Some musicians in the world tend to forget they’re incredibly talented. Instead they focus energy on making videos of grandmas shredding slippery prog grooves and having mobility scooter drag races. Check out the video to ‘40oz’ below. These musicians cultivated together to form a band named Polyphia. Characterised by their mischievous riffs and colourful approach to instrumental song writing, this 4-piece from Texas, USA will be visiting down under this September. Joining them will be the virtuosic guitarist Aaron Marshall and his band, Intervals.
The tour is ahead of their most recent single released on May the 24th, ‘G.O.A.T’ (that stands for Greatest Of All Time – because Polyphia are the greatest of all time. Obviously). Bassist Clay Gober joined me for a chat about their music released and also what might be to come.
You guys are coming to Australia soon which is awesome! But some people might unfortunately find the instrumental music a little tricky to relate to without lyrics. What are Polyphia all about?
As far as connecting to an audience that is used to having vocals, I don’t know… we write some pretty fucked shit. It usually works the opposite for us. People are actually more able to relate to us. You see a lot of people that dig a band but maybe don’t like the vocals. Considering it’s the forefront position in a lot of music, people are alienated by that. We’re able to connect with a wider audience without having singing. I guess we spoil ourselves. If that answers any part of your question, then, rock n roll.
I never really thought about it like that, but it’s a good way to approach instrumental music.
Yeah, it’s like electronic dance music is arguably the most popular type of music in the world right now. A lot of large shows you see footage of are raves and shit. They sample a lot of vocals but, it’s just fuckin music for the most part of it.
And we all suck at singing, so we don’t do it. It’s great!
You guys have back to back tour dates here and Australia is huge regarding travel. Do you guys have a pretty disciplined tour routine to keep energetic?
Just beer really man. Beer and espresso. We’ll probably be burnt to a crisp by the time we get off that island.
Aaron (Intervals) is obviously going to come on the tour with you guys. I saw you’ve been doing work with him since the Inspire EP (2013). How long have you had a relationship with Aaron?
Going on 5 and a half years. He was a guitar player that Tim (Henson – guitar) would watch way the fuck back in the day. When we started progressing, back when we were little babies, we noticed we shared a lot of the same fans as Intervals. We just thought it’d be sick as fuck if we could get him to do a guest solo, so he played on top of a song called ‘Persevere.’ Everyone dug the shit out of it, so we had him again on our first full length album. We did a tour together, our second tour actually, that was with The Contortionist. And yeah, we just love listening to him say Canadian shit. He’s our homie.
You haven’t released any collaborations since Muse (2015). Are we going to see any new features that you haven’t had before in future releases?
Yeah man! We have our third full length coming out on October the 12th. That one’s got 5 or 6 features on it. Lots of people from all over the fucking globe I tell you. We have a cool variety of features on this one. No solo on there is exactly the same as far as the vibes of it goes. It’s all like a rainbow.
I’m excited just talking about it!
I think the sound of Polyphia had an interesting sparkle when LIT came out. That had some dance elements to it and ‘G.O.A.T’ has this amusingly sinister feel. Are you guys listening to anyone new to get different inspirations at the moment?
It varies on the person. I’ve been listening to the same shit I’ve been listening to since I was 5 years old. I listen to a lot of psychedelic rock and heavy metal. I listen to a lot of RUSH. Tim and Scott (LePage – guitar) write the meat of our music and they’re super into go-hard shit I guess.
What do you mean by go-hard?
Hard-ass rap like stuff that, if you turn it up too loud, you’re going to literally break windows.
Because of that, in a lot of the production on our new stuff, there are some dark undertones. I would say as a whole, minus maybe a track or two, it’s all super dark. Lots of ominous creepy shit is happening in the background. And it RIFFS A LOT. A lot of it is cool ass riffs that make you feel like you have food poisoning.
The video for ‘G.O.A.T’, that was very creative. Do you guys have any production or creative hobbies outside of your instrument? Did you have any input on these videos?
We came up with the jist of what we wanted to do with the video. We took a page out of the book of what Childish Gambino did with his new video in terms of it being one long shot. Structuring it that way was a fun thing to play with. Our director Jake Woodbridge out of Minneapolis, films a lot of advertisements and shit like that. He just does music videos as passion project. It’s funny to watch him get to go crazy with how we actually wind up executing the videos. He gets to let loose a little bit when we come over to play.
Do you see yourself as part of the progressive metal world or progressive rock world at least, or do you just see it a music?
I just see it as music. We all do. We don’t like to take any influence from what someone might call our genre. It just seems counterproductive to consider ourselves part of something. We just try to do new things and make other artists able to do that.
You guys are coming to Australia, so are there any Australian artists that you have an eye on at the moment?
Dude, I fucking love Northlane! There’s another band called Glass Ocean. They’re sick as fuck. Hopefully I can meet up with some of those guys when I’m down there and have a beer or five. And obviously AC/DC is what got me into music if that counts.
Of course it counts!
RIP Malcolm Young.
Do you think you’ll have time for any clinics? Some instrumentalists do that when they come down here, or will it be a bit more of a tour rush?
I think it’ll be a bit of a tour rush just because we have a tight schedule of what we are doing down there and right after that we have another thing going. We’ll have our hands nice and full with vegemite and kangaroos and playing shows.
There’s enough vegemite and kangaroos to go around here, don’t worry.
Oh baby, don’t get me excited!
A lot of people out there aspire to playing an instrument in a band like Polyphia. I was listening to all of your video clips again and I just wanted to stop and play my guitar. Was there a moment where you just bit the bullet and committed to doing this as a career, because it’s hard isn’t it?
Yeah man, especially the fork in the road where you have to ask yourself “do I want to do this, or do I want to explore other avenues?” We’re all super fortunate that this actually worked out for us. I still have the sensation that I’m in my favourite band. I just enjoy the music we play that much. I always thought that if I can do something I can enjoy and commit to hard enough to where I can do it for a living then, what the fuck do I have to complain about ever again?
Interview by Kurt Boldy
Catch Polyphia on tour with Intervals in September via Destroy All Lines
Intervals and Polyphia – Australian Tour
Sept 21 @ Amplifier Bar, Perth
Sept 22 @ Corner Hotel, Melb
Sept 23 @ Bald Faced Stag, Syd
Sept 24 @ Brightside, Bris