Features Interviews Polar Bear Club

Interviews: Polar Bear Club

Scene Point Blank: Can you introduce yourself?

Jimmy Stadt: I am Jimmy from Polar Bear Club; I am the singer and I have a mouth full of gummy bears right now.

Scene Point Blank: When you have a love for gummy bears?

Jimmy Stadt: It just takes you.

Scene Point Blank: Exactly?After taking part in larger tours like The Gaslight Anthem in Europe and the Set Your Goals tour in the U.S., how does it feel to return to small-club tours? Do you prefer the latter more intimate shows?

Jimmy Stadt: There is definitely good and bad to both. I think on the bigger tours, at our level, there are not a lot of people there specifically for you. But you kind of become a better band that way. You play better and you learn to just have fun yourself when people there aren't. The hospitality is always a little better on the larger tours, but the smaller club shows, the intimacy and having your fans come out to see you and appreciate your music, that's special in of itself.

Scene Point Blank: There was a rant on the band's blog about Leeds festival and how that environment is so different.

Jimmy Stadt: It is, especially at festivals such as that. There are huge barriers, so you're at least ten feet from the crowd. I think there was something like five thousand people watching us play, but only fifty to hundred that knew who we were?which was super cool. But you do those things for exposure and you hope it sticks to some of them because you want to take your music to as many people as you can. So that's sort of like a business aspect of it; it's a necessity. It's not necessarily the most fun thing to do, but if you want it to be fun in the future you kind of have to do it. But getting back to shows like this is the icing on the cake.

Scene Point Blank: The new record been out for about a month?

Jimmy Stadt: It has been a month, wow. It doesn't feel like it.

Scene Point Blank: How has the reception been to the new songs?

Jimmy Stadt: We've been playing about four or five new songs a night, which is a lot for us, since we usually have a half hour to forty minute set. But they new songs, they've been received really well, better than I expected. The response is coming quicker than I expected too. Kids are knowing the words, and that's rad. It's the most you can ask for. And to think that the album has only been out for a month and to think how long it took people to know the words and sing along to the old album. That album was out for months and months before people got onto it. It's really cool that you can see the growth.

Scene Point Blank: Is there a particular song from the new record that you enjoy performing more than the others?

Jimmy Stadt: I think all new songs, I'm just so into playing them since they've been played the least, so they're kind of the freshest. But I love playing "Living Saints" and we've been playing "The Old Fisher Burial Ground," and that's a really fun one to play live. And "Boxes" has been a lot of fun to play. We've just been mixing other ones in as well. But all the new songs have been a breath of fresh air into our sets.

Scene Point Blank: When it came time to choose a producer you went a different route for this album in Matt Bayles. Was he your number one?

Jimmy Stadt: He was actually. I'm trying to remember of who else we talked about going with, but he was definitely way up there. And I remember because we really didn't expect him to know who we were or even to want to do it with us. And he was down, and he had actually heard of us and he was like, "Yeah, I'd really like to do this." And that blew us away. So we were like, "Let's do it." And it was really cool. He's someone that has been around for a while and has done some really epic stuff. And that we got the chance to work with him is a privilege.

Scene Point Blank: After the album was all said and done, what do you feel you gained most by recording with him?

Jimmy Stadt: He's really barebones with recording. He's not into over producing, which is cool. His specialty is making a band sound like what it is. I think, for Chasing Hamburg, compared to the other albums, its sounds more live. It's more geared towards just a live sound and show. And I think we became a better studio band because we didn't have as many tricks to rely on as we did before, in past experiences. Which at the time we needed because we weren't as practiced on the road. We just got better and more confident at recording. That's the thing about being in bands that I hate, that recording is such a huge part of it but you do it the least. So you never get to practice at it like you do playing live. Every time you go in, you're remembering what you did. But he was awesome and we learned a lot from him.

Scene Point Blank: Sometimes Things Just Disappear created a lot of buzz for you guys. How did you react to the expectations given to the group prior to the recording of Chasing Hamburg?

