Pretty in punk
The cover of Pinky Polanski’s new EP, Discreet Packages, displays four suited silhouettes whose crotches are obscured by pink rectangles. The pink is less a reference to the band’s name—sourced from when the band, unnamed, jokingly covered a Pink song—than lead singer Felix Polanski’s own provocative purposes.
“It mostly asks the question, ‘Are you overcompensating for something when you have a big car or an attitude, or even a badge and a gun?’” he says.
This sort of frank incitement heavily informs Pinky Polanski’s music, an expansive take on ’70s and ’80s punk. Polanski’s monotone howl at times recalls that of Misfits-era Glenn Danzig, and the music bears a similar energy, though it allows for thorough stylistic spasms into genres like surf-rock (“Surfing East 4th St.”) and country (“New Scars”). These alien elements intrude largely through the rival influences of Felix’s fellow band members: bassist Evan Humphreys, guitarist John Mendicino and drummer Bruce Gonyea.
“We share plenty of interests,” says Humphreys. “But I think that the creative tension comes from the fact that, in essence, Felix is still trying to teach us what a proper punk band should sound like, Bruce wants to play Judas Priest and power ballads, Johnny wants to be Yngwie Malmsteen in a funk band, and I would like to play nothing but Jethro Tull if I was good enough.”
“I love the old ’77 punky stuff,” adds Polanski. “So I’m always trying to push for that kind of influence. But then it’s cool because they temp me down and pull it back so it’s not just rehashing something.”
Regardless of their variable backgrounds, which might seem to slow and frustrate the creative process, Pinky Polanski’s songs have assembled rapidly, even emerging in the band’s infancy last year.
“When it works, it works fantastic,” says Polanski. “We’ve written songs in 15 minutes. And then when the tension really hits … I think we’ve got one song that we’ve shelved probably eight times because it just descends into, ‘No! No! Forget it!’”
“That’s fun, though,” adds Mendicino. “We laugh our heads off all the time, and that’s where it’s at.”
“New Scars” is a song that grew out of this tension, which draws together ’50s rock ’n’ roll, country and whiskey. Through the rampant flooding of widely-sourced ideas, a previously discordant song can cohere excitingly.
“When there’s a lot of tension in a song, it’s kind of up to us to throw things at each other until we find something that actually gets everybody on board,” says Humphreys. “And then somebody finally hits that missing element, and even the one of us that was a holdout is like, ‘Now this is a cool song.’”
The brisk speed at which Pinky Polanski travels even invades recording sessions. The band recorded Discreet Packages at Dogwater Studios in two days.
“We got into the studio, and we did it all live, and then we threw down a vocal scratch track and came back in and did backing vocals,” says Felix. “I mean, that shows how we get along. I wanted a sound that was going to be more raw.”
Discreet Packages is raw, quick and dirty. Its six songs amount to a whole 20 minutes, but each capitalizes on its time to burrow through to memory, whether in hooks or sheer, trudging power.
“We were just talking about how my goal is to have one of our shows descend into a riot,” says Polanski. “That and to hear the sound of me throwing a microphone off of somebody’s forehead.”
The rest of the band laughs. Humphreys is the first to respond: “We get along great, but the three of us don’t always share his dream.”