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Pete Fijalkowski – Interview with about Polak & Adorable (1998)

For posterity we present you with an interview with Pete Fijalkowski from 1998 when the dust had settled from Adorable and Polak had just released their first single.

Let’s start at the ending for Adorable, which was kind of the beginning of Polak. What actually happened?

We were dropped by Creation for the simple financial reason that our second LP (Fake) didn’t sell enough copies, and following the Sony takeover there was an added pressure on Creation to get their acts making money. This statement is from Wil (Left on Ajay’s Adorable page: “Adorable did not leave Creation, they were dropped rather unceremoniously because they would not agree to their second album ‘Fake’ being remixed by some idiot who did the early Oasis stuff. See, Creation thought Adorable were the new Sex Pistols and Adorable thought different. End of contract. Alan McGee, the only Creation person who ever liked Adorable was busy having a nervous breakdown in Glasgow so he never stopped Sony from perpetrating their evil crimes against music…”) and he is entitled to his opinion, but the remixing fiasco was just part of the breakdown in our releationship with Creation.

How long after the Creation deal ended did you decide to split up? Was it a unanimous decision? Did you ever consider continuing on?

We had been planning to leave Creation after the release of Fake, but following its rather apathetic response from press and public alike we decided that enough was enough. We made the decision very quickly and unanimously (maybe too quickly). In another parallel universe I would like to see what would have happened had we continued, but hey, what’s gone is gone.

You played your last gig in Brussells at the VK (November 11 1994), only a couple of months after Fake’s release. How difficult was that show?

The Brussels gig was quite emotional, I was absolutely gutted every time we started up a song, in the knowledge that it would be the last time we would ever play it. The last song we ever did was our favourite “Homeboy”. The evening following the concert was brilliant though, we went out for a massive drink session and chatted about all the highs and lows. It was one of my fondest memories of Adorable. We didn’t get back to the hotel till 6.30am in the morning.

Do you keep in contact much with the other members of Adorable?

I speak to Wil and Kevin from time to time. Adorable will not be reforming. What is dead is dead (unlike certain other bands I could mention). When we split it is for life.

Why do you think you suffered so much at the hands of the press for your attitude, while a similar attitude hasn’t harmed bands like Oasis and Embrace? Will you approach the interviews differently this time round?

Music goes in waves and circles, Adorable appeared at a time when outspokenness was not in vogue. With the benefit of hindsight maybe we should have approached the press differently, but at the time we wanted to distance ourselves from the “shoegazing” scene of low-attitude. This time round who knows what the press will make of us — I can only be myself and it’s up to others how they take that. It must be said that whilst Wil was quite a confrontational character in Adorable, there isn’t anyone like that in Polak — my brother is very laid-back, so our interviews probably won’t take such an Adorable-ish hue.

What made you want to come back to the music fold after the Adorable experience?

I have been writing stuff ever since I left Adorable, so music has always been part of me in the intervening time between Adorable and now. It was just a case of finding the right outlet for it, and Polak is that.

What was Casino all about? Was it the “…very different from adorable” (Select 1996) electronic based project?

This was a Pet Shop Boys style band that I did with a girl I know doing the vocals (Sian Patterndan, music journalist – Ed). It was very pop, very electronicy, very un-Adorable. However whilst certain tracks worked the project as a whole never really clicked and after eighteen months I decided to call it a day. We never played live. I would be interested in working with Sian again as a writer/producer type bod.

How would you compare Polak’s music to Adorable’s? One song released so far (“Not Listening” found on the Nothing in Common compilation) seems older, wiser and mellower than Adorable (perhaps the same character from “Radio Days”). While the first single “2 minutes 45” is quite poppy. How accurate a potrayal of Polak are they?

There are similarites to Adorable in Polak’s music, and it’s very hard for me to analyse since I’m so involved with the music. However, there is a concerted effort to experiment more in Polak with the use of electronicy stuff, in song arrangement, and to give the songs more space than in Adorable. Hence, I have hung up my guitar for now when we play live — though I do play guitar in the studio. “Not listening” is one side of Polak, but a lot of our songs are more up front. I know “2 minutes 45” is an upbeat number but other stuff is quite brooding. “2 minutes 45” is a single about singles. The darker stuff will come later.

Why the name change to Pete?

Everyone calls me Pete, though I sign myself Piotr. It’s just a set of syllables (well one actually).

