Rochester, NY, rockers Polar Bear Club have a reputation for their energetic live shows and well-crafted songs. Let me tell you – everything you’ve heard is true, every last bit of it. I had a chance to catch up with vocalist Jimmy Stadt before the guys hit the Warped Tour this summer – check out what he had to say here. We talk about the band’s upcoming album, the success of the Living Saints video, and how they almost didn’t sign to Bridge 9 Records.
Thank you to Stephanie and Chris from B9 for hooking this up, and of course to Jimmy and the rest of PBC for an awesome interview and a better show. More pictures from this show are up here.
What do we need to know about you right off the bat?
Jimmy Stadt (vocals): I like movies. I like stuff. I really like Pac-Man, and we’re sitting next to a Pac-Man machine, so I’m thinking about that. I went a short quest to beat the records on Pac-Man machines at all the bars on tour. I really only play Pac-Man, though. Donkey Kong is too hard, but typically Ms. Pac-Man is where I like to go.
What’s one question you hate getting asked in interviews?
JS: “Do you have anything else to add?” No, I don’t have anything else to add. You’re the one doing the interview, pal. I’ve been dealing with it for long, I really should just sit down and write an answer. I’m rebelling against it, I think that’s the way to go. I’m rebelling against those young webzines.
How’s Goose doing? I heard his knee got busted up.
JS: He’s good, he’s on tour with us. He missed the last two months, which we pretty much had off. But he’s taking it easy, because he should still be at home resting. We’re really glad the unit is back together, though. It was weird without him there – kind of like wearing the wrong size shirt.
What are you most excited about for this summer’s Warped Tour?
JS: Just getting into the routine of it. We’ve never played Warped before, and I think we’re prepared – mentally and materially. I’m just ready to get into the routine of it, and have the anticipation be over. Also, there’s a lot of our friends on there – even if the shows suck, I can’t imagine it being a bad time. If you’re on a tour with people you like, the shows can kind of suck and you’ll still be okay.
Has anything crazy happened so far on this tour?
JS: We did see a fight today. We pulled into Baltimore, and there was a fight in the middle of the street. We’re all big fans of The Wire, so we were looking for the landmarks from the show, very touristy. I think it’s great that The Wire added to the list of things to see in Baltimore. If I were from here, I would be so proud of it, because it is the greatest television show ever made. It’s The Godfather of TV.
How did you guys end up on Bridge 9?
JS: In 2008, we decided to go full-time as a band. There were a small handful of labels who were looking at us, who were waiting for that to show some interest. So we went and talked to all of them, and Bridge 9 was one of the last labels that we were going to meet with. Honestly, we almost skipped the meeting.
We were just a little misinformed about the label. Now, they’re branching out a lot more, but then they were mostly a hardcore label. They’d signed Crime In Stereo, and then Energy, and then us. But we went to the meeting and we were blown away. And it’s been great – they’re such an awesome indie, up-and-coming label. There’s really a great vibe around them. I don’t really care if we don’t sound like other bands on the label – the label doesn’t define the bands. The people were good and that’s all that mattered.
Your last album, Chasing Hamburg, came out last September – what kind of response have you gotten to it?
JS: It’s been mixed, but I think it’s been something of a slow burner, because now I’m seeing more kids into the newer songs than I was a couple months ago. In America and England, we have a lot of older fans, who have been into us since the beginning – so they really go for the older albums. Now we’ve gotten a bunch of newer fans, but in England and America, the older songs are the ones that they really go off for. Some people speculated about what our new album would sound like, and had gotten attached to that idea. But they’re starting to come around, I think a lot of them are lightening up on it. It’s really interesting, being a band for so long
It was weird though – we went to Australia and had a mixed set-list of old and new songs. They didn’t even know the old songs. They went apeshit for the new stuff, so we started playing longer sets of almost all new songs. It was really flattering and a different experience.
You guys made a video for Living Saints – how did that happen?
JS: We had wanted to do a video with our friend Tom Colella. We would stay with him when we played in New York, and he’s in “the biz” so we had always drunkenly talked about it – “We gotta make a video, and when we do, man, we want it to be with you!” I really honestly never thought it would happen, that’s the way those things go. But he was like “No, seriously. I want to get my name out there, and I think you guys could really help me with that and I could really help you guys.” So when it came down to it, we said “Let’s fucking do it!” He conceived the idea and shot it in 3 days and edited it for a long, long time – 6 or 8 months. It was shot in September and then I went back for two more days.
Are you guys happy with it?
JS: I’m really happy with it, and I’m really surprised with the response, honestly.
You guys won a contest on MTV.com – any other awards or acclaim?
JS: That was a big thing. But the internet is a place where people go to talk shit – and I know where to go to see that. And I read it every now and then. The lack of that on the Living Saints video amazed me – because it is different than most band videos. I was very surprised and proud of the response. We couldn’t be happier.
Is it true that Chris Browne was being considered for the Supreme Court last year?
JS: Not at all. He was in law school before we went full-time, and some of his law school friends put some shit like that up on our Wikipedia page.
What’s the last album you bought?
JS: I just bought Louis CK’s comedy album, but that doesn’t count. I just bought an album by Wye Oak. They’re an indie trio that I saw on the internet and liked. It’s called My Neighbor/My Creator. Before that, it was the Tigers Jaw/Balance and Composure split. I bought the new Muse album – I liked the radio single so I checked it out. It was okay – it was a change of pace. Been listening to a lot of Elvis Costello, too. Costello is sort of underrated, in the punk scene. Like there are songwriters that are accepted in the punk scene, like Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young and Tom Petty. But Costello just doesn’t come up as often in the punk scene.
If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing these days?
JS: I went to college for acting. I love movies, but what I really love is theater. Shakespeare, Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller. I wasn’t that into musicals, but I understand the aesthetic of it. When you’re so emotional that you have to sing, and then you can’t sing anymore so you have to dance. It never hit me like Death of a Salesman. I loved doing plays and I still do, and I will definitely do some again when I get some time off from this. And when I’m older too. I don’t have a time cap on it, but if I’m 60 and nobody cares about Polar Bear Club anymore – well even if they do, I’ll find a way to do theater.
You guys are on Warped Tour, then you have a European tour. What’s up next after that?
JS: We’re going to take September to do a big chunk of writing. We’ve already got some things written here and there, but we’re going to write as much as we can and then look to start another tour in October. I hope to be in the studio in December. Mainly so we don’t have to tour in the winter. But yeah, we’re looking at an early 2011 release on Bridge 9.
Awesome. Thanks for sitting down with me, and good luck on tour.
JS: No problem.