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Polar Bear Club Interview
05/16/10 at 11:34 PM by Keagan Ilvonen
Recently you played Bamboozle, how was that?

It was awesome, it was last weekend and we played at like 2:30ish I think. It was really perfect because it was such a hot day and if we had played at 7 or 6, I donít think anyone would have watched us because they would have been so tired and hot. So I like that middle slot on bigger festivals like that. A band like us, we play a festival like that to get peoples attention. There are people there to see us for sure but most people are there to just check us out. We are there for exposure, I mean there are a core kids who are like "yeah I know Polar Bear Club", but mainly itís for exposure. So that middle slot, people arenít too tired and theyíre patient and open minded and not too grumpy, thatís perfect for us.

I noticed on your myspace that you have an upcoming tour with Moving Mountains, how does that feel for you to be on tour with a band that makes drastically different music than you? And how do the fans react to it?

You know I think weíve done it so much now that theyíre use to it. The only tour that we ever did that made a lot of sense was when we toured Europe with Title Fight and Shook Ones. I mean the bands are still different, but it makes the most sense. Theyíre still in the same ballpark. Normally we play with way different ballparks, like Have Heart and The Gaslight Anthem and everywhere in between. But that tour with Moving Mountains is going to be cool. Itís with Living with Lions and Lemuria and itís different enough but similar enough too so itís not the wildest.

Usually your fans have a broader sense of music then most hardcore kids...

And we like to promote that too. I think itís interesting to see how different bands are similar, then to see all the same bands if that makes any sense. What are the similarities between us and Trapped Under Ice, Four Year Strong and Every Time I Die? Are there any? And how do they fit together? How do you feel going into one into another and another.

Yeah itís nice to get a change of scenery at a show, like when you go to the typical pop punk show and thatís all you get.

Yeah I donít want to see a show where itís all the same thing. Itís like highlighting everything on a page, because then youíve highlighted nothing.

Youíre also playing Warped Tour coming up, are you excited for that?

Yeah, thatís sort of that point of that Moving Mountains tour. I think itís going to be awesome but we have to get to San Diego where Warped Tour starts. Weíre all really excited about it though. Weíre only doing the first month and everyone has been telling us about all this stuff we need to get ready for and all these horror stories and whatnot. But I think weíre mentally ready for it so it wonít be as bad as bands going into it blind and having to experience how hard it is and the schedule. Also there are so many friends on it that even if the shows suck weíre still going to be having fun.

Yeah, itís definitely hard work being out in the sun all day

Yeah, itís going to be worth it but I canít imagine it not being worth it. Youíre outside in the nice weather most days and itís just going to be fun getting to hang out with awesome people all day.

Like you said earlier before the interview, you have been on tour for awhile, how has that effected you? I know you guys have had a non-stop tour schedule up until recently.

Yeah these past two months that weíve had one offs has really only been the off time in awhile. We did Australia then right into Europe and then right into The U.S. about a month each. Itís hard, at times but weíre adjusted to this rollercoaster as clichť as that sounds. But you can definitely have your days where youíre like ďGet me the fuck home!Ē But then when youíre at home youíre like ďGet me the fuck on tour!Ē So you never really win. The best time to be on tour are the first couple days and the best time to be home are the first couple days. If there is too much of either youíre jonsing for the other.

Who have you gotten closest with being on tour? Being with such mixed bands like The Gaslight Anthem and Moving Mountains, which bands have you gotten really close with or consider good friends? Or who do you like to tour with?

When we think of really close band friends we think of Broadway Calls and now even Four Year Strong. They are just some of our best friends in the whole world, oh!, and Set Your Goals and Fireworks. But seriously they are some of our best friends in the world. We get along with everybody, if we do one tour with them we pretty much consider them our best friends. If we have toured with them twice, theyíre like brothers. I think itís safe to say that if weíve toured with them we are pretty good friends. We have never toured with a band where we didnít mesh.

The living Saints video just came out and lots of people really liked it for being different. How was shooting that and how did that all come about?

