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There’s no such thing as a magic bullet: Josh Hook on video games & success

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Two Thursdays ago, Tokyo Police Club guitarist Josh Hook spoke to me over the phone from Whistler, BC, and warmly answered as many questions as I could muster about the band’s origins, Montreal coffee, N64 games, and advice for aspiring musicians.

Hailing from Newmarket, Ontario, Tokyo Police Club first entered the limelight after paying $20 to open for Pony Up! at Pop Montreal in 2005. It just so happened that Lexi Valentine of Magenta Lane had encouraged a scout for Paper Bag Records to come watch the show. Any Tokyo Police Club fan owes a shout out to Valentine, for her aegis proved essential to the band’s success—soon after the show, the scout signed them to the label.

“That was when [the band] decided: All right, we’re not doing university, let’s give this band thing a go,” said Hook.

Ever since, Montreal has held a special place in the band’s touring hearts. When I asked Hook what Tokyo Police Club likes to do in the city, he revealed that a good cup of java is a treat that the group always looks forward to.

“We’ve definitely had some good coffee in Montreal,” he said. “One of my favourite places to go is Café Névé.”

Stepping away from Montreal and focusing on what it means to be a professional musician, Hook provided insight on the more valuable skills to hone—primarily the importance of meeting deadlines.

“A deadline is one of the most creative things you can have,” he explained. “You need the career deadline of always pushing yourself, doing shows where you can, and playing live. Never wait for anything. We have gotten lucky with a few things, but putting in a lot of hard miles and hard work at this point has shown us that at the time, a seven person show will be frustrating, but at the very least, it provides a very strong foundation for your band. It helps you be more comfortable playing live. The more you do that, the better.”

Even with this sharp attention to deadline detail, the band still manages to have a lot of fun. Their favourite way to relax and bond between recording sessions? Playing N64 together.

“We spend a lot of time with [the N64] in between trying to write songs,” Hook shared. “We’ll record something, then break for either Golden Eye, Tony Hawk, or Mario Kart. Whoever wins the round gets to choose how loud their instrument is.”

I closed our interview by asking Josh to give me a line of advice for those young musicians seeking to turn their passion into a profession. Again, he replied with sage advice.

“Don’t wait for anything to happen. Make it happen,” said Hook. “There was a music scene in our town, but mostly punk and hardcore. We didn’t fit in, but we put in the effort to go down to [Toronto] and get on any bill we could. Don’t be disappointed by the slow return rate you see early on, do it cause you love it. With this mentality, you’ll be in a better place to judge your progress after a year or so. There’s no magic bullet. Don’t think something will work for you just because it worked for Coldplay.”

Tokyo Police Club will be performing at Corona Theatre Thursday, Nov. 27. Doors open at 7 pm. Tickets are $24.50, $27 at the door.

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