Interview with Peter Ewen from Polaris Rose; At @SXSW right now as a duo! @polarisrose
Los Angeles, California’s Polaris Rose currently in Austin, Texas for SXSW as a duo, and it looks like I have to block off some time to catch them perform. Upon my very first listen to “Chartreuse,” the opening cut off of their self-titled EP, I was immediately impressed when their indie-pop- soulful-swagger hit my headphones. Polaris Rose bring an easy, ear-pleasing listen for anyone looking to catch up with some worthy upstarts.
With soothing 2-part male/female harmonies, crisp production, and excellent instrumentation, the group would be perfect date soundtrack if/when pitching woo to a lovely lady (or strapping young lad, such as myself.) Prior to their showcases at SXSW 2013, I caught up with guitar/vocalist Peter Ewen to get better acquainted with the group, when and where they’ll be performing at SXSW, and what else they have going on after the madness of Austin!
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! Introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
P- Polaris Rose is me (Peter) and Maddie. We met three years ago in Boston. At the time, we were both doing our own bands, but we hit it off and started collaborating. Eventually, we moved to Los Angeles just to do our thing. Maddie plays bass and sings. I play guitar and sing.
G- Nice. So, how long has Polaris Rose been around, and when did you first get started? Do you remember the moment that you really felt the group “click?”
P- Polaris Rose is exactly one year old. It was actually at SXSW 2012 that we felt the band ‘click’. We were calling ourselves Kid Hollywood at the time and playing some pretty heavy rock. We were rehearsing acoustically the night before our show and I started playing some of my ‘other’ songs. We looked at each other and said, “This is it. This is what we want to do.” The songs were more personal… Closer to who we are as people.
G- Oh wow… Polaris Rose is just a baby!!! I wouldn’t have guessed based on what I heard whatsoever!
Allow me to apologize in advance for the cookie cutter question, but where did the name come from?
P- Once we had decided on the change of direction, we knew our old name wasn’t going to work. So we were keeping our eyes out for something new. I had written a song called ‘Polaris’ which I liked… honestly, I don’t remember where the name came from exactly. Polaris Rose had a sort of whimsical romance to it. I liked the two ways it can be read… either as Polaris (the star) rose (in the sky), or Polaris (adjective) Rose (noun). Needless to say, I had to change the name of the song ‘Polaris’ to its new name, ‘Telescopes’.
G- Very cool! So, Polaris Rose is currently at SXSW! How excited are you to be a part of the marathon, and where/when will you be playing showcases?
P- We are super excited to be playing and we are still picking up little gigs here and there that we’ll be announcing on the fly. I can say that we’ll be playing the Draft Pick (across from Emo’s) on Friday, March 15th at 9pm. After that gig, I’m marching right over to get in line to see the Smashing Pumpkins the next night.
G- Maybe Billy will swing by and catch your set! Here’s to wishful thinking 🙂
To dive into the songs a bit, what is your writing process like, and who in the band typically comes up with new music? Do you have a primary songwriter, or do you write music more organically through jamming during rehearsals?
P- I’m the songwriter of the group. I’m also a 90’s kid, so I love writing albums. I’ll write a dozen songs that keep a certain theme, then I’ll start developing them with Maddie. Our years working together makes the writing process really fluid.
G- Right on. So, for some of our readers who may not be familiar with the group at this point, what should your fans, both old and new, expect of the performances when you guys hit the road? What should some of the first time listeners expect to see when you take the stage?
P- We have a bigger sound than our band. We play as a 3-piece (just the two of us with a drummer,) but we have computers there to help flesh out the sound. We keep the sound pretty organic, but we do love a bit of atmosphere.
G- And do you have a favorite song you have ever written? If you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of you before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
P- If I was to introduce Polaris Rose to someone, It’d probably be ‘Telescopes’ or ‘Chartreuse’. As for our favorite songs… Maddie has a soft spot for ‘Watercolors’. ‘Telescopes’ is the most personal song for me. Actually, most of our favorite songs have yet to have been recorded. Writing-wise, we are quite a ways ahead of ourselves.
G- I will certainly (obviously) back “Chartreuse,” as that’s the one that brought me to you guys!
Now, are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? If you could select a feasible 3-band dream bill to be a part of, who would you want to play a show or tour with, and why?
P- Wow, there are so many bands… There are some really great LA bands that we want to get in touch with… the Colourists and Blondfire are two that spring to mind. I think it would be really awesome to see Imagine Dragons work together. But we’d be plenty happy just watching those bands do their thing, we wouldn’t need to be performing ourselves.
G- What is your most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
P- We played a show at the Viper Room a couple years back when we were still playing heavy rock. The band before us had a female front… and it made Maddie get really competitive. We got up on stage and Maddie turned into an animal. Totally out of control, she was crawling around on all fours and screaming. I played the whole show with my eyes wide, totally shocked at Maddie. She did it just to mess with the crowd and the other band.
Or there was the time that Maddie flipped off the Deftones (one of my favorite bands)… But I’ll save that story for another time.
G- I’m going to want to hear that story… We here at Live High Five LOVE Deftones!
To finish up today, as a group on the build yourselves, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
P- Be true to yourself. Sometimes the clique advice is the best advice. Before Polaris Rose, we tried to do a lot of different types of bands that we thought would be ‘cool’, but deep-down it wasn’t who we were. Work hard and work tirelessly and always strive for truth.