Interview: Polish Club – “It’s nice to get that monkey off our back and release an album”

They’re one of the loudest, rawest and most exciting new bands in the country and Sydney’s Polish Club are out to make one hell of a first impression with their debut album Alright Already landing tomorrow. If you’ve never heard them before, it’s like they’ve taken the DeLorean back to 1955 and dragged rock and roll kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

We spoke to all round great bloke frontman Novak, who’s gearing up for the LP’s release as well as a mammoth national tour to support it.

Good to talk to you again Novak. We last spoke to you around this time last year at The Blurst Of Times festival here in Brisbane, how have the last 12 months been for you and for Polish Club?

Pretty good man! We’ve just been gigging a lot and we finally got of our asses and finished our album, it’s super exciting.

That album is Alright Already, any nerves around releasing your very first album?

No not really. Relief really is all I’m feeling because it’s been a bit of a long slog and Jon (drums) and I don’t like to ponder things too long and it’s just nice to get that monkey off our back and release 14 songs, the majority of which people haven’t heard before. I’m just super excited to see people’s reactions.

The first two singles you’ve definitely had a very positive reaction to, that’s Beat Up and Come Party that are banging songs and have both been incredibly well-received. What else can we expect from your debut?

We’re trying to showcase both sides of Polish Club, which we haven’t really done with our singles thus far. There’s probably a few more slower, more emotional songs on the album than people would expect. I think anyone who’s seen us live has seen that side but recorded maybe not so I think it’s a nice summation of where we are as a band right now and hopefully people will be somewhat surprised by what comes out and I hope they’ll like it.

Did you find there was much pressure going into recording this album as your first to make a solid first debut or did you feel like it was a clean slate to work on?

You always want to do it right because you only ever get one chance to make a first album. Jon and I were just so stoked that we even got to this point that nerves were never really much of an issue and any pressure that we had would be from ourselves. I think because we’ve played so many shows that we’re really confident with what we’re doing and the music that we’re writing and how best to represent that in recorded form.

It just feels like a good representation of where we are now and it’s been surprisingly easy to come to the decision of what that should be and we’re super happy with the result.

When we spoke to you last you had started recording this album over in Los Angeles to start recording this album, where did you finish the recording process?

We actually ended up recording it in Leichhardt here in Sydney. I think the whole LA experience was super valuable for us because it was so early on in the game where Jon and I didn’t really know how we best work together and what atmosphere we recorded best in. So we came back home and listened to what we had and it wasn’t bad by any means but it just wasn’t representative of us. We went in to do some demos in Sydney and they sounded almost good enough to release, so we thought, why don’t we just do it here in Sydney and see how that sounds and it came up amazingly.

We did the entire album just around the corner from where I am now with Wade from Wolf And Cub and it just sounds awesome and immediate and like we were just playing it in a room so we’re super happy.

Speaking of immediacy, I read that you guys like to keep it fairly true to what we’re going to hear when you play those songs onstage. Does that create any difficulties when you’re writing and putting together songs and reconciling what you want to do with what you actually can do onstage as a two-piece?

Not at all. The whole band came about as a result of no restrictions. We just locked ourselves in a room with one guitar and drums and just vocals and nothing really has changed. We fill in the gaps where we need to but my general rule is that I’m never gonna add anything in the studio that people are going to be missing live. You don’t want people to show up and go “hey, where’s that riff?” or that line or melody that was on that recorded track.

It’s very much a conscious thing and also a really comfortable thing when we go into the studio to do it as close to live as possible because that’s A. how we write the songs and B. how we play it live and hopefully we can stay true to that.

Have you road tested any of the new songs and if you have what’s been the response so far?

Yeah we’ve actually played a few of them for a while now because our set is a mish-mash of old and brand new songs that we’ve been playing on the road for the past few months. *Laughs* There was actually one guy who came up to me after a show and was like “Hey mate. First of all, when’s your album coming out? And second of all, you better fucking tell me If It Was Me is on there” and I was just like “yeah man that’s fine don’t worry about it”. It was kind of threatening, which is worrying *laughs*

You’re heading out again to see your hopefully non-threatening fans on a national tour around Australia. I last saw you play here for BIGSOUND last year and you guys must have played probably the most euphoric cover of Powderfinger’s Baby I Got You On My Mind in history-

*Laughs* Jon’s got this obsession with playing local songs at every gig we go to but we’ve only really managed to do it in Melbourne and Brisbane. We played Baby I Got You On My Mind at a show with Northeast Party House and it was actually a show at The Triffid, which is hilarious because it’s owned by the bassist from Powderfinger and we were playing it during soundcheck and the sound guy was like “hey man, just an FYI but the owner has banned people from playing Powderfinger covers here” and we were like, yeah cool cool.

