After making waves in Sheffield, and signing to Aggressive Management, we wanted to catch up with Polkadodge. They are potentially on the verge of big things, as lead singer John put it “We were on the A57, now we are on the M1”. We met them in their local, The Shakespeare in Sheffield, to chat about their past, future plans and Tramlines Festival.
The band are clearly very good friends and the conversation often went off at tangents and they all spent lots of time joking at the expense of, and winding up, each other in the way that close friends do. John and Martin in particular took great delight in the kind of good natured bickering that only people who have lived together for the amount of time they have, and are as close as they are, can get away with. They all took great pleasure in attempting to embarrass fellow members, revealing intimate stories of their past behaviour in attempts to make the other blush.
Bassist Tom Fletcher, guitarist Martin Greening and lead singer John Burton were previously in the band Little Thoughts and supported the likes of Miles Kane and Pigeon Detectives. After Little Thoughts disbanded they then reformed this time with Paul Robertson on drums. Their unusual name came from a list of words that were rejected from The Oxford English Dictionary in 2009 and John’s definition was “it means, when you try and go past someone, and they go the same way as you and you do that really weird, awkward, dance. Everyone does it every day and they don’t know what it’s called”. The entire band love the name they chose but as Tom explains they don’t feel a bands name is what is important “if you look at a name like Pulp, because they are such a great band you automatically assume that is a good name so we don’t really get too hung up about it”. They also realize the importance of having a unique name to make themselves easier to find on internet search engines.
They are a fairly eclectic mix of influences; Martin was playing lots of Red Hot Chili Peppers when learning guitar before moving onto The Smiths, Paul also loved The Smiths as well as Fleetwood Mac and Bruce Springsteen. Tom grew up liking The Offspring and Good Charlotte before being influenced by the Britpop bands. John used the tab books of the likes of Bloc Party and Franz Ferdinand when learning guitar.
Over time the dynamic with the band has altered, originally John would write the music and the lyrics but now each member composes their own parts. Although a great deal of time and care are taken over the lyrics John sees lyrics as being secondary to the melody “people get hooked on the melody not necessarily the lyric, I think it’s really important what you are singing about, but if people are hearing them for the first time they aren’t always going to pick up the lyrics, but if they get a hook in their head they will then have an interest and go back and listen to the lyrics”. When asked about the lyrics to ‘Borderlines’ he revealed “it’s a song about bands trying too hard to sound local, but playing what comes out in rehearsal is more important”.
Polkadodge are now looking to the future having had some high profile gigs recently and bigger and better ones on the way. The potential they have shown has lead to them being represented by Aggressive Management and they are already reaping the benefits of having professionals backing them. Martin stated how their manager has already given them a big push in this early stage of their agreement “It definitely gives us more direction and allows us to spend more time focusing on the music”. The band are currently in the studio recording tracks to follow on from the interest in them generated by the last single ‘Borderlines’. They seemed excited about the prospect of recording as they have enjoyed the experience so much in the past, Paul in particular is a fan of the studio environment “it’s my favourite thing, you are bored for four days but it’s a good kind of bored because it’s productive”. John was also keen to emphasize that they consider the material they are recording now to be an improvement on their well received previous work.
Having recently headlined at Java Lounge and also headlined Owls In The Park playing to 15000 people the boys are about to become a strong feature of Tramlines Festival. They will be playing four gigs each in a different venue over the course of the weekend. They will be in the privileged position of playing evening slots at Frog & Parrot (9pm) on the Saturday and SOYO (8pm) on the Sunday. Being offered four prestigious slots at the festival is a sign of how highly regarded they are by Sheffield promoters and venues. They are also hoping to announce a UK tour and a very big support slot in the near future.