Polar – Vulture CultureWednesday, 4th June 2014
Cited as “the feel-good album of the summer” all the way back in March by our own Matthew Bowling, Polar’s Shadowed by Vultures may not be total sunny-day-real-estate, but it’s thick, post-hardcore metal at its best. Virtually devoid of some of the style’s more annoying habits, the U.K. group (who formed in 2009), have put in some serious time trekking it out in vans, playing dirty clubs, and honing their frenetic, yet digestible sound. Already an underground force in their home country, the band was snagged by metal indie favorite Prosthetic Records for the release of said Shadowed by Vultures album. As such, much like they did in the U.K., the band is prepared to make a dent in North America. Here to discuss is vocalist Adam “Woody” Woodford…
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve largely been active in U.K. and/or European circles, but your deal with Prosthetic should open some doors here in the States. What are you hoping to get out of it?
Adam “Woody” Woodford: We really can’t express enough how proud we are to be working with Prosthetic on the Shadowed by Vultures US campaign. They have a lot of belief in the record and our ability; they have released so many amazing records. We hope to work closely together to raise the bands profile in the States and in the bigger picture we want to come and tour the states and cause a riot.
Dead Rhetoric: Your time spent working your way up through the U.K. metal/rock/punk scene has been one based on hard work. What are some of your fond and/or not-so fond memories of your early days?
Woodford: On reflection of touring and promoting our band over the years has had many highs and lows and memories, which are priceless. On our first tour we ever did, we played in Glasgow and the promoter did a runner from the show. We had to pay the venue £245 out of our personal funds so we could at least play that night. In the early days we slept in our van to keep costs down, we were on tour with Young Guns in 2012 and it was February and one of the coldest winters England had in years and we had to sleep in conditions of up to -17 degrees. On that tour I thought we were actually going to die of hypothermia. Our tour manager Matt tried to stop a brawl one night on tour and jumped to stop one of us from hitting the guys we were rucking with. He jumped too far and cleared everybody and landed on his elbow and shattered it and ended up having surgery and metal pins put in it. In fact he was the only person to pick up any sort of injury, poor guy. The highs are the fact that I am being creative and living out our dreams with my best friends and we have been lucky to tour a lot the world together and make records together, nothing comes close to that but we are not scared to roll with the punches.
Dead Rhetoric: The band’s sound virtually defies convention and/or needless subgenre tags. Therefore, what’s the key to making a good Polar song work?
Woodford: The key, I would say, is not to be scared to work outside of your comfort zone, in fact embrace it. We will try everything even if it isn’t really our sound because then you discover new aspects of your sound. We are a band that is constantly trying to evolve and the key in music is evolution not revolution.
Dead Rhetoric: Being that you’ve done your fair-share of live shows, how has the live arena shaped your approach to writing and recording?
Woodford: Being on tour is an education in itself, bands should take notice of what works and what doesn’t. We realized the next step for our band was to produce and make songs that had much more varied tempo. Our older songs were very fast and from touring, we did see that people loved watching us play but it was like a hurricane had hit them. As the band grows, we are very conscious to write songs that lend themselves to the crowd, whether its sing along chants to drops that have people jumping.
Dead Rhetoric: The reaction to the album thus far has been suitably positive. Has this surprised? And, do you pay much attention to what critics say about the band?
Woodford: We are not surprised but more thankful that our critics have appreciated the record and had kind words to say about us. It’s great to see the positive response from the critics but its not a concern of the band. Our concern is producing music that’s true to ourselves and that we will give a 110 percent to our fansthey mean the world to us and without them we are nothing.
Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been tagged as sounding like many of your countrymen, but, there’s so much more to your sound. Are you comfortable with being lumped in with the likes of BMTH and Gallows?
Woodford: We are very influenced by the growing British scene and without bands like BMTH and Gallows opening doors, bands like ours wouldn’t exist. We want to always challenge ourselves as musicians when we write our songs but we do draw musical influence from our British peers. We are proud of the fact that British bands are breaking through and that’s inspiring to us as well.
Dead Rhetoric: The dude jumping out of the water on the album cover: What’s the strangest reaction you’ve received to it?
Woodford: The guy jumping out of the water is actually our manager Matt Bradbury and it was shot while on tour in Scandinavia. The strangest reaction I’ve had was in the pub that I work out of, a builder once asked me why – and I quote – “Why the fuck do you have a naked, hairy, bearded bloke on your cover, surely that will put people off buying it.” I had no words to answer him, I was speechless.
Dead Rhetoric: As for the new album, you generally keep the pace going quite strong, but then there’s “Paradise,” which showcases a melodic side to the band. Is this something you’ll explore more down the road?
Woodford: As I have said in previous questions, our band is constantly evolving. Our producer Neil Kennedy said a comment which will stay with me forever which is “Being a band and making music should be about evolution and not revolution.” Songs like “Paradise” show how our band may evolve in the future. Creating music should always be challenging.
Dead Rhetoric: Finally, what’s on deck for the rest of 2014?
Woodford: We are going to tour until we become shells of the men we used to be! We are going to grab the rest of 2014 by the horns and shake it out until we get the reaction we want. We want to prove we are a force not to be reckoned with.