Loitering on a rather dirty block of Hollywood Blvd, I huddled in an apartment doorway with guitarist/vocalist David Novak and drummer John-Henry Pajak of Polish Club, trying to ignore some of the more potent fragrances wafting our way. For lack of a better option, this was the setting we chose for the our quick chat, a few doors down from Harvard and Stone, where they had just completed a raucous set of their blues-tinged rock ‘n roll.
Included in their set were both songs from their recently released double A side, “Able”/ “Beeping,” as well as a few songs from their debut full length album Alright, Already, which is still awaiting a US release. What began as a small, quiet group of onlookers quickly grew into a supportive crowd, especially after Polish Club paid homage to our SoCal home with their rendition of Weezer’s “Undone – The Sweater Song.”
As we stood there, across the street from a store mysteriously called “Sacred Farts” – an astute observation by JH himself – we launched into a somewhat informational, mostly hilarious conversation that included everything from real life LA stereotypes to “Satan with frosted tips” aka Guy Fieri.
How are you guys enjoying LA?
Novak: I love LA! It’s hard – it’s a tough city when you don’t have anything to do, but the last couple times we’ve been here, we’ve kind of like had writing sessions, recording sessions, so…
John-Henry: Something to do.
N: Yeah. You know, locals, you have a car, so it’s a lot easier, but as a tourist I find it really difficult. But now I love it. It’s awesome.
There’s not too much to actually see as a tourist.
N: No, but if you know, like, if you have a hot tip, like if someone tells you where to go. Cause like everything is a drive, right?
JH: Someone needs to tell you where to go.
N: Everything is like, kinda far.
JH: It’s always like, “Hey we’re going over there and seeing some guy over there.” Someone’s like, “You should come with.” It’s all that kinda shit.
N: No but it’s also like, “Oi, man you want a burger for lunch? Yeah it’s a 45 minute drive.”
JH: And like a 10 minute walk.
N: Yeah, we’re not used to that.
JH: “No, no, you don’t wanna walk. You can’t walk there.” “But it’s quicker!” “Nah, you can’t walk.”
N: Yeah. Like, “Traffic’s not that bad, it’s just like an hour and a half in the car.” I love it though, it’s the best.
You guys were here recording your first album right?
N: Yeah, but we didn’t keep the session. We kind of were, like, super new to recording, and we didn’t really know what we wanted and…It just was a bit too clean, and it wasn’t us.
JH: It was really expensive though.
N: Yeah, very expensive. We learned our lesson there. But we kind of came back to Australia knowing what not to do.
JH: Yeah, which was a valuable, almost like –
N: A very valuable lesson.
JH: Worth it.
N: Well, we went back home and just recorded it basically with a friend and just like in a week we had like 20 songs. We did it super cheap, super live, just the two of us in a room and that was it. Way easier. But like to get to that point where you know that that’s what you wanna do, you kinda have to make those mistakes.
JH: We had a fun time though.
N: I had a great time.
JH: We had two dinners every night…
JH: We had like a…we had some guy, we’re like “Oi, go and get me this fuckin’, get me something. Just get me one of them, uh, cayenne shots!”
N: My throat’s not feeling so great. It could really use a burger.
JH: Yeah, get me that burger.
N: All of a sudden, there was a fuckin’ burger. It was great.
JH: Like, “Man get me a coffee, now! Son of a bitch!” (laughing)
N: The recordings were not so great…
But it was worth it.
JH: I guess so!
N: I’m a better person for it.
JH: At the time, we didn’t think we were paying for the, you know, the boy that went and ran and got stuff, but like we ended up paying for it.
N: Yeah, it all comes back to you.
JH: And it’s not cheap!
N: No. But we survived.
That’s good! So you guys are pretty well known in Australia, but not so much over here.
N: Right. We kind of focused on Australia.
JH: Because we had to.
Yeah, what happened there?
N: We just had a record deal in which we couldn’t really release our album overseas, so in the meantime we just focused on Australia. We released an album, did an EP…
JH: Made heaps of content.
N: Yeah, lots of social media content. Shit out videos.
JH: Which is more important these days.
N: Yeah, it really is. We got the owner of the Polish Club in Sydney to do a bunch of videos for us, and that kind of elevated our status.
JH: We did a version of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas.”
N: We covered Flume.
JH: Yeah, just did like a bunch of like –
N: Just stupid shit.
JH: We made like a heart shaped vinyl for Valentine’s Day.
N: Savage Garden covers.
JH: Just like, you know, this ‘n that. Cause we literally couldn’t do anything else but like do stuff in Australia.
N: Yeah, cause like, we were trying…everything we wanted to do – the only thing we wanted to do was release our album over here and we couldn’t do that. And so we were like, “What’s the dumbest thing we could do?”
JH: We just kept doing dumb shit.
N: And that’s all we did.
JH: Yeah. And you guys will never see it, so…
So are you planning on releasing the album here?
