There’s this guy you work with. He’s in a band. Somebody else tells you about it, because they hear that you’re a ‘music guy’ – air quotes their own – and that you might find this piece of information interesting. You pay no attention at first, at every office you’ve ever sat in there’s been a guy in a band, and usually they are the worst kind of bands. But eventually, the guy ends up seated next to you and you cannot contain your curiosity. You ask him what kind of music he plays. He gives you some sort of roundabout, smart arse answer that will become the hallmark of your friendship over the next four years. He says the band is called Polish Club, which is a joke about the fact that both members of the band come from partially Polish backgrounds. You tell him you are also partially Polish, but you never let anyone know this fact, because Polish people are generally awful. He seems to agree. It turns out he plays drums, just like you. That you know a lot of the same people, and have previously played in bands with a lot of those people. You start talking about music, trading playlists and recommendations. This incenses your workmates, who are trying to get work done. But you are not trying to get work done. You are trying to become a writer. And even though he won’t admit it, he’s trying to become a rockstar.
A few months pass and you finally get the chance to see his band play. Their sound is familiar but new. It is blues and soul and punk and decibels and you are instantly smitten. Acknowledging the way your relationship operates, you tell him that the show was, you know, pretty good. This becomes a tacit form of approval, and when the first EP arrives, he asks if you would like to write the bio. By now you have seen the band play to a few more partially full and sometimes empty rooms. At one show, you are the only person there aside from a drunk Irishman who cannot stop dancing. You think there’s something there. The songs are fast, loose and loud as a fucking tractor reversing into a small aircraft, but they’re kind of addictive. You say yes.
Years pass. You move jobs. He moves jobs. Somehow, almost half a decade later, you end up sitting exactly the same distance from each other as you did the first time. Things are now happening for Polish Club. They are selling out shows, touring the country. He arrives at work carrying cymbal bags with bags under his eyes. They make videos on the cheap. Their songs start getting played on the radio. They sign with a major. Girls start commenting on their social media pages using capital letters. He arrives at work with a snare drum and personal baggage.
He lets you hear the album early. He pretends like he doesn’t care about your opinion, and you pretend like you have better things to listen to. But when you hear this one song, you know. You know that while you’re still becoming the writer you want to be, he’s definitely going to be a rockstar.
It’s called ‘If It Was Me.’ It has all of the attitude of the other songs, but you can also feel the heart. You realise that through all the feigned nonchalance and the greasy cogs of the industry, that’s what music is all about. The added note chords ripple open like a Chinese fan. There are harmonies. The singer, who, in a weird sense of circularity, now works at the place you and the drummer once worked is in blistering form. You can feel the symbiosis of guitar and crash cymbal like you have in all the great duos of the past. You think this song might tip the band over the edge. That one day you’ll arrive at work and your friend won’t be there, because he’s quit to go on tour in America. And it worries you, because in some strange way, you’ve gotten used to having him around, even though you totally don’t even care.
You know that in a few hours, he’ll read the piece and sure as day, the first thing he’ll say is ‘that’s fucking useless. Where’s the pull quote for our press release?’
“Charmingly abrasive and armed with the kind of puncturing, blues-basted soul you forgot you were missing, Polish Club have offered up Australia’s most delectable, distorted new dish.”
Now, are we getting lunch or what?