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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Rick Schneider Polaris - Interview
The Rockpit interviews

RICK SCHNEIDER

POLARIS


Polaris

The 5 piece metalcore band from Sydney known as Polaris has had a stellar start to the year already with their new EP "The Guilt & The Grief" hitting number 1 on the Australia rock and metal iTunes charts on it's release this past week and has been doing extremely well on the Triple J hottest 100. Add to that a slot on next year's Legion Music Fest alongside Devildriver, Devil You Know and more and things couldn't be better for the up and coming band. We talk to guitarist Rick Schneider about the huge success so far and everything else happening with the band at the moment.

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Andrew: I heard that you guys have been super successful as far as getting on the charts and all that so you must be happy about all this at the moment!

Rick: Yeah man I suppose it's something that you hope for the best and then see how it goes but so far we've been completely floored with the response. It's been insane, we've sent out a lot of physical orders, iTunes charts have been up there. We've stayed number 1 in metal for a week now so as far as that goes, it's amazing to see how that's going. We didn't expect this kind of response but it's incredibly satisfying to see!

Andrew: Yeah absolutely! I guess that's what any band strives for, to get that kind of positive reaction I suppose.

Rick: Yeah that's it. Like I say, it's what you hope for but you just don't know what to expect until it's out there and that's it.

Andrew: Yeah exactly. Well let's talk about the new release ("The Guilt & The Grief"), which is an EP and not an actual full length.

Rick: Yeah that's right, it's our second 6 track EP. We've had one 6 track release beforehand ("Dichotomy").

Andrew: I guess with an EP, it's a shorter version of an album but was there any particular reason you didn't want to do a full length at this time?

Rick: I suppose there's a few contributing reasons. Partly it's because during the first lead up to the first EP, we had different members in the band, like just over time slowly our band just got stronger and stronger and members changed and got swapped out. But as soon as the first EP lauunched, we kind of had a group together at that point but before it had come out we didn't know where we were going. I suppose this EP is in a small way, kind of a reforming or re-establishing of the band, it's just more of a - what Polaris is going to be from now on - situation. We felt like the EP was a good starting point and now we're kind of in this stride and from here on it's going to be up and up as far as the albums and what not goes.

Andrew: Yeah an EP is not exactly a strange idea now as it's something that a lot of bands seem to be doing at the moment, even some of the bigger ones as well.

Rick: Well that's exactly it. We've followed The Devil Wears Prado for a long time and now they have 4 albums out and 2 EP's out in amongst all that so I suppose EP's are becoming less and less rare. As far as it goes, it does make a lot of sense because it means you can get the release out a bit quicker, the launch window is a bit more brief and it also means you can move on to the next project a bit quicker as well.

Andrew: What was it this time around that you wanted to maybe achieve or improve on?

Rick: I suppose it was that commercialbility, not like in a radio friendly kind of way but more like with our first EP when we dropped, it was a good release and were really satisfied with it but it was pretty much just Sydney based. We weren't really known outside of Sydney very much and over the course of the EP, it's spread out but upon launch we didn't really have much there. But with the kind of fanbase that we grew from that point, we thought, Ok this EP can actually drop out to pretty much Australia wide and even a little bit of an international kind of exposure as well. So we thought that would be good as well, it's kind of like our first big foray but we do have another EP back there, it just never really launched in the same way this could today or this week.

Andrew: What kind of reviews have you been getting at the moment?

Rick: It's been overall positive as well. There's been a kind of...usually here and there but overall it's been really positive, there hasn't been anyone trashing us. I suppose, again you put it out there and you don't really know what people are going to take it because one week something is cool, the next week it's lame and 2 weeks later it's back and 6 months down the track it's considered classic. You just never know what to expect with genres and styles and what people are going to take.

Andrew: Yeah that's right. I guess when you are creating your own music, I suppose you don't think about the longevity of the material, whether it is going to be something that will last. Or do you actually think about that kind of stuff?

Rick: I think it's something that crosses your mind but at the same time, it's impossible to judge. To be the next trend, it's almost as much alike as it is a kind of skill. Everyone's writing music to please themselves and hopefully it will appeal to people but at the same time, you don't know whether it's going to catch on. You just gotta go with your gut and say, 'Do I enjoy this?' I suppose that's one of the benefits of our band now, all 5 of us do have a very creative kind of input one way or another. Not everyone writes the music, not everyone writes the lyrics but we all have our stamp of approval for lack of a better term and everything that comes out, we are all satisfied as a group. So we just hope that it finds that kind of collective appreciation as well through other people.

Andrew: Yeah absolutely I think you are right and I think honesty in your own music is the best way to go about it I guess.

Rick: Yeah you're not trying to achieve something that you are not.




Andrew: Yeah that's right. Now one of the other big things we need to talk about is the Legion Music Festival which you guys got added onto just recently.

