Aug 09, 2016
Futuristic Polar Bears: From The Beginning
A few weeks ago, we caught up with Luke from the Futuristic Polar Bears to discuss their recent (highly successful) productions and 1001tracklists. In our latest feature, Luke discusses the birth of the Futuristic Polar Bears, their evolution, and how they work together as a trio.
How did you guys come to work together as a trio?
Fran and I have been working together for years. Fran used to be really famous in England; he used to be on TV. He used to date supermodels and pop stars and owned a couple of big nightclubs in London. I got booked to play at a party with him in London right after he’d just come out of one of these big TV shows. We just got to chatting at the end. He was DJing after me. We got along well and liked the same music. At the end of the night when there were loads of people wanting to talk to him and he wanted a spare ten minutes to himself, we went to a different bar for a drink and a chat and started working from there. I started doing some shows with him because he was doing a lot of bookings at the time, and he wanted to get back into music. We started writing some new stuff and did that from 2004-2009.
In 2010, we wanted to create a new project. Fran’s name was synonymous with TV, people knew him from magazines and he didn’t want to be famous anymore. He wanted to create something fresh. That’s how we came up with the Polar Bears. Once we had created the Polar Bears and were working on getting the branding right, we were still doing some shows as me and Fran. We got booked to play a gig in Wales where Rhys is from. The promoter was friends with Rhys, and Rhys was the guy who picked us up from the hotel to take us to the club. On the drive over, he was playing some music and it was really good. We asked him, “What’s this music?” And he said it was his own. We were like, “Wow! This is really good!” We chatted with him and were similar minded and similar styles. Rhys is a classically trained pianist, and musically, he’s really talented. That was kind of the element that we were missing. Fran is a really good studio engineer and I’m a drummer by trade. We can write melodies and chords, but it will take us about ten times as long as Rhys, who literally just sits there on the piano and starts playing something.
In the studio a couple of days later, we decided that we needed Rhys. So we rang him up and asked him, “Rhys, do you want to be a Polar Bear?” And he was like, “What are you all about?” So we sold him about the idea of the Futuristic Polar Bears and he jumped at the chance and came on board. He was the missing piece of the puzzle. We’re all best friends and see each other outside of work as well. It’s good to do something that you love with your friends.
And you guys live in separate cities still, right?
We still live apart from each other, but not too far away. We only tour as two though, so one is always in the studio. I do most of the shows, and both Rhys and Fran have children, so they kind of alternate so that they got a lot of family time as well as being on the road. I think it’s important to have that balance. A lot of people say that trios never make it because there’s too many people, but we found a way that it works. All of us have Macbooks and take them on tour with us, but if one person is in the studio, then we’re always zipping the project back into the main studio. It works well. As they always say, teamwork makes the dream work. We’re constantly talking to each other, maybe 20-30 times per day, when we’re not together.
Because you guys each bring different elements to the table, do you tend to work on things individually and then send them to another person to add their spin on it?
We all get involved in the ideas process. Me and Rhys are kind of the more creative side - we’ll get something together and then send it over to Fran to add to it or make changes. We’ll go back and make those changes, and then when we’re all happy with it, that’s when it goes to Fran, who’s a really good engineer and will get the mix right and get a good master from it. We all have good input and trust each other as well. If we have a track finished, I know it’s going to Fran and he’ll do a good job with it. And same with Rhys, I know that when he comes back with the first version of a track, that the idea is going to be right and that he’ll have done a good job. It’s good to have a bit of creative input, but it’s good to trust your partners as well that they’re going to get it right.
Last question, and one that we’ve got to ask. How did you guys choose the name Futuristic Polar Bears?
(Laughs) The truth behind it is that when we were coming up with the name, we were watching a wildlife program. It was about polar bears. We actually work with the World Wildlife Fund and sponsor a polar bear. That kind of bases the element of the name since we were sponsoring this polar bear anyways. After watching this program, the next one on was about space and the future. So we were like, polar bears are an endangered species and we need to think about the future for them, and then Fran came up with “Futuristic.” We thought that was pretty cool and started writing it down and coming up with logos. And now the logo is a polar bear and a space helmet. When we first signed with our management, our manager said, “One thing about your name, nobody will ever forget it.” It’s also good that it ties into something because we all feel quite strongly about the conservation of wildlife. We actually do some work with the World Wildlife Fund as well. If we can do our little bit to help save the species on the planet and at the same time make some cool music and play some parties, then happy days!
If you want to hear more from Futuristic Polar Bears be sure to check out their Back To Earth Radio Show on iTunes. We've got the latest tracklist here.
short link 1001.tl/wnpb1u