Culture Dose: Q&A With Polecat

Photo by Jonathan Gipaya

A Bluegrass Band From Bellingham Jams Their Way Around the State.

If you aren’t already familiar with local band Polecat, we recommend you add them to your list. Formed in Bellingham in March 2010, the talented musicians have delighted fans ever since with their onstage enthusiasm and toe-tapping sound that mixes bluegrass, country, Celtic, rock and world music. Better yet, we get the feeling they’re just really good folks with whom we’d happily sit down and share a pint. The friendly rockers gave us a taste of how they’ve arrived where they are today.

Photo by Jonathan Gipaya
Photo by Jonathan Gipaya

Seattleite: How did all your paths cross to bring Polecat together?

Polecat: Aaron Guest (lead vox, 12-string guitar) found us all playing in different projects around town with an idea for a new group. We all met each other for the first time collectively at our first rehearsal, and Polecat was in the making.

S: In just three years, you’ve produced three records and played more than 300 shows. To what do you attribute your success as a band?

P: Since we first met we’ve understood the value of a healthy work ethic and the vital importance of respect and friendship first among band members. We really strive to push the boundaries hard in our writing, playing and touring, while keeping a healthy balance of respect in regards to each of our private lives and time away from the studio and stage. Also, we are so blessed to come from a community that encourages us like they do. Without local support, we wouldn’t be where we are at.

S: You’ve played with an impressive list of musicians so far. Who’s still at the top of your dream list?

P: We have been so lucky to play with some of our musical heros! I think we all agree that we could make a nice opener for the Dave Matthews Band. That would be an amazing experience.

Jonathan Gipaya
Jonathan Gipaya

S: Can you tell us a bit about your latest record?

P: We are a very young group (a little over three years), and we have learned a lot in regards to our sonic approach both on the stage and in the studio. With the latest record ‘Fathoms’ we really wanted to make a “studio” album. We feel very confident in our live performances and continue to learn how to make it better all of the time by watching others and critiquing ourselves constructively. Our approach with ‘Fathoms’ was to really educate ourselves within a professional studio setting and come out with something that would be a representation of Polecat “in the studio.” When people see us live, we hope that they leave with a great live experience. When they listen to ‘Fathoms’, we hope they hear the attention to detail and thoughtful production that went into the music. We are very happy with the result and feel that our goals were accomplished.

S: How does living in Bellingham fuel your creativity?

P: Bellingham has consistently been the biggest driving force for Polecat in a lot of ways. The support has been overwhelming from the beginning. So, we work extra hard to provide the best for our fans. We are surrounded by so many great artists who we are blessed to call friends. Being able to watch them is so inspiring. And, of course, here we are in the middle of the most beautiful time of year in one of the most beautiful cities in the country. How could we not be invigorated?

S: What’s on the agenda for the rest of your summer?

P: Lots of touring. Lots of fun. Our schedule is posted on our website …we will be all over the West Coast this summer/fall.

S: How do you maintain a sense of balance/normalcy during the busy festival season?

P: We always try to work in days off to do fun group and individual activities. But, our sense of normalcy has become something quite different than it was at one point in our lives. We really feel most normal on the stage. So, the business of travel is balanced out by the fulfillment of our shows and interaction with the audience.

S: You all seem to be having such a good time up there onstage! How do you manage to bring vibrancy to each and every performance?

P: Polecat is something very special to all of us. We realize it more and more every time we play together. As we get tighter and tighter and explore new musical territories together, the preciousness and uniqueness of this project are driven home over and over. We are just super happy on the stage together. And—our fans always bring it for us!!