Interview: Polish Club get (a little bit) political

Interview: Polish Club get (a little bit) political

Polish Club
Words by Jordan McCarthy

Polish Club may have left it later than most to come to the party, but since arriving on the scene in 2014 they've come often and come hard.

In the seven-years since Polish Club’s debut EP, there has been a steady stream of sweat inducing rock songs bashing our ears courtesy of the two-piece Sydney outfit.

Vocalist and guitarist David Novak spent several years in the music industry working for promoter Chugg Entertainment before high school band mate, drummer, John-Henry Pajak floated the idea of the two of them having a go at it themselves. Three albums, a fourth upcoming this month, and two EPs later the decision to give it a crack has been a good one.

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Polish Club recently dropped a couple of singles from their upcoming Now We’re Cookin’ in Hell record, ‘Boys on Vacation’ and ‘Bad Vibrations’, both songs slapping with the fun rock edge we’re used to. The songs seem to be a bit more pointed than usual though, taking aim at Australia’s absentee leader and all the things wrong with Sydney.

Sco-Mo won’t be getting Novak’s vote – “He shouldn’t be getting anyone’s vote” – and it’s something that he will gladly argue. “I think anyone who votes for them [Liberal] is actively complicit in destroying, at the very least, the very environment in which we live in,” he says.

“It’s an existential threat. There’s no exaggeration in that, and I’m happy to argue anyone that wants to slide into my DMs or comment on it.”

If the follow up name Now We’re Cookin’ in Hell – the previous album was titled Now We’re Cooking – has you worried that you are about to get a 10-track album of overt political commentary, you can relax. That was never the intention and it’s not the ride this record intends to take you on.

“There are a couple of political songs, about things we’re pretty pissed off about and all that,” Novak says.

“There’s intrinsically a bit of a darker edge in these rock songs. You know, we weren’t going as pop [as the last album], so the whole ‘in hell’ thing seemed to make sense to us and it’s kind of funny. Just harking back to the days when people thought rock’n’roll was the devil’s music.”


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As for the timing of the single releases, considering the upcoming election? “The timing was totally fortuitous,” he says. “I mean, if someone is bad at their job, and they do nothing to fix that, it’s kind of inevitable, just like a broken clock is going to be right at some point.”

The songs themselves were coming together at the same time as the songs for Polish Club’s previous album but were put on the shelf at the time. This may surprise, considering how good they are, but the record label didn’t see in them what Novak and John could. It all worked out, as the boys returned to revisit the bones of those tracks and turned them into the fundamentally more rocking Now We’re Cookin’ in Hell.

“We were able to see what the song can be at a much earlier point in writing and demoing,” Novak continues. “Once we had two years to sit on them and flesh them out a bit more, I could come up with all these lyrical angles and then with John’s input, finesse them into actual songs.

“I’m happy that we can do a record like this, where we spend the time and trust our own process and be like, ‘oh yeah, we were right, these are good songs’. We just needed to fight for them and do them in our own time.”

Plus, they managed to have a bit of fun in the process, adding some funk and sax by bringing in John’s partner, Kirsty Tickle of Party Dozen, and experimenting with a wider range of sounds.

“All of these songs were just trying different aspects of rock music and not worrying about them all fitting together,” Novak says.

“You know, I can speak in French in a bridge about a croissant and have someone play the sax over it and no one bats an eye.”

“It’s very freeing to be able to just put that in there and not really have to justify it.”

New albums mean tours and that’s something we’ll see from Polish Club, just maybe not in the traditional sense. Like everybody, the pandemic has impacted what the guys have done and will look at doing in the future. The music industry itself is still in recovery mode and not yet back to where it was in the pre-lockdown period.

“The shit hit the fan and the shows that we had planned, which was our last album tour, only just happened last month,” Novak says. “So, with our last tour having to be postponed twice and having three separate sets of dates, that kind of took the wind out of our sails in terms of planning stuff.

“It’s probably easier now for us to just be like, ‘we’ll play one show here and then once we do that, we’ll do one show there’. It’s hard to do the admin for a tour right now, no one’s buying tickets, no one’s selling out shows.”

While summer’s just past, 2022 is nevertheless cranking right into the next festival season, and with such a large following, a sizable number of hits, a reputation for an amazing live act and a love of festival slots (“it’s the easiest thing in the world”) you’d assume offers would be piling up.

Yer for some reason, that’s not the case, and never really has been for Polish Club.

“We had one person one time say ‘sorry, I’ve already got a rock band on the line-up’,” Novak says.

“It’s annoying because we’re very much a band that plays live because it’s fun, and it’s only ever good because it’s fun. It’s not like people see us because I’m an amazing guitarist, or John’s playing amazing drums. We’d rather die than just do those things. It’s more that it’s fun to do it and I think that is the thing that best translates to a good festival performance.”

Novak doesn’t let the lack of offers worry him too much, so he has his own theory.

“Because we swear too much and we’re old and irrelevant,” he says. “Let’s say that’s why, or maybe it’s because we charge like half a million dollars.”

Now We’re Cookin’ in Hell though is already generating buzz, and just maybe it will nab them a decent slot on a major summer festival. Ultimately, that’s of no matter to Novak, who just wants people to listen to and enjoy the new album whether you’re into politics, sax in rock songs, or French croissant banter.

“I feel like less and less people are going out of their way to listen to music now,” he says. “So, make of it what you may, just fucking listen to it.”

Now We’re Cooking in Hell drops June 10.

Polish Club are playing free live pre-launch shows in Melbourne at The Leadbeater Hotel on June 2 and Sydney- Sunday 5 June at The Botany View Hotel.  Fans can guarantee themselves one 0f 15 double passes to either show if they pre-order Now We’re Cooking in Hell here.