Band: The Pollies
When: Sunday, April 10, 5 p.m.
Where: Cathedral Square, downtown Mobile
Founded by Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes, St. Paul & the Broken Bones), John Paul White (The Civil Wars) and Will Trapp, Single Lock Records is working hard to bring the bands of North Alabama onto the national scene. For SouthSounds 2016, Single Lock is sending The Pollies, from Muscle Shoals, as its musical ambassadors.
Frontman Jay Burgess has remained a constant in the band from the beginning. The Pollies’ commitment to Single Lock begins with Burgess and label founder Ben Tenner. Burgess was laying down tracks at FAME Studios, where Tanner was the house engineer.
When writing The Pollies’ brand of indie rock, Burgess prefers to break the rules any way he sees fit. Working with Tanner, Burgess felt free to experiment with an organized chaos of time signatures and pitches.
“[Tanner] comes back after the first take and said, ‘Whoever is doing that crazy stuff, I want to hug you,’” Burgess said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, me and this guy are going to work out.’ I knew that he totally got that stuff. There weren’t that many people around the area I knew that dug the same stuff I wanted to do.”
For The Pollies’ debut, “Where the Lies Begin,” Tanner joined the band in the studio, lending both mixing and keyboard skills. Overall, “Where the Lies Begin” is rhythmically upbeat. But the band’s sophomore effort, “Not Here,” is noted for its gentle warmth and melancholy vibe, and a concept of lost love.
Burgess cites many factors contributing to the sound, but he does not want to go into too many details. He says he feels songs are a personal experience between the writer and the listener. If the listener knows too many details, then it ruins the interpretive experience.
“I think the record was more or less a way for me to vent,” Burgess said. “At the time, just talking to a close friend or 50 didn’t help me much. For some reason, I could write down lyrics and put them into a song and be creative with what was happening to me.”
The band’s lineup was another factor in the overall sound of “Not Here.” Until two years ago, Burgess says, the band’s lineup was a revolving cast of musicians. The lineup on “Not Here” has been the most solid lineup yet. However, these are not the same musicians who recorded “Where the Lies Begin.” Burgess says that lineup was focused more on “destroying music and putting it back together.”
“Compared to the first, they’re mellow,” he said. “It’s almost like we approached everything as if it were fragile as opposed to approaching something to destroy it. I think that’s why it came off more melancholy.”