Exposure: Polar Bear
- Kelly Smith
- 19 March 2009
Polar Bear - Polar-Bear-tomlovesalicelovestom
You could call them experimental but we say they're weird and wonderful. Playing jazz for people who love Bjork as much as they do Coltrane, Polar Bear is like listening to many worthwhile if controversial conversations all at once. Drummer and founder Sebastian Rochford tells The List about the evolution of the quirky quintet and their signature sound.
Tell us a little about how Polar Bear came to be.
It was started by me with a sax player called Rachel Musson and bass player called Amy Baldwin and gradually turned into what it is now. Think I met Pete first through another sax player, Julian Siegel, in the first minutes of playing together I felt like I had been waiting to meet this person for a long time. Tom, I saw playing and really loved although I was quite nervous playing with him at first as I knew he played a lot with Tom Skinner, who is one of my favourite drummers. Mark, I saw playing and was really blown away by his individuality and the amazing spirit he brought to the gig. John, I met through a friend who knew that I was fascinated by his music, I read an interview with him once and was so intrigued by him I spent a year trying to find his album. When I saw him playing live I realised that what he did was quite spontaneous and thought would really fit with where I wanted to take the band.
You obviously have an array of influences. Tell us some.
I think growing up in such a big family where everyone was into music opened my eyes to lots of different kinds at the same time. My mum loved jazz and Stevie Wonder and my dad loves Bach and Tina Turner.
At the moment I'm listening to Kaushiki Chakrabarty, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Durrty Goodz, Giggs, Pom Pom, Kwes, Joe Grind, Pnur Ozer and Radiohead.
Songs like fluffy I Want You use a mad mesh of sounds, many unidentifiable?
That tune has John playing different sounds through a PlayStation controller, the idea was to mix electronics with the other instruments to create one sound and have moments of not knowing what was doing what.
What is the song Beartown about?
I wrote Beartown driving up Brixton Hill where I used to live after I had been playing in Russia for two weeks and stayed in an area called Beartown. Being there had a real impact on me, I loved the people so much, felt quite different when I came back.
What kind collaborations with other artists have you done?
Think the only collaboration we've done is with Shlomo, the beatboxer, which I enjoyed a lot and have been playing with him since then.
Any album news?
We recorded half of it and recording the other half in beginning of June, am quite excited about it.
What should we expect in Glasgow?
Hopefully music that hasn't been played that way before and some new tunes too.
Polar Bear play with Dirty Projectors and Lucky Dragons at ABC2 in Glasgow on 29 March.