Dear Chester, I only realised a few days ago that it’s nearly been a year …
Few bands have shaken off the shackles of the ‘local band’ label quite like Polaris.
The metalcore outfit began rattling the cage early on in their career releasing two EP’s. The most recent being 2016’s The Guilt And The Grief. Polaris would go on to achieve more than most bands without a debut album, just in time to announce their debut album. The Mortal Coil, released on November 3rd is set to catapult Polaris, into the stratosphere. Following the release, the band will be touring in support of the album both in Australia and in Europe. But before they head off, we spoke with vocalist, Jamie Hails, about the band’s whirlwind ride so far.
So I guess it’s really all happening for you guys. I’m sure that when you announced the album release in November it probably felt like November was ages away, but now it’s really only a matter of days away. So I mean how’s it feeling? This must be crazy?
We’re very excited, very nervous, and very stressed. Like we’re all in the same boat. We’re all over the place like you know? Like we know we made the album announcement and then it was like, okay cool we’re focusing on like our headline run, like The Remedy Tour. We’ve got the European tour, like directly after that we’ve got to focus on that too, then realising, damn like the album is coming out so fast. At the moment I’ve got like a tour bag packed for the rest of this tour, I’ve got my Europe stuff packed as well, like half packed I should say… It’s pretty hectic in the Polaris camp at the moment.
Well, the band life man, sometimes I feel as though I picked the wrong side of the fence in this dynamic, but it does sound a little bit stressful.
‘A little bit’ is probably a bit of an understatement. Its been very stressful, but its great at the same time.
So, I mean, I’ve got to know, you guys clearly you were probably very well aware of how many eyes were on you when you started the debut process, because you guys picked up so many ears with the EP, and arguably did so many things that most bands don’t do until after the debut album. So it would be interesting to know, you know, what was it like writing debut full length, with essentially, like you know really the world kind of watching and waiting. Do you think that added any pressure to it?
100% like when we started releasing The Guilt And The Grief, our previous EP, I guess we were in the very same boat that we are in now, we were very nervous, very worried – are people going to like this? Because it was a very massive step in a direction that you know, was different to what our dichotomy was and then we dropped that, and ever since then like every show every tour, everything we release or announce the response has just been like bigger and better every time the shows, the crowds are bigger, and the crowds got better.
And people are just so receptive to what we’re doing. The response from our latest to two new singles, Consume and The Remedy have been absolutely unbelievable. It’s so positive people like … It’s just like crazy, like as you said like so many more people watching us, and like you know are so eager to hear what we do next. Like The Guilt And The Grief pretty much did what an album would have done for a band, like if that makes sense. Like you know those six songs really kind of like, in the way that it was received, has just done so much for us it’s actually crazy and like as you just said like we’ve got a lot more people than we ever did anticipated, for us to be doing new things and then as soon as we announced the album, it was just like a bomb!
I’ll tell you what, we’re pretty sick of hearing the album already, but I can’t wait to be here again and again …
So tell me, how you found the album process, because you’ve had that experience with EP’s and telling a story through a much shorter medium. What was it like when you guys kind of sat down, and I guess in the war room talks to chat about the album, and throughout the early stages of writing and you know all the kind of, I guess admin even things about it. Were you at all surprised by just how different the debut album process was to the EP process? Or were you guys really well prepared?
It’s a very, very different kind of approach like you know, like having to write as far as a whole album, you know. You got like, 10, 11, 12, 13 kind of songs, and it’s pretty daunting. You know trying to keep it interesting throughout the whole thing and like you know trying to make sure that everything sounds the same, you have got like five songs that pretty much do the exact same thing.
In terms of like the actual writing process, like you know it’s usually like all five of us or you know a bunch of us at any given point, like pointing around a guitar just playing out riffs until something sticks, we build structural ideas around and motifs to like accentuate that and like base the song around it. One of our songs on the album Lucid, there’s like a big heavy riff in the middle of the song that actually was written on a different track, that never made it onto the album we disliked it.
It wasn’t really what we wanted on the album, but this riff we were like absolutely in love with, so we just took that riff and just wrote a song around it, and it became really aggressive. Kind of, thumping kind of song, you know it’s really interesting, like I guess you would say it’s a very stressful how we write. We’re very, very big perfectionists we never really reach 100% from all five members, but you know we get there in the end I guess.
