The Polar Boys on Fashion, Rebranding, & Their New Single "Intro" (Interview)

Image: Steph Estrada

When and how did you guys start playing music together?

ANDRES: There used to be another group we played in, but eventually we stopped working on that—

ALEX: Yeah, they were in a band, and it crashed and burned, and I just fixed everything—and now everything is wonderful. On a serious note, they’ve known each other for a long time, so there’s that more organic element to the band. Even with me, and I came in the latest—we’ve only known each other for three years but they’ve known each other their whole lives. So it’s kind of part of what makes the band dynamic—that underlying friendship of having known each other for so long.

Yeah, I first heard about you guys in 2017, with “Life’s a Dream.”

ALEX: Yeah, it’s crazy because it’s been so long. I feel like we’ve changed so much since then. Thinking back to when “Life’s a Dream” came out, when we were in our infancy, and now so much has happened—it’s just crazy to think about.

I feel like your sound has evolved a lot since the first singles, and even the EP—the couple new singles you’ve put out since then have been a lot different.

ALEX: Yeah, I mean honestly, with the new music—if you think that’s different, like with “After Breakfast” and whatnot, our new music is just completely different in every way. It’s a radical shift, which makes me a bit nervous, so I just like to warn people that it’s going to be different.

I noticed with some of your earlier music that you guys started out with kind of a 60’s/Beach Boys/Beatles sound—who do you guys consider to be your biggest musical influences?

ANDRES: Probably The Beach Boys, The Beatles— [laughing]

ANDY: Well probably more so early on—I mean, those two bands are always going to remain somewhat in our music, but I feel like, especially now, that’s being overshadowed by more modern contemporary artists that we’ve been getting into. Which is why we’ve changed; I feel like we’ve all been listening to different stuff, branching out into new genres. So we like The Strokes, we like Tyler[, the Creator]... I could go on forever.

ALEX: Yeah, certain aspects of The Beatles and The Beach Boys are always going to be influential to us, not even necessarily in the sound as much as their mindset towards music. They were always willing to experiment and go to new places and change, so that’s part of where we’re going, I think.

So where did your guys’ name come from? Is it like a play on The Beach Boys?

ANDRES: Yeah, we just kind of spit out names, and The Polar Boys was one of the ones that people liked.

ALEX: I wish there was a sick story! But yeah, I think it was just a matter of, “oh yeah, that sounds pretty cool”.

Yeah, for sure - it’s marketable, it’s memorable—

ALEX: That’s reassuring! We’ve all had points where we’re like, “we should change the name”—

ANDY: Yeah, we were actually gonna change our name to the brand, POBO, but we realized Spotify doesn’t let you transfer your music over, so we were like, “yeah, we can’t do that”. We actually just recently put our music on Apple Music for the first time, and there was this rap group called “Dem Polar Boyz.”

So, speaking of marketability, you guys have been in the process of rebranding for a good while now, so tell me a little about the direction you’re going with that.

ANDY: We originally started working with our photographer, Steph [Estrada], and then we got introduced to Val [Pardi] and Gaby [Arauz], who are graphic designers—they did the “After Breakfast” cover—and they were just like, “could we brand you guys?” and we were like, “yeah!” So just through meeting up with them several times, they would ask us questions and figure out what we wanted to go for, and what we wanted our music to sound like before we recorded an album. We would meet up multiple times a week, and then we finally decided on this brand that you’re currently seeing right now. We also knew what songs we had coming out, and we weren’t currently demoing at the time, so we wanted to have a different, more professional branding. We wanted to sort of break away from that Beach Boys-influenced title that we were given, and we wanted to just be our own thing, you know?

ALEX: Yeah, we didn’t want to be quite so niche.

Definitely - I think it’s a smart move. And I’ve noticed you guys have been pretty strategic with the POBO brand so far—with the merch drops, even before the launch of POBO, I’ve seen things sell out within hours. Do you think doing things that way has helped build hype around you guys and your brand?

ANDY: I mean, realistically, the first time it sold out, we weren’t expecting that would happen, and that’s completely influenced by the culture—with the Yeezys and stuff, whenever they’d drop they’d sell out in a day. I feel like a lot of artists that have their own brands do special, limited-edition drops, and I like the idea of having to buy it now because it’s just a one-of-a-kind item, and no one can ever have that again. It just makes it feel that much more special when you finally get your hands on it. I liked that effect that it had on me, so I wanted to do that with this as well.

Do you think that having that happen with your regular merch helped inspire your idea to launch POBO as a clothing line?

ANDY: It had some sort of influence, but I feel like this is something we’ve been talking about for the longest time. I think the biggest influence for that was Golf Wang—we saw the ad for it, and we just had never really seen any other band doing that, so we wanted to do it. And I speak for myself, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the band, when I say that we’re all really into fashion. Instead of just having band merch with the band’s name on it, I wanted to just create clothes that people who might not even be into the music could like. They could just be like, “oh, that’s a sick shirt,” because with band merch, it’s almost always related to the artist and their name, so it’s like you have to be repping them. And just with the fashion—I don’t see a whole lot of bands doing that. You see a lot of solo artists doing it, like pop artists and rappers, but I feel like there’s a lack of bands doing that.

ALEX: It actually came down to this one fateful day where we were searching for pinstripe pants, but we couldn’t find anywhere that had any good pinstripe pants for men. And it was really devastating—and when you see a lack of something in a market, you should capitalize on that. So the ultimate goal of POBO is to make cool pinstripe pants. The music is just to achieve the pinstripe pants! Although, I don’t know how long it’ll take, honestly. We’ll release the pants when we’ve truly made it, you know? The pinstripe pants come right before the world tour!

