Here’s one for the headbangers this week! If one band has a reputation as one of the most thrilling live acts in the Australian heavy music scene right now it’s South Sydney quintet Polaris. Over the past five years, they have claimed their crown as one of the kings of the metalcore scene, experimenting with elements of hardcore punk and rock to create a niche of their own beyond the generic mold. They have earned a name for themselves organically through constant gigging and touring which has gained them a strong family of dedicated followers.
Seriously, they have toured their butts off this year off the back of their highly anticipated debut album in 2017, ‘The Mortal Coil’. The album was born out of a rented holiday home come studio, a creative risk which definitely paid off. Despite not being released until November, the latecomer stole the show and won fan votes for killyourstereo.com’s album of the year. Polaris kicked off this year with the honor of one of their very own inspirations, Parkway Drive, granting them a support slot for their sold-out national tour. This was followed by scoring a spot on Melbourne’s Unify Gathering, a mecca for Australian metal fans to flock to each year to see the finest heavy heroes in the scene.
Not to mention embarking on their biggest headline tour to date in April, which was dedicated to showcasing their album across the country. This will be the year they secure their name in the global scene with a number of European and American dates in the works. As if their schedule isn’t busy enough, next month they will be playing a number of national dates for the ‘Dusk to Day’ tour. It’s this sort of dedication and hustle that has cast them in the limelight for this week’s Savvy Seven to impart some wisdom upon us!
Who was your first musical inspiration? Why? Who inspires you now?
Music wasn’t a large factor in my early life, and only once I was starting high school did I start to really let it take over my every day thinking and really inspire me moving forward. At that time it was bands like Avenged Sevenfold or Bullet for my Valentine that gave me an insight into how heavier, guitar-driven music can make an impact on a large scale, and that inspiration is still what carries me today. Though admittedly I’m less laser-focused on the aspect of guitar (funnily enough).
The bands that inspire me now are those who take their own path in the industry, and really shake things up from release to release. Bands like Bring Me The Horizon, Northlane or even Parkway Drive in recent times are releasing records which may not capture the interest of every fan like they once did, but they’re showing that the industry can accept and embrace artists changing, refining or tweaking their sound. It’s something that makes me excited to move forward as a band, knowing that you can make risks and changes and that fans and the industry as a whole are largely accepting of that.
What advice do you have for someone who is about to set off on their first tour?
I’d say to go in with an open mind and be ready to face any setbacks or costs associated – whether it be financial, mental, or physical. Touring is very rarely a breeze, especially when it comes to your first one. On our first tour, we spent every night sleeping in the van, doing multiple overnight drives and all of that to come out of it with less money than we started. If we let that be the end of it though we could’ve never hoped to be where we are now, and I’m thankful for those times to give us a better perspective and appreciation of where we are now.
What has been one of the most defining moments in your career?
I think the most defining moment is always updating every time we release a new record. When our EP The Guilt & The Grief released, the fan response blew us away both online and at shows, and this was dwarfed by our debut album The Mortal Coil. It’s shows like Unify festival that really drive that home, where you’re playing to more than 3 times the people than you ever have before, and the sound of the crowd overpowers the sound on stage; it puts you in the place of the people that once inspired you, and it’s a moment I’ll be hard-pressed to ever forget.
How has your music practice changed over time?
Well, I suppose the major way it has changed is that it has now become much more of a job, for better and worse. While guitar used to be something I’d use to kill some time or to try something new, it’s now an obligation and requirement for me to keep both up with practice, and with writing new material. I say it’s sometimes for the worse because there can be days or weeks where my guitar is the last thing I want to touch, but when you come up with a new section or new song there’s a sense of satisfaction and pride that I can’t really feel anywhere else in my life.
My top business tip for new artists is…
Treat it like a business. We as a band used to put a small amount of personal money into the band account on a weekly basis so that when it came time to printing shirts or paying for petrol on the road, we had a safety blanket that we could rely on. We only stopped doing this in the past year, and it really did help us a lot in the early years.
I suppose my larger point is that you must be prepared to make a lot of financial sacrifices in order to drive your band forward but to also be sensible about it. Don’t blow thousands on billboards expecting that to boost your band to the next level, but when it comes time to record an album, don’t opt for old mate down the road and expect that the end product will blow everyone away.
My biggest career mistake has been… What would you do differently now?
One time I broke a string during the middle of a set, now I make damn sure to change them more regularly.
In my opinion, the most important issue facing the music industry is… What do you think can change that?
I think the fall of physical media can be seen as a big issue moving forward, and it’s something that will affect a lot of bands that don’t have steady streaming figures. We’re incredibly fortunate to have fans that continually listen to our material on Spotify and Apple Music, but for bands that don’t receive the same support the falling sales of CD’s either means pressing vinyl which can be costly or finding ways to make up for the loss of CD sales to bring that income to the band. It’s now more important than ever to be looking at alternative forms of income both personally and on a band level to make it financially sustainable, and it’s something that all band – established or otherwise – have to keep in mind.
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Polaris are playing national dates in July for their Dusk To Day tour
You can get tickets here
Thursday 12 July – Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
Friday 15 July – Barwon Club, Geelong
Saturday 14 July – Pelly Bar, Frankston
Sunday 15 July – Mooroolbark Community Centre, Mooroolbark
Friday 20 July – The Basement, Canberra
Saturday 21 July – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Sunday 22 July – Carmens, Miranda
Friday 27 July – Solbar, Sunshine Coast
Saturday 28 July – Shark Bar, Gold Coast