Polychuck rocks…and raps…and shreds…and, well, everything.
The multi-instrumentalist/producer/mixer/ass kicking MMAer has just released a new EP titled Shadow’s Exposed. The Montreal, Canada native’s recording will take you for a ride. Mixing rock, rap, metal, urban beats and pretty much anything he damn well pleases, Shadow’s Exposed is a wonderful listen. There really is something for everyone on the EP.
Polychuck does things his way…and that’s just fine. This is intense, fun new music. He was kind enough to answer Let’s Rock’s 20 Questions. Enjoy!!
1. First off, thanks so much for doing this. I love getting the chance to hear new music, and I’m happy Chip passed your stuff on to me. Before we get into the nitty gritty, give us a brief history of Polychuck.
Thank you so much for having me! So, I’ve been playing music all my life. I literally started playing guitar at age 6. Always a fan of the greatest guitar players from Eric Clapton to Kirk Hammett to Steve Vai and more recently guys like Allan Holdsworth, Ben Eunson and more modern jazz guys. Shredding was always something I admired and writing music always felt natural. I played in underground heavy bands for a long time before deciding to do my own project under my name. I’ve been part of many projects from straight edge hardcore to grind core and even technical death metal. In the last 2 years though I’ve been spending a lot of time just creating and writing what is technically a mash up of everything I enjoy listening to. I decided to write whatever sounded good to me without boundaries or trying to fit a specific format and that’s how Polychuck came about.
2. On your new EP, Shadow’s Exposed, you play all the instruments, as well as produce, record and mix the songs. What is the process for recording when you are doing it all alone?
Yes, that’s correct! I tend to start with a keyboard chord progression. I’ll typically sit at the piano with a coffee and start looking for some chords while humming a melody. Then when I have something I like I simply press record and the song evolves from there. I add drums, guitars, keys, vocals, find a good structure and then mix and master. It is sometimes a very long process but some songs were literally completed in one day.
3. Take us back to the beginning of your musical journey: Who inspired you to play when you were younger?
Like I said, I started playing at a very young age and I can definitely say that my father was my first influence but I remember clearly when I heard “Kill em All” by Metallica. That’s really when it clicked for me. I must’ve been 9 or 10 years old. Kirk Hammett’s playing literally got me. I became interested in heavier genres and more technical stuff. I was introduced to prog rock and then I knew that making music was going to be my journey.
4. Who inspires you now?
Right now my biggest inspiration as a song writer is probably Steven Wilson, Porcupine Tree, Frost* etc. I admire their lack of boundaries while still keeping their general sound extremely catchy. It’s exactly what I strive for. It’s easy to call yourself a prog act and just write a bunch of avant-garde noisy riffs that don’t seem to make any sense but being able to make great music that appeals to a lot of people and that is beautiful to listen to can be quite a challenge. I admire bands like Yes or ELP for being able to do that as well. This is of course only my opinion.
5. Listening to your tunes, the one thing that stands out to me is the number of different styles your playing. Metal, rap, electro-pop, alternative rock, urban trap beats, synth pop and folk. Where do these influences come from?
I am someone who likes music. Music as One thing. I don’t like breaking it up in too many categories. It is useful when you’re trying to describe an artist’s sound or when you’re trying to appeal to a niche audience but to me music is just music. It is simply a bunch of sounds that evoke emotions in me. What I make is literally simply that: using the tools and the sounds that I like. It can be a guitar solo, an 808 drum loop, a synth-pop keyboard line, it doesn’t matter.
6. When you are writing songs, do you consciously try to write a song in one style or is it just whatever comes out at the time?
It’s more like “Oh, I like this chord progression. I imagine the song to have an 80’s rock vibe. Let’s just do that!”. I really just go with the feel and decide what vibe I wanna give to the melodies I write.
7. It’s quite interesting to hear a ripping solo in a rap or hip hop song. With so many different styles, are you ever worried that your audience might get confused as to what it is you’re doing?
It is very possible, but I’m willing to take the chance. I would rather write a song exactly the way I envision it and confuse a few people than have to restrict myself by trying to fit a certain mold.