It was harder for me then for the other guys because itís mainly me. I think we shot three days total. The first day was me and the band and then I went back for two more days by myself. The guy that directed it, Tom Colella is just an old friend of our drummer Emmett. They actually went to high school together. Weíve stayed with him so many times just going through New York City. We knew he did film stuff and he really wanted to get his name out there. So he was like you guys are sorta getting some steam behind you you know, Iíve been thinking about this video, it would be sweet if we could do it together and just help out each other. So he fronted a lot of the money himself and we just blasted it out and honestly I like the video. I love it but with the way that people are I thought a lot more people would of hated it then did you know? Because thatís the way that the internet works. There are a lot of haters out there especially for Polar Bear Club.

Yeah like the kids on AP.net, there are definitely a lot of haters.

Exactly AP, Punknews and Bridge 9, all that stuff and those kids kinda didnít say anything. I was blown away. I normally donít pay attention to that stuff, but when the video came out I wanna see what everyone has to say about this, even the kids who are going to fucking hate it. But those kids were surprisingly quiet, I mean of course there were some here and there but nowhere what I thought there would be.

Yeah, I mean I think most kids on AP generally liked it and thought it was something new.

Yeah, I was really surprised by that, I believe that. I think itís cool and awesome, but I didnít expect as many people to think the way as they did.

I didnít expect it to turn out the way it did at all. When I saw it I was like ďwhoa how much money did they drop on thisĒ because there are some pretty crazy effects that you guys used in that.

There are, and the dude definitely dropped a lot of money and he also pulled some favors too. But he was like you know, Iím losing my ass on this video but I know if we do it 100% itís going to help me and itís going to help you guys as well. We were stoked on it and we were glad that we could do a video that was different.

It definitely stands out from all the other videos out there.

You know most band videos at our level you mostly get the same thing, and some are really good and some are so-so. But some bands are either trying to be funny or something

Like Four Year Strong videos.

Yeah, but those are fun, I like those.

Yeah me too but thatís how they play it off, theyíre fun guys so they can get away doing something like that. Like if you guys tried to do a funny video people would be like "Why are these kids doing this?"

(haha) Yeah, Iím just proud of it. Iím glad we got to do something different and people actually responded to it.

You have released two full lengths in the past two years, is there going to be another this year or do you plan on just touring for now and releasing something next year?

I donít think that it will be out in 2010. Definitely not, because I think we have losely been talking that we want to get into the studio in the winter.

Yeah, just ride out Chasing Hamburg for now?

Not even just Chasing Hamburg, I mean Sometimes Things Just Disappear had been out for awhile but it didnít really get a good push untilÖ

It was what like 6 months before Chasing Hamburg came out

Yeah, so I think we have a little bit more of a leg to stand on with the combination of the both. Weíre going to try ride that out as much as we can, tour our asses off and maybe build up some anticipation for the next one and hope to record in the winter and hopefully have a spring 2011 release maybe. But as soon as we start working on it thatís probably all going to change, and be like no we need to do it later or earlier, but thatís the general outline for now.

At least you have the freedom to do that with Bridge 9, they are pretty loose with that.

Yeah they are, they arenít really egging us on too much to get going on the next one. We have been writing a little bit here and there but weíre going to buckle down in the late summer and in September and do a lot of serious, serious writing and hope to be in the studio this winter.

Speaking of releases, what releases have you been listening to lately or what are you looking forward to? I know The Gaslight Anthem leaked about what, three weeks ago, and itís really good.

Yeah, I have been listening to that a lot, it is really good. Itís that perfect difference. Itís just different enough, those are the songs I like the most. The ones that are a bit more different than The 59 Sound, like the second song, I canít remember what itís called.

Then thereís like "The Diamond Church Street Choir" which kind of has that poppy sound to it.

Yeah, and "Old Haunts", I like that song a lot. So that and the new Against Me! I really like. I just got the new Cancer Bats album and thatís just so awesome. Liamís voice on that album sounds incredible, itís like unstoppable. The guitar player of Shook Ones has a band called Black Breathe that just released a new album. I havenít heard the new one but the old one is called Razor to Oblivion and itís kind of like fast dirty metal hardcore, itís good. Balance and Composure and Tigers Jaw, oh and the new Casualties is really, really good. Oh and Menzingers too. Thereís good releases coming out now and have come out recently.

