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The Year of Polarcode Print E-mail
Written by GREG DORN   
Friday, 08 February 2013
2013 just might be the year of Polarcode. Hot off the tail of their self-titled debut album, Polarcode continues to blow away venues all over Chicago with their unique brand of alternative rock music. Gearing up for their headlining gig tonight, February 8 at Subterranean, Lumino Magazine caught up with keyboardist and primary songwriter Eric Stang to discuss the band’s sound, their songwriting process and invading Chicago’s music scene. Lumino Magazine will be there to cover Friday’s show.

Polarcode


Subterranean
Chicago, Ill.
February 8, 2013

A person has never heard Polarcode. How would you describe your band to them?

If I was going to use other groups that we were influenced by, I would probably say Muse, Coldplay, Radiohead, Incubus and to quote some new groups that are kind of out there, Mutemath. And I guess you can say OneRepublic

When I listen to your music and I hear that very rich, heavy, layered and melodic sound with that alternative edge, the bands that actually came to mind are U2, Coldplay, Radiohead, Kings of Leon, Fun., The Strokes, Maroon 5 and Muse. Most notably, I hear Soundgarden a la their Superunknown, trippy alternative days.

Sure, I’d say we’re definitely influenced in some ways by groups like Soundgarden or maybe even Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam’s a great rock band, but they can write songs that were very popular, you know?

Bands out there now, who’s sound are you digging these days. Who’s on Eric Stang’s iPod?

Mutemath is one of the newest bands that I really love, and they’re cool because they’re a keyboarded fronted band, and they’re really creative with their sound, and they’re just fantastic. I do like Fun. I like Gotye, just for the layers he uses and the different sounds and different textures that go on in that music. It’s really fun to listen to. And I would say I still like Linkin Park, actually. I was not a huge fan of theirs until one of the albums they put out a couple years ago, A Thousand Suns. And the album’s awesome! So, like whenever band puts out really great effort with beautifully put together music, that’s usually something I’m interested in.

Are these contemporary bands influencing the music that Polarcode is making today?

I would definitely say yes, because we started off playing music a little more in that, traditional kind of rock setting, but not too traditional because there’s no guitar in our band. Its all keyboard based. I play a Fender Rhodes through a Fender guitar amp. I play piano synthesizers. So we already came to it in a little different way than most rock bands. The way we put together our sound is more modern now. We don’t just go for the standard chord progressions that you might find in any band. We try to have different sections where, "oh, maybe just this one piano part’s the focus or maybe just the drum section is the focus or maybe just the vocal’s the focus." We’re trying to open it up and give you a lot of different tantalizing sounds.

Someone comes to a Polarcode show. What do you want them walking away thinking?

I want people to come to our show, like the show we have Friday, which we’re very excited about at Subterranean that we’re headlining, I want them walking away from the show just being blown away. If we’re a band they didn’t even know, or didn’t hear of us, it doesn’t matter because they had so much fun at our show. We’re doing all these different types of stage antics where we change instruments, where we pick up different instruments. We keep the show moving really well, really fun, really upbeat and different and paced. We try to make it really fun, and I want people to leave the show humming our songs, being blown away by our talent and ability and interested in hearing us.

They say music speaks to people. Bands get together because they have something to say, something to share. What are you trying to say, both lyrically and musically? What’s Polarcode’s message?

We don’t have a specific message because every song we write is different, and I’m the main songwriter, so really it depends on song by song. A lot of our broad messages are about positivity, about overcoming adversity in life, about personal struggles, about the technology and the rise of technology in this new world, and like facing this crazy 21st century world we’re in right now and everything that goes along with that. So I think it’s just like any other band, some songs are just a fun song about a girl or a situation. Some songs are more topical about what’s going on. Like one of our songs is called “Singularity,” and that song is kind of about the concept about how machines and human beings are kind of merging, and how we’re going to become more and more symbiotic over the course of the next 50 years. And that’s an idea that intrigues me, so I wrote a song about it. So, you keep it varied. You can get all over the place, and that’s a goal of ours. If you listen to our first album, all the songs on there are very different. We don’t just try to write one style of song. We want to have an intense-crazy song, an epic song, a laidback song, a sparse song. So, we find it interesting to write different types of material that’s just gonna kind of convey the spectrum of human emotion.

You’re obviously a very emotionally driven band. You said you’re the primary songwriter. Can you briefly walk through the process of how you guys compose your songs?

