‘Grief’ by Polar Bites

Posted in Music on 16 March 2023

In 2019 after a long absence from songwriting, I spat out a couple of tracks. I had recorded a cover of ‘Revolution’ by The Beatles in the style of Biffy Clyro covering Franz Ferdinand. To call the track far-fetched would be an understatement. I wanted to reuse some of the motifs. The resulting song was ‘Tone Control’.

Prior to that I was demoing a song for King Brick. It was called ‘Time Rot’. I had a few old songs I wanted the band to learn but they didn’t take the bait. ‘Time Rot’ was one of the tracks that they didn’t hate.

I recorded these two songs on my own and fell in love with music again.

I had an idea. I wanted to record a project for myself and shape the music over four albums. The first of these was ‘Grief’. Not a sunny subject but an important one to me. I set out with an outline of the songs and what I wanted to achieve with each track – what it would be about and how it would sound.

As I sat down to get started on my solo project, lockdown hit. What could’ve proved a creative period (and did for many) set me back. I wasn’t in a great place and I relied heavily on my friends.

At the start of 2021 I experienced a huge personal event that saw my health decline. What came after that was a wave of creativity that unblocked the rest of the album just as I had gone through a heavy form of grief.

I wrote and demoed the rest of the album that year. By October I had the full set. I released ‘Grief’.

You can listen to Grief on Bandcamp.

Musically the album is alternative rock taking influences from Biffy Clyro, We Are Scientists, Arctic Monkeys and others. I’ll let the description from Bandcamp do some talking:

Grief could be the chronicle of a moody 30-something. Arguably it holds a more important message about mental health.

It follows my experiences with problems and dealing with them. It explores what happens when feelings are left and not altered. It follows other people’s effect on me through their behaviour and through their own issues.

The themes are deeply personal. The music for the album is aggressive without being too obscene. The guitar is the main instrument with hints of electronics.

It’s a selfish piece of work. I wrote it for an audience of one.

It was recorded all from my bedroom. The guitars are tracked through a Line 6 HX Stomp and modelled by Presonus Studio One Ampire. Listening back they could with much less processing. The drums and synths are sequenced. The bass is direct and then modelled as the guitars. The vocals are recorded with a cheap Behringer condenser mic through a Focusrite Scarlett interface. I use Presonus Studio One as a DAW.

I’m proud of it. The drums can sound tacky. The vocals, to my best efforts, are rubbish. But it has feeling and meaning.

I will look to release Grief on streaming platforms to coincide with my second album’s release, hopefully sometime later this year. Bandcamp is great but it doesn’t provide discoverability, nor is it used by many for music consumption. It’s hard to make a Spotify playlist of songs that aren’t there.

I will remaster Grief before I upload it. I’m not interested in changing much else, but the drums may get a rework. They’re currently too loud (I used near the default MIDI velocity which is quite high). But really the problem is the compression. Everything is too flat. The bass is also too loud. Oh well – you live and learn.

I love music. Hopefully this is the start of something that keeps me creative. We all need an outlet in our lives. This is mine.

Jack Gutteridge