"That existential question of ‘How much of what I do really matters’ lingers over this record. How much can we hold on to this value of what we leave behind? One of the gifts of being someone who creates for a living is that it feels like you can leave behind something permanent. Not everyone gets to do that in their life."
Australian metalcore upstarts Polaris have today released their second full-length album 'The Death Of Me'. An absolute monolith of a record in both sound and substance, there is a lot to unpack across these 10 tracks, so we asked the band's drummer and main lyricist Daniel Furnari to talk us through his thoughts and feelings. It's a heavy one.
'Pray For Rain'
"We worked on this song for a really long time and there was always something about it that felt like an opener and introduction to a story. There’s a mystique to the chord progression and the notes being played at the very start, and the way it builds is something we’ve never really done.
"Lyrically it’s based around this idea that we all begin our lives in this reserve of goodness and positive energy. Over time we grow up and witness so many things that can sway and change us and take away from that thing we’re born with. Within this song I’m seeing that thing almost as a reservoir of good energy that you’re constantly draining into the world. You get to this point where it’s too hard to hang on to it, and our natural cynicism takes over - it’s all about that battle to hold on to that reservoir of goodness, while constantly trying to replenish it when the world tries to take it away."
"This song takes certain feelings that were expressed in ‘Pray For Rain’, but then extrapolates them to an extreme. I love the contrast between the two tracks - they help to establish that there are things that you wouldn’t expect from us on this record. I feel as though the sound of the song really played into the type of lyrics I was writing for it too. It feels unstable, and that’s how it became a song about questioning your own mental ability. With all the stress we’ve been under in the past few years, there’s been a lot of moments where we’ve questioned how long we can hold on like we are. I’ve had moments where things have been too much, so the song draws from these heavy up and down mood swings and feeling where your emotions are at opposite ends. It’s that feeling like you’re constantly falling apart and on the edge of a mental breakdown. The whole song teeters on that edge, and has you questioning yourself over your own mentality."
"Where ‘Hypermania’ is about a loss of control and not understanding the way that you feel, ‘Masochist’ is more about the crash that comes after that. This song is like hitting rock bottom, and in reaching that lower point asking yourself how you ended up here - what is this mentality that is keeping me at this low point? The meaning to this song is pretty obvious from the lyrics, as they are pretty literal - it comes down to the question of whether I’m responsible for my own misery and my own depression, and why I keep doing this to myself. Personally, I tend to have this habit of dwelling on the negatives. Often that even happens when things are going well in my life - it led me to believing that there’s a masochistic part of me that would be more comfortable being unhappy.
"This song is about me looking in the mirror and begging myself to be honest about what the consequences of my actions would be if I carry on down this path. When we got this song online, what made me feel real positive was that there were so many people describing that this was something they had gone through and spoke about a mindset they had been in which they had struggled to put into words. It’s very reassuring to hear that."
"What I like about this record is that it feels so volatile - we just wanted it to keep on pushing you in different directions as you listen to it. This is probably one of the heaviest tracks on here, and probably one of the heaviest songs we’ve ever actually written. There are a hell of a lot of elements in this song that we’ve wanted to incorporate for a long time, but have just not had the chance to do it.
"It’s difficult to explain what the song is actually about though, because it took me a long time to nail down what I wanted to say. What the song ended up turning into was detailing what it’s like when you reach that place in your life where you’re well and truly an adult and you start having to take responsibility for yourself. It’s this bitter realisation that you’re not as special as you thought you were, and the world doesn’t actually revolve around you - nobody is going to pick you up, pat you off and push you in the right direction when you fall down. You can then get sucked into a system that doesn’t benefit you and become a small figure in this really large world. It’s that feeling of discovering you’re a really small fish in a really large pond. It’s not about you and it never has been, and the sooner you grow up and realise that the better. It’s a rude shock realising just how little you matter and this song is about throwing your hands up in the air and giving into it."
"This is one of the only songs on the record that actually feels happy in parts, and is actually where we get the title of the record from. It’s not something we do that often, and even reading the lyrics on their own they sound quite dark, but there’s still a slight positivity. They talk about this feeling that you don’t actually belong anywhere. In the last couple of years we’ve been on the move so much and spent so little time in our own homes. When you’re in a new place everyday on a tour, there’s never any time for you to feel settled - you’re constantly out of your comfort zone. In saying that, the positive angle comes from embracing that and learning to be ok with that. Searching for that comfort in a place of discomfort and learning to ground yourself within that feeling of being an outsider."