There seems to be a general lack of information about your history. Where were you born?

I was born in England, as was my brother, but both of our parents are Polish and came to England shortly after the second world war, and both speak with heavy accents. To our shame neither Krzys nor I speak Polish save for “hello”, “goodbye” & “elbows off the table”.

What’s it like being in a band with your brother? Any fights a la the Gallaghers?

I have always got on well with my brother, though the intensity of band life often brings out extremes in people, so it will be interesting to see how our relationship changes with each other. In a perverse way I’m quite intrigued to imagine what a screaming argument with my brother would be like, since we have never had a fight in our life, save for a few minor disputes over scalextric (electric slot car racing game – Ed) when we were younger.

Will you be playing any Adorable songs in your Polak guise live?

We will not be playing any Adorable tracks. Different band.

You’ve started recording. What can we expect the results of these sessions to be?

We’ve been doing some recording for the past few months and have demoed some dozen songs, of which we like about 7 or so. We have more songs written but undemoed, but recently our efforts have been more concentrated on rehearsing with the band. Please note that Polak, though formed by the brothers Fijalkowski are a band in their own right — this is a band, not two guys with session musicians. At the moment we are probably closer to each other than Adorable ever were.

Fake seemed quite a progression from Against Perfection. You must have been disappointed with the muted reception it received.

A couple of nights ago I listened to the LP for the first time in about two years and I noticed how introspective both musically and lyrically it was. At the time there wasn’t any particular game plan on how the album would sound. Fake is low key, which at the time wasn’t what Creation wanted, or for that matter, what the outside world wanted.

There are some Adorable tracks floating around of the songs “Boy-King”, “Cabaret” and “Falling for You”. What were these?

The demos you refer to were failed tracks done for the Fake session. I’m not really into the lost tracks.

If you things hadn’t turned pear shaped and you were able to release another single from Fake, what would it have been?

“Road Movie” was originally going to be a single in between the two LPs, but was pulled at the last moment. I wish we could have released “Submarine” as a single. My least favourite of all the Adorable singles was “Kangaroo Court”. It was released because Creation were on at us to release something with more of our live sound to it, so we released a single with a sound more in mind than the actual song. Mistake.

I always thought that from Against Perfection “Crash sight” or “Glorious” would’ve been good choices for singles, perhaps in place of “Favourite Fallen Idol”. What are your thoughts on “Crash Sight” being used in BBC promos recently?

Both “Crash sight” and “Glorious” were in the running to be singles at some stage. “Glorious” was recorded as a second single alongside “Saint”, but we weren’t happy with the recording, whilst “Crash Sight” was recorded in the “Homeboy” session with Alan Moulder, but again it didn’t sound quite right. I always thought that “Crash sight” sounded like a massive single, but went off the idea as things got on. I like “Fallen Idol” as a single because it was a bit different from the other 45’s. Creation wanted to release “Cut #2” instead of “Idol” but we talked them out of it. For all the downsides of being on Creation, we must give them credit for often allowing us to do what we wanted. I haven’t actually seen the “Crash Sight” promos on the BBC, but its nice to know we are still worming our way into the nations psyche.

Did you have any ideas for a possible third Adorable album?

The ideas for the third lp were: a) to experiment more with samples and electronic stuff and b) to look at using acoustic guitars more (a bit like “Man in a Suitcase”).

Any reason your not wearing a black suit in the Fake inner sleeve? How many white jackets did you own anyway?

I always wore white. I had two jackets.

A friend of mine saw you in Brisbane (Australia) and was appalled by your stage presence: not acknowledging the crowd, chewing on a piece of paper and then spitting it out, so much so that she shouted “you’re a wanker” as you were leaving. Do you provoke these kind of reactions in Polak shows?

I wasn’t into chummy-mates-with-the-audience performances, hence Ms. Brisbane’s reaction. When she goes to see a play, do all the actors wave and smile at her after each scene? My performances are now slightly less hostile, but I won’t be getting people on stage for sing-a-longs. I once ate some flowers on stage in Japan that a fan had handed to me, and they started stinging my mouth mid-song. I thought I was going to be sick. Serves me right really.

“Homeboy” and “Sistine Chapel Ceiling” have fantastic video clips. Did you have much input into them or were they mainly Tom Laurie’s vision? Did you like making clips? Any memorable experiences?

