Next Sunday, Canadian indie rock band Tops will make their debut performance in Hong Kong at MOM Livehouse in Fortress Hill. The band has been turning heads for years, having previously opened for art-pop heavyweights Grimes and Purity Ring.
The five-piece released their third full-length album Sugar At The Gate at the end of last year – a record that has seen their fan base grow even more, and cemented their status as one of the most critically acclaimed underground artists of the decade.
“People seemed to really enjoy the record,” vocalist and keyboard player Jane Penny told Young Post by email, explaining how she views the record a year after its release. “I didn’t realise how sad some of the songs are, but it reflects how I was feeling at the time. It’s a very honest record, and it’s an emotional album which I think people can really relate to.”
Of the newer tracks, Penny’s favourites to perform live are Petals and Dayglow, which she describes as “a lot of fun to play, as I get to rock out”.
Despite the theme of sadness running throughout Sugar At The Gate, Tops’ live performances remain upbeat, and full of dance-fuelled indie tunes from across their discography. “We like having a good time on stage, and I like to dance, so I hope people will dance in Hong Kong with me,” Penny said. They also hope to enjoy themselves off-stage as they explored the city for the first time. “We have a day off, and my friend told me I have to go to The Peak. I guess it’s the most obvious tourist destination in the city, but it sounds like it’s got an incredible view.”
Although the band has been busy on the road, with this current tour taking them to places like Japan, China, and Singapore, the Montreal-based group has managed to find time to work on a record.
“We usually start writing a song with the band, and someone will come up with chords or a riff and we all work off that. Sometimes, David [Carriere, guitarist] and I will write songs together and bring them to the band. Often, the lyrics happen separately from our rehearsals. I still have a lot of singing to do, so I’ll go home to Germany, where I’ve been living, to work on the vocals.”
Even though Tops have been lucky to sell records since their 2012 debut, Tender Opposites, they can empathise with the struggle many Hong Kong bands experience as they try to build their art into a sustainable career.
“Montreal has a very lively scene, the kind where everyone is an artist,” Penny explained, comparing the music scenes in Hong Kong and in Quebec. “It’s inspiring to be around so many creative people, but I think it can be hard to break out of the local scene, so we’re lucky that we’ve been able to reach people all over the world.”
Her message for those trying to break through? “Don’t let anyone hold you back from making the music that you want to make, even yourself. It’s easy to dream and have big expectations, but the most satisfying and productive thing you can do is keep playing and being creative.”
Tickets for Tops’ show at ticketflap, or on the door.
Edited by Ginny Wong