It just sucks that half of those leaked months early like Gaslight doesnít come out until June.

Yeah same with Against Me! Too yeah.

Have you heard of PlayMPE? Itís a music site that labels are using now to stream their music.

Yeah, I think thatís what Bridge 9 is using.

There was a kid that hacked into it and released a bunch of stuff, so thatís where a lot of this came from.

Thatís such bullshit, itís such a weird thing though. Itís such a grey area almost, because itís downloading and leaks. People ask a lot in interviews, ďWhat do you think about illegal downloading?Ē Well I would be a hypocrite if I said I was against it. You know, but Iím also in a band.

Yeah, the illegal downloads hurt you but at the same time...

Yeah, at the same time Major labels spent a lot of years hurting people with their CD prices and there arenít really that many indie record stores anymore. I think something needs to change and we need to figure out a way to make music buyable again, but I donít foresee that happening, you know?

Yeah, Record Store Day showed that you can make a change, this year had huge sales and a big increase from last year too.

Thereís definitely a core, thatís why early leaks donít really bother me because the way it is now. If someones going to buy your album, they are going to buy it. They know they are going to buy it because itís a principle now. Itís not like the only way to get music, so if people by principle are going to buy your album, they are going to buy it regardless. So anyone who is going to illegally download it would do it on the release date and now they are just doing it months earlier, which probably works out better for your band with the way the climate is now.

Yeah, so they can hear it early and if they like it they can go buy it and if they donít, they werenít going to buy it in the first place.

Yeah, but you know it sucks in the term for smaller record labels and people who put all these plans into marketing and press but I donít see it stopping any time soon.

Have you ever considered recording your cover of "American Hearts" or an EP/LP of covers?

No I donít think we have ever talked about that, although we just saw Piebald at Bamboozle.

How was that by the way?

I actually didnít get to see them but the other guys did. And said it was amazing. I had to leave early but they said it was awesome and everyone was freaking out. It seems like most of the bands we cover are getting back together like The Get Up Kids and Piebald (haha). Cover albums are cool but I personally donít buy them.

Yeah, just keep it to the live show

Yeah, itís sort of like a special thing thatís like youíre here now youíre in this moment, hereís this little thing that will never be anywhere else but here tonightÖ.and the show tomorrow night but youíre not going to be there (hahaha). No, we never really put much thought into doing a cover album. I think we would participate in a tribute compilation or something like that, but those are kind of different.

Definitely not the Punk GoesÖ Series, those are terrible

Yeah definitely, I mean if they were like listenÖ

Weíll throw this at you...

(hahaha) Yeah, you know Iíd have to hear them out for sure. And if they were like we want you to do this song and it was a really good song, weíd think about it. But generally we steer clear of that type of thing.

I mean A Loss For Words is going to release their Mo-Town album, have you heard that yet?

Iíve heard the songs that are online, Maddi is here actually I was talking to him for a bit, He is such a good singer, his voice is awesome. Which is why I back them doing that because he they can back that up really well and actually pull it off, yeah good band for sure.

Being one of the bigger bands out of Rochester, what are your thoughts on the music scene there?

You know, Iím a little bit disconnected from it which is sad to say which is what I grew up doing. But itís changed for sure, because when I started going to hardcore shows I was maybe 16. My hardcore years were probably 16-22 in Rochester and we have a big technology school there, Rochester Institute of Technology. And a lot of kids from bigger cities would come there because it was a good school and it was cheaper than their school in their hometown of Boston or New York. So that was a big carrier of bands of music, that was a huge part of the scene, was the kids at RIT. The kids that came from Boston and New York that were like ďletís check out this bandĒ and then it snowballed and then that band would come to Rochester. I donít know if itís so much like that any more, I mean there are definitely good bands from Rochester right now, Such Gold, Like WolvesÖ

Sakes Alive?

