Interview: Institut Polaire

Erik (Institut Polaire)
Interview by Leo Abbs

You have a new cd about to come out. What are your feelings now it’s ready for release?
We are definitely excited and relieved to finally have a product out there! It took a while but it happened when the time felt right and I think it’s a good way to sort of sum up the first few years of our being a band.

We do have a lot of new material, some of which we considered putting on the EP, but it kinda feels like a new chapter in the songwriting and we decided to save that for a cohesive LP release which we are starting to work on as we speak.

The disc is called ‘The Fauna and The Flora’. Why did you call it that?
Well most of the EP deals with issues of how ridiculous the current state of the world is and mixing that with themes of isolation and impermanence. It’s actually a line taken from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne. I suppose it kinda represents things blending too closely together these days, like church/state, religion/spirituality, good/evil etc.

How was the recording process?
It was definitely a learning process. With 7 people in the band we soon realised that things had to be well prepared before you step foot in the booth or you would waste a lot of time and money. It was great working with Rob Grant @ Poons Head as I think he grasped straight away what we were after and wasn’t afraid to lend helpful advice.

What is the lead track on the disc and what are the lyrics about?
The lead track numerically is Kentucky Society Drought. I’d say it’s bit of a call to arms saying “If anyone else feels the world is currently as ridiculous as I view it to be, let’s get together and let people know how we feel. Everyone take a step back and realise we are just monkeys with a few extra brain cells. No more, no less. Why should lives be sacrificed for the purpose of politics and extremism?”
I suppose it’s a bit of an non-hippy protest song.

How did Institut Polaire form and why did you go for so many members?
Dave and I formed the band with Ash Blakeney back in late 2003. So we started as a 3 piece by necessity really and we really had to pull a lot back in the early days. But the songs have always been created and envisioned with full arrangements in mind and we always intended to have the current numbers. It just took us a while to find the right people. God help us if we should ever have the cash to access full orchestras.

Are there any plans to tour after the launch?
Well we’ve done two national tours this year already (with Camera Obscura and The Clientele). And unfortunately it costs a ridiculous amount of money to get a large band from WA to over east. So whilst we’d love to get over and do some more shows to promote the EP, it might make more sense for us financially to hold off as we are relocating to Melbourne in the New Year to finish off the LP. I guess we’ll see how things go.

What are your 3 Favourite highlights of Institut Polaire?
Hmm. For me personally I suppose playing Big Day Out on a gorgeous sunny day, filming our clip in Sydney in early August (hopefully out any week), and having Camera Obscura join us on stage for a song at Becks Verandah.

What are five bands that describe Institut Polaire’s musical influences?
Well, that’s a toughy to answer for the band as we all have different tastes. But for me personally as a songwriter..

1) Velvet Underground
2) The Smiths
3) Lee Hazlewood
4) Scott Walker
5) Brian Wilson
6) Serge Gainsbourg

Sorry that’s six but two hard to narrow to five.

Launch Details:
Sunday 30 Sep (Long Weekend) at the Rosemount Hotel.
It’s a 6-10 show due to early licensing.

Lineup is…
Nat Carson (of Bank Holidays)
Faith in Plastics
New Rules For Boats
Institut Polaire (w/ special guest appearances)

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