Interview:
Polak

Quite simply adorable

Maybe it’s the curse of the national music press, or just the reputation one of his former bands fast built up that follows this man around, but just why this latest incarnation, ‘Polak’, are not sitting on top of the World has to be anyones guess. A talented singer/songwriter who possesses a natural ability to create infectious ‘tunes’ that will fast move themselves into your life, is just one of the positive sides to this new ‘creation’ of Piotr Fijalkowski. Or is it that ‘taste’ just never happened in the minds and eyes of the greater record buying public.

So when approached to take a listen to the new album by Polak, Rubbernecking, Atomicduster simply lept at the chance of talking with this perhaps most underrated of artists to emerge kicking and screaming from the late eighties/early nineties indie scene. An artist who quite openly rejected ‘shoe gazing’ as any relation. Nick James picks up the story;

AD: In your 14 or so years involved in the music industry, how have you seen changes affect musicians and young bands especially. And how do you view these?


PF: The position and status of the kind of music I like has changed, but then that's the nature of popular music, as trends develop pretty quickly. In 1995 practically anyone with a guitar and a half-decent song got into the Top40. Unfortunately this coincided with the one period of my musical life when I was sitting behind a keyboard trying to be The Pet Shop Boys! Timing has never been my strong point.

The whole world of 'Indie' labels, that was so precious (and in retrospect, quite anally so) in the early 90's has totally dissappeared. Increasingly bands have to strike out on their own, maybe releasing records on their own label before being picked up by a bigger label.

The emmergence of the internet is a really interesting development in the last few years. When Adorable were around (1992-4) the idea of having a website for the band didn't even cross our or Creation's minds. I think this shows how quickly the medium has developed in such a short period of time. It's still finding it's place in the market, and for all the tales of bands who made it just off internet sales/presence there are probably 10,000 who haven't, so it's not a short-cut to success, it's just an alternative route.

AD: In your time as a musician do you have any regrets?. Maybe routes you wish you had taken, or projects that might‚ve headed ‘skywards’.

PF: Regrets? I've had few, but there again too few to mention.

AD: Where do you feel most comfortable, both musically and personally?

PF: Musically - within the womb-like confines of downbeat guitars.
Personally - either in a bath, or with a cork-screw and a chilled bottle of dry white wine.

AD: Previously the music press described one of your former musical incarnations, ‘Adorable’, as “Arrogant Bastards”. A comment perhaps arrived at over no more than a cup of coffee and a fag! But if over elevenses you were asked to do the same, how would you describe yourself, both then and now?

PF: Then we were young & eager, we sat around and analysed things too much. Oh, the follies of youth. I was Icarus - a twat with wings!

I'm now a happy bum.

AD: Who would you most like to be (or be like) and who today do feel you most relate to?

PF: I'm pretty happy being me, complete with all the faults, flaws and fuck-ups. I relate most to my daughter.

AD: ‘Against Perfection’, I’m certain would be considered among many a music fan’s top albums (my deputy editor certainly rates it among his top 5!) Why do you think ‘Adorable’, failed to achieve the success that once seemed inevitable?

PF: I think our cack-handed attempts in a couple of interviews at distancing ourselves from the shoe-gazing movement, pretty much sealed our fate early on. By trying to come over as outspoken to counteract the meekness of a lot of bands who were around at the time, we merely alienated the press. We subsequently never got an interview in the NME or Melody Maker after our first single. Our mouths were our achilles heel.

Our 2nd album 'Fake' wasn't exactly an escape route out of the situation we found ourselves in either.

AD: You described ‘Adorable’s’ last album, ‘Fake’, as one produced by “four guys who felt like the World was against them.” Is this a lesson you’ve since learnt from and how do you keep the ‘angry young man’ under control when writing new material?

PF: I don't think I was angry, more dejected, small, vulnerable, and these things came over in the album.

I'm not sure if you can make a true album and distance yourself from the prevailing mood that you're in. You have to be yourself. I think by the time we came to make 'Fake' the band were having a collective breakdown. The main lesson I learnt was to approach each album as if it's your last (hence Polak's first album title 'Swansongs').

AD: What do you consider as your trademark?

PF: An inability to delegate.

The other Polaks would probably say it's my musical maxim of 'when in doubt go down a semi-tone'.

AD: Your compositions possess a certain lyrical beauty. Where do you gain your inspiration and who do you consider your mentor?

PF: I don't really have one. I don't particularly listen that closely to other people's lyrics.

AD: Would it be fair to say then that it’s your own experiences that are your inspiration and that you are your own mentor?

PF: To say 'I am my own mentor' is far too pretentious and conceited, even for someone as pretentious and conceited as myself, to say!

AD: On a ‘pop-tip’, if you were able to return to the time 5 or 6 years ago, when confronted with ‘Casino’ an A&R guy likened you to ‘Dollar’! What would you have liked to have done to him and where would have liked to shove your microphone?

PF: Well the truth is, he was probably right, and it was me & Sian who were deluding ourselves that we were doing some kind of 90's ironic Lee & Nancy pop thing.

AD: It is obvious where ‘Casino’ is concerned, but what do you see as the major difference between ‘Adorable’ and ‘Polak’?

PF: About 8 years.


AD: What is your presence online and how important a communication medium do you consider this?

PF: The internet is very important to Polak, as our records are only released in the UK, and everywhere else they're on import, so it's the easiest way of us keeping in contact with our fans around the world. We've got an idea for the next album that would use the medium more but we'll see...

(and before you ask, it's not an 'internet only release'!).

AD: So with all this talk recently of declining record sales and companies like HMV deciding to offer music fans‚ the opportunity to download music for the price of a monthly subscription, do you feel that the internet is one way to nurture new talent and help smaller bands survive, or in the case of the former just another way to line the pockets of the fat-cats‚? What are your thoughts on this and exactly how popular are you worldwide?

PF: It's a new frontier for music, and like the ole' American frontier, everyone is scrambling for a piece of the action. The internet has opened up a new avenue for new bands, but it isn't some easy ride into Bigsville. It's just a different route into Bigsville.

The internet does have the advantage of allowing small-ish bands who already have a little bit of exposure, direct access to their fans, which in the short-term would provide a better financial return for the band (as a band could sell direct to fans), but this denies you record-shop sales which provides all important chart placings, which in turn informs the press of who is hot and who is not. By selling direct to existing fans, you're maybe losing out in the long-term on the chances of converting those who've never heard of you.

However, it's all still finding it's e-feet and this gives opportunities for new bands to explore new possibilities that have yet to be fully exploited. I'm certain in another 8 years time the internet/music relationship will have developed quite substantially from where we're at now, and that this conversation will seem horrendously antiquated!

AD: What is the future for ‘Polak’?

PF: I have no idea what the future holds. There's a fortune-teller on Brighton seafront, so maybe I should go and ask her, but perhaps that's the excitement in life - not knowing what will happen.

AD: What do you consider a ‘musical veteran’ and how will you celebrate becoming one?

PF: Well a veteran car has to be over 80 years old doesn't it, so I'm, not sure I qualify!

AD: In closing, if you were given the opportunity of writing your own epitaph, what would it be?

PF: "He came, he was, he went"

So from his first gig in June 1988, to his next I don’t know when. Certainly this correspondent hopes that Polak will acheive what the artist himself describes as a “Lumbering dinosaur of a band - the kind people say “they should have given up years ago.” But for now discover ‘Rubbernecking’ for yourself, and in turn maybe Pete will let us know when we can next expect to see and hear ‘Polak’ in the flesh.

Keep up the good work Pete.

Nick James

 

Polak web site/Pete Fijalowski web site

 
 
 
 
 
 

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