interview: polar walk
Adelaide certainly doesn’t deserve all the shit it gets but like most cities, it is unusual to find anything new emerging from it. When you go to a gig of a band you’ve never heard of, you always hope they’re going to blow your mind. Usually they don’t.
But one night at a little venue in Kent Town, South Australia, I was introduced to a band called Polar Walk.
Their screamo vocals are few and come as a surprise without being intimidating, while their amalgamation of prog rock and metal astounds; it is atmospheric whilst imposing, and lets you float through the sounds (like you had a choice).
‘It’s got a fair few different elements in it,’ says bassist, Josh Reimers.
‘It’s very instrumental a lot of the time, there’s not that much singing involved in it. It’s a lot more about the music,’ adds guitarist, Sean Kelly-Johnson.
And yet, amongst the slews of people who are in bands for the sheer fact of being in a band, you occasionally find the gems that you know aren’t honing their craft for anyone else.
‘It’d be cool to take it as far as we can,’ says vocalist and guitarist, Brett Walter. ‘But we don’t really have any unrealistic goals or anything like that.’
But this is not to say that they aren’t invested in what they’re doing.
This was an interview that started off quite conventionally. Questions that you will rarely see published because they’re just trying to break the ice, as it were. If someone was to come up to you all of a sudden and say, ‘if you had to write a personals ad about yourself, what would it say?’, you might think they were kind of interesting, but you’d nonetheless be taken aback. Unless you were in a precocious teenage television drama, you probably wouldn’t have an answer just ready and waiting.
So I ask the ‘boring’ questions, even though band members are probably in bands together because they were friends and had similar interests (Tim and Sean were playing together, they got Josh involved and Brett [incidentally, Tim’s brother] got involved with what they were doing), and they’re probably influenced by bands that sound somewhat like them (picking up ideas without stealing riffs), and they’re probably not quite sure what genre they fit into, because genre in the arts is pretty much a marketing ploy anyway (Tim and Sean just wanted to do a ‘chilled out kind of metal thing’).
And just as I think the interview is winding down, Brett abruptly asks, ‘Do you think it’s necessary to talk about the idea of music?’
Where do you see your own music fitting in?
Brett: Well, looking at a global sense and seeing where society is moving; maybe it’s moving in the wrong direction and has been for a long time. There are a lot of ideas in it about aggression, about people being so disjointed from each other and aiming for things in their life that aren’t really going to bring about any positive change for the greater humanity. We’re voicing an opinion or observation about it, maybe to raise awareness or just to let off some steam. Music is kind of the engine for it.
So what are your lyrics about?
Brett: About people not really being awake to their actions in every day life, about having no real direction and about things being broken in society by people doing the wrong things to one another and causing a fray here and there. Making complicated situations where there didn’t need to be one, that’s interpersonal and global. It’s something that’s happened by people not really having a clue, maybe being governed by media and things like that. Taking things from society around them and putting them into their lives and making them important when they’re actually not. They should be working on themselves and being aware of the earth and looking after themselves and the planet they’re in, rather than looking out for sexual objects and things that ultimately are completely meaningless and won’t get you anything or anywhere in the end. It’s not leaving any residual harmony for anyone when you’re just going and causing damage.
What do you want people to come away with from your live shows?
Brett: Just having a good time ultimately. The vocals are pretty indistinct really, you can’t tell what’s being screamed but the message is there. The main thing is to enjoy the riffs and have a good time.
Josh: I think the style that we do, the songs are pretty long and they build up progression, so a lot of people could interpret it the way they wanted to. There’s lots of room for that.
Especially with music, media and the internet has become such a prominent vehicle for getting exposure. Do you still see that as something to exploit or something that you prefer to move back from?
Brett: It’s a mechanism that you need to use to get people to hear about you and there’s nothing wrong with that; but aspects of the media carrying superficial ideas like using sex to make a person feel like they can belong to a situation when that’s a completely empty area of reality. Just places that have no real density to them or no depth, is kind of the idea that I’m against and singing about.
Sean: TV shows, like Beauty and the Geek.
Josh: That’s really what it comes down to.
Brett: There’s a lot of time wasting going on in that kind of thing. People will go home and just watch television, it’s one of those things that’s been said a million times by a million people but it’s a pretty obvious flaw in people not really doing anything with their life because they don’t feel it inside of them to actually go and do anything with themselves. They just work their job, go home, watch TV and go to sleep and do it all again. It’s cool that technology’s moving but it’s not really being presented to people in a way that can enhance their lives.
And when you start to think that maybe they do take themselves too seriously after all?
So what do you do when you’re not playing music?
(Image credit: William Morris Photography)