Jimmy Stadt: It's two-fold. I think, when we were songwriting, we really didn't have a lot of time to think about that sort of thing because didn't have a lot of time. And we didn't want to think about that sort of pressure. We didn't want to write an album that we thought people would want to hear. When we write songs, we want to write a song that we want to hear. That's the only criteria. And I think that's what people found special about the other albums and I hope they find special about the newest one. So we knew that was important to hold onto. So with the writing and recording, not so much feeling the pressure., but when it was all done and everything was being analyzed by everyone a thousand times, the pressure sinks in a little bit there. It's all done and you're waiting for months and months for it to be released. And you just want feedback. You just want people to hear it. And all you do is think, "What are people going to think about this?" So a little bit towards the end, but you can't think about it when you're writing songs. It's kind of counter-productive.

Scene Point Blank: Touching on what others are going to think about the album. The song "One Hit Back" is maybe not directly taking aim at people but it focuses on one side of that.

Jimmy Stadt: A little bit yeah. That song I kind of describe as just a vent. It's not really socially relevant or an important topic to the world today. It was more of a vent for me, and us, the band. It's kind of an interesting thing, that once your band gets to a certain level, people stop thinking of you as a person and they start saying things about you as if you'll never hear them or you'll never read them. And even people you've known your whole life, they think of you as this entity and not the individual anymore. So that's really the core of that song. Everyone in the world gets this chance and this chance to say this, this, and this about us, but we don't get any chance to say anything back. And that song was just that little snippet of saying something back. And there's the line, "One song is all you get from me." And I think that's important because its totally middle-class whining. It's really such a not important topic but it still gets under your skin. I didn't want to harp on it but I wanted to get it off my chest.

Scene Point Blank: As the vocalist you get a lot of questions about lyrics. In a previous interview for our site you made it a point to say that you often don't want to divulge details about your lyrics. Your tour mate Thomas from Strike Anywhere said this of song meanings, "Some of the songs have multiple meanings, and I don't want to dial it in for everybody. Making a record a part of your life is to apply what you think it means or what you need it to mean." Would you say that's a fair assessment?

Jimmy Stadt: To me, that's what it's all about: ambiguity and interpretation. And I feel, that with this album, I've been doing a lot of interviews about lyrics and I'm nervous that I've been talking too much about that. And I don't want to dial them in for everyone. I just did this Washington Post thing and they wanted me to go track by track and talk about the lyrics. And I was hesitant to do it? I did it, but I tried to keep it as open as I could. But I was hesitant. There were times where I related to a song a certain way and then I read what it meant to that singer, and it was like a little something was lost there, for me personally. I think the most powerful and remembered writers, lyricists, and musicians are the ones who are ambiguous. They understand that people are going to attach their personal feelings to the specifics of the song. And I think that's the most important thing about being a lyricist. And that's why I like to be a little weird and throw some curveballs in there. I do kind of cringe at that "explain this song" type of question. I'm polite about, and I dance around it as much has I can. But I don't like. It's not so much for me to decide. I know what it's about for me and I know what I was feeling when I wrote it? and yadda yadda yadda. But take it and run with it. Its' open and its out there for everybody. And I could have written it about A and you could think it's about C. Whatever works, just get there.

Scene Point Blank: It's ironic that Isis just came on, as Aaron Turner is fairly adamant about not revealing lyrical themes after Panopticon was overly dissected.

Jimmy Stadt: And that's what it is all about for me. My favorite writer and musicians are the one you don't fully understand.

Scene Point Blank: Have you ever not answered a question about your lyrics?

Jimmy Stadt: Whenever anyone asks, I say, "I don't like to do this?" I always kind of preface it with that. I loosely will talk about it. It's not like it is a mystery. And it's not rude for a person to ask you about it either. I've seen the dark artist in the corner, "Fuck you man for asking what this song is about" attitude. And I don't think that's what it's about either. I always preface it, but I'll try and do it in a way that I'm comfortable with. I'm not a dick in interviews. I've done a couple of interviews where they've been searching for some kind of weird gossip? and I'll not respond to that, but never about the lyrics.