Wow, Yeah, jeez I mean, I can imagine it’s an easy thing and then you got to go through the stages of mixing and mastering, where you kind of going to hear the whole thing back and again and you just get reminded like okay, something was going to go there but it’s not there and I guess that would that would mess with you right?
Oh yes, definitely. I’ll tell you what, we’re pretty sick of hearing the album already, but I can’t wait to be here again and again …
That’s so funny. So you guys aren’t having your Kanye moment yet ,you’re not cranking your own album in your house just yet?
Yes, like I personally, I listen to it almost like a daily basis, and that mainly like just to be you know drilling the songs into my head. Knowing the ins and outs of everything so that like, when we actually play all the new songs live, I’ve already drilled it into my head, you know, so I just you know I for example I don’t forget lyrics and all that. But, that’s me personally, the other guys they like to not listen to it that much then and come back listen to it again, you know everyone has a bit of a different approach.
So, it would be cool to know what stories you guys put into this. You know, we touched on a little bit before, you know this is a much bigger medium to tell stories across. There’s millions of ways you can go about it, that can be you know several different stories, or you guys can kind of meander around one topic. What did you guys do for this album, or what themes did you find were interesting you when you were writing it?
Daniel being our main lyricist…well, it would still be him and Jake actually. You know, our lyrics have always been about self understanding and dealing with like depression, and mental health and stuff like that. It’s like you know, going from how we first started out, the band until now. I know Daniel has grown a lot more comfortable, and knows how he wants to convey his messages towards and like what we are saying. Oh hell, I’ll watch what I’m saying now. Daniel is usually the one that’s a lot better than I am so …
You kind of touched on it before with the preparation you guys are currently doing. From what I understand from what I’ve been told, tour preparation is the absolute worst, and one of the most painful things about being in a band. But tell me how is it going? How’s it going, how’s it going kind of translating these songs into the live set with the older material? Is it fun? Has it been difficult?
Oh, I guess you could say kind of all over the shop, and at the end of the day very, very fun. Like it’s always cool, like for me personally, like you know start jamming like out a new song to get ready to perform. Like finding my spots where I breathe, where I don’t breathe, how long I make phrases last. You know and also like finding like an even flow that I can actually stop moving around to. Like so that I can actually execute the song while you know still being and energetic on stage.
It’s interesting like, we’ll be in the rehearsal room, and like you know, we’ll start jamming up the place like for example, like we will get past the first riff? As the bass kicks in like one of the boys will start like no, no, no, that was wrong you have to be like this blah, blah, blah. Then we will start again and it’s just like …
It’s really fun up to the point when we actually get on stage. We’re such perfectionists we’ll come on stage like, when we played with While She Sleeps which was a couple of months back, and you know our first day when in Perth you know the first time we played Consume, and I remember coming up on stage and the first thing was like “Man, that was shit we’re going to make sure we do this and this. “And the next night, we were like “Yeah cool, that’s better. Now we got to work on this and this and this.” And that by the end of the tour like, yeah I think we’ve got it now we’re going to focus on The Remedy.
Oh no, so it’s just is never ending process of like getting and bettering yourself, it’s so philosophical man. It’s damn near Buddhist, this whole repeated cycle.
Yeah. As I said like we’re all a bunch of perfectionists and especially when it comes down to live performing all these new songs, like you know we don’t want to make it seem like you know this is obviously the new song and it’s nowhere near as tight as like our other material that we’ve done and dusted over hundreds and hundreds of times. You know I mean? Like we want it be the same standard, to what people expect and so we push ourselves to get above and beyond that standard like at least I hope it comes across like that live at least.
It would be interesting to know, you know you’ve got this tour coming up, you’ve got the European dates, the album’s going to be out by then. You guys have set airwaves and headphones on fire all over the country as it is all over the world. I mean what’s next what’s on the cards for you guys I guess in the start of next year?
Well, I’m still trying to like focus on the fact that we’re going over to Europe for our very first time, let alone thinking about what we’re doing next year, but in terms like of like the you know the beginning of next year already like we’re playing unified, which like sold out. So in terms of like the rest of the year, like I guess we want to try and focus on trying to get back to Europe I guess, as seriously as we possibly can. Like we love to trying hard on you know just focusing on getting out on overseas trying to get anywhere and everywhere possible, start spreading, you know playing this new record and for all the material out to the rest of the world. We’ve never been able to do that before.