Polar Collective are a four-piece boyband based in Ipswich. Formed four years ago after meeting in school, Jake Cardy (vocals), Adam Dodd (vocals, guitar), Ally Newbigging (saxophone, vocals) and Gryphen Ford (drums, vocals) are now on a mission to deliver their poppy sound to every corner of the UK. I spoke to the band about what their journey has been like so far, how the North compares to the South and what’s coming up for Polar Collective.
1. Polar Collective have been together for four years now, where did you meet and what led to you all making music together?
Adam: We kind of met at different times really, you [gesturing at Gryphen] knew Ally from school and then I kind of knew Jake through his brother who went to school with me. This is the web that started it [laughs], but then we all went to college together.
Jake: Adam actually transferred colleges to start the band.
Adam: I knew it was going to be something that I was going to do for at least another four years [all laugh]. We just wanted to make music, we all knew we wanted to be in a band but we’d never really found the right band to be in with. We’d all tried before but it hadn’t really been the most successful thing in the world, but then we all got together and then straight away we kind of knew and we loved it.
Gryphen: There was something there, there was a spark.
2. What has your experience has a band been like so far?
Gryphen: A whirlwind… [All laugh]
Jake: There’s been lots of ups and downs, which you expect anyway –
Adam: – but the ups outweigh the downs massively.
Jake: Yeah, and the chance to play with your three best mates, live shows, and to travel the country and see places that you’ve never seen before has been a massive highlight for me so far, I don’t know about you guys.
Adam: We’ve just got to do so much just because, and we love what we do so it’s crazy to get opportunities to do things that you love doing –
Gryphen: – because we make music. Making people happy is one of the best things, having people smile and dance and get involved at shows, it’s just awesome. For the music we make, that’s such a big deal for us.
3. You recently played your first gig up North in Newcastle, what was that like?
Ally: It was really, really good fun. We were supporting Joey Devries on his tour and we’d never played in Newcastle before and to be nearly 300 miles away from home and to be able to play our songs to a room full of people and they love it is… we’re just so lucky. Like Jake said, to do it with your three best mates and even to come here and talk to you, it’s just amazing we get to do this so far from home and so early on. It’s really exciting.
4. You’ve also been busking in Leeds, how do you find going from a full band setting to going completely acoustic when busking?
Jake: Yeah, hence why my voice is a bit rough.
Gryphen: From shouting at people trying to get them to sing along [laughs]. It is quite different and I think we prefer playing with a full sound but we’ve always taken pride in the fact that we can sort of scale it down and go acoustic and we can still enjoy it. It’s obviously not as loud and not as big and maybe not as exciting, but we can still really get into it and we still really enjoy it, we still smile.
Adam: It keeps you on your toes, there’s moments that take you by surprise, like if we haven’t planned a song out perfectly acoustically and it comes to the guitar solo, we’re all just looking at each other like, ‘we can’t just play the guitar solo.’ So you have to think on your feet about how you’re going to do it.
Ally: I think whatever we do, as long as people see us having fun and see us enjoying ourselves, I think that kind of flows off into the audience. Whatever we’re doing, whether it be playing acoustic or playing a full show, we always try and have fun. We always have fun and I think people appreciate that.
5. So what kind of fan base do you have then?
Jake: We’re quite lucky in the sense that it’s quite diverse, we played an under-18’s show last night and we managed to get everyone enjoying it, whereas before, in the last couple of weeks or so, we’ve played over-18’s nights in London, and still the reaction has been really, really good. So I think we’re quite lucky in the sense that we appeal to a lot of people.
Adam: I think predominantly, it tends to be a younger fan base.
Gryphen: They’re more active I think, on Twitter and stuff online, they get involved more and tweet you more.
Jake: Which is good for us, because we’re quite interactive and stuff on our social media too, so it’s nice to get that back and not just have people who just like your music, they want to get to know us which is really, really cool.
6. You’ve got quite a unique sound in that, whilst you are generally a pop band, you also have Ally here playing the sax and trombone – how do you make that work for you?
Gryphen: It started off with Ally’s improv sessions.
Ally: It’s kind of a bit like the way the band started, it all just fell into place, kind of by accident, kind of because we just wanted to make music. At the time, I played guitar and I came to the “band meeting” towards the end, and I was like ‘Oh, can I play guitar?’ and they were like ‘We’ve already got a guitarist.’
Adam: No, what they said is ‘Yeah, Adam’s better.’ [all laugh]
Ally: So then they said ‘What else have you got?’ and I just had a saxophone at home, I hadn’t really played it much and so they went, ‘Yeah, do that!’ So, I went from there, I had to learn pretty quickly but I love it now.
Adam: We do get a lot of compliments from it. If you say like guitar, drums and stuff, everyone’s like ‘Yeah, most bands,’ but then you’re like ‘sax’ and they always go, ‘Ooh, fair enough.’
Jake: Even just busking, that seems to be the thing that draws most people towards us.
7. You’re originally from Ipswich, how have you found playing shows up North – how do they compare?
Adam: It tends to be, people in the North – or we found in Newcastle anyway, I don’t know if this is the whole of the North – but we found that they were quite confident to come up to us and talk to us. We find quite a lot of the time that people sometimes are a bit shy in person and then are sort of more active online when they get home from a gig. We had a lot of people speaking to us and asking about us and what we do.
Gryphen: It was only one gig though, we can’t judge for the whole thing.
Adam: Our first impression of playing a show in the North was that people are very lovely and up for talking.
8. So would you come back?
PC: [Collectively] Oh definitely, 100%.
9. You recently released your latest single ‘Deep End,’ but what else is coming up for Polar Collective?
Jake: We released the video for the single on the 12th of November and the single itself on the 20th, so then all of November was based around that single and getting it out there. We’ve been writing for the last year solidly, so we’ve written so many songs and we want to reward our fans at the end of the year with an EP or something and we’ve got some songs in mind for that. We’ve got some video ideas as well. So either towards the end of this year or the start of next year, there’s going to be a product for everyone to hear, so we’re really looking forward to that.
Adam: There’s not a formal tour planned but we’re just playing everywhere to be honest, just dotted around.
Jake: Yeah, with this EP as well, we are looking to organise a few weeks where we just visit everybody. It’s going to be fun.
Polar Collective’s latest single ‘Deep End’ is out now. You can watch the video here.