I very recently had the opportunity to send in some questions to the guys in Tokyo Rose. Chris Poulsen, their bassist, was kind enough to take some time out of their current tour schedule to send me back some answers. Their new album The Promise in Compromise is out on July 31, on Sidecho Records
Ed. Note: Please keep in mind this is an email interview, all answers have been left as originally sent to me.
How has the tour with Bedlight for Blue Eyes and Sound the Alarm been going?
The tour has been going pretty good... Both the bands are really cool guys and we have been having fun with them. Both of them have new albums out and they are really good. We had met Sound the Alarm before and were friends with them already. Bedlight we never met until this tour even though they are from NJ like us, but they are def cool guys too. It has been a bit weird because our album isn't out yet and we have been playing a lot of new songs but it is still going pretty well.
What was the writing and recording process of The Promise in Compromise like? How was it compared to your previous records?
The writing/recording process of our new album was awesome. a lot different then our past records...We spent 6 weeks everyday practicing and writing, working out ideas everyday...we finally ended up getting a group of songs we felt really strongly about and decided to go into the studio to record another record. Through this process it was just Ryan, myself and Jake... so It was actually a lot easier with only 3 people... Ryan would bring his songs to practice, I would bring mine..we would show them to each other and everyone would make their suggestions, and it just took off from there.
As far as the recording process, we worked with two awesome producers out in LA. They definitely made our songs more polished and professional sounding then ever before. A lot of great tones and drum sounds and also a lot of vocal coaching and vocal treatments helped with our sound. Our producers Fred and Mark had worked with a lot of bigger bands in the past so I guess they just sort of took that expertise and applied it to working with us.
Was there anything specific you guys were looking to accomplish before heading into the studio?
We just wanted to have fun and write songs that we enjoyed, and that we felt people would enjoy. Last time I think we spent to much time thinking about what people would think was cool, or how we could be considered a little different and mature. We wanted to show growth from our first album, but I think we went about it in an unnatural way and sort of forced the issue. This time we just wrote songs we liked and it all worked out for the best.
What was it like working with Mark Renk, Fred Archambault and Paul Miner on the album?
It was definitely cool. As I mentioned before, they are great producers and made our time recording a very enjoyable one. They also made us sound the best we have ever sounded I think. They know a lot of tricks to get the best performances out of their bands... and I think they did the same with us. Mark also helped with vocal ideas and a lot of melodies and harmonies... I think that made a big difference then our albums we had done in the past. Fred was the man.... he got awesome guitar tones and drum sounds...it definitely helped. As for mastering, we told Paul to make it sound huge, and he definitely was thinking the same thing so it turned out great and we are all really happy with it.
How would you compare The Promise in Compromise with your previous releases?
I think this album is a bit more fun and laid back then our old albums. We just wrote what we felt like, and the songs are definitely the most catchy they have ever been in my opinion. We didn't think about it too much, the whole process was pretty organic and natural.
What albums were you listening to while writing/recording the new album?
Personally I was actually listening to a lot of our bigger contemporaries like Fall Out Boy and Taking Back Sunday... Some other bands we were jamming were Mute Math, Maroon 5, The Police, a lot of different stuff as usual haha.
What are your personal favourite songs off of The Promise in Compromise?
My personal favorite is "611 Life Lesson" just because that song is really in your face and powerful. I like the flow of it and the lyrics mean a lot to me personally actually... Just reminds me of a certain time in my life that I would like to forget, but will always remember. And actually I feel its better I do, to help me get through stuff later on.
You guys made a video for "Spectacle" off of your last album, do you have any plans for filming one for your new album?
Yes actually we will be filming a video for our song "We Can Be Best Friends Tonight”" in LA after we finish up on Warped tour.
The album leaked rather early, how does that make you feel as an artist? What do you think of the whole aspect of digital music in the industry?
I think it is a good and bad thing. I am glad people want to listen to us, but I am upset that the kids would go and download it and not support our band. Every artist obviously suffers from this, and it is just the way the world works these days...But it is definitely disheartening to a band like us, who is still very small and really wants to gain a larger audience.... A lot of that has to do with numbers and sales, which are taken away by the album leaking.
What do you think about bands who give out their albums for free online/stream their album online? Do you think this is a good promotional tool and would you ever do it yourselves?
I definitely think it is a good way to promote. Good friends of ours and a band you guys love, and we do too... Sherwood did a free EP on your website and we were on tour with them then. We noticed a huge difference in turnout for their shows and just overall a positive reaction to their band. They definitely did it the right way, and it paid off in the end. It is cool to share music with fans that will really support you whether it is free or not...and thats what kind of fanbase that band has.
With a very loyal following and very good reviews on all your past releases, did you guys feel any pressure to follow up at all?
