Tokyo Police Club’s Dave Monks Offers Early Stream of Debut Solo Album “On a Wave”
Along with an early listen, Monks gives insight into each individual track for the Dine Alone Records release.
As was the case four years ago when Dave Monks released his first EP of solo material, On a Wave, his first full-length as a solo artist, was born from a dramatic spillover of songs Monks had written for his band Tokyo Police Club shortly after they’d put out an album. Likewise, On a Wave also came about—like his All Signs Point to Yes EP—following a big move, first from Ontario to New York, now from New York back to Ontario.
Perhaps it’s this mixed bag of experience accumulated among different friends in different cities that’s led to his most diverse array of songs he’s ever produced (including TPC’s Ten Songs LP, which featured covers of everything from Moby’s “South Side” to Miley’s “Party in the U.S.A.”), including a Bon Iver–like Auto-Tune–soaked ambient piece (“Bluebird”), an on-point early-’00s garage-rock-revival revival tune (“No God of Mine”), and plenty of experimentalism weaving in and out of Monks’ upbeat acoustic guitar.
“I think this might be my favorite album I have been a part of, but I definitely just made it one step, one flight, one song at a time,” Monks says, embracing the piecemeal nature of the release’s production. “I didn’t really know where I was going with it until it all came together. I’m really happy I stepped into the unknown and endured some moments of serious doubt and wanting to cut songs and redo them. If you are making something now—remember that uncertainty and second guessing are just part of the process!”
Below you can stream the record a few days early, and read along to Monks’ commentary for each of the album’s eleven tracks. On a Wave officially drops this Friday, October 18, via Dine Alone Records. You can pre-order it here.
1. “No One’s Child”
Pretty much thought up these words sitting at Fred 62 in Los Feliz on a weekend during recording TPC. This was one of those songs that was really burning a hole in my pocket. Couldn’t wait to get it out.
2. “Don’t Go Falling to Pieces”
“Don’t Go Falling to Pieces” was the first song we ran into that obviously wanted a band on it. It was just me and Rob [Schnapf] in the studio so that was a whole bridge to cross. At first, it was me playing the drums and bass, but gradually we replaced them. Luke Adams came in for drums and wound up playing on the next four or five songs, and Matt Scheussler, who is also Rob’s assistant, played the bass on it. It was starting to feel like a band, but still needed a little more. Rob’s friend Jerry Borgé came by the next day and played piano, which brought the whole thing to life. It’s really nice to hear songs like this sit beside studio creations like “Bluebird” and feel right.
3. “Everybody Knows”
Wrote this during soundcheck, which I’m usually trying to avoid by looking like I’m immersed in the creative process. It felt a little overly simple, but I played it for Matt Rogers from Fleece (who we were touring with) and he really liked the chords. I play the slide guitar in the verse and Rob plays it in the bridge. The rhythm guitars are played through this broken old Sears amp that I found in his garage. We brought it into the studio and I think it’s the best guitar sound we ever got.
4. “On a Wave”
This one might have been influenced by some Mary Oliver stuff I was reading at the time. She pays a lot of attention to nature and rarely includes people in her poems.
“Bluebird” was so simple I didn’t know if it was worth doing. But it became such a cool moment on the record, I can’t imagine it without it.
6. “Love Fades”
This was something I just always played when I was bored. It’s so simple, I was very self-conscious when I showed it to Rob. He liked the feeling of it and I was surprised and excited.
7. “Lonely (Won’t You Come Love Me)”
This song was kind of a pain in the ass to do. I wasn’t totally finished writing it when we went into the studio, so we had to do lots of editing and I had to keep writing words. That being said, I’m very proud of the guitar solo I play at the end. And Luke Adams on the drums nailed it.
This was the song that brought Alyson McNamara into the record. I’d had it for a while, and singing it with her was so fun. I was about to fly out the next day to LA and work on it and I asked her to come. She did, and over a couple weeks contributed to a lot of songs on the record.
9. “No God of Mine”
I was too self conscious about the subject matter to play this one with Tokyo. Doing it with Luke Adams on the drums was great—he did the half-time thing which I totally wasn’t expecting. And then Rob ripped it up for the solo which was fun.
This was the first one we did. It was a little thing I knew I wanted to get out, so after a TPC tour ending in Phoenix, I texted Rob to see if he was around for a couple days. I played everything myself on this one, which is a first. So fun. We spent a lot of time creating detailed ambience and at one point we accidentally muted the whole piano bed track. I left all this space and revealed a whole new mood. So we left it like that for the second half of the song. Some of my favorite stuff on the record. That’s what got me really excited about doing the whole thing.
This one got way better right at the end before we printed the mixes. Rob made a little edit at the end, shortening up the last chorus, and it made the whole thing way lighter and breezier. It used to drag on a bit. And very happy that the last track on the record wound up with this title.