Rick: That's right and that's going to be next year but that's going to be a big one. So it's currently being crowd funded so hopefully it all goes together with more lineups and more acts are getting announced each few weeks and months so it's just shaping up to be a bigger and bigger event as time goes on, so yeah it's pretty exciting to look at.

Andrew: Yeah we've been following this since the beginning and I had the pleasure of talking to John Sankey (Legion Music Fest organiser) just recently about the whole thing and it's a lot of work I guess! But this will probably be your biggest show's that you will be doing at this stage?

Rick: Yeah without a doubt as far as a kind of festival situation show, we've never really been close to that. The closest I think we've ever come was Free Your Mind Fest back in 2013, it was the Northlane, Thy Art Is Murder, Veil Of Maya and Volumes tour and also Make Them Suffer. And so we did the Sydney local spot for that which was at a sold out Metro Theatre so that's about as close as we've come with that but as far as this, this is supposed to be 10 thousand tickets per state. So for us to be on 3 of those shows is just monumental.

Andrew: It would probably feel good to be a part of this if it does happen because it's the first one ever and also the whole crowd funding thing so to be a part of something like this is historical in some way.

Rick: Well that's exactly it. Again, to watch it from the outside, it's impressive to see it all take shape and if it all does go through and ends up being something then yeah, hopefully the beginning of that kind of era. Because with Soundwave gone, we do need these kind of replacements and these new wave of ideas and with the age of crowd funding as it is, it's a big potential and if it goes ahead, then yeah it's exciting to see the future of it.

Andrew: What are your thoughts on the whole Soundave thing? Because obviously it was a huge issue when it happened but what are your thoughts on that whole thing?

Rick: Well I don't know. You see so many people complaining about Soundwave year to year but Soundwave has always been there and I suppose as time goes on, it's easier for people to take things for granted and kind of point the finger and make light of something else. Yeah you could say there were mistakes here and there but I'm not one to say that, I don't know how to run a business and as far as Soundwave went, it was one of the most important heavy music festivals in Australian history as far as I can really tell. So as far as that goes, it's a big loss but hopefully there is replacements and things that can take that mantle and kind of move it forward because heavy music definitely isn't dying out in Australia. We just need the festivals to solidify that.

Andrew: As far as the Legion Music Fest is concerned, is there any particular bands that you are looking forward to checking out?

Rick: To be honest I haven't checked out Aversions Crown in a long time and their new music is actually getting me pretty geared up, for lack of a better term. But I'm trying to think who else is on there, we've heard some rumors about who else is on there and to be honest, there's a couple of the higher up bands who I'm pretty excited to see but that's all for future announcements! Overall it's really diverse as well which is one of the exciting things, I suppose that was the thing that Soundwave also achieved. It wasn't just all metal, metal, metal the whole time, it was kind of like metal with a bit of out there metal with a bit of alternative rock and it's kind of shaping up in that same way where if you like one band on the bill, you'll almost definitely like another band but every band is really diverse which is an exciting thing to see. As it grows bigger and bigger, it's just going to be a really exciting thing to see once the full lineup is out there and see how everyone takes it as a full package.

Andrew: Yeah fingers crossed that it happens. Now you got your own tour coming up very soon, doing a few shows around Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and all that. What can the fans expect on this one?

Rick: Well it's not really our tour, it's us doing a support tour for Stories. So it's along side Belle Haven and Perspectives and they're just on a few of the dates. It's pretty much a short and sweet east coast tour, so Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and a Wollongong show, so just a small one in Wollongong. But as far as that goes, it's a short and sweet tour and I suppose it's a good opportunity for people to come out and check out the new songs off the EP. It's the first chance for people to come out and hear the songs off the EP and know them 'cause we have been playing a few of them for probably 3 months now but as far as it goes, people haven't really known the songs so it's exciting to see that and hopefully it's exciting for people as well to come and check out the new songs when they know them.




Andrew: Are you planning on doing a headliner tour at some stage as well?

Rick: It's in the works, we are currently over the past week or 2, really starting to nail down the details. We got something in the pipeline but nothing to really report on just yet.

Andrew: I don't know if you guys have been over to Perth yet as that's where we are based at the moment?

Rick: Oh yeah we came to Perth for the first time in December on the Dream On Dreamer tour. We just came over there as a one show trip but it was a pretty good time, it was actually pretty promising for our first time over in Perth. We were pretty impressed that people actually already knew and people were asking us to come back. Just as far as finances go, I think we gotta really weight it up especially with the whole launch of the EP so we just gotta see what our next best option is. But we definitely plan to come back as soon as possible.

Andrew: Yeah it is one of those things because Perth is so far away from the rest of the other cities that it is quite expensive financially, so it's understandable that bands can't come over here as often as we would like.

Rick: Yeah that's exactly.

Andrew: But it's certainly appreciated when you guys make the trek over here, certainly not lost on a lot of us.

