Only a few hours before Polar hit the stage in Manchester Sound Control, Nick (Drummer) and Chris (Bassist) talk to us about their recent album ‘Shadowed by Vultures’, their UK and European tour and their future with ex Ghost of a Thousand guitarist Jag.
HTS: Before this UK tour you toured Europe. How did that crowd respond to you and your new album?
Nick: Europe was insane good. It was crazy that they were singing along. By the time we had done our first show the album had only been out there five days and they already knew all the lyrics.
Chris: For an opening band to have that much of a response and actually have some of the crowd actually there for us, it was great.
HTS: And you’re coming to the end of this UK tour now. What’s the response been like here? Has it been different to the response you had in Europe?
Nick: The thing with the UK is that it’s always tough. We’ve been discussing it with loads of people, we can’t really pin point it, we don’t really understand, it just seems unless you’re a super big deal, then kids aren’t gonna come out, no disrespect to the kids that have come out cause they’ve been f**king awesome man, every person that has come to our gig (which is a great feeling) has known the lyrics and is into the new record. Be it 30 people or be it tonight with 60/70 to 100 people, they’ve all been there to support us which is rad, but it’s tough, the UK is so saturated, there are a lot of bands, there are loads of great bands, loads of shit bands, loads of mediocre bands, if you’re in a big town there is lots of stuff going on, I mean, where do you go? It’s tough.
Chris: I think a lot of the UK’s music interest people have their mind made up for them. I think in places around Europe and stuff, if they like it they’ll fully be a fan but if it’s in a magazine, like on the front cover in the UK then people are going to like them. That’s how I feel it works a bit.
Nick: Yeah, it’s like they’re a bit suckered into it before they even get a chance to hate you or like you.
Chris: You don’t have to be around from the start to be the biggest fan of a band in the UK.
HTS: You’ve been announced for Download Festival this year, when do you start to think about what your sets going to be?
Nick: We’ve already started, last night we had a big sit down (I say last night, we got in from Glasgow at about 5am and decided to drink rum). But we basically started like pre-production for it, just simple things like making lists, getting everything ready, because we just want that day on our part to go as smoothly as we can have it go. Trying to think of every variable is a bit impossible but we’re trying. We’re gonna try and pull out a few things for that for sure.
Chris: We’ve got songs in mind obviously, which ones have like festival vibes.
Nick: Yeah, we have to kind of change the way we’ve been playing from like these club shows for a big festival. A lots going to go into that I think.
HTS: When you were writing your new album ‘Shadowed by Vultures’, did you think about the crowd? Or is it simply you write the songs and then think about that later?
Chris: I think with this album, we actually thought about connecting with the audience. There’s a lot of call and response parts and the choruses are kind of chantey. Like there is a big group of people and the lyrics kind of suggest that, with like ‘unite together’, there are a lot of messages with that so I think we thought about it a lot more.
Nick: We wanted to write a heavy record, but we weren’t afraid to veer into a shit tone of melody and a load of melodic chorus hooks. We just wanted a bit more; don’t want to say the word ‘bangerz’, just wanted to write some solid hits and some anthemic stuff. When we started it seemed to come out easily.
HTS: It has a completely different sound to your first album ‘Iron Lungs’. Is this the sound you’re more comfortable with as a band?
Nick: We didn’t really sit down and were like ‘right, let’s change our sound’ it just sort of happened naturally. We had a few ideas and stuff like that and when we started writing it just happened. We definitely worked more on vocals, we realised that on ‘Iron Lungs’, we love the record obviously but it was so f**king heavy and so fast and punk, the vocals are the part we should have worked at more, and we could have got a better record, nothing on ‘Woody’, his delivery was very raspy and aggressive and punk which is what we wanted but I reckon we could have put through a few more hooks for sure. This new album for me, I’m way more into it.
Chris: I wasn’t around when they were writing ‘Iron Lungs’ but when I was around for this album, and the guys said themselves it just seems like any part that was being written was being consulted by everyone. Once we were doing the lyrics, everyone was doing them rather than just the frontman, or if Nick was doing a fill, he would be like ‘what do you think of this?’ and then other people would put in their input. The album was actually written by everyone, there were no parts that someone just recorded it and was like ‘this is what’s happening.’ So if it came out different, then that is everyone’s input.
Nick: Yeah, it’s the sound of what everyone wanted I guess.
HTS: It was two years between the two albums. But you had the two EP releases, was that because you were itching to get back into the studio?
Nick: The EP ‘Inspire, Create, Destroy’ I wouldn’t say was us itching, it was quite a while and we had a bit of time, so as a band we started to write new material and we were excited about it, we all thought ‘these songs are really great’ and everyone could sort of see the way we were going when we released ‘Create’ as the first single and I think the album was a follow up from that. Maybe we were itching but I think we were just excited about the new material. But we were given such a great opportunity from Drop Dead Clothing so we were just like ‘let’s do it,’ so we did it pretty much.
