"You can tell them I'm in the bathtub," Greg Alsop said. "It's not true, but let's just write it up."

"You can tell them I'm in the bathtub," Greg Alsop said. "It's not true, but let's just write it up."

The Tokyo Police Club drummer was on the phone from Toronto, where he was trying to enjoy as much normalcy as possible during one of those fleeting stretches between tours.

Alsop is a perennial jokester - he's been known to make comedy videos on the side with his pals in Toronto troupe Fun Time Internet - and his talk of a long, luxurious soak beside brass faucets was a ruse. But his actual agenda for the day was equally tame: "Stay in, drink tea and keep my feet warm."

Such calm moments have been few and far between since Tokyo Police Club's first EP, "A Lesson in Crime," won rave reviews in 2006. They were still teenagers then, and like most adolescents, they were mighty impressionable.

If swaggering, spastic New York acts like The Strokes and Les Savy Fav had left their mark on Tokyo Police Club's first release, the band soon let music critics' hype be their guiding light, much to the detriment of full-length debut "Elephant Shell."

"That album more than anything is a struggle to consolidate people's expectations and our own intentions for our songs," Alsop said.

Last year's "Champ" found the band regaining their footing. Gone were the signature two-minute adrenaline blasts of "A Lesson in Crime," but so were the over-thought arrangements and excessively brainy lyrics that plagued "Elephant Shell."

Tokyo Police Club today is as free and loose as the band that turned heads back in 2006, but they move with a more leisurely gait. Though "Champ" is more quote-unquote mature than the rip-roaring "A Lesson in Crime," it gets everything right about growing up as a band that "Elephant Shell" got wrong. For all its elegance, you can still pump your fist to it.

Alsop said righting the ship was a matter of resolving to make the kind of music they wanted - and setting aside enough time from the whirlwind tour schedule to figure out what that was.

While they've stopped listening to the critics, the fans still have their ear. They've found inventive ways to connect with devotees, from Alsop's new online advice column to an open call for challengers on tour last summer.

The band battled fans in everything from a water balloon toss to a staring contest. In Baltimore, someone even taught them to shuck crabs. Such interactions offered a better window into cities they typically whisk through.

"It kind of combines vacation with touring, which you don't really get to do unless you make a point of doing it," Alsop said.

An indie rocker's gotta find solace however he can.