N: Yeah, it’ll be out in the next couple months or so. We recently sorted out our record deal, so hopefully sooner rather than later it’ll be out, and then we can move on to album two. I mean the plus side of that is that once the first album’s out the second one won’t be that far behind.
Right. You already started writing it, correct?
N: Yeah, we’re doing some co-writes while we’re here, and just fuckin’ trying whatever. Throw as much shit at the wall as you can, see what sticks.
JH: Novak slept through the first one today, pretty much.
N: I didn’t sleep through it! I was just really tired, the couch was very comfortable, you know.
JH: You coulda slept through it if you wanted to.
N: I definitely could have (laughs) So there’ll be music. I can’t vouch for its quality, but it’ll be there at some point. First album’s good!
So you’ve been to New York and Vegas before coming here. How are you liking touring the US?
N: I mean it’s kind of weird, because –
JH: It’s not like a real tour, really.
N: Well, yeah. It’s like starting over again. We’re trying to get an agent, and we’re trying to like get all the right industry people into the shows. So it’s less about touring and getting fans and it’s more about getting a team together so we can release our album, and then start building it like we did in Australia. So it’s kind of like traveling back in time a few years when we were in Australia trying to do the exact same thing.
JH: Just one year really.
JH: It was a long year though.
N: It was a fuckin’ long year, mate. (laughs) But the good thing is, we kinda did it over there so we kinda have a blueprint of what we need.
JH: We got the hot content ready to go!
N: We got some fuckin’ shit hot content!
JH: Which no one will understand here, really.
N: Yeah, I gotta adjust the hashtags a little bit.
JH: Yeah, yeah. Take some of the C-bombs outta there.
N: A lot less C-bombs.
Yeah, we’re sensitive.
N: It’s fine, it’s probably for the best. We’re very crude in Australia.
How have the crowds been over here?
JH: Not so much “crowds,” rather than just like…
N: Well, in Vegas there was a sold out room. It was weird, because we were…it wasn’t for us.
It was a festival, right?
N: Yeah, it was a festival presented by Noisey.
JH: It was kind of like a SXSW kinda thing.
N: Yeah, so like the headliner at the one night that we were playing was like this Latin –
JH: Yeah, he’s great.
N: There you go.
JH: Finally, someone knows who that is.
N: Yeah, no one knew who he was, but like he sold out the room so there’s all these like –
JH: Cool kids.
N: Yeah, young kids who didn’t know who the hell we were, and were expecting like, kinda dream pop. (laughs) But it was funny, cause like…It was like being on The Voice or like Australian Idol where like you hit a high note and everyone’s like “AHHH!”
JH: Everyone just, yeah, appreciates the high notes.
N: Yeah, so I was just going for it, theatrically.
JH: Well, the sound was terrible, so yeah.
N: The sound was awful. It was in a magicians’ theater.
N: But can’t complain about the crowd. It was awesome. And the crowd in New York was great too. I mean, I was surprised, there were a couple of fans who came down. Lord knows how they found our music.
JH: We’ve just been like banking on friends that live in New York and LA to come. And, ugh, so many of my friends cancelled tonight. (sarcastically) It was really nice.
N: That’s funny.
JH: “Sorry, I just can’t!”
N: It’s a busy town man.
JH: It’s alright, I play in LA all the time, just like all the time. It’s fine.
N: “I gotta stay home and work on my screenplay.”
JH: Yeah (laughs) “I got an audition tomorrow.”
N: “I’m waking up at 7 AM. I’m gonna go to Starbucks, and I’m gonna finish this thing.”
JH: “I’m not gonna get it. I’m not gonna get the audition.”
JH: Jennifer Lawrence has already got it, man. Don’t worry.
Sounds about right!
N: It’s funny, we went out last night to see a friend of our manager, and there was a gig. It was Steven Spielberg’s daughter playing. The girl from Haim was there. Rostam from Vampire Weekend was there. We met Toni Collette’s husband. It was just, like, the most LA thing in the world. I was just like, “Well, we’re here.”
JH: I love that.
N: Yeah, it was just bizarre. We made friends. Not with Haim. (laughs) Just random Australians.
JH: Some bloke, yeah. “Oh you’re Australians?”
N: “Yeah! Fuck, let’s get shitfaced on a Monday night!”
JH: We didn’t.
Are you guys planning to come back soon for a longer tour?
N: I mean, if our visas are still valid. (laughs)
JH: Yeah, we’ve got a visa for a year, so…
N: It was $8000 well spent…fuck.
N: It was like pulling teeth to get one.
JH: You wouldn’t believe what we have to do in Australia to get into America.
N: We had to pay $3000 and fill out a form just to get our gear into the country. We needed the serial number of every single guitar pedal I had, every single cable.
JH: Every cymbal…
N: And when you get to the airport, they check it to see that everything’s there, and they’re like “If you lose something, you gotta tell customs, or we’re gonna fuckin’ deport you.”
JH: “We’ll fuck you up!”