Rick: We appreciate it as well, just to have the demand over there is a very nice thing to see. We don't plan to shun Perth in any way, the whole thing is we probably had maybe 2 or 3 opportunities to go there in the past but it just hasn't worked out in the moment. And with the Dream On Dreamer tour, they were going to Perth and we just said, 'Yeah alright, we can do it. Let's not put it off again and it makes sense, let's go there'. It's kind of that situation, you gotta take everything as it comes and in that situation, it worked out but it just doesn't always work out in the grand scheme of things. It sucks in that sense but it's definitely something that we're not opposed to.

Andrew: Just take us back to the history of the band, how did you guys first get together and what are some of your influences?

Rick: I suppose the band really started with Daniel (Furnari, Drums) and Jake Steinhauser, Bass). So they went to school together and they were one grade apart but they kind of found each other mutually in school because Daniel played drums, Jake played guitar and they both like Killswitch Engage and all those kind of real metalcore, mid-2000's metalcore bands and they were just vibing over the same stuff. And as time went on, they were like, 'Ok let's start to make a band out of it', so they then ended up finding me just through mutual friends again and they go, 'Oh I heard you can play guitar'. So I jumped in with them, then we got a synth player back in the day who was another one of our mutual friends and then we actually picked up Jamie (Hails, Vocals) again by just someone, like 'Do you know anyone who can do vocals?' 'Oh check out this guy Jaimie Hails. So we did a trial with him, after the first maybe 2 hours of practice, we were like, 'Yep, solid. Moving forward'. And then we actually had Jake's brother for a while in the position of bass and then after quite a while it just didn't work out in that way, just with commitments and where people were going with their lives. They just decided to part ways so it ended up Jake moving to bass, picked up Ryan (Siew) in the second guitar spot and we just didn't end up going with the synth player. So that's pretty much the lineup as it is and it's been going like that for probably 2 and a half years now, so pretty happy with how it is and the way it got there.

Andrew: So obviously having a steady lineup is a very healthy thing, you sort of work out what everyone does and that kind of thing?

Rick: Well that's it. I think if there's any kind of animosity where people want someone else out of the band, it's never going to work in the long run. It's going to rise to a boiling point and it's going to go wrong so the fact that we're all kind of settling into our regime, we know what we're doing, we know what position we fill. It's comforting and it's also a really healthy and I suppose productive way of doing things because it's just not going to work otherwise.

Andrew: Yeah chemistry is obviously a very important thing in any band if it's going to work.

Rick: Yeah that's it.

Andrew: As far as guitar players are concerned, who is your biggest influences on the guitar?

Rick: That's really tough because I suppose my influences don't really gel with what I write but at the same time, for example the new Intervals record, Aaron Marshall on that completely destroyed everything but at the same time, he's pretty much plays prog rock which is nothing like what we do! And then out side of that, I suppose there's Mark Okubo from Veil Of Maya and just a few bands that I listen to. I usually skew towards the heavier side of music so as far as like Veil Of Maya and even a few people with just riffs and stuff that I look up to like After The Burial's new material is just insane as far as that goes. I suppose we all take a very diverse range of influences, like Daniel is more into hardcore, Jake's more into electronic stuff and hooks and pop as far as chorus inspiration and me and Ryan are just all spectrums of guitar pretty much.

Andrew: Having a diverse influence shapes the music in quite [an interesting way]. Your music is diverse in that you really have a fluent combination of the melodic stuff and the heavy kind of stuff.

Rick: Yeah that's it. As far as it goes, pretty much all I listen to all day is heavy music but at the same time, I'm not about to write a 4 minute song of just breakdowns or 3 songs in a row which are just heavy. I understand the importance and the diversity of having melodic natures in your music, it's all about contrast and suspense and build up at the same time. Without the melody, if you are just doing heavy all day, eventually it's just going to get tiresome and it's going to get predictable and boring. With having melodic parts and also heavy parts, it just allows you to kind of toy and have a bit more fun with it.

Andrew: OK cool, it's always good to hear the diverse aspect because sometimes if it's one particular style, it can get quite tedious and a little boring to listen to after a while I guess so totally understandable. Congratulations on the EP and all your success so far, it's hitting the charts really well. Thanks for your time today and have fun on tour!

Rick: Thank you for your time as well, thanks for the questions and thank you again for the congratulations. Cheers man!


__________________________________________________
STORIES AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2016:
w/ Polaris, Belle Haven & Perspectives

Thursday 11 February - BRISBANE Crowbar
Friday 12 February - SYDNEY Red Rattler
Sunday 28 February - WOLLONGONG Rad Bar (all ages)
Friday 4 March - ADELAIDE Enigma Bar
Saturday 5 March - MELBOURNE Worker's Club

2017 LEGION FEST DATES

Thursday 26th January - MELBOURNE
Saturday 27th January - SYDNEY
Sunday 29th January - BRISBANE

Tickets and tour details can be found at Legionmusicfest.com.

Legion Music Fest


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Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on February 5th 2016