Interview: Polish Club – “The Gigs That Gave Us A Chance Aren’t There Anymore”

Although having seemingly only been around for a cup of coffee as a band, Sydney’s Polish Club have already made a big impact in Australia. Just one self-titled EP and a 7″ under their belts, the duo have quickly caught the public eye as makers of an unholy yet toe-tapping, infectious as all get-out racket.

Rock and roll the way it used to be, with old soul coursing through its veins and every riff boogie-inciting. Their live show is a sweaty barrel of fun so we were beyond excited to be seeing them in that environment again at Brisbane’s rock and roll showcase festival The Blurst Of Times over the weekend.

We got to sit down with 100% of Polish Club in frontman and guitarist Novak and drummer John for a chat just before they went wild onstage at The Brightside.

John and Novak of Polish Club! For the record here, how are you boys doing tonight?

Novak: Pretty good. We only just got here now so I’m going to get a burger and then we’ll feel 100% better. They have burgers here but I might have to go to Ben’s Burgers. Or I could try both, I don’t know.

John: Last time we were here we had two dinners in one night.

N: Yeah we went to Ben’s and then to Jamie’s Italian directly afterwards, it was fucked.

Ben’s was like your huge entree?

N: Just blame our producer, he was still hungry. I thought I’d oblige an American with a couple of burgers.

He’s a hard-working man I’m sure. Speaking of the last time you were here, I happened to be at The Brightside for your show and Polish Club just about tore the roof off.

N: *Looks up* It’s still there though. I mean, I don’t want to call you a liar…

I think they patched it up in the meantime before you guys came back.

N: They’ve done a bang-up job, I can’t tell.

For all that noise, what do Polish Club do to get ready for something like that?

J: Smoke a lot.

N: A cup of tea and a burger.

J: I have a muesli bar and a Gatorade… Our rider is beers, whiskey, bananas and a muesli bar. Just one muesli bar.

N: We got lucky once and somebody left a whole box of Carman’s muesli bars backstage. I think it was the Cold Chisel gig. I took them home and had muesli bars for days.

J: Last time we were here they actually gave us a bottle of whiskey.

N: Oh yeah, that was sick.

J: Usually they don’t give it to us.

N: I was everyone’s best friend that day.

Similar vibe here tonight?

N: Yeah, I love The Brightside!

You guys are playing for the first time at The Blurst Of Times tonight. Are you friends with a lot of the other bands on the bill, are you making any new ones?

J: I really like the Bad//Dreems guys.

N: Yeah we played with the Bad//Dreems guys at Vic On The Park in Sydney and they’re just dudes. They’re nice guys. I don’t know, John is a lot more proficient at making inter-band friends.

J: Ahhhh you’re alright.

N: I don’t know, I get tired and agitated really quickly. It’s like wrestling, you tag out and then someone takes over the pleasantries duty.

J: I used to know the Dune Rats guys when they were in other bands but I don’t know if they’d remember.

N: It’s my mission to make friends with Kirin J Callinan.

It’s our mission too!

J: I think it might be easier than you think.

N: Maybe I’ll just take off all my clothes later on.

I think he’s wearing a kilt tonight.

N: Excellent. I’m sure there’s nothing underneath that kilt.

J: Is it just a kilt or…?

I only saw him sitting down but it looked like a proper kilt to me.

N: I remember the days when he used to wear a wedding dress, that was great.

Novak how do you take care of that voice?

J: He doesn’t, he’s so bad man.

N: Fuck off! No, I have a warm-up that I try to do. I literally blow out my voice every set. I mean it’s not fit for screaming at the end of the day so it’s kind of damage control. Trying not to talk too much, which is hard in a situation like this. There’s no recipe for success, you just have to do it and not be a bitch about it.

I drink a lot of water. Get a lot of sleep. All the rock and roll staples. No socialising either *laughs*

Muesli bars and bananas as well.

J: That’s me. That’s so I don’t spew.

You guys just got back from Los Angeles a little while back, I understand you were over there working on your debut album.

N: Yeah we got started recording. It’s fucking crazy man, LA is a different ball game. It’s the real deal. It was fun. We’re going to go back in a couple of months and try to finish off the rest of it and it’s going to be great. Not sure what else to tell you about it. We ate a lot of burgers, I’ll tell you that much. A lot of double dinners happening there.

J: Literally every night.

N: It was never my idea but I never said no. There’s just so much to sample and it’s all delicious. So when in Rome…

J: Eat like a pig. Eat until you can’t shit.

N: Eat until you die! Just be like Elvis.

Bacon on top of everything.

N: Yeah man, just squirrel and peanut butter sandwiches, whatever.

J: Every time we get home at the end of the day we both just run for the toilet trying to get there first.

N: It’s like our church. We pay our respects.