I did have an involvement in the video ideas, often writing an original script idea, that the director would then take in his/her direction. I studied film at university, so I was often brimming with ideas, but it could be very frustrating when I had an idea in my head and the director would appear to know what I was talking about and then when we turned up on the day it was obvious that we were on two totally different wavelengths. We did a video for “I’ll Be Your Saint”; the idea was a dark brooding, church-like atmosphere. “We’ve got a disused church for the shoot” says the director on the phone. Great. We turn up on the day and it turns out the church doesn’t have a roof! Hmmmm….not much chance of that dark, candle lit vibe we were going for. Tom Laurie was the best director we worked with by far, I rate him highly. I’ve no idea what he’s doing now. “Homeboy” was my fave video. In “Sistine” the paint got everywhere, Kevin used to wear earplugs when he was playing live and four months after the video, when he took the plugs out after a gig he would still find paint on them from his ears!

How do you approach songwriting in Polak, do you come up with lyrics and the melody and Krzys (or the band) goes on from there? Was Adorable a team effort?

I tend to write the melodies for Polak and then work with Krzys on details of a track including the lyrics which are largely a joint effort. Recently though we have been working on songs more as a band, jamming ideas out. Adorable songs were usually based around a bass line or guitar hook written by either Wil or myself; the songs were far more sketchy in their initial stages.

Who came up with those terrific bass lines (“Homeboy”, “Sistine Chapel Ceiling”, “Kangaroo Court”, “Submarine” etc)?

Wil wrote most of the basslines including “Homeboy” which was the whole thrust of the song; I wrote the basslines for a handful of tracks including “Sistine Chapel” and “Kangaroo Court”. I’m not sure who did “Submarine”.

“Submarine” seems to be full of sexual metaphors?

“Submarine” is not an exercise in Freudian allusions, it’s about people’s pasts haunting them, shadowing them.

How introspective are your lyrics? “Man in a suitcase”, “Lettergo” and “Road Movie” seem quite personal?

The songs you refer to are internalised lyrics, whilst songs on the first LP “Fallen idol”,”Sunshine…”, “Crash Sight”, “Saint” are far more about the external.

You seem reluctant to talk about your lyrics. Do you want people to interpret them themselves?

I would like people to interpret my lyrics, but I don’t want to make it too easy for them by giving them clearly labelled signposts. On a minor point, you may not know that “Man in a Suitcase” was the title of a 60’s English detective TV show, about a loner P.I. who is always on the move.

You drew inspiration from French film and other “cool” art throughout your Adorable phase, is this still a source you use when writing for Polak?

Polak have the ability to be pretentious (Pete, Krzys and Simon in a band together makes this a certainty) however a sense of humour is important. I love films and TV, my brother loves surrealist art (he is a lecturer at Norwich school of art). One Polak song is about Yves Klein — a French sixties situationalist artist, but its not quite as pretentious as it sounds!

The last single you ever released “Vendetta” included the song “This House is Rotten” as a B-side which seems ironic considering what happened soon after. Coincidence?

“This House is Rotten” is again about your surroundings taunting you, though the allusion you make to our situation with Creation is strangely apt. “Everything’s fine” (B-side of “Sistine”) was inspired by something that one of the Creation bods kept on saying to us when it was quite clear we were in a right pickle, however the song is not about Creation.

Are you surprised that there is still a sizeable following and remberance for Adorable, especially on the Internet?

Yes I am surprised by the following Adorable still commands — we always said that we were aware that we might not become popular until after our artistic death, and it would appear that this may still happen. The interest in the Polak website has also taken us by (pleasant) surprise. The thing I like about unofficial pages are the fact they are written by fans, exchanging snippets of rumours etc. (though often some of the Adorable rumours are grossly untrue, I still enjoy reading them).

From the NME (29.2.92) “…If a fan came up and spoke to us, we’d probably be pretty rude. Yeah, I hope they have a good time and that it’s because I performed a good gig…But at the end of the day I don’t wanna talk to them.” Is this still the case?

I find talking to people I don’t know awkward, especially if they are full of praise and awe. I’m not that interested in talking to them still, no disrespect intended.

Any final words?

Remember: “I’m going to come back soon in another life” (“Vendetta”). I’m out of here – Pete

By | 2015-08-11T02:14:50+00:00 April 24th, 1998|Categories: Interviews|Tags: , , , , , , , |1 Comment

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