Interview: Poly-Math – We could become a beatbox hip hop band next week

After their immense set on the main stage at ArcTanGent this year, we were fortunate enough to catch up the Brighton based Prog-Rock outfit Poly-Math for a quick chat.

You’ve had a busy 2018, releasing a double album and a number of high-profile performances, what’s been the highlight so far?

Undoubtably ArcTanGent has been our highlight, it’s the highlight for any weird band I guess, but this year we had an incredible time. We played with three drummers, our new keyboard player and threw 100 bananas into the audience, it was great fun!

Your latest release, and in my opinion your most powerful, House of Wisdom/We Are the Devil is a double album, what made you decide on that format?

Thank you very much. We just wanted to create something big. We’d spent so much time making EP’s and mini albums, we wanted to create something massive. I think this genre is defined by trying to be as much as possible, I think we thought a double album was representative of that.

How have you found the response to the album so far?

I think it’s been pretty much beyond anything we could have hoped for. We’ve had so many really complimentary reviews, we couldn’t be more chuffed to be honest.

One thing which always fascinates with bands with complex arrangements is how you go about the recording process. How does a song first form?

It’s really not dissimilar to how a normal band would work to be honest. We’ll often have one member bring in a riff or a progression and we’ll work it out between us, and then we’ll try to take that riff apart, add time changes or take a beat away here and there, then we put it aside. Once we’ve come up with a load of riffs and progressions we’ll start trying to put them into different tracks, like putting pieces of a puzzle together; if we find something that works in a few different tracks then we’ll rephrase it slightly and call it a recurring theme.

Taking a step back for a moment, what was is that got you guys together as a band in the first place, was there a specific aim you had?

To just do whatever. We’d all been in more serious bands before, and we were all tired of making music for other people, we just wanted to be as weird as we could be and see what happens. That’s the aim of Poly-Math, to just do whatever we want. We could become a beatbox hip hop band next week, who knows!

I saw you an ArcTanGent and the intensity of your set reminded me of seeing Mars Volta when Thomas Pridgen was with them. How do you manage to keep up that intensity yet keeps things interesting?

We try to give everything as much light and shade as possible to be honest. I think otherwise it can all become a bit too much. We’ve always had punk origins as our background, and we try to keep that raucous nature about our music as much as we can.

The reaction from the crowd at ATG was fantastic – how did it feel from on stage?

It’s always amazing to play ATG, for us this year was very special because we had Josh, our new keyboard player, and we even got our band baby Ev up on stage at the end. We’re essentially Three Men and a Little Lady, only now there are four us so…

It’s been 5 years now since your first single Vertex was released and the frequency of releases since then has been pretty high. How do you think you’ve developed as a band in the years since?

We’ve slowed down a lot. We’re all pretty old now, so I think we’ve mellowed a fair bit. It’s important for us to try to change with every release, and we’re certainly trying to do that for anything we do in the future. I love everything we’ve done, but we hate repetition, we try to keep moving, and infortunately we have a lot of ideas, so we’re always trying to record as much as we can.

Brighton’s music scene seems to improve and become more diverse as each year passes – how are you finding it, and is there anyone else we should be keeping an eye on?

I’ve always found the North of the UK to have a much better and more diverse scene for this sort of thing. Brighton is fine, but I don’t think it’s especially prog orientated. Math tends to split into heavy math and jazzy math, we’re definitely the former, and Brighton definitely prefers the latter. For us the best band at the moment has to be Chiyoda Ku, formerly of Bristol and now of Leeds. Arguably the best thing to ever come out of Math Rock, in all of time.

You’ve got a northern tour coming up in October – have you got any other upcoming plans?

We’re also heading out around the UK with ASIWYFA in November so we’re extremely excited about that. Although also concerned about what an incredible band they are to play with and trying to work out how we can play everything faster in order to compete 🙂

Poly-Math are on tour in October and their latest album House of Wisdom/We Are the Devil is out now.