Sunday, 27 January 2013

MUSICAL MEMORY #4 - Polak

POLAK May 1996 - December 2003
Pete Fijalkowski - Guitar / Programming / Vocals, Krzys Fijalkowski -Guitar, Bob Brown - Bass / Guitar, Simon Dunford - Keyboards, Matt Sigley - Keyboards, Richard Brincklow - Keyboards, Chris Parsons - Drums
DISCOGRAPHY - 'Cha Cha Cha' (on 33 1/3 Single on Noisebox 7"), '2 Minutes 45' (Genereic CD single), 'Im Sick' (Generic CD single), 'Impossible' (Generic Cd single & 7") , '3x3' (Generic compilation album), ''Swansongs' (One Little Indian album) , 'Joyrider' (One Little Indian Cd single), 'Rubbernecking' (One Little Indian Cd single)'

After the split of Adorable, I was in a post-car crash haze, not quite sure what had happened. Still concussed from it all, I spent a year working on a pop project called Casino with my friend Sian -  a kind of Pet Shop Boy/Girl thing with me taking more of a back seat as the keyboard player (a bit like hte guy in Sparks, only without the Hitler moustache). We demo'd for a couple of majors, but I wasn't convinced we were on the right track, so just before we released our debut single I pulled out of the project. I craved the sound of guitars, and was taken with the idea of working with my brother. One day if I manage to convert the Casino cassette demos into MP3s I might post them up , and tell you all about it, but that's for another time.

The original idea was born out of a hung-over Boxing Day pub conversation in 1995 with Krzys, near the Fijalkowski ancestral home. Despite the fact that as kids we had recorded some songs together (entitled 'Changesoneflobberjowski' - a three song tape recorded on our dad's stereo comprising of a Beatle's cover, a Bowie cover & an original that I think was a note for note rip-off of 'Last Train to Clarksville' by the Monkees...plagarism started early in our childhood!) we had never done anything further of much note. Krzys had recorded a couple of 4-tracks with me in my early Candy Thieves days and played guitar for us at one gig when Wayne couldn't turn up, but the practicalities of teaming up together had never really been very realistic as we had always lived at least an 8 hour round trip for most of our adult lives.
The opportunity for turning the hazy pub conversation into something more concrete happened a few months later when I was invited to contribute a track a  US compilation album,. We recorded 'Not Listening' and Polak were born.

We recruited Simon who had previously fronted Krzys' old band The Bardots who kept him company on the long car journeys down from Norfolk, and Bob & Chris made up the Brighton contingent. After the previous high tensions in the tail-end days of Adorable, it was a welcome relief to be in a band with a group of people who enjoyed being in each other's company, and there was an exciting energy of being together. Releasing singles on our own label under the great guidance of our new manager Martine McDonagh we managed to get a little bit of press notice & a deal with One Little Indian.

Here's what I wrote on completing 'Swansongs' in early 1999:

"Sometimes we weren't even sure if we'd get to this point, but on a hunting & scavenging budget of Visa-card-debt & drive-by robberies, 'Swansongs' is now finally completed. recorded in studio downtime through the night at the Loophole, beginning when the pubs closed, and ending when the early morning cafes opened, wincing at the sight of six o'clock sun that signalled it was time for us to crawl home past the street cleaners, the milk men & the dazed. 

During the course of making of the abum we lost sleep (still catching up), guitars (sold to help pay for the recording), our van (stolen from outside the studio) and a keyboard player (farewell sweet Spike); but the pay-off was worth it for us. We're now One Little Indian'd up to the full, and with Mr Sigley joining our band of mariachis, we're now ready to take the next bus-ride down the line to see how this story will pan out. 

You only get to make your debut album once, and we decided to go about it as if it were also our last. of course, we hope that this is not the case - that Polak go on to become some lumbering dinosaur of a band - the kind that people say "they should have given up years ago". for us that would be bliss. but you never know; a failing satellite might be heading for our heads as we speak, we might be an identity parade away from being tripped up, helping the local police improve their drive-by-robbery clear-up rate, or our friends at Visa might finally ask for their card back." 

'Swansongs' came out to good reviews, unlike the follow-up 'Rubbernecking' which came out to no reviews at all, but it's the memories that you tend to carry with you, not press clippings - Hazy European nights, Texas (the state, not the band), a second album that put my fear of second albums to rest , a succession of keyboard players left strewn by the wayside in our wake, nights spent talking bollocks into the not so early hours with my sofa sleep-deprived brother, and friendships that extended beyond pub opening hours. Krzys decided to leave after Rubbernecking, and although we were offered a deal by One Little Indian for a third album, it wasn't enough for us to give up our day jobs, and there was a realisation that the remaining trio of Bob, Chris & myself wouldn't be able to tour to support any album we produced as we were all too poor, and I wasn't prepared to put my all into working on something that I couldn't see through.

 We didn't exactly trouble the hit parade (#112 for 'Impossible'), but if I had to put a listening post on my grave, after I've left this world for the great recording studio in the sky, of the four band studio albums I've recorded to date I think I'd chose 'Rubbernecking'. 

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