Sure! Usually I get an idea for either a melodic hook, or maybe a lick or a melodic part on the piano that’s gonna be the theme of the song, or maybe a chord change or maybe a synth part. I bring something in. It’s usually better when I have a little more of an idea of like a chorus. I bring it to the band and we kind of just play through that idea and I go, “let’s try this out.” I give the lyrics to my singer. My drummer’s really great and our bass player is really great. They hear what I play and they go “okay, I’m gonna try this beat out with this,” or “oh, I think it would be cool if I play it like this.” And then we kind of get that first idea formulated, but it’s not really a song yet, and we record it. We put that in the bank, and if we think it’s good enough to revisit the following week, or for me to flush it out, then we say yes. Then I’ll go home and take what we recorded and develop it out. I’ll try to write some verses for it, try to write a new chorus. I’ll bring it back and it just grows from there. Every time I bring it back to the group we add more, we try more things out. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes it does work. You never know. And eventually, it kind of finishes up to a song and then there’s the whole process of “oh ok, how are we gonna play this song and what instruments do we want to use, and is it good?” So it’s definitely become a process that we’ve become really good at. I like it. You just take the initial idea and you run with it. You don’t try to force it to become something it isn’t. You just say “here’s an idea, let’s try it out.” And we never, ever turn anything down from the initial start. We’ll try anything. If it’s a weird idea, we’ll try it out. If it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t. But we give everything a shot.

So the other band members often pitch ideas and sounds?

The bass player in my band doesn’t really write lyrics, but he’ll write a bass line or an idea for a song or a chord change or something. For a new song that’s going to be on our EP called “Brothers,” he came up with an idea of this cool-moving bass line, and then I added some chords over it. I added some lyrics to it and all of the sudden it became this cool thing. So, he kind of brings his thing with his bass playing. He plays keyboard bass and electric bass. My drummer Mario [Cerutti] is a very creative guy. He’ll always have something interesting to say about an idea we’re trying to do or how we should play it, or “what if I tried this beat over it,” and then our singer just kind of does his thing over it, takes the lyrics and does what he can do. It’s a pretty fun process and everyone contributes heavily to it.

You guys have played all over the country in major music markets including L.A., New York, Boston, etc. What stands out about playing in Chicago’s music scene?

I like playing in Chicago because I think there’s an opportunity for us here to build a really big following and to stand out. I think you have a lot of competition in New York and L.A.; a lot people that are maybe a little more polished than some of the bands here. But there are some great bands in Chicago. I just think it allows us to grow a little more than trying to go out to L.A. or New York and play there because I feel like the competition there is a bit heavier and maybe they expect a flashier show. They’re all trying to prove something out there. We have the opportunity to just kind of do what we do right now and become a better band. And that’s what we need to do.

Looking forward, what does 2013 look like for Polarcode?

We’re doing this EP in March. We’re gonna probably release it in May and do an EP release show in June. It’s a three-song EP with songs that we really are confident in. We want to do some music videos and we’re just gonna be promoting and playing. We want to spend the whole summer playing as much as we can; touring, playing in Chicago, playing festivals. From that point on, we’re just looking towards either getting signed or moving up in the ranks and trying to get a hit.

Polarcode will be headlining Subterranean this Friday, February 8th at 10pm Get your tickets Here www.ticketweb.com

Subterranean

2011 W. North Ave.

Chicago, IL 60647

(773) 278-6684 http://subt.net

Comments
2013 looks great
Written by Guest on 2013-02-08 13:38:04
Polarcode is amazing. These are trained musicians doing what they do best, not a garage band who does this on the side. They live and breathe music and it shows. There is nothing like them out there right now and I can't wait to see where 2013 takes them.
Yeah
Written by Guest on 2013-02-08 15:56:52
Polarcode rocks it, I'm going to their show tonight at Subterranean, can't wait to see it!
Super Talented Group
Written by Guest on 2013-02-08 16:26:46
These guys are masters at music. They bring a polished sound to their music, because they are schooled in music. Unique, but love all of their stuff. Good for all ages..........
One of Chicago's best.
Written by Guest on 2013-02-08 17:30:52
Have been to all their Chicago performances, you MUST see them!
Great Music
Written by Guest on 2013-02-08 18:51:27
This group is truly unlike anything I've heard. The talent shines even beyond the impressive songwriting. I've seen them live before and look forward to this show tonight.
Polarcode fan
Written by Guest on 2013-02-10 16:14:37
Saw the gig at Subterranean, and they blew everyone away! The crowd was jumping, dancing and cheering them on. Music was amazing! Love the way they share instruments. Drummer is crazy good!
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