JH: And then you have to go to the embassy in Sydney, the American embassy. And then they like, put you like…you have to like wait for hours, and you go through like four security checks.
N: But anyway. We got through!
JH: Yeah we got it.
(The guys high five.)
N: Woo! America!
So that’s a solid maybe on coming back.
N: Well no, I mean –
JH: Between now and next April. (laughs)
N: If I could stay here today and never leave, I would do that, but there’s a lot of admin that people don’t realize.
JH: Don’t be Australian and try and be in a band and go to America.
N: Yeah. Do the opposite. Because we talked to a guy from Nashville before we left. He was playing a show in Sydney, and he’s like, we told him all that and he’s like, “Really? They even didn’t check my ID to get a visa for Australia, it’s fuckin’ easy.”
JH: He just walked in. They’re like, “Alright, go to Australia, I guess.”
N: So like, our advice is: Be American and go to Australia. Don’t do it the other way around.
JH: Yeah, you guys are winning.
N: Now, come on down!
JH: Just don’t end the world. Well, after coming back from Vegas, maybe do end the world.
N: Vegas is the end of the world. I’m convinced the world is ending starting on Fremont Street.
JH: One step closer. One step closer!
N: There’s like…do you know Fremont Street in Vegas, it’s like the old town?
N: They’ve got like the canopy, and people are zip lining over you.
JH: (Laughs) It’s bizarre!
N: And like, the first ten minutes you’re walking there, you’re like, “This is fucking hilarious. This is amazing.”
JH: Half an hour later…
N: And then like when you’ve reached the end of the street, where there’s like this fuckin’ hair metal band and this dude with like fake tits like grooving to it for a dollar…Fremont Street is a shithole.
N: Yeah, there were parts of Vegas that I liked. I mean, Guy Fieri’s restaurant. Come on! Flavortown?
JH: So disgusting, so disgusting.
N: We went to Flavortown!
JH: It gave our manager the runs.
N: Ironically, all the food tasted like nothing.
JH: Yeah, no flavor.
N: It was a little spicy on the way out.
JH: We had cocktails with like giant straws that you could just be like (mimes drinking)
N: I had like an out of body experience during that meal where I just kind of like…
JH: He ironically enjoyed it.
N: I love Guy Fieri! He’s an inspiration!
JH: He ironically likes the man.
N: He’s horrific! And look what he’s done. It’s incredible.
JH: He’s kinda like…he could be Satan.
N: Could be.
JH: Satan with frosted tips.
N: Well, I’m all of a sudden kind of excited about going to hell. (laughs) Hey, I’m home! What’s for dinner?
JH: Hey, you want this fuckin’ burger with macaroni and cheese on it?
N: Bacon mac ‘n cheese burger, right here. With a side of, um, trash can nachos.
N: Once you see those nachos come out of that can, I mean, you know you’ve gone wrong.
Are they actually in a can?
N: Yeah, they make the nachos in like a giant can, and then they go ttthhhppt like it’s a show, like it’s something to look forward to.
JH: And it’s just like that fake canned cheese. What do you call that cheese in a can?
N: Cheese Whiz?
JH: Yeah it’s just like “Mmmm Cheese Whiz.” Anyway.
N: Yeah. We finished it.
N: Yeah, no it was fucking sick.
JH: Is that it?
N: Where do we go from there?
I think that’s perfect.
N: That stuff was fuckin’ sick. Those were some bomb ass nachos.
JH: We heard some guy in New York say, “That’s some bomb ass chicken.”
N: Nah, he was, (in a Brooklyn accent) he was walking down the sidewalk, like he had two girls, and he’s like, “Look, we can go get some bomb ass Chinese food, or we can get some bomb ass pizza.”
JH: We’ve been using that the whole time like –
N: It’s burned into my brain. This fucking asshole.
JH: I heard someone at the airport in LA, at LAX, just go, “Yeah, that’s tight.”
N: That’s tight!
JH: (laughs) So I’ve been kinda using that.
N: Yeeeeah that’s tight, man! (laughs) So we’re taking that home to Australia. We’re bringing “fuck me dead” here. That’s my phrase of the day.
JH: It’s like an international exchange.
N: It’s an exchange of linguistics. Yeah. Come down to Sydney in a couple years, everyone’s gonna be like, “Fuckin’ bomb ass, bro!”
JH: And when you guys get “fuck me dead,” we’ll like, there’s other one’s we can do as well, like “fuck me sideways.”
N: “We’re not here to fuck spiders.”
JH: Oh, that’s a good one.
What does it mean?
N: It just means, like, “Let’s get on with it.”
JH: Yeah, “Let’s do it.”
N: There’s no logic to it, yeah. I don’t know what it means. It paints a picture, but it doesn’t make sense. We’re full of that. Full of shit.
Well, I think we’re good.
N: Thank you so much.
JH: Good luck trying to make that into something.
N: (walking away) They’re not gonna let us back in this country, there’s no way. There’s no way.