You guys are in a fairly uncommon position as a two-piece band-

J: There’s lots of two-piece bands in Australia. Dune Rats-

They’re three now.

J: Oh, well there’s Hockey Dad, DZ Deathrays, The Mess Hall-

N: It’s not really a thing. Like, you see a three-piece, you see a four-piece, you see a solo artist and nobody goes ‘how do you do it, there’s only one of you onstage, what the fuck what made you try and do it all by yourself?’.

It’s circumstances. We’re a two-piece and we don’t have a fucking bass and it just worked. It wasn’t a conscious thing, just situational and fortunately it worked out and it’s loud enough so fuck it. I don’t need a third person, John I’m sure you don’t need a third person?

J: No, no I’m good.

N: That takes us from getting a twin single in a hotel and two plane tickets to two hotel rooms and possibly having to go to hostels and then getting a tour van. A fucking tour van, nobody wants that shit. I’ll take Uber and a hotel any day.

And there’s more money for burgers then.

N: Exactly. That’s our third member. Dead animals.

J: I feel like I’m carrying a third member sometimes.

You guys seem like great friends. You mentioned your circumstances in ending up a two-piece just before, how did this all come about?

N: We’re just the best of mates *laughs* I don’t know, we’ve known each other for ten years now.

J: We were in another band.

N: Yeah we were in a four-piece for a while but it wasn’t a real serious band, we were kind of just fucking around. So we just decided to try our own thing one day and it worked. I don’t know. I never really think about how and why, we were just pragmatic about it and it seemed to work and so we just ran with it.

J: We were just on the same page and the other two guys kind of weren’t.

N: Yeah, it’s like one guy wants to be Radiohead or Aphex Twin, the other guy is obsessed with Caribou.

J: We both liked our ideas and the other two guys didn’t like our ideas, so here we are.

Beautiful. Now as a Sydney band Polish Club has been incredibly vocal about your city’s lockout laws-

N: *laughs*

J: Once you get him started… Even in America he was talking about it.

N: Well the funny thing is, I can’t tell you the last time I was out past 1:30 in the morning.

J: Even in Adelaide you were like ‘I’m going home, see ya’.

*A fan hands John a t-shirt and talks to him on the side for a bit*

N: Yeah, I went home first! I don’t know, if people ask me about it I’m going to tell them the answer. If people get sent home but the casinos can stay open for as long as they like even though people are getting bashed by security guards there then something’s not right and if bars that have pokies out the back get exempt from lockout laws then it’s obviously bullshit.

So even though I don’t really partake in partying too late nowadays and I haven’t felt the effects of lockout laws myself, it would be nice to-

J: *Checking back in* Oh he’s still talking about it?

N: It would just be nice to have our friends and people who work at bars that depend on being able to be open late at night to have parties and have bands and DJs on.

J: Who are your friends that work at bars?

N: *Lists some names* Wait, maybe don’t put their actual names in this…

J: Those aren’t even real names!

N: No you know, Good God’s not really Good God anymore and fucking Spectrum at The Exchange. I mean even though it was a bit of a shithole before the lockouts…

J: I thought it closed before the lockouts. Shit, I don’t want to be seen as the pro lockouts guy.

We’re going to definitely paint it that way when we publish this.

J: Keep Sydney Closed! Keep Sydney Closed!

N: MUM’s not MUM anymore. All the shitty gigs that we played that gave us a chance to have a gig when we didn’t really have a reputation or if we were in another shitty band; those aren’t there anymore.

J: We only started when the lockouts came in though and that was our first gig.

N: They paid us $300! Nobody else would pay us $300! That’s very selfish thinking John! No look; I know that nobody’s dying and that there are much bigger issues out there, it’s just blatant-

J: I think you’re more pissed off about the casino, just leave it at that.

N: It’s bullshit. Barry O’Farrell can go fuck himself.

In our opinion, it’s definitely bullshit.

N: It is bullshit. I mean, I’m not writing songs about it or crying about it but if someone asks me-

J: You did write a song about it?

N: Yeah but we don’t play it though *laughs*

Looking forward for you guys, what can we expect in the next year or so to come?

N: Oh just heaps of our bars closing down *laughs* no, we hope to eventually release this album.

J: Maybe early next year.

N: Probably. Whenever it’s ready. I mean, that’s all we’re really thinking about at the moment is making a good album. You only get to make one first album and the opportunity that we have doing it in LA is so stupid that it would be ridiculous to even think about anything else right now. So hopefully this time next year we’ll be doing our own shows and have a couple of singles from the new album

Thank you both very much for having this chat with us, we’re looking forward to seeing you onstage in just a bit!

N: Thank you for having us, it was a pleasure.

Check out our review of Polish Club’s EP here.

Image: Triple J