Australian Guitar - - Feature - WORDS BY MATT DO­RIA.

From open­ing spots at their lo­cal YMCA to sold-out head­lin­ers in for­eign are­nas, Po­laris are on the type of sky­ward soar you typ­i­cally only see in Hol­ly­wood fan­tasies. It was their de­but full-length, TheMor­talCoil, that lit the fuse on their still-ex­plod­ing fire­work – since the day it dropped in Novem­ber 2017, the Syd­ney met­al­core crew have been kick­ing goals and brew­ing pits non-stop.

Now, a breath over two years later, it’s make or break. All eyes are on the lit­tle rif­flords that could for their sec­ond shot at the air­waves – and ac­cord­ing to lead guitarist Ryan Siew, they’re not about to blow it.

How did you want TheDeathOf­Me to kick the sound and style of Po­laris up to the next level?

It’s been quite a while since we put TheMor­tal Coil out, and that al­bum did have a much big­ger im­pact than we ever thought it would. So we felt very pres­sured – es­pe­cially since a few of us suf­fer from poor men­tal health and anx­i­ety, it did feel like a huge weight to fol­low up some­thing like [our first al­bum].

But in those few years, we’ve been to Europe about five times now, and the States twice; we’ve seen Ja­pan, we’ve seen New Zealand… We’ve seen the world, pretty much, and that changes you as a per­son. And in­evitably, that seeps into the mu­sic. I think this record is just a cul­mi­na­tion of that.

We never re­ally sat down and had a brief, like, “Oh, we want to make a heav­ier record,” or, “We want to do this...” We just wanted to write mu­sic for the sake of writ­ing mu­sic. I think a lot of peo­ple are go­ing to be sur­prised by what the al­bum turned out to be af­ter hear­ing the sin­gle. “Masochist” is a bit of a softer song, but with­out say­ing too much, the heavy met­allers out there won’t be dis­ap­pointed by the whole al­bum.

I know that in the cre­ative process, you tried a few new ap­proaches to song­writ­ing – like how with “Masochist”, you wrote the riffs around the vo­cal melody in­stead of vice versa. How else did you shake things up as song­writ­ers?

I think af­ter do­ing two EPs and an al­bum, you learn so much about song­writ­ing. I think it’s al­ways a re­ally gru­elling process, but we’ve kind of fig­ured out a way to stream­line it. Hon­estly, it hasn’t re­ally changed too much, be­cause the rea­son the band sounds the way it does is hugely due to us as in­di­vid­u­als.

You’ve al­ways been a pretty tech­ni­cal shred­der, and it seems that with each new re­lease, you try to up the ante for your­self. How did you want this record in par­tic­u­lar to chal­lenge your skills as a guitarist?

I re­ally wanted to chal­lenge my­self as much as I could with my lead play­ing, be­cause I didn’t get to ex­plore that as much as I would’ve liked to on the last record. And be­cause of the spo­radic na­ture of how this al­bum was made – we had about six months, which is half the time we did TheMor­talCoil in – we were just kind of like, “F*** it.”

The rule was that it didn’t mat­ter if you had a crazily tech­ni­cal part or an im­pos­si­ble blast­beat sec­tion; if it sounded good, we’d use it! So I guess in that sense, the mu­sic did come out more tech­ni­cal, in a strange way. But yeah, we al­ways go into a record want­ing to be bet­ter mu­si­cians than we were the last time, and give our­selves a lit­tle bit of a chal­lenge.

What gui­tars were you rip­ping out on?

We used our May­ones gui­tars. For the seven-string stuff, we used a May­ones Regius Core that had this crazy gra­di­ent fin­ish on it, which was just beau­ti­ful. It’s got a Schaller Hannes bridge on it, and an 11-piece wenge neck-through. Crazy, crazy stuff. And that Schaller Hannes bridge – it’s, like, bolted onto the body, and it’s got this big f***ing chunk of brass for the tail piece. And it sounds so clunky and growly and mid-range-y – I can’t re­ally de­scribe it, but it’s very at­tack-y, which was re­ally suck. And that was per­fect for the seven-string stuff be­cause it was tuned lower.

And then for the six-string stuff, we mostly use the Regius 6 that I have; it’s blue, and it’s an­other very solid gui­tar, spec-wise. It’s got an 11-piece maple dom­i­nant neck and ash wings, and a buck­eye burl top. We’ve been for­tu­nate enough to be work­ing closely with May­ones – and even Fender, through EVH – so we pretty much had any choice of gui­tar we could have picked up. We’re very spoilt [ laughs].

So it was mostly those two May­ones gui­tars, but there was also a Strat and a bunch of other stuff.

For the pick­ups in the rhythm gui­tars, we used the Bare Knuckle Jug­ger­nauts. We’ve been big fans of Bare Knuckle for ages, and they’re so nice to us as well. We used them in the bridge when we were track­ing all the rhythms, and then the leads were mostly done with a Jug­ger­naut pickup on the first gui­tar that May­ones ever made for me. And then for all of the clean stuff, we used the Bare Knuckle VHII pickup, which is… It’s not a high-output pickup, but it’s re­ally fat and round, and it’s got that ‘pick at­tack’ thing go­ing. So that was re­ally cool for some lay­ers – and it sounded great split as well.

I know you’re hard at work de­vel­op­ing your first sig­na­ture gui­tar at the mo­ment. What can you tell us about that?

Yeah! It ab­so­lutely blows my mind that it’s even hap­pen­ing. It’s still in the pro­to­typ­ing stages, ob­vi­ously – they won’t let me post about them on the in­ter­net yet, but they’re re­ally, re­ally cool. I’ve had the lux­ury to play around with ev­ery sin­gle op­tion you could imag­ine. And [May­ones] have been so good to me; they just came up to me one day and said, “A lot of our deal­ers are get­ting cus­tomers com­ing up to them and go­ing, ‘I want that red gui­tar that Ryan has!’”

That red gui­tar is the first one that May­ones ever made for me. I did some stuff with it on YouTube a long time ago, and I feel like a lot of peo­ple as­so­ciate that fin­ish with what I do, and with the band. So it’s based on that OG gui­tar, but I’ve taken ev­ery­thing that I’ve loved from ev­ery sin­gle gui­tar I’ve played since then, and that has built me [as a guitarist], and smashed it into one.

Tick­ets are on sale now via po­lar­

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