Scene Point Blank: When you are a part-time band you're playing out less frequently with less stress and pressure, I would assume the experience is a lot more enjoyable than that of an everyday job. But now that Polar Bear Club is a full-time venture, how do you keep it from becoming your "job" and continue to have fun and bask in the events of each show?

Jimmy Stadt: I think that fun and for the love of it is still very much a part of it. It's just full time. When you're on stage and doing the band stuff, that's still fun and you're doing it for the love of it. Some nights are worse than others. Some nights you might not feel it as much. And some days are shitty and even the romance of being on tour stops saving you from your bad days. But for the music and love and fun of it, it's still very much a part of it for us. I think also, this is technically my job. But I don't think it's a bad thing. There is a stigma in punk rock that work and jobs is "the man." And that's bad. And I think that's true in some respects but not in all. Work is good, that's what we live to do, to do our job. So it might as well be one that you love. This is work for me and this is my job, but its what I love most in the world. Yeah, there is the business end of it, which is more apparent. When we went full time, the choice was either quit, or go full time because we had done everything that we could do as a part time band. And to me, and to all of us, it was a no-brainer. It's going to be a lot of hard work, and it definitely has been. But hard work can be fun and rewarding.

Scene Point Blank: You guys are going to be playing The Fest again this year. One of the big announcements is that Small Brown Bike will be playing a set. How excited are you to be? hopefully not playing during their set?

Jimmy Stadt: I have a schedule and I get to see them. It works out perfectly for me. We play that same day; we actually play the same time as 7 Seconds, which kind of sucks, but play at 12:30 or 1:00 at night. At the venue, its American Steel, and some band I can't remember right now, and Small Brown Bike. So I get to see them. And then I get to go to another venue and see Russian Circles and Torche. And then I get to our venue and we play. So I get to see all the bands I want to see lined up perfectly. But I am so excited; I got to see Small Brown Bike twice when I was younger. And the fact that they are working on new stuff and I get to see them again, it's awesome. They're one of our biggest influences so it's going to be rad.

Scene Point Blank: So are you going to find a way to do shows with them?

Jimmy Stadt: That would be awesome, that would be like dream tour for me. If they're looking to re-start full-time? I know they're working on new songs? but if they're doing tours, we are going to find a way to be at the top of that list. I am going to make sure of that.

Scene Point Blank: Other bands you wanted to see at the Fest?

Jimmy Stadt: American Steel, Russian Circles, and Torche. I really wanted to see 7 Seconds but we won't be able to. We're only there Friday because we play a show elsewhere on Saturday so I miss all my friends bands: Broadway Calls, Living with Lions, Defeater, and Samiam plays Sunday so I miss them. But I'm lucky the main bands are all lined up.

Scene Point Blank: Last question, will there be more asshole hats tonight?

Jimmy Stadt: Oh wow. Ohio old school in the house. I'll see what's backstage. If there are any used 24 pack boxes in the back, we'll see what we can do. That was at The Davenport? I found out a couple of days ago that Defeater, when they were Sluts, played that day. It's a small world because they are our good friends now. I remember that show at The Davenport, though. We dominated the dressing room. There was one dressing room for every band that was playing, and it was bunch of bands, like twenty. And no one was going in there but us. We were just so loud and drunk. Every band that came in got scared and walked away. We actually call that the best worst show ever. It was a fun show, but it was such a long day. We'll never forget that show.

Scene Point Blank: That about wraps it up unless you have something to add.

Jimmy Stadt: Nope. I think we covered it all. Thank you very much.

Words: Michael | Graphics: Matt


Words by Michael on Oct. 16, 2010, 11:37 a.m.

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Posted by Michael on Oct. 16, 2010, 11:37 a.m.

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