Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

TLOBF Introducing // Polock

15 March 2011, 14:00 | Written by Phil Gwyn

Being compared to the now ubiquitous Gallic indie rockers Phoenix should be an enormous compliment, but I think that if I were an indie rock-star, (which is just not quite the reality) being relentlessly compared to them by anyone who feels that they are sufficiently qualified to do so by having an internet connection and the ability to type may force me to remove a few journalistic limbs here and there and use the results to play an ironic cover of ’1901′.

This is the challenge that Spanish 5-piece Polock face. Reports of de-limbing are yet to filter through, but if my interview with them had been conducted face to face rather than from behind the safety of skype, the reality may be entirely different. That said, it would be a madness bordering on the levels of Charlie Sheen to argue that there aren’t similarities between the two bands. The paradox of nostalgia-tinged, summery indie-pop, though, still leaves a lot of scope for individuality, and as Polock argue below, they’re equally indebted to the euphoria of Delorean, the precision of Foals, and even the electronic experimentalism of James Blake – as well as their own unselfconscious approach to writing.

We managed to catch up with them at a momentous crossroads in their career; literally as they were leaving their home-town of Valencia to head for the industry opportunity of SXSW and their first US tour, and found them determined to forge their own image from the slowly escalating media attention. If the quality of debut album Getting Down From The Trees, US tours and appearances at SXSW suggest anything, and they must do, then the column inches that have been dedicated to them so far must just be the beginning…

So I’ve been hearing that you guys formed from the breakup of a few different bands – what was it that motivated you to play with each other?

Well, Valencia is a very little town, with not so many bands which play in our style. We all know each other, because there also aren’t many clubs to play in. So as always, bands get formed and dissolve very quickly and people get to know you until you fit into a band in which you really feel comfortable. We felt like we really understood each other from the beginning.

So you guys have the same sort of influences and taste in music, and the same sort of ambitions musically?

Yes! Everyone gets to hear different music, but from it we understand the sound we want to develop with Polock. And, we all knew we wanted to work hard, as in really hard every day. We looked up to great bands and we didn’t see why we couldn’t get that far.

So the ambition always was… that his should be your way of life, your job?

Yeah, for sure, there were always some new goals to reach, and this process was always very fast, there was always something new happening to us, in a good way. We were invited progressively to play in many, many places in Spain, until the moment where even without a label, we got to play with Franz Ferdinand and Mando Diao in an MTV Winter Festival here in Valencia, in front of 40,000 people.

Do you think that being exposed to bands like that over the past year has changed the music that you write?

Not at all, when it’s about writing songs we really let go and do what we like and work over and over the same songs, until we really love them, but we don’t think whether people will like the songs. It’s about us liking our songs – we make the songs that we would want to listen to. Its maybe a coincidence that it can be the kind of music that can be played on big stages.

So you mentioned that you looked to “great bands” for inspiration, who were these bands?

In Spain we have always admired Delorean, for the kind of work they did, and to get into the American market in such a big way! It’s kind of difficult to name just two or three bands, because I would be lying, we hear so much music. Right now we’re listening to Foals, or maybe James Blake. We have a very big menu of bands we like at the moment, and people we admire in the kind of work they do, not just in music, but doing all what surrounds a music project, like, the kind of shows they do, the music videos, the style… You have to have that right; it’s not just about writing good songs, it’s about how to present them, so you really make it interesting, because nowadays, with the internet and everything, there are so many great bands; it’s really difficult to choose what you really like!

You must hear the comparison to Phoenix a lot, though, in what’s written about you. Personally I think that it’s over-done and perhaps centred on the fact that you’re both from central Europe and write really accessible and nostalgic pop music – but how do you feel about it?

Yeah, well, Phoenix is just like the top of the iceberg of what is going on with music right now. Their songs are nothing new, but the kind of sound experimentation has been really important for them. They have always made good albums, but with this last one they have just done something which was perfectly in line with what was happening to music at the time, something that other bands were doing in some ways, but they really gave it an interesting and very modern and interesting focus.

Yeah I think that that was the difference this time around for them – and now they even have their album art on beer bottles in the UK.

Yeah, and that’s great, they have got to that point being an indie band, with their own effort, without doing some kind of mainstream thing, so it’s really admirable.

Is that combination of writing pop songs in a very modern way what you are aiming for with the follow up to Getting Down From The Trees?

You never know how it is going to be following up the album, and we are working on new songs, but it’s not until we have songs for an album where we give it an aim, but it definitely won’t be this summer. We have just released Getting Down From The Trees and now is the moment to tour and present the album everywhere where we’ve released it. We have just done Spain at the moment, and a bit of the Netherlands. But tomorrow we start the American tour, and in two months time, we do the UK , Germany, France, Sweden, and hopefully more.

So how does that feel to break out of Europe and get over to the USA? “Breaking America” has always been such a big deal… do you feel like this is a big turning point?

Yes! It’s quite exciting. I’m sure that it is a turning point, because just to be invited to play in a place where there is such a big market of very great bands… It’s really good news for Polock, it’s like the proof that this is working!

How do you feel about being a band coming from Spain, rather than being from London or New York where there is such an enormous music industry?

Sure, it was far more effort starting from Spain. In a way it’s good, because there are not as much of an industry in Spain, so it’s easier to get attention. But when it’s about getting into the USA or the UK, you never know… maybe there are already thousands of bands like you in those countries. It’s really necessary to have a powerful project and really get people to believe in the band. We do think it’s kind of an extra effort, but we haven’t known anything else.

With singles like ‘Fireworks’, floppy hair like all self-respecting indie superstars, and lovely supporters like us, you can’t help but predict that, pretty soon, they will know a completely different world. Much depends on the next few weeks, but we wouldn’t be surprised if, at some point in the future, people everywhere were getting drunk with Polock’s album art unknowingly in their hands. And even if events and luck don’t conspire to set them on that path, Getting Down From The Trees marks them out as a significant talent, with a sound that, whatever you may hear, is derivative only to the same extent as their peers. The eccentricities and flourishes of this sound prove both that they’re ambitious enough to step out of the shadow of their continental forefathers, and that their warm, addictive personality is entirely their own.

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