Interview – Polish Club

The duo chat UK release of their debut album, 2018 plans and more.

For those who came in late, Polish Club have been gate-crashing polite company since 2015, when drummer John-Henry and turbo-vocal/guitar frontman Novak acted on a hunch in a Sydney garage and wound up setting fire to every festival stage in Australia.

Ahead of their London shows last weekend, Aussie band Polish Club sat down with us to talk about Alright Already and how exactly they create the big sound they have.

For the record, how are you guys doing today? 

John: What about off the record?
David: Not bad.
John: He’s a little worried he’s got DVT.
(note: the very funny story about how David thought he had DVT from flying is off the record, so if you wanna know what happened, ask him next time you see him)
David: On the record, I’m great! *laughs*

How’s your time been in the UK so far? When did you get here?

David: We’ve landed at 7am yesterday.
John: We still have jetlag.
David: Long enough to have mentioned the weather about eight thousand times!

This is not normal!

David: No it’s not. It feels like a completely different city. It’s unbelievable. I was not prepared for this weather either. This is the first place we’ve been that has air condition.

Yeah, we don’t really do that over here.

John: It’s kind of rare that a venue has air condition, and this is the place that has air condition.
David: Well thank the lord! I don’t have DVT but I’d definitely pass out if there wasn’t air condition.

You guys are releasing your debut record Alright Already in the UK this week – how are you feeling about that?

Both: Just relieved.
David: We’ve had it for a while and we haven’t been able to release it overseas so it’s just nice. It’s like a breath of fresh air to me.
John: It’ll be nice when it’s actually out. It’s kind of depressing when it wasn’t.
David: It was just hard to explain to people. Like, yeah we have an album out but you can’t listen to it overseas but sit tight and it’ll be out tbc.
John: We actually played a gig in Perth and there’s heaps of English people in Perth. And there was two guys, like “Yeah we listen to your stuff but I didn’t recognize any of the stuff you just played.” because you can get our EP.
David: And there was one guy on Facebook for two years now, was like “Hey man, when the fuck is your album coming out?” *in a German accent*
John: Yeah, was he from Denmark or something?
David: I think he was German. He was actually getting shitty with us. I’m like I’m sorry man, it’s done… people really like it here, it’s gonna come out. I don’t know when. But now we know when, so that’s good.
David: It’s just a massive relieve. It’s annoying to sit on it, it was even annoying when we were in Australia just sitting on it. Because you know, you have to press vinyl that takes like three months, there was like six months between having it recorded and it being released. So extend that for overseas, so it was just super annoying. I guess the positive is, we’ve already recorded the single for the next one so there’ll be new music super soon after that. If you don’t like the first album, there’ll be another one pretty soon.
John: It might be more of the same crap it might not be more of the same crap, we haven’t figured that out yet.

I read that recorded part of it in LA – what made you decide to go there?

David: We TRIED to record part of it in LA.
John: We did but it was terrible.
David: It sounded like ass. So we fucked that off and recorded it in Sydney. We spent three weeks trying to do it in LA. We were just really new to the process.
John: The producer wasn’t right.
David: It just sounded like ass so we went back to Sydney and did it where we are most comfortable and with people that we know. And recorded twenty songs in eight days or something.

The album has a really big sound to it, and without sounding offensive, how do you make that happen as a duo?

John: You can dub bass in recording.
David: The rule that we put on ourselves is: don’t record anything that we can’t really do live. So we’d record bass for all the songs but it would literally what I would be playing on guitar. And live I’d split it. There is no point in recording it that way – might as well do it properly. But it still translates live because there’s nothing on the record that you’d miss when you see it live. There’s a couple of backing vocals but John’s learning how to sing, he’s got a microphone now. He’ll figure it out.
John: I’ve had a microphone for years now.
David: Yeah but you’re actually doing melodies. I’m trying to get him to enunciate – it’s a lot easier said than done. *laughs*
John: My mom was really shitty at my enunciation.
David trying to do a Polish accent: I can’t do a Polish accent.
John: She hasn’t got a Polish accent. She has an Australian accent.
David: Johnny, why don’t you sing properly *Italian accent*
John: That’s like Italian… That’s not even, that’d barely Italian.
David: My boy Johnny!
John: You’re making me so sad with your enunciation *laugh*
David: So that’s why the album sounds so big.
John: Something to do with Italian.
David: We just basically told our producer we want to sound as loud as possible.
John: That’s the thing though. It could be louder.
David: The new song’s louder.
John: Our new song is twice as loud.
David: I think we just kind of had that lo-fi, we wanted it to sound like us live in a room, just be kind of true to what it is.
John: It’s kind of hi-fi, well-recorded lo-fi.
David: We’ve played the set so many times now that we figured out how to make it sound quite loud live as well. Because in the early days, I didn’t really know what I was doing on the guitar and stuff. I had like two pedals and I just turned it up. But now it’s more of true to the recorded thing.