Yes we definitely feel a lot of pressure. A lot of that comes from ourselves, because we are very proud of our new album and feel it is the best work we have done. Another factor that plays into it is the fact that we have been doing this band for 7 years and this will be our 3rd album. We really are hoping to take the next step, and of course with that feeling and the fact we are all not 19 and 20 years old anymore... comes a lot of responsibility and pressure.
How does it feel to be considered one of the more "underrated" bands in the scene?
Ha it is nice for people to say. It means we get respect from fans and our peers... and we should. We feel we have earned it. We are a good band that writes good songs and performs live well. It took a lot of hard work to get to this point. But at the same time every year we are always considered one of the best underrated bands haha... And after awhile that just gets annoying only because we are doing everything we can... And it makes you wonder you know? What else can you do to not be underrated but just appreciated the way we feel we deserve to be you know? Ah well... that's up to the kids that read this site I guess haha
Why do you think that other bands may be receiving more attention while you remain almost overlooked despite all your hard work?
Hrmm good question. A lot of reasons. Some of them political... others just pure luck. Regardless the reasons it is frustratng to us that we havent taken the next step for sure...but by no means are we jealous or feel animosity to any band who takes a big jump early on. We respect that actually... I wish we could have done that. We made some mistakes early on but you learn from it. One band who are some of our best buds who are making waves these days is The Higher... who are still pretty young, but a lot of people don't know they have been doing it for a while and working hard, so it is nice to see them gaining much deserved notoriety finally. But other bands that are newer are getting bigger quicker, and that is just because they write awesome songs, perform really well and are just cool dudes. Cant really fault them for that haha.
You guys seem to try and stay very involved in the public and with your fans ie. posting new tracks on your myspace very often as well as studio diaries etc. Is it important to you to be proactive in that aspect?
Yes, well without fans and talking to people, this band wouldn't exist. We are not part of the big corporate machine that forces bands down peoples throats. No one is forcing any kids to like us or brainwashing them on MTV with commercials and videos. Kids like our band because they like our songs, have fun at a show or take a liking to us personally. Most of the time, all 3 of those elements combined. And even though we are still relatively small and not to many people know about us, we definitely appreciate all the people that do. They mean the world to us, and I think it is only fair to keep in touch with them and keep them informed with whats going on with us.
What is the story behind the group becoming a threesome?
Well we just have had a lot of member changes for whatever reasons. With this record we decided on a new vision and wanted to have a new sound, so we decided that we would get people who really shared in what we were trying to do. Ryan and myself have been mainstays since pretty much the beginning but we added our drummer Jake to the lineup and have been playing with a good friend on guitar. We definitely want to have members, just in the past we have been burned with people that really didnt want to put the work in, or didn't really understand that it takes a lot of hard work... A lot of our members have just stepped into a position to be in a fulltime signed touring band with fans and albums out without ever having to do any of the legwork, so I guess it is only natural for them to take the stuff that we do have for granted.
Any bands that you would like to tour with in the future?
Oh sure of course. Any band that draws and sounds like us and are nice dudes to hang out with haha. After being on so many small tours like we have, it is only natural to want to play for bigger crowds. We have had tastes of that side of life a few times, but we are definitely wanting to have that sort of thing going on on a more consistent basis but what band doesn't right? As for some bands we would like to go out with, obviously bands such as Taking Back Sunday, Rocket Summer, Sherwood, Bayside, MXPX, Boys Like Girls, Plain White T's, June, The Audition, Paramore, All Time Low, Hit The Lights, The Matches, Motion City Soundtrack, The Graduate, etc.
What albums have you been listening to recently?
I have been listening to the new Shins album, new Paramore, new Circa Survive, and a lot of Young Love and The Graduate album... that album is amazing! I love that band
What are you plans for after your Warped Tour stint?
Afer Warped we are going to be doing a co-headline show with our friends The Fold in Anaheim, a lot of press stuff, music video, photoshoot, a Sony Connect session, and then a tour back east with Peachcake and Driving East. We hope to be able to get on some good tours to support this album after that, but only time and luck will tell on that front.
Any last words for the AP readers?
Thanks to everyone at AP for helping and supporting us. You guys rule and have helped us so much and we really appreciate it. As for the readers, you guys are the ones who matter most. Kids that go to shows and buy albums. So to those of you that like what were doing... thank you so much! We appreciate you and want to meet you at our shows. For the people who don't, well... sorry! And for the shittalkers on here... Please Get a LIFE! If you have an opinion that has to tear someone else down to make yourself feel better... just keep it to yourself. Ok that's it.. hope to see you guys soon ;)
i think the key for this band is better tours. the songs are there, someone just needs to hear them
This is to true. Valencia has passed them in popularity (clearly) and they were the ones taking Valencia out in Late 2005/early 2006. This is not saying anything against Valencia because well they're putting the city on their backs right now. But I'm just saying they should be at the same level.