Hailing from upstate New York, fivesome Polar Bear Club wears its musical lineage proudly. The band's name comes from a song by Silent Majority, a melodic hardcore act that ruled Long Island's legendary scene throughout the '90s. Polar Bear Club, the band, formed in 2005, but the group's sound unabashedly mines the previous decade, when hardcore wasn't afraid to get a little emotional and before screamo became a bad word.
Until recently, this would have made for an unlikely commercial bet to make it on the increasingly pop-oriented Warped Tour. But Polar Bear Club is enjoying a special moment. Slightly younger acts like La Dispute and Pianos Become the Teeth have also, in turn, revived the same set of influences for younger fans. This means Polar Bear Club appeals both to this new crop of kids who were too young to experience the sound the first time around as well as the aging 20- and 30-somethings still clutching wistfully to their Hot Water Music and Lifetime records.
We caught up with vocalist Jimmy Stadt by phone in advance of the band's appearance Saturday at the local Warped Tour stop at Cruzan Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach. Here's what he had to say about flying the posthardcore flag and making it as a band in uncertain times.
County Grind: You all tour constantly. How do you even come up with set lists at this point? You have your last album, which came out this past September, but also several older ones to draw from, and then there must be new material.
Jimmy Stadt: Right. We've played the States so many times that we're always trying to think of things we can do to make it a little bit better or cooler or make that night unique to that night, instead of a carbon copy of the last time we were in Salt Lake City or whatever.
Self-interest is probably the biggest part of it. We don't want to be doing the same thing every tour. I read an interview with Gaslight Anthem where the singer said he almost felt bad for people who pay to see their show, because they've probably seen Gaslight Anthem at that club two or three times before that, and here they are paying a fourth or fifth time to see it again. We want to make it worth it for the people there and make it an experience in and of itself.
Since the last album but even last year, things picked up for you guys so quickly. You were on the cover of Alternative Press, and you got an MTVu award. When did you notice the velocity was really increasing?
That's a weird question, and I don't mean that in a "you're stupid" way; it's just that it doesn't necessarily feel like that to me. I think the way it feels to me is, when we first started touring -- our very first tour as a full-time band -- there was a lot of underground hype around us. We were playing amazing, sold-out shows in smaller clubs right out of the gate.
I think when we started to think about building up our, I guess, career as a band, we saw a dropoff in that aspect of things. We started in this spot, and then we started over, almost, in a way. We're sort of climbing back up a different ladder, different from the "buzz band" ladder. And that climb is a lot longer than the buzz-band climb. So I feel like we're still struggling and still climbing. I haven't personally felt the movement or speed of it all.
So we're hoping that now this climb will push us to the next step. Our only goal in this band is to be moving forward and not treading forward, no matter how big the step forward is.
Right, it's easy to see this trajectory from the outside, but you're living it.
Yeah, every day of my life is Polar Bear Club.