One of the most amazing bands I have come across recently is Polar Bear Club. They've got that whole gritty Hot Water Music thing going on and rock like crazy on their debut full-length "Sometimes Things Just Disappear". Check out what guitarist Chris has to tell us and how he denies having ever heard of the RealLife doll... smart answer Chris, smart answer!
PRT: Who are you and what would you like to tell our readers about yourself?
Chris: I'm Chris and I play guitar in PBC. I'm a Leo and the movie "Field of Dreams" makes me cry. I like Taco Bell, beer, and basketball.
PRT: Who else is in the band and did they ever go swimming naked in December?
Chris: Jimmy sings, Nate plays guitar, Goose plays bass, Emmett plays drums, and Tracker drinks beer. None of us have gone swimming naked in cold water or anything. The Coney Island Polar Bear Club invited us the last time we played on Long Island, but our van conveniently broke down the morning we were supposed to go (no, really, it actually did).
PRT: Can you give me the history of the band written in one minute or less starting… NOW!
Chris: Yikes, that's tough. Well I started jamming some songs with two guys who are no longer in the band. We recorded a demo, and Jimmy joined us to do vocals. We played our first show in August 2005, had a few members changes since, and now we have an EP and a full length out and are only scratching the surface of ruining our own lives. Stay tuned.
PRT: For the people out there who haven't heard you guys yet… if Polar Bear Club was the lovechild of two other bands, which bands would've had sex and which position were you conceived in?
Chris: That's a great question. The easy answer would be Hot Water Music and Small Brown Bike or something like that. But everyone's sick of hearing that about us by now, or at least I am. So instead...I'm going to say AC/DC and Third Eye Blind, with Third Eye Blind playing the role of the female and receiving doggie style. Or maybe reverse cowgirl with Stephan Jenkins talking about tater tots through the whole thing.
PRT: I read that Polar Bear Club is now a fulltime thing for you. Was that a difficult decision for you to make? Any sacrifices you had to make for it?
Chris: Yes, it is, or actually it is about to be. We've been in the planning stages all summer and are taking off at the end of August for a whole bunch of touring and then writing a new record. It was a very difficult decision for me personally, but mostly because of the financial risk involved; being in a band is just not something you should do for money, for a lot of reasons. We all have jobs and stuff that we're leaving, and in my particular case I'm leaving law school after one year and an internship at a really great firm, so there are obviously some pretty dire financial implications going along with this. Emmett is giving up a teaching job, Nate is leaving school and a job at a science lab as well. But once the decision was made, it quickly became clear that this is absolutely the right thing to do for everyone involved. We're all very cynical and sort of pessimistic about music industry stuff in general, but this band is very special to us and I like to think it's very special to some other people as well. I can wholeheartedly say that I've never been happier or more excited about any life decision I've made, and it's an incredibly liberating feeling to just say "fuck it" to all of your stereotypical financial concerns and just do what you've always wanted to do and have a true passion for. And if we can live off of it enough to keep doing it for a while, well then great.
PRT: I honestly had never heard of you guys before "Sometime Things Just Disappear" but I was completely blown away by the album. You seem like this band that blew up all of a sudden based solely on the songs, which is a rare thing these days where every single band seems to get hyped. What's it like for you guys?
Chris: It's fucking amazing. I have no idea what to think of how well we are or aren't doing, but it's nice to know that whatever good fortune we have had is coming for the right reasons. All of us have been doing bands for a long time now and we put our hearts and souls into the music itself, and give the writing process a great deal of thought, so just to know that some people are listening to it and really connecting with what we're trying to do is such a great feeling. I think the internet has been awesome for that too, in some cases -- it's not always about a band's image or haircuts or clothes or anything, because people can just click around and listen to shit until they find something that appeals to them. It creates a lot more emphasis on just making songs that people want to hear and not worrying about other shit, and that has been pretty refreshing. That being said, we also don't have any silly sense of accomplishment or entitlement or anything like that. There are a lot of bands doing a lot better than us, and a lot that are doing a lot worse, and you can only control that to a certain point and sometimes it's best to just ignore it and enjoy what you do.
PRT: What's with the album title? And while we're at it, what have you ever had that just disappeared?
Chris: The title comes from a Taco Bell trip we made while at the studio. Honestly, I just don't feel like typing it right now, and hopefully most people that will bother to read an interview with us have already heard it anyway. If not, we'll tell you some time. Basically we couldn't think of anything for a long time, and this title just arose out of a funny incident. And things that just disappear...well, plenty. Money has a strange way of evaporating constantly. That and my dignity, liver, future...you get the point.
PRT: The lyrics all seem to be autiobiographical. Have you ever written lyrics that you didn't use in the end because it felt like you were giving away too much of yourself or situations in your life that you wouldn't write a song about for that same reason?
Chris: I can't really answer this one with too much detail because Jimmy writes all the lyrics. But I know that he's constantly writing, revising, etc., and he has tons of lyrics that either get postponed or thrown out for one reason or another. I don't think it's ever because the lyrics are too revealing, though...the whole point is to address things that are meaningful and that you really care about. He's never been shy about touching on very personal topics, especially because his style often leaves these ambiguous or open to interpretation anyway. He may write with one thing in mind, and a reader may get a completely different message that resonates with them, but that's a good thing of course.
PRT: What's up next for Polar Bear Club?
Chris: Lots and lots of touring. We're doing the Gaslight Anthem CD release shows in August, followed by a lot of touring in the fall months with friends like Gaslight, Broadway Calls, and The Swellers. We can't wait! Then sooner than later, a new record. The ideas are flowing and we're really excited about what's getting tossed around. Check our MySpace page for tour dates and all that good stuff, we're constantly updating it.
PRT: Are there any plans to come to Europe? And if so, please don't skip Belgium!
Chris: Yes. We don't know when just yet, but hopefully in late '08 or early '09. We'll do our best, Europe is awesome! One of my favorite show experiences ever was in Belgium with a previous band. You have an awesome country.
PRT: What's your position on the whole Real-life doll versus the classic inflatable one?
Chris: I honestly have no idea what this question is asking, but it sounds like something I should know about. Let's talk off the record some time.
PRT: Any last words for our readers?
Chris: Re-watching the entire Twin Peaks series on DVD is unbelievably satisfying. I highly recommend.