'Creatures Of Habit'
"This is another song where the subject matter ended up reflecting on the actual writing process. It was back and forth and on the chopping block so many times - it took us a long time to figure out how the track would flow. Because of that, the song lyrically ended up being about what it’s like to be in the band when it comes to being creative. It’s about that struggle of trying to find the balance between what we all want to see and what we all want to hear in what we’re making. The song talks about the pressures that we all put on each other as make this - as a band we can be quite hard on each other, and it can sometimes cause some real tension. Over time we are still trying to learn how to live with and work with it. So this is largely about what we put each other through and how we push each other to create something great."
'Above My Head'
"This song also draws on inter-band member relationships and pressures. What I’m always trying to do is write lyrics that we can all connect to within the band. We all have our own different meanings and ways in which we interpret the songs but what I’m trying to write is not just what I’m going through, but what we’re going through as a unit. In parts of ‘Creatures Of Habit’ I was trying to write through the lens of what the other guys might want to say to me if they could - what do I think they’re feeling towards me right now, not just how I feel. So in a similar way ‘Above My Head’ draws from the same imagery and also very real conversations that have happened within the band. A lot of times this song parallels the band relationships with other relationships in our lives as well - it talks about what we’re dealing with as members of the band and the fears we have going into the creative process of creating a record, while also the fear of having to leave home again after not having enough time to settle down and how that effects our relationships with the people we care about. It’s a confession in many ways."
"This is a very different song to any others on the record - it’s arguably the softest song we’ve ever written. What I love is that it still has these big moments that actually feel really heavy. This song was hard to pin down lyrically because it was more about a feeling than a story I wanted to convey. There are two angles that you can look at it from: it’s obviously a song about how we have so many identities as people - we try to be certain people in the lives of the people we care about. There are so many personas that we put on and occupy so many roles which can get really exhausting and cloud the idea of who you really are. There’s a lot of pressure that comes from having to live up to those expectations as well and it can sometimes come all crashing down. The other angle, in a more literal sense, is that this song is about how I feel within my own role as a lyricist. Once you start to have people pay attention to the things that you’re saying in a really personal way, it can be quite scary. It’s a responsibility as an artist where you feel like you have to put into words the things that they can’t express. Sometimes I really don’t know what to do with that. Eventually you start to question how long you can carry that."
'All Of This Is Fleeting'
"This song is essentially about the significance of what you leave behind in the world. We made this record in a beach house on the edge of a cliff a few hours south of Sydney. There was a day when the room where we were doing vocals was just overlooking the ocean with nothing in between the water and us -it was just this endless view. There’s something about that place and that view that puts you in a mindset of considering the world. That existential question of ‘How much of what I do really matters’ lingers over this record. How much can we hold on to this value of what we leave behind? One of the gifts of being someone who creates for a living is that it feels like you can leave behind something permanent. Not everyone gets to do that in their life. At the end of the day once you start thinking about it, that’s also a bit naïve - it still only applies to a small amount of time in the grand scheme of human existence. The time that people will continue to consume your art is so short. So this song is about wanting to create something that’s permanent and leave an impact but then also realising even that thing you feel is so permanent is still really temporary and so fragile. Nothing we will do will last."
"This is a dark record all over, but this song takes it to a place where we haven’t really explored. This song is essentially a fictionalized vision of its narrator waking up from an apocalyptic nightmare to discover that they are actually in an institution or hospita - so the songs sets about to describe how they got there. There are some classic religious images that play their role here, such as the demon and angel faces and heaven and hell imagery - it’s ultimately about this protagonist being pulled in two different directions, between the light and being pulled downwards towards ending it all. It’s not a way I would normally write but it felt like this perfect closing thought. It ends on this really somber note where the protagonist succumbs to the call, and finds himself falling into a deeper and darker place that they can’t escape from. We just wanted it to sound apocalyptic in ending. We did consider whether this was really the note we wanted to end the record on - we’re not the sort of band who set out to write really gloomy lyrics, but it all comes from a place of being honest and reflecting the things that we are going through. It just felt so right to finish here. Where else could we go from here? We wanted this record to rattle people in some way, and I feel as though that’s something we’ve been able to do with this ending."
Polaris' brand new album 'The Death Of Me' is out now: