Sometimes rather than just making top-notch indie music isn’t enough – a bit of a back story, maybe some sort of connection, is required to get that wee bit of exposure. Well, it is at Jockrock, certainly.
Penguins Kill Polar Bears originate from the same place that this website is based, and as for many acts formed in small communities, the band move away and in most cases never play live in their home town.
However, the four-piece, now largely based in Edinburgh, are putting that right on their current tour, which takes in homecoming shows for Elgin-formed busmates Farewell Singapore as well as one for the Penguins (as they’re not known).
Answering the questions: Ben Proudlock
We’re Ben Proudlock (vocals & guitar), Kieran McGuckian (drums), Fraser Sanaghan (guitar) & Gregor Graham (bass).
– I can’t really remember the exact day or year we started this band but I do remember it having some pretty terrible names to start with. I’d probably even say we weren’t really ‘Penguins Kill Polar Bears’ until we eventually changed our name to that and that was about five years ago on a train into Glasgow to record our first ever song, which I won’t name in case anyone somehow manages to find it on the internet.
We’ve done a lot since then, some things that we’re really proud of as band, like supporting The Twilight Sad, playing a sold out show with British India in London and even selling a few of our own shows out ourselves.
This year for me was almost like a re-birth for this band, new album, new studio space, new attitudes and hopefully a lot of new fans too. I don’t want to disregard the past but I would like to move away from a lot of things we may or may not have done wrong.
The original line up was formed purely of people from Linlithgow, which has a reputation inside West Lothian of being a bit posh, but Kieran and I never really fit the bill – think plastic bottles of cider in the park rather than silver cutlery in the sun house. We used to rehearse in the local youth club during the day when it was closed, they helped us out a lot when we were younger with rehearsals and local shows. Now we’re based mostly in Edinburgh: we have our own studio space there, and the majority of us live and work there too.
We’re all really good friends who just love to make music together, it’s as simple as that. We’ve all got the same sense of humour, listen to roughly the same artists, watch the same television shows etc. It’s just lucky we all eventually fitted together to form the line up that is now Penguins Kill Polar Bears.
Describing your own music is always a tough one, I don’t really know where we would sit in a record shop’s genre-listed shelves but I guess everyone says we’re ‘post-rock’. I don’t tend to agree all the time and just prefer the title ‘rock band’, no fancy frilly lace bunting or the like, just a rock band who happen to play loud songs and use probably too much reverb. We’re constantly trying to change things up though, or at least push our song writing capabilities, just so we’re not boring ourselves more than anything else. It’s good to have the odd curve ball in the set like ‘Lungs’ to pull out and go wild with but it’s also nice to play slower, more ambient songs like ‘Scarce’ from our début album. So in short I’d say we’re a loud rock band that are capable of making your ears hurt with a wall of noise but we’re also able to bring it back and romance you with our clean tones.
Well, we don’t make music for money. Any money we make goes straight back into the band to fund future releases and tours. Hopefully we’ll break even on this outing. There’s not a lot to explain really about why we love making music, we’re all music fans ourselves so to be creating something like this and playing it to people is a thrill.
Recognition and praise is always flattering but we don’t crave fame or celebrity. I think we know what music we could write to try and get famous, but we’d rather keep doing what we do. If my mum and dad like it then we’re doing something wrong.
Penguins Kill Polar Bears hit the road with Farewell Singapore in April 2013, an eight-date tour which takes in Linlithgow on Thursday 18th – probably the first ‘proper’ touring rock gig that there’s been in the town in the past 20 years.
15th – Market Bar, Inverness
16th – Rascals, St Andrews
17th – Broadcast, Glasgow
18th – St Johns, Linlithgow
19th – Non-Zero’s, Dundee
20th – Flanagan’s, Elgin
21st – Cellar 35, Aberdeen