“We changed it, but we still don’t even really know what ‘it’ was,” laughs David Novak, the singing and guitar-playing half of the duo. “All we knew going into making this record was that we didn’t want to do the same thing again. It would be boring, and more importantly it would be disingenuous.
“We didn’t even really have any frame of reference to work with – we went away and we wrote all these new songs, and when we showed them to management they were like, ‘They’re not really rock & roll songs.’ At the same time, though, everyone else is still treating us like a rock band and that our songs are rock songs. I don’t even know anymore – The Rubens just won an APRA Award for Best Rock Work, and I don’t think there are even any guitars on their last record. Who knows?”
Of course, when it all comes down to it, there are really only two kinds of music: good music and bad music. Polish Club have been delivering the former for the last few years, and while an urgent, lo-fi song such as ‘Beeping’ might not have much in common with a slick, catchy tune like ‘Clarity’, you can still find the through-line that got the band from A to B. B, in this instance, is their second studio album Iguana. It arrives almost three years on from their debut, Alright Already, and it sees the band’s creative ambitions burst wide open across its runtime. If Alright Already was sepia, consider Iguana a full technicolour display.
“In the beginning, we were really just trying to figure out what we sounded like,” says Novak. “After a few years, I feel like we know a lot more. We definitely know what our strengths are. This album, for us, was a matter of realising that. It’s everything that we felt capable of. We had the tools at our disposal and the people around us to push ourselves to our full capabilities. We weren’t blindly trying things just for the sake of trying them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but this album was about knowing our limits and pushing to them.”
One of the key people surrounding the band was Wade Keighran. Australian music trainspotters of the 2000s might know Keighran from his tenures in bands like The Scare and Wolf & Cub. Most recently, however, he’s found himself behind the boards rather than in front of them, serving as an engineer and producer around Sydney. He’s been working with Polish Club for over a year now, and has also come on board as their touring bassist.
“I wasn’t as aware of them, but John [Pajak, drums] was definitely into The Scare,” says Novak. “They were both around that kind of scene at the same time, but didn’t really know one another. We only all came together when our management hooked it up. We did demos with him, and then we ended up getting him to produce the entire thing. Our relationship is really easy – he knows all the production stuff, but also knows the musician’s side as well. John or I might ask for something in the mix, and it might not be the right term but he’ll know exactly what we mean. He helps everything makes sense.”
Novak, Pajak and Keighran will be out on tour in support of Iguana this coming June, which will see many of the tracks being performed live for the first time ever. “It’s all still a bit unknown for us,” says Novak. “It’s all super-new, but we’re going to put in as much effort as possible to make sure that we get everything on the record out onto the road.”