Since 2005, Polar Bear Club has steadily climbed the ranks of their genre. Releasing several critically acclaimed albums and touring around the world with Gaslight Anthem, Rise Against and Bad Religion, it’s been two years since the release of their last album. They’ll be changing that this Fall when they release their new LP, Death Chorus. And then, naturally, they’ll begin an album cycle that takes them out with Taking Back Sunday in a support role (dates below).
Ghettoblaster chatted with Polar Bear Club vocalist Jimmy Stadt about the band’s continued upward trajectory, the new album, and working with Rise and Will Yip. This is what he said.
Big news in the PBC camp with the switch to Rise Records. What are you hoping Rise can help you accomplish with Death Chorus?
We’re just hoping to tour it into the ground without also dying ourselves. Hopefully Rise can help with that. Everything we hoped to accomplish is done in a way. The record is done! Now we just want to play it for people.
Is there a band or bands whose careers you’d like to follow in the path of? I know you’ve spent time on the road with Bad Religion in the past. Would you like to have as long a career in this as they have? Did they impart any wisdom about that?
Any band that is still who they are while maintaining a career is an inspiration to us. We just want a career! We don’t want to be famous we just want to sustain. Bad Religion was a great example to us you know? Rise Against as well. They’re just good people with awesome jobs. That’s what we want too.
When did you begin writing the material for Death Chorus?
I was thinking about this the other day. I think I start writing one of the songs the day after I finished vocals on Clash, Battle, Guilt, Pride. I remember fooling around with a melody on a shitty acoustic that was lying around Salad Days studio. So I guess it started there and wasn’t done until pre production on Death Chorus.
Were there particular musical or literary catalysts that you were interested in at the time of writing that you can tell leached in to this record?
Hmmm musically there was a lot of noisey rock for me. Rival Schools and Swervedriver. Lyrically though, I remember one night I saw a play at this theatre I was working at doing telemarketing. The play starred Brian Dennehy whom I love. It was Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape” which I had read before but never saw. It’s a lot about the universal joke of life with some of Beckett’s personal shit thrown in. That was big. There was a q and a with Dennehy and he just came out like “Ok, here’s what the play was about. Life’s a joke and you’re the punchline if you’re not doing what you love.” Or something like that. It was funny but really inspiring too.
Had you worked with Will Yip before? He seems to be the Ed Rose/Brad Wood-esque go-to guy these days…
No we’ve never worked with him before this. We demoed a song with him months back to see if it would be a good fit and it was! A lot bands try to avoid the “it” guy which Will very much is at the moment. I never got that though! When I was a kid I remember looking at what studios bands we’re recording at. Ed Rose or Brad Wood or Brian McTiernan. I loved thinking about these little camps of creativity stationed at these people’s studios. Different bands would go there and get different sounds and songs out of the same person. I loved that continuity and hearing it tweaked from band to band. Will’s great though. He’s got the same ideals as us about sounds we like and vibes we like.
Is there an overarching concept behind your new album that ties the record together?
Probably, I hate analyzing my own stuff too much though. Let the critics do that.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
There were a couple and for different reasons. Pre production was pretty easy, the songs sort of just told us where they needed to go. The hardest one ended up a b-side as is often the case.
Which of the songs on the record is most different from your original concept for the song?
There’s a song on the record called “For Show” that Chris had written the music for. That one changed a lot, it got more and more upbeat and major as we went a long with it. It’s ended up being a favorite for a lot of us. I’m not sure how but it just kept getting pushed and pushed and we finally we’re like “Yeah, this is an upbeat song fuck it.”
You will be out with Taking Back Sunday this Fall, but you spent some time on the road with them during Warped Tour 2012 if I’m not mistaken. Did you develop a relationship with them then?
No we didn’t! Some of us met once or twice but never really hung out. I’ve heard they’re fucking great guys so I’m looking forward to getting to know them.
Have you begun playing these songs live? What have people’s reactions been?
No we haven’t! We finished about two weeks ago and have just been off since. I’m really curious to see peoples reaction though.
At the Teen Choice awards the other night Ashton Kutcher said something profound in that he said, “Opportunity looks a lot like hard work.” I imagine you guys concur with this. Is being in a band harder work than you anticipated when you started? Is it worth it?
It’s weird hard work. And believe me, we’re still figuring it out. But it’s a lot of feeling useless and like you’re doing nothing. But then at the drop of a hat you’re having to do something utterly exhausting. When you’re on tour, it’s mentally a 24 hour a day job with tiny breaks here and there but I like that. It also makes other parts of your life work though, your relationships and home life become a little harder to maintain. You can’t be lazy but it’s definitely worth it.
(Catch Polar Bear Club on tour this fall with Taking Back Sunday.
10.11.13 – Clifton Park, NY – Upstate Concert Hall
10.12.13 – Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom
10.13.13 – Rochester, NY – Water Street Music Hall
10.14.13 – Stroudsburg, PA – Sherman Theater
10.16.13 – Pittsburg, PA – Stage AE
10.17.13 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
10.18.13 – Covington, KY – Madison Theater
10.19.13 – Bloomington, IL – The Castle Theatre
10.20.13 – 2013 Madison, WI – Orpheum Theatre
10.22.13 – Des Moines, IA – Wooly’s
10.23.13 – Omaha, NE Sokol – Upstairs
10.25.13 – Melbourne, FL – Downtown
10.26.13 – Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Hall
10.27.13 – Birmingham, AL – Iron City
10.29.13 – San Antonio, TX – White Rabbit
10.30.13 – Tulsa, OK – Cain’s Ballroom
10.31.13 – St. Louis, MO – The Pageant
11.01.13 – Louisville, KY – Expo Five
11.02.13 – Myrtle Beach, SC – HOB
11.03.13 – Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore
11.05.13 – Norfolk, VA – The Norva
11.06.13 – Baltimore, MD – Rams Head Live
11.07.13 – Long Island, NY – The Emporium)