Of course—speaking of touring, you guys are pretty big within the Kendall/Miami area of Florida. How do you feel that having that strong local following has helped you guys grow as a band?

JAKE: I think that having all these people listening to us has helped us grow by people sharing us through word-of-mouth because they like us. Having that audience really helps when we decide to play live shows, because people want to come out to see us. We don’t play every weekend, so that creates a demand, so when we do play, people want to see us. So just the combination of a lot of people sharing our music word-of-mouth, and people just genuinely enjoying listening to us—and all of that ties into people following us on social media and stuff. And I love the support we get from all of our fans when we release merch and stuff like that, because all that stuff we do, as far as merch, helps us afford to do things like spend two weeks in Chicago to record more music. All of that really just comes full circle, so we can just continue to do everything we want to do with putting out new music, new fashion, and all this cool stuff. We wouldn’t really be able to do any of it if we didn’t have that following. So I don’t really know how we’ve grown the way we have—we’ve just been doing what we want to do, and everyone that follows up seems to just enjoy what we do.

Definitely. I feel like you guys genuinely care about what you do, and it’s a lot of you guys running your own stuff without any corporate management or a label, or anything like that, and I feel like that comes across. That’s why I nominated you guys for our Internet Indie Awardsbecause it was supposed to be more grassroots artists that have a good following both locally and nationally—and my first thought was, “oh, that’s The Polar Boys, it has to be The Polar Boys.”

ANDY: Thank you so much, that means a lot to us! It is all grassroots—we’ve put money out-of-pocket in the past, and it’s been all us, but now we have Gaby, Val, and Steph who have been a huge help to us, but it really has been as DIY as it gets.

ALEX: There’s something more intimate about it, and much more personal. It feels like everyone is kind of in it together, in a way.

So are you guys done recording, or do you have to go back to Chicago to record more?

JAKE: No, it’s already done—we just need to get it mastered. All of the recording process, that’s all done.

Okay, great, so now it’s just about building the hype and doing the marketing, like you’ve done so far leading up to your latest single, “Intro”, which drops on the 27th?

ALEX: Yup, on Friday!

That’s perfect then, right in time for New Music Friday and all that.

ANDY: Yeah, honestly, we talked about it—so, two things: one, if we make New Music Friday, I will just run around my neighborhood screaming, and we’re gonna party so hard.

ALEX: And if it doesn’t happen this Friday, hopefully it will happen at some point, on some Friday, with some song.

I haven’t heard it yet, so tell me a little about “Intro.”

ANDY: That one’s going to be really interesting to see; we really don’t know what’s going to happen with that song. For me, it’s either people are going to love it, or they’re going to hate it. I don’t know, I can see either of those things happening. People are either going to be like, “holy shit!” (excitedly) or “holy shit… what?” So I guess “After Breakfast” is kind of a good median between our old sound bridging into this new sound. “Barbados” would be [at one end of the spectrum], and this new song is way off at the other end. When we showed it to Val and Gaby for the first time, the first reaction they had was that they thought it sounded like Childish Gambino, which we’ve never heard before, so it was pretty crazy. It’s called “Intro” because it kind of embodies the rest of the songs we have recorded—pieces, sonically, of the songs that we have coming up can be heard in “Intro,” but it’s an entity of its own. That being said, it’s supposed to be like an introduction to what we’re about.

ALEX: It definitely is. From the beginning, as soon as you hear it, it’s so drastically different. I don’t want to spoil it in any way, but it will be very apparent when you hear it. And that’s how we wanted it to come across—we wanted “Intro” to be the first one we dropped, because it really represents that shift. When you hear it, there’s no doubt that it’s a big shift in the band, and we didn’t want to beat around the bush with it.

ANDY: And there’s a song or two that are still different, but we felt would be more predictable for us to release after a song like “After Breakfast,” and we purposely didn’t want to do that - we didn’t want to choose a song that was almost expected for us to drop, you know? “Intro” was different-sounding enough, but it just makes sense. To me at least.

ALEX: It makes sense to us because we have the context of the rest of the music and the idea of where we’re going, but I hope people can see that. I think it’s apparent that there are a variety of influences in “Intro”—it’s multi-dimensional, and you can hear pieces of what we all like, mixed together to form what we think is a pretty unique sound.

So is this eventually going to lead to the release of a full-length?

ANDY: Not with these recordings—so when we went to Chicago, we had originally planned out a ten-song album, but halfway through the process, we felt like each song could stand on its own. Not to say that we’re not ready to release our debut album yet, but we would definitely want the help from a label to push for a debut album. Financially, it would be very hard to push a full-length album at this time, and given that we have ten songs vaulted right now, I feel like we won’t run out of content anytime soon. If we just dropped an album right now, we wouldn’t be able to financially—

ALEX: Yeah, we’d run out of steam for sure.

Are you guys planning on touring nationally anytime soon?

ALEX: We’d love to!

ANDY: Yeah! But honestly, it again comes down to finances—we’re trying to land SXSW in March, but if we are to tour nationally, it would be opening for someone else. So we’re in the works of doing that.

And if you could say anything to your fans, what would you want them to know?

ALL: We love you!

ALEX: And watch out!

ANDY: Seriously, don’t hate us for what you’re about to hear.

JAKE: Bear with our creative process.

ALEX: Honestly though, with the songs we’re releasing, they’re all quite different from each other - so even if you don’t like some of them, you’re bound to like one of them.

The Polar Boys’ latest single, “Intro,” releases this Friday, 9/27. Pre-save it here.

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