“We’re just a couple of douchebags on drums and guitar. It’s not rocket science.”
One half of Polish Club is in Sydney speaking to me about the year that’s been and what 2018 has in store. He’s in a writing session. Not writing anything in particular but just spending time immersed in the writing process.
“I’ve been starting to write again with John (drummer), but I’m just kind of doing writing sessions with whoever wants to come in. Just trying to get into that headspace of writing without a specific goal in mind,” he explained.
Having recently quit full-time work, Novak is taking his music seriously. He’s stuck in a windowless room writing, he’s moved back in with his parents and forming new habits around band work. John-Henry still has a full-time job but Novak says just juggling the demands of writing, touring and media commitments alongside full-time work was just not “ideal” for him.
“It’s a pretty exhausting, demanding thing, especially when we have shows every weekend. So, I’ve taken some time off and I’m trying to live cheap and be creative as possible in the meantime,” he said.
“ I’m ignoring my age and being a kid again and just trying to keep this thing afloat. We’re able so sustain the band but you have to make personal sacrifices if you want to give it the time – which means not doing a shitty side job. It’s an interesting way to live, but I’m trying to be as productive as I can be.”
So he’s putting the time aside as if music is his full-time job and he says that’s all about forming habits and getting better at what you do.
“There’s lots we have to do that isn’t music too,” Novak said. “Like marketing and social media – which takes a lot of time. It’s not hard to fill a day. I do enjoy that part, but it’s a big drain.”
“Fortunately I have all the time in the world. I don’t have any money. On paper it sounds amazing but in reality it’s a balance for my mental sanity.”
It’s been a reasonably rapid ascent to fame for this Sydney two-piece. First uploading to triple j Unearthed in 2015 and soon being artist of the month and scoring a feature album for their debut offering ‘Polish Club’ as well, the band were ARIA Award nominees in 2017, alongside Gang Of Youths for Best Rock Album no less. When the band performed a cover of Flume’s ‘Never Be Like You’ their social media went nuts – literally doubling their fans overnight. Novak is conscious though that people’s attention spans are really short.
“You have to realise there’s an opportunity there and the only goal you can have in mind is to sustain the band and your creativity.”
“It’s a very fleeting thing and you have to work on your relationship with your biggest fans. You make some financial sacrifices in the short term but everything we do now is super important for us moving forward and just being in a band that can keep being creative in the long run.”
ARIA Award nomination aside, 2017 was a massive year for the duo. They launched their album ‘Alright Already’ early in the year before backing it up with EP ‘Okie Dokie’.
“We don’t like to keep still too long and we don’t like to give ourselves too much time to think about writing and recording,” Novak explains of the two releases in one year. “We work best when we’re under deadline. We had a few songs left over from the album which we thought were good enough to release, wrote some new ones and frankensteined an EP.”
And it seems he’s conscious of those fleeting moments of fame.
“We don’t want to wait two or three years between things. We might not get that chance in the future.”
“Now people are fans of the band and expect releases regularly so we have to allocate time to write music which is a kind of pressure we’ve never had before, so we have to divvy up our time,” he said.
That fleeting nature of the music industry is prominent when Novak speaks. HE says the pair had no real expectations when they released their ARIA-Award nominated album ‘Alright Already’.
“We’re both old enough to be cynical about it and understand that anything – success and fans and playing shows that people go to – a large part of it is luck and stuff like writing good songs and working your ass off is just a prerequisite.”
“The end game isn’t guaranteed to be success if you work hard and write good songs. We’re conscious that we have to bust our ass 24/7. We have to make the most of it now – we have to back that up. Nothing’s changed, we just take a moment every now and then to be grateful for what we have so far.”
And while he’s grateful he’s still also a bit overwhelmed with the whole ARIA business.
“That was hilarious. We were not expecting it. I’m still not sure how it happened. But yeah, we felt like a fish out of water at the awards.”
“Fortunately it wasn’t a dry house and I just got shitfaced. It’s just the old cliché – it was nice to be a part of it. It’s not something you aspire to, but it’s always a positive when it happens.”
So after the red carpet, what’s next? Novak says there’s more music on the horizon as well as their international debut.
“We’re going to try and release some stuff overseas,” he said. “Go to America in the next couple of months and do some stuff there for the first time – that’ll be super exciting.”
“We have 20 songs we’ve released here in Australia and it seems stupid that we haven’t done that overseas.”
“We also have a Valentines’ song coming out – a cover of Savage Garden. And hopefully at the end of year we’ll have a new album.”
It seems that quitting his day job was a good move for Novak and for Polish Club and he’s excited about his upcoming trip to the Gold Coast for Ozfest.
“It’s going to be awesome. The last time we were there , which was the first time, we played a show at elsewhere and it was the only time that I’ve known seen blood at a Polish Club show.”
“And I’m not sure how it happened but there’s a photo of a guy – and I’m yet to be proven wrong – but I’m pretty sure he’s orgasming at the front of the stage.”
“So, yeah, the bar is set pretty high for the GC,” he laughed.
“It’s going to be a million degrees inside at Ozfest. We’re going to have a sweaty time.”
“I’m sure someone will end up bleeding or crying.”
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Polish Club are at OzFest, Miami Tavern on Saturday 27 January. Limited tickets are still available with Cosmic Psychos, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Rackett, Pandamic, IVEY, Peach Fur, Bad Pony, Dangerpenny and Beddy Rays also on the live lineup and the One Day DJs on the decks.