8. What was the first guitar you ever played? What do you play now?
The first electric guitar I even played was from Costco. I think the brand was Nevada or something like that. It was one of those kits you buy and get an amp, strap, picks, strings etc. I kept that guitar for a long time but as things got more serious, I went with brands like LTD, Godin, Fender, Gibson. What I’ve been playing for the last 2 years now is a Suhr Modern and my LTD ec-1000.
9. How is the pandemic doing in Montreal now? How will it have affected the music scene?
Canada has stricter restrictions than the USA and the live music scene is almost non-existent right now. I do have hope that this is just temporary and people are gonna find ways to make it happen. It’s definitely a need of mine to perform and attend music events.
10. Now that venues are starting to open up again, what are your plans to support the EP?
I know that there’s going to be shows at the end of the summer and in the fall so what I’m looking to do is a local showcase to support the EP in mid September followed by a tour with a bigger act if the circumstances allow it. That would be ideal.
11. You definitely have an image. How important is image in music? Who had the best rock and roll image?
I think it is important to have a visual identity. It definitely makes me stand out a bit. In my opinion the ones that did the best job at that was the band KISS. They literally built their entire career around an image and it worked. Props!
12. You’re also training in MMA. Tell us a bit about that? Aren’t you afraid of breaking a hand and not being able to play guitar?
I’ve been training MMA now for 4 years and it really is a passion of mine. It definitely makes me a better person. I’m more humble, more disciplined and generally more fit. I’m not really afraid of hurting my hands but if there’s one thing I’m more worried about it’s my head. I’ve had a few concussions already and I wouldn’t wanna risk losing my ability to create.
13. If you could jam with any guitar player, alive or dead, who would it be?
Oh man good question! I think If I could spend an evening with Metallica and just jam old classics with them I’d be pretty happy. Them or Led Zep!
14. What is the greatest guitar song ever recorded? (I always ask this question on email interviews. I love to see the range of answers )
I’m sure you’ve heard November rain and comfortably numb and those would be great choices but I’m gonna have to go with Ancestral by Steven Wilson. The solo is played by Guthrie Govan.
15. I’ve been on a major Canadian music kick since the pandemic started…Who are some of your favourite Canadian artists?
Obvioulsy the band Rush. April Wine, Brian Adams did a great job at what he did. Beiber and Drake are doing really well too and if I can name a Canadian shredder I really like I would say Nick Johnston. There are so many
16. What are your views on the music industry these days? How hard is it to ‘make it’ in the biz?
I think the problem nowadays is with easy access to internet, music softwares, loops, pre-made beats and all that stuff, too many people dream of being musicians and there is an abundance of BS. It’s really hard to stand out. I decided to let go of wanting to be noticed too much and just do my own thing. If it’s good people are going to recognize it. So far I’m doing well and my audience is growing by the day so I can’t complain. At the end of the day it’s all about the music.
17. Where does the inspiration for you lyrics come from?
It typically comes with the vibe of the song. I like to sing about real life emotions and things people can relate to.
18. What are the most important things every guitar player should know?
I think you can go very far with just the “Nashville system”. Knowing where to play any in key on the fretboard is also very important.
19. Can you remember the first gig you ever played? How was it?
It was absolutely horrible. We played well but it was on a stormy day in December of 2004. Probably one of the most intense blizzards we’ve had in the century. It took hours to drive to a local bar and as you can imagine there was absolutely nobody there. We ended up being a bunch of bands playing for each other.
20. What are the 5 albums that you consider ‘necessary’ for every guitar player?
Led Zeppelin 1
Pink Floyd – The Wall
Joe Pass – Unforgettable
Allan Holdsworth – Heavy machinery
Metallica – Kill em all.
Bonus: Polychuck – Shadows Exposed won’t hurt!
Thanks so much for this. It’s great to hear good new music. Best of luck and hopefully you can play a show in Ottawa sometime soon.
Beating Myself Down
In The Dark
Driving Me Mad