Wednesday, January 20, 2010
POLAR BEAR CLUB
I did an interview with Jimmy, the singer from Polar Bear Club after their Brisbane show at The Fort, a new artist run community art space. I also did an interview with Kel who is one of the main people behind The Fort. After a full day delay on their flight, they were not so impressed with United Airlines. The show was in a sweet venue (although incredibly hot) and they are paired up with two of the best bands in Australia (Break Even and The Gifthorse).
I am fairly new to listening to Polar Bear Club. I had heard people talk about them every now and then and always meant to check them out, but it wasn't until I saw “touring with Break Even and The Gifthorse” that I thought, hey, I better check this band out. After working up in Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays for the past month and a half, where no bands ever play, it was exciting that this was my first show of the year. Here is what Jimmy had to say:
So that was your first show in Australia, how'd you like it?
First show in Australia, first tour in Australia. We had no idea what to expect from tonight. With the internet these days, you get some snippets- “hey when are you guys going to come to Australia?”, twitterings etc. You get a vague idea, but you never know until you arrive. Tonight's show was incredible. It's a Wednesday night in Brisbane, I'd never even heard of Brisbane before the tour got announced.
So you guys are from somewhere in New York State, tell us about your hometown
Well I'm from Rochester and two of the other guys are from Syracuse. For most people they're just places six hours north from New York City.
So do any of you guys play footbag- (I asked this because Rochester has quite a strong Footbag scene)
No, we're not really sporty dudes. Well our drummer and guitarist, they play a bit of basketball. I love hockey, but I don't play it at all.
Before you came to Australia did you know of any Australian bands?
I knew about Break Even and The Gifthorse, once the tour was set up I did a little bit of research, but honestly before that, not really?
Do they count? They're like masters of the world. Ok, I knew AC/DC. Nate should do this interview, he loves ACDC. I was blown away when I heard both Break Even and The Gifthorse. When you find out you're touring with two random bands on the other side of the world, you never know what to expect. Sometimes you just hope for the best, and I think we got some of the best bands you could hope for.
The show was really sweet tonight.
It was great. It was diverse enough from band to band to band. Three bands, a perfect sized show. Great venue.
What are your expectations from the rest of the tour?
If every show was half as good as tonight, I would consider it a great success. It's such a mystery coming to Austalia. It's a place where bands come, but not so much. Although I think more bands are starting to come here now. Our friends have been out here a few times. The guys in Strike Anywhere. Every Time I Die were here last week. You don't know what to expect, and it's exciting to just explore, find out more for when we come next time.
You released the album “Chasing Hamburg” last year, what's the title all about?
Well it refers to the last song on the album, which has the same title. If you read the lyrics to that song, you might get your own ideas about what it means, why we might name the whole album after that. To me, that song drives home every other song on the album. For me, that song makes every other song better, it wraps things up.
It seemed really appropriate to name it that. It references a show we played in Hamburg, Germany, which was a really great night for us, and all the other bands we were touring with at the time. It's about that and a lot of other things.
So you guys have toured Europe a few times?
We've done England three times, Germany twice and some other mainland European dates once, but we're actually going back right after this tour. We have a week back home, then straight to Europe.
Would you say that you're “living the dream”?
Hahahaha. Yeah, I definitely am. Sometimes I have to remind myself. Anything you do day in, day out, sometimes it can feel like it's just a job. You know, some shows you just, they don't care, blah blah. You know that's what a lot of “Chasing Hamburg”is about. The album and the song itself. It's about reminding yourself that you're a very lucky person. You may lose sight of it at times, but you always come back to the love.
Do you think there'll be another Australian tour soon enough?
Well, today is the first day of this one, but we'd love to. Maybe we could come and play on Soundwave next year. We haven't talked about it at all, but that would be awesome. If the shows keep going like this one tonight, definitely, there's no way we couldn't.
You should play in Canberra on your next tour too.
It's the capital, a few hours from Sydney.
Oh! Well the routing on this tour is pretty weird. We play again in Brisbane, then we go to Newcastle and Sydney, that pretty normal. Then we fly to Perth and it seems like we switch between the middle and the east coast. It's kinda weird, but it should be fun.
Will you do any sightseeing while you're here?
Hopefully tomorrow we're going to the koala zoo here in Brisbane, that's what I've heard we're doing. Should be really cool. What's so great about this tour that we've never had before is that we're playing a bunch of cities twice. Brisbane twice, Sydney twice, so we get a chance to spend a whole day checking out places. We've never had that before- I went to Berlin last year, on my birthday, and we couldn't even see anything. So we're going to take advantage of this opportunity for sure.
Any plans for any new album, other recordings?
We're just getting to the point where we're thinking about doing a new one. We've given our brains a bit of break. After writing Chasing Hamburg, that's a lot of mental work. After that was done I had a week off from any of that sort of activity, but after that week, I was back writing songs. I really need to be writing songs. If I'm sitting around, and there's a guitar around, I could go on the internet, waste time, or I could pick up the guitar, start writing songs, or work on other songs. Nine times out of ten I'll take the guitar. Each of us has a slew of parts, ideas, that sort of thing. We've just had a fairly long break, two months off, so we started getting some ideas together.
So what sort of places are you staying in for the tour?
Mainly hostels, that's alright by me. This guy Graham lined everything up and our van driver is showing us the ropes. Judging by the one we're staying in tonight, things are pretty nice over here. In America and some parts of Europe you hear the word hostel and you cringe. Hostels are nice, they have, you know, a shower.
Anything else you want to add? Anyone you want to thank?
I just want to thank everyone who's here tonight. It totally surprised me. Thank you for letting me know what Australian punk is all about.
Thanks for the interview
Thank you, it was nice to meet you.
If you get the chance, go and see this tour. All three are great bands, lots of fun, lots of energy. I'm really weighing up if I want to see Jungle Fever tonight, or go for another round of Polar Bear Club, Break Even and The Gifthorse. Also, The Gifthorse are playing one more show after this tour, then it's all over. That's sad news.
Daniel is now living in Santiago de Chile. You can find some more writing at I Love Chile
Recent Issues of Capital Eyes zine:
Issue 12- Sticky's Target 168: Russia
Issue 11- Yoko Oh No, Elysian
Issue 10- Break Even, Alexisonfire (reprints)
Issue 9- Jerkstore, Ruiner, To The North
Issue 8- 4 Dead, Dangers
Issue 7- Polar Bear Club, Jungle Fever