Sakes Alive for sure and some others up and coming that havenít put anything out yet but you will hear of soon. Syracuse as well, we sort of think of the scenes as one because we all were intermingled and went to each others shows and whatnot. Itís definitely different, thereís not as many shows there I donít think but I think itís coming back in a way, its just sad that Iím gone all the time so Iím not really a part of that resurgence. I donít even live in Rochester anymore, I live outside New York City. But itís all peaks and troughs, you know? It was up, up, up for awhile and it was down for awhile and soon it will be up, up, up again and then it will go back down. Itís weird to see how scenes change, Syracuse was a way different scene a couple years ago. It was violent and famous for that. But now itís super positive and fun, with bands like Another Breathe and Forfeit, awesome, awesome bands. Sorry Iím rambling but I think about this a lot.

No worries, keep going

When youíre younger and going to shows you donít think about the temporariness of it. You donít think that it wonít be there and thatís a part of being young, you think itís forever.

Like The Receiving End of SirensÖ

Yeah (haha) and then when it starts changing and maybe even dying out to some people it seems strange. But weíre not going to stop doing Polar Bear Club. I donít know if that made sense or not (haha) but weíre not going to stop playing Rochester and Syracuse.

Do you think that you have influenced bands like Such Gold, Sakes Alive and Like Wolves out of Rochester? And do you think you have helped gain recognition for them because you guys are kind of like the bigger dogs out of Rochester?

I donít know, itís hard for me to say. If you ask them they might say something different. I can say that I would hope that they would view or name, not that weíre a huge big success band but, weíre a bit of a bigger band out of Rochester. I would hope that they would view that in a positive light and not hate on that. And I donít think those bands that you named do at all because I know those guys. Whether or not we influenced them directly or what they think of it I canít say but I hope they view it as a good thing.

What made you guys want to do Polar Bear Club full time?

I think it was combination of things, we kind of have a big age range in our band. Iím 25, our drummer is 30 and our bass player is 22 and everyone else is kind of in between. So I think it was that, ďWeíre getting olderĒ and the window was sort of there to go full time. We sort of had this now or never mentality about it. That was definitely a part of it you know, itís here now if we donít do it weíll regret it letís just do it. And I think also, we had reached everything we could do at a part time level. Thatís something that people in bands not a lot of people talk about or are comfortable is their ambitions. Thatís sort of a fopaux in talking about music. I have ambitions to play in front of a lot people, I think thereís nothing wrong about that. But a lot of people have that idea about ďkeep it punk, keep it smallĒ. So bandís donít really talk about it. But that ambition thing was there for sure. We had capped at a weekend show level, and we were like letís see where we can go and how far we can go as a full time band. So curiosity and ambition, I think were going hand in hand there. Itís definitely had itís ups and downs for sure. But I donít foresee us stopping any time soon. I think weíre all still ďWe can go more places with thisĒ I hope.

You definitely have a sound that is genre bending, so you have the pop punk kids and the hardcore kids.

We do have a fair amount of crossover which probably does help us out on those weird tours.

Is there anything else we should look forward to or what to expect form the band?

I wish could say what the new songs might sound like but we only have a few parts here and there and one song completed. I noticed on Chasing Hamburg I went back and looked back at interviews and stuff I said early on didnít even make sense once the album was out. It all changes.

Itís all relative to the time

Yeah, so just keep your ears open.
Tags: Polar Bear Club, Interview
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Artist of The Week: September 8th, 2009
09/09/09 at 08:32 AM by Keagan Ilvonen
Polar Bear Club

I'm not really sure what there is to say about Polar Bear Club. They are heavy, catchy, and gritty all at the same time. While most artists that try and pull this off come across as annoying and tiring PBC is the exact opposite. They are a refreshing taste of music that hasn't been around since Hot Water Music called it quits. Chasing Hamburg follows in the footsteps of their debut album and goes off on a few insane tangents as well. I have only got to spin the album a few times but it's definitely worth your time. Don't look past this band.

Additional LinksMyspace - AP.Net Profile - Bridge 9 Profile - Merch - Amazon - iTunes

Tags: Artist of the week, Polar Bear Club, Chasing Hamburg
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