In Australia you’re playing quite big venues at this stage, what does it feel like to sort of go back to your roots and play more intimate venues?

David: It’s weird.
John: Back to our roots of no one giving a shit about us *laughs*
David: I’m all about the idea of trying to win over people.
John: It wasn’t really that long ago…
David: Every tour we’ve done in Australia the venues have doubled, but that’s only a recent thing because we’ve only had about three or four tours. Starts at a 200-cap venue then it’s 500 then it’s 1000. It kind of takes time. We’ve got to do the same thing over here. It’s all about converting the people you do walk through the door. I don’t really care how many people there are, it’s all about making them pay attention. It’s pretty easy walking into a room when you are confident that if you hang around and you like guitar-based music you’ll like our band by the end of this 30 minute set.
John: Or not.
David: And if not, fuck it. But you’ll know that after like 30 seconds.
John: We don’t want to waste anyone’s time. We’ve figured out that we’re more of a live band and now that we have our stuff out over here we just gotta keep going and not hope that it’ll work itself out.
David: You just gotta keep playing because it’s the most immediate thing. I think the songs cut through a lot more face to face. It was so frustrating to not have these songs. You can’t come over here if there’s nothing to listen to anyways. We’d come over here and be like “Look, we have an album out soon anyways, maybe.” It’s nice to come here and say “It’s all here, listen to it.”

For anyone who’s not seen you live before, how would you describe your live shows?

John: Two piece rock band who talk a lot of shit.
David: Too much smiling and too many swear words and a lot of sweat.

That sounds good!

David: Yeah, it’s very loud. That’s what a lot of people realise “Oh it’s really loud!”
John: Do people say that to all two-pieces? Is it always the same reaction all two-pieces get?
David: It feels like a cheat though, because even if people are not sure if they like it or not, they’re always like “how did you… you’re only two people…”
John: “…I hate your band, but it’s interesting how loud you were.”
David: The thing that allows us to play so loud is that I sing quite loud, my voice is quite loud. It allows everything to get up to that level but it#s a super simple concept. To describe it it’s two sweaty grossos playing rock’n’roll.
John: Grossos… *laughs*
David: … there’s not much to it. I’ve already said it, it’s only fun if we have fun because that’s what makes people enjoy it. It’s almost like we’re not doing it for anyone else, we’re only doing it because it’s enjoyable, so fuck it.

Speaking more about the album – it feels like a party record from start to finish. Did you have that in mind when you were writing it?

David: You had a lot on your mind.
John: Yeah I can’t remember now, it was so long ago. It was songs from when we started. I think it was a year in that we recorded the album from when we started so there’s songs from that time. One of the first couple of songs we ever wrote are on it, and there’s songs we wrote on the toilet in the studio. Half an hour before recording it.

Which one was that, I want to know!

David: We didn’t have a chorus for Come Party. And I had some me-time in the bathroom, and I just kicked the door and said “John! Fuck it!” Literally, I was just like “Have fun later, come party with me”.
John: And I was like that’s pretty lame, but our producer said nah people will like it.
David: The twist is come party with me even if it’s not gonna be fun.

The last song on the album is basically all instrumental with a, what’s that, an accordion?

John: Yeah, that’s my dad!

Tell me about that.

John: It’s a cover as well. It’s a cover of a cover actually which I figured out.
David: John’s dad used to, and still does sometimes, he plays in a cover band at the Polish Club.
John: It’s not a cover band
David: They play the standards though.
John: Don’t call it a cover band, he plays his own songs too.
David: Would he kill me?
John: He doesn’t understand what a cover is actually.
David: I’ve got fourteen thousand songs!
John: Yeah he keeps pushing his songs on us. Like, “You need songs?”
David: When are you writing second album?
David: It was John’s love letter to his dad, he wanted to do a song that reminded him of the time at the actual Polish Club in Ashford in Sydney where his dad would play old standards. And his own original material.

What else do guys have planned for 2018?

David: We’re going to Berlin after this and then we’re coming back to Europe for a German tour with some local cool German band called RAZZ.
John: And then we’ll probably do another London show.
David: And then we’ll go home and we are gearing up for our new album. By the time it’ll all sink up overseas, the first album will be out
John: If people overseas get our content storm that we always release.
David: But that’s the thing…
John: We’re actually a content band.
David: We had to do everything online for overseas that we did in Australia and it was a rushed process but it’ll be nice to immediately move on to the next one and hopefully come back and play some more shows.

Will you still be doing your own content for the next one?

David: Oh yeah.
John: We can’t afford anyone else to do it.
David: We don’t trust anyone else. we’re walking into the label and they tell us their ideas and we’re like “Yeah, BUT…real talk, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna hire the owner, the manager of the Polish Club to do infomercials for us”.
John: It’s a lot freer than your idea.
David: Yeah, it’s a lot cheaper.
David: People in Australia kind of grew to know us as people rather than a band, so when we play a show they just wanna hang out.