Initially intended as a creative canvas for Rudie Dodd’s recordings, Melbourne-based Polarize now comprises 5 members that gig heavily. Built on the foundations of pop-driven rock, Dodd has progressively embraced psych-rock elements since the group’s 2018 inception, earning them a whirlwind tour of Japan. We dialled up Dodd to discuss the shenanigans had and how his dad helped influence his music making.
Whilst growing up in England, Dodd’s father Simon was the first to engage his musical consciousness, imparting his own experience on his son; “My dad was always a musician. He got some success in a Rolling Stones-type band called Muscle Shoals and they had some success being signed to Virgin Records. He always had guitars around the house and I picked up my first one at 10”. Cutting his teeth playing in cover bands through school, Dodd eventually attained itchy feet for writing his own music and was again assisted by Simon’s lateral thinking; “My dad was a huge influence in helping me work out song structures and giving me cool ideas. He’s just an amazing songwriter that has great ideas and a great sensibility for music”.
After high school ceased, Polarize itself grew from the ashes of Dodd’s high school band, Police In Thieves; “I still had these songs and we still had this thing going but we weren’t a live thing. I changed the name and a few members around and we put some songs out in 2018. It went really well so we put a live band together and played our first gig in November of that year”. Forever the Strokes fan, Dodd bases his sound on the more melodic aspects of rock with recent movements into psychedelia and vintage pop denoted by more substantiative use of keys; “One of the catalysts was playing around with synth sounds and just starting songs on the keyboard. Listening to psych-rock stuff like Foxygen who’ve got a little more of the funky, vintage rock sound and Lonerism helped open the door to a lot of other bands”.
Thematically, Dodd’s music entrenches itself in interpreting isolation and his amplified sensation of experiencing it when gathering with others; “It’s a weird compulsion when I’m surrounded by people. It’s weird because you should be enjoying the company of other people, but I just think about how I’d love to be at home working on a track or idea”. The band’s latest single, ‘Friends Again’ extends on this idea by detailing the distance time generates between old friends; “It’s about meeting people you were once really good friends with and then as time passes and you only seen them you start trying to hang out again but it doesn’t feel quite the same. As much as you try to be friends again, you both work in separate ways and you having to accept that”.
As frequent performers, the 2020 lockdowns in Melbourne caused Dodd to reflect on their promotional value as much as an outlet for enjoyment; “I really noticed just how much exposure you can get from playing. It’s so hard to connect with people via an online entity”. Able to stay productive over quarantine, Dodd looks forward to playing down the line; “I’ve been busy with mixing and recording at home and, over those 2 weeks of relaxed restrictions, got together with the band at the rehearsal space to loosen up the joints again. I am looking forward to when we can get together and start playing again though”.
Making the most of what little the year would offer, Polarize look back brightly on their debut international tour of Japan in January; “Brett Middleton our bass player is quite gung-ho about everything. One day he just said we should go on a tour of Japan. He was friends with Mesa Cosa who did a similar tour so we just looked at their poster and emailed the venues off that”. Though an international tour may appear to be a logistical nightmare, Japan served as one of the more convenient countries to tour; “Every venue has backline provided. Even cymbals, which is usually a big no-no sharing that stuff. The venues also put the line-ups on so we didn’t have to find other bands. Some nights we headlined and others we were sandwiched in between but we got to meet some amazing people and saw some cool bands who showed us around their cities”. The only real challenge for Polarize appeared to be adapting to the intensity of audience’s good manners; “Audiences don’t say much when you finish. They don’t really talk amongst themselves in between sets, everything is just really silent. It was awkward at first but you learn that they’re just really polite”.
Evidence of Polarize’s power as a live act, Dodd recounts one of his favourite memories from the tour that they soon hope to replicate; “The best gig we played, these guys invited us back to the bar they owned and we were there ‘til 4 in the morning just jamming and drinking whisky sours. They had this drum kit, bass amp and guitar and they just handed the instruments around. You’d jump on one instrument and then another and the bar was packed. I was so much fun, but it probably sounded awful”.