Chris: I don’t think ‘Shadowed By Vultures’ was like an instant change that a lot of people do. The EP ‘Inspire, Create, Destroy’ there was already that kind of change, where we just slowed down, had loads of melody and was chantey.
HTS: Was it almost like testing the waters for ‘Shadowed by Vultrues’?
Nick: I hate to sound like that band but we’ve never been like massively like ‘we better do things for other people.’ We wrote it because we loved it, we didn’t sit there and go we better not do that cause it’s not cliché enough or no-one’s going to get it, we just wrote it, and it came out that way. I think in our own heads it was like, ‘look, this would be a great idea because it would sound great.’ I think everything was just in our own heads, and when ‘Create’ came out the reaction was just awesome. We were like ‘cool, that’s great, I guess we’re heading in the right direction.’ And ‘Shadowed by Vultures’ is just a more mature version of that, apart from ‘Create’ because we loved it so much we put it on the album and re-recorded it.
Nick: Basically, we just weren’t afraid to put anything in, like ‘if this part of the song sounds good with a tambourine then it’ll go on’, that’s what attitude we had towards it, it wasn’t like ‘people won’t think that’s very cool.’ Like track number four (Black Days) is a rock song, but we didn’t think ‘we’re a heavy band, we can’t do that’ we just went along with it, and enjoyed it. It still has the heavy vocals over the top but if someone is singing over it, then it’s a straight up rock song.
HTS: When you announced the UK tour you also announced ‘Jag’ from ‘Ghost of a Thousand’ as your new guitarist. How did that come about?
Chris: It’s kind of weird how that came about.
Nick: Yeah, we lost our guitarist two days before the Christmas party and we played a couple of shows, the first London one was with him, then we played without him, then went to the Christmas do, woke up really hanging and were like, ‘we better find out if we can get anyone to play in our band’.
Chris: We were really thinking about it cause it was getting us down. At the Christmas party everyone was asking ‘what’s happened?’ We were thinking about it, but when everyone started asking we really did start to think about it.
Nick: Jag was the first person we even entertained. There were a few names floating around then someone said ‘what about Jag?’ I had met him a few times and knew he was a producer in Brighton, and then one message, first thing he said was to send him the record, and then he got back and said ‘yeah, I enjoyed it, I miss it, I’m interested.’ And then rehearsals got booked and it went from there. And here he is. Basically, it was just one message, he missed it and how can you not? Look at how much fun we’re having.
HTS: Was the transition from Max to Jag easy?
Chris: To be honest, he turned up to rehearsals, we kind of just counted into a song and he pretty much played it straight away. Cause he does his recording job and stuff like that, he managed to pick out Max’s guitar and just listen to that only and pretty much learnt it fully before even getting to the studio. It was quite impressive. We ended the practice, day one; you’re playing the songs so that can’t be a bad thing.
Nick: It’s different for everyone cause Jag’s been playing with his brother on drums his whole life, who is an incredible drummer. And now he joins a new band with a new drummer, me, nowhere near as good! His old band was very punk; we’re a bit more to the metal/hardcore side of things. Everyone is sort of adjusting but it hasn’t taken long. When we did the tour we started playing the set, half way through it we had a sit and said it wasn’t going as smoothly, so we changed things and since then we’ve been playing the same set and it’s really worked.
Chris: We’ve got a full on plan now, before we had someone new, he had to get used to timings and how we are on stage kind of stuff, but now we have a choreographed set that everyone has put their input on and it works. We don’t have to think about it, when we go on stage we just have fun.
Nick: It’s a lot more flowing.
HTS: And Jag didn’t have anything to do with the writing of ‘Shadowed by Vultures’?
Nick: No, he wasn’t around then. If you check the album Max is totally credited, he wrote it with us.
HTS: Are you excited to start writing with Jag? Have you started writing any new material with him?
Nick: A few cheeky sound checks, but we haven’t really had a chance. We went into practice then straight on tour.
Chris: I’ve had a few sound checks with him and sort of joined in with him playing something he had obviously written before, just a mess about. But we have talked about it with people cause they have said ‘do you reckon since Jag’s in you’re going to sound like Ghost of a Thousand?’
Nick: It probably won’t. We don’t really know, we haven’t really asked him.
Chris: The style of guitar he’s used to be playing is very rock n’ roll, he’s had to adjust to a more chugging, riffs part that he’s not used to. I don’t know if he’ll be more open to writing riffs like that or just stick to what he’s done before. We don’t really know but it was the same going into ‘Shadowed by Vultures’.
Nick: Yeah, whatever we write, if we’re all standing around thinking ‘this is great’ then it’ll go on the record and see what everyone else thinks.
Chris: If we’re enjoying it then it’ll go out, but we can’t really determine what it’s going to be cause we don’t have a plan. It could be a full on rock record.
Nick: That’s in the future as well, this record is one of our biggest records we think and the response has been great so before any of that starts to happen we’ll be touring a hell of a lot more.
Polar will be playing Download Festival on the 15th June. And their album ‘Shadowed by Vultures’ is out now.