We played it anyway and the crowd fucking loved it. Those people in Brisbane love them some fuckin’ Powderfinger.

Hopefully you continue with that trend of local covers. If we’re on the subject I’d put my vote in for a Savage Garden cover in Brisbane, your forebears as a duo, you gave them a shout out the other day I saw.

The best two-piece band in Australian history, yeah. I think it’s only a matter of time before we do Truly Madly Deeply, I think we’re just trying to figure out the instrumentation for it.

Would definitely reflect that other side to Polish Club you mentioned.


Talking of your live shows, I don’t think I’ve ever been to one that didn’t just devolve into an all out dance party. Have you guys ever played a show where the crowd just hasn’t responded at all?

Yes, we have. We played a show in Ballarat *laughs* where we were the support band. There were quite a few people there but we weren’t really supporting a rock band and people weren’t super into it, but I don’t mind that, I actually quite enjoy the struggle of trying to win over a band and trying to convince them that I’m worth their time. My issue with that show though was that they were just so despondent that I couldn’t even provoke a negative reaction from them. I started dropping insults and just trying to gauge the crowd and make something happen but I got nothing.

I’m a big fan of hard crowds where they’re just aggressive but when they just give you nothing like that it’s a bit of a struggle. Fortunately it hasn’t happened too often but I definitely look forward to the next challenge when it does happen.

Going toe-to-toe with Ballarat again.

Amen! I’m starting a war with Ballarat, how ’bout that?

Your move, Ballarat. When we last spoke to you, you in particular were quite vocal on Sydney’s lockout laws. I noticed you had some things to say the other day on Sydney’s iconic Newtown Social Club closing down. As someone not from that area, can you tell me if the situation has improved at all or is it just getting worse?

No. No improvement whatsoever. We were hoping with the new Premier that there might be some sort of review of the lockout laws but one of the first things Gladys said when she took over was that she was pretty happy with where the lockout laws are. What we’re seeing with the closure of Newtown Social Club is that things are only going to get worse.

We sold out Newtown Social a couple of months ago and they have a long history of selling out amazing shows with amazing artists, a lot of whom are Australian, and I’m just absolutely baffled that this venue, which I think has the best sound in Sydney and sells out all these shows, is struggling to keep itself alive. It’s definitely a reflection of the community’s feelings towards live music. I don’t think it’s popular at all here and if it is then usually it’s more of a club thing.

I don’t see it getting better and I don’t have any answers to it but I think it’s something that should be on people’s radars and if you feel that there’s something that needs to be done, there’s more you can do than simply post a status on Facebook.

It’s hard when you feel like the whole city’s against you.

Polish Club have just celebrated two years of making music together. Do you have any idea what you might be doing if the whole rock and roll thing hadn’t taken off?

I would probably have a lot more money and a steady job. Jon would be a lot less stressed because he still has a day job and a lot of other spinning plates. We’d probably be much more balanced individuals but we wouldn’t be having nearly as much fun *laughs*. We’re very thankful that we’re still in a band. The only aim has ever been to sustain it and that’s still our only aim. To be there in five years’ time to be able to say ‘I’m in a band and that’s all I do’ and we’re still working towards that.

Fingers crossed for you guys, what about shorter-term goals for the rest of the year beyond surviving this national tour?

We just wanna keep releasing music. I think as soon as this album’s out we’re going to be looking towards the next stage. We want to be productive. We don’t want to rest on what we’ve released, we want to have some kind of constant output if we can. We’re not gonna be fuckin’ King Gizzard and release a million albums in five days but I know Jon’s already thinking of the next thing we can do so something will come up soon I’m sure.

Alright Already is out Friday, March 31.

Alright Already Tour Dates:

Fri 5 May – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Sat 6 May – Narara Festival, Kariong
Thu 11 May – Small Ballroom, Newcastle
Fri 12 May – Rad Bar, Wollongong
Sat 13 May – Republic Bar, Hobart
Fri 19 May – Rocket Bar, Adelaide
Sat 20 May – Amplifier, Perth
Thu 25 May –  The Foundry, Brisbane
Fri 26 May – Elsewhere, Gold Coast
Sat 27 May – Big Pineapple Festival, Woombye
Thu 1 Jun – The Transit Bar, Canberra
Fri 2 Jun – Workers Club, Geelong
Sat 3 Jun – The Corner, Melbourne

Image: Music Feeds