave it well alone. No sense in eating fingers. He wasn't so certain.
It was an odd start to a conversation, yes. But a fitting one that showed some insight into Alsop's views on the world at large. And, after our initial back-and-forth about what he should do with the vegetable, we finally got around to discussing how the band maintains -- and gains -- fans through social networking in post-blog buzz world, as well as his thoughts on touring with Weezer and how the '80s band and one-hit wonders Glass Tiger have influenced Tokyo Police Club's direction.
Check out our conversation in full after the jump.
You've already been on the road for a little bit with this tour. How's it gone so far?
It's going really well so far. We've been out on the road for exactly one week now, so it's still going off and the shows are getting better and better. We were in Rhode Island a couple days ago and not as many people showed up because of the crappy weather, but it turned out to be a really good show. We're hoping that it's just going to get better from here.
You guys were basically one of the initial class of blog bands that hit the scene several years ago. Do you think music blogs are still a viable source for taste-making?
Sure! Yeah! I think people filter through several sources to find new music. But I think what's happening is the shelf-life of those bands is becoming shorter and shorter. It's kind of hard to maintain your status once you have that, after the initial buzz it's easy to fade away. That's what we're trying to do right now. It's hard to keep people interested and you have to find new ways to do it. Now you have to build a community around your band specifically, and you have to have people come out for you specifically. That's what things like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are great for. We can't come to the same city three or four times a year, so it's something for fans to come back to and check every few weeks and look at something new.
Why do think the buzz goes away so quickly for blog bands?
Blogs don't really thrive on returning to the same ol' stories -- they're all about breaking new stuff. So, naturally, people turn to them to find new music, and they have to keep the story fresh. I don't know. We aren't' doing new stuff all the time, only every two years. So we aren't on the blogs all the time, and when we are, in two weeks, they're talking about someone else. Your job is in your own hands at that point to keep people interested.
Is that where the social networking aspect comes in for your band?
Definitely. That's something we're trying to do more and more. It's not just something we're doing from a business strategy to get you on a mailing list or something like that. It's enjoyable for us. It's enjoyable for us to reach out to people who listen to us and enjoy our music and establish a relationship with them.
How did Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin come to be your opening act?
I don't remember if we proposed it or they proposed it. We were just talking about it one afternoon, and they came up, and we like the band, and we couldn't be happier to have them out.
I'm pretty new to your band, and there may also be people that are new to your band. Is there any difference in the sound of your new album and previous releases?
There's a change in sound for sure. We wrote those songs when we were in our mid-to-late teens, so the sound has evolved for sure. We were inspired by bands like Bloc Party, Pulp and bands like that. Now, we're getting more comfortable in writing our songs and letting them develop naturally instead of maybe forcing them to sound one particular way. We're still an "angular" rock band, but the sound is different even though it's coming from the same place.
Some of the stuff on the new album has a bit of a "jangle" sound to it like early Stone Roses and early- to mid-'90s Brit pop. Was that an inspiration going into recording?
Well, that was the time we were growing up in, and discovering music with bands like Pulp and Blur were humongous. Then, there were the American bands like Weezer that we like, and older, late-'80s bands like the Pixies. But that was the defining early music that really, really stuck out to us. And we were touring with Weezer when we started making this record, so that sound may have subconsciously reared its head during recording.
How was that Weezer tour? Were you contractually obligated to not look Rivers Cuomo in the eyes?
[Laughs.] No! We looked him in the eyes, even though he didn't always meet it. The tour was fun though, getting to meet and play with someone who was your idol growing up is not something you're used to. It's always a bit unnerving. Sometimes, it's difficult because you want to maintain a "star status" and keep them up on a pedestal because you've liked them for so long and you don't want to be disappointed. Because you don't really want to meet Rivers Cuomo and not have him be the person you always thought he would be when you were 12 and 13 years old. But he was really mellow and really cool.
How do you feel about being from the same hometown as Glass Tiger?
[Laughs.] Glad to be from the same home town! We only knew the one hit song "Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone)" and we haven't forgotten them now that their gone. So, mission accomplished Glass Tiger!