When you’re a band known for breaking the speed and sound barriers – or at least coming damn close – the question of what happens next is a vexing one. In the case of Polish Club, whose unique brand of bare bones, sonic overload has hammered them into the Australian consciousness, it’s become less a matter of pulling back than finding more rewarding ways to make noise.
“I think we’re forcing ourselves to do something that isn’t our first instinct but is creatively something we want,” says frontman and guitarist Novak. “For instance, I made the decision to make melodies that you can’t hide from in terms of giving up and screaming.
This newfound depth was something of a happy accident when the band recorded ‘Clarity’ in 2018 after a sold-out national album tour. it became the basis for their revitalised sound and has influenced their writing.
“Someone told me in passing that they thought ‘Clarity’ sounded like it could be played in stadiums. I’m still not sure if it was a compliment or not,” drummer John-Henry laughs. “But for us it’s an interesting direction to take – can we make stadium rock that doesn’t totally suck? We were unintentionally kinda doing it already so we figured we might as well go all-in.” Adds Novak: “We’re not trying too hard to make it super cool or whatever. I don’t really care about that anymore.”
Conveniently, then, the next horse out of the gate is titled ‘We Don’t Care’. Layered to the hilt with extra tracks and instruments, it’s got enough wallop to stop Alan Jones mid-sentence and manages the trick of sounding exactly like Polish Club, yet somehow distinctly different. “The way we do it is we record as much as possible – the overdubs, the extra guitars, synths, percussion – then we give it to someone else and tell them to make it tasteful,” Novak explains. “We [get them] to the point where they have to acknowledge the elephant in the room, the elephant being we put way too much stuff on this shit.”
Signing himself up for this mammoth task is John Congleton (St. Vincent, Modest Mouse, Franz Ferdinand), who also mixed ‘Clarity’, alongside longtime producer and honorary third Polish Club member, Wade Keighran. Between them they are more than able to bring out the guts of a wall-to-wall song which, as John-Henry tells it, holds up a mirror to the duo’s inner and external turmoil.
“‘We Don’t Care’ came out of a really tough couple of months for both of us,” John-Henry says. “We [had] a long, dry spell of writing and recording. Coupled with multiple overseas trips and personal hard times, we were just fucking rinsed. I think the song is about how when your life is going to shit, the things you do to try and escape it just make it worse. Often when you say you don’t care about something, it’s just a way of running away and not facing up to your problems.”
After a long, winding anecdote about late nights at inner-city bars, Novak agrees, though he’s slightly more sanguine about it all. “A lot of it is self-deprecating and sad [but] I really don’t see that as a downer anymore,” he says. “If you can hone in on those moments and soak it up, it means everything else makes a lot more sense. I don’t need to wallow in anything anymore. It’s like micro-dosing drugs, you microdose sadness and loneliness.”
More than just good looks and broken cymbals, then. Gird your loins for a brasher, more honest and totally liberated Polish Club. No car stereo is safe. More hooks, more feels, more layers and less fucks to give than ever. It’s a highly potent combination, and it’s only the beginning.
Someone better tell Lucian, stat.