Mary Anne’s Polar Rig is an old mining station, now a hotel, on the Arctic island of Svalbard; it’s also the name of a two-piece band from Malmö. The duo of Malin Hofvander and Harald Ingvarsson related to the toughness of the rig, a place that survives the hard times and keeps on going, it’s something they bring into their music, rough-and-tumble rock and roll that can handle anything the world has to throw at it. The pair’s debut album, Makes You Happy was released back in 2021, and continuing on that naming theme, in March the band will team up with Rama Lama Records to release their second offering, Makes You Wonder. Recorded over 10 days in Studio Möllan in Malmö, the record is a more expansive and intricate affair, the songs given room to breathe, grow and become the art-rock gems they were born to be. Ahead of the release, today the band are premiering the latest track from the record, It Goes.
A noticeably more complex beast than what came before, It Goes has the sense of a melting pot of ideas, the band taking what they hear and throwing it in with a pinch of that Mary Anne’s Polar Rig magic and coming out with something fresh and exciting. Malin recalls how it came about, when they had, “listened a lot to Lucy Dacus”, which would go a long way to explaining the chunky, thrilling guitars. From there Harald took a, “very unstable analog square wave modulation circuit” and the rest fell into place. The result is a song that’s both sonically ambitious and capable of drawing the listener in, amongst the squall and wonky guitar-lines there’s a strength to the song. Recalling the likes of Mothers or Wednesday, there’s a sense of grit, of facing up to the elements and standing your ground, it’s screaming into the storm, raging against the lashing rain and yelling is that all you’ve got? And yes, it’s really rather thrilling!
Check the track out below and then read on for my interview with Mary Anne’s Polar Rig, where we discuss blowing their vacation money on making an album, their love for the Malmö music scene and why they want people attending their live show, “to feel a little bit of everything”.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Mary Anne’s Polar Rig?
We started our journey back in 2016 as 4 teens making up a fuzzpop-garageband but before we created and recorded our sophomore album (2020) we parted ways and Harald and I (Malin) decided to continue working on the project as just a guitar-rock duo putting more effort into production and working with various studio musicians (friends). Since then we have also put together an epic 5 piece live band that we bring with us for playing shows. As far as genres go….? trying to establish the term wtf-rock…
FTR: You’re premiering your new single, It Goes, today what can you tell me about the track?
For me, this track stands out a bit from the rest and not only because it’s the closest we get to a ballad on this record.
When I first wrote the guitar parts I was really picturing this “modern american indie” setting á la Lucy Dacus and American Football but it definitely took a different turn in the studio. The intro is built around the rhythm of a very unstable analogue square modulation circuit (ZVEX lofi junkie) that was impossible to sync with oneself, layering takes led to this inconsistent floating sound which set the vibe for the rest of the song and we felt that we wanted it to have both an acoustic and an alien feel to it. So we moved away from the otherwise frequent rock set up we were used to, for example having a drummer who normally plays with the Malmö Symphonic Orchestra come in together with Harald’s dad who put down some double bass for this specific track.
We also asked Philip Lindskog, who used to play drums in the band (2016-202), to come to the studio with all his noise gear so we could record him “playing along” to the entire song.
FTR: The track’s lifted from your upcoming album, Makes You Wonder, what can you tell me about the recording of the record?
In the spring and lockdown of 2021 me and Harald shared an apartment together where we obsessively planned and recorded demos for the record. We then burned all of our “vacation money” on renting Studio Möllan for 10 consecutive days in June. Not much was decided in forehand other than the mutual agreement on wanting to feel as free and relaxed as possible in the studio, to not be afraid of exploring and experimenting with the songs. Letting them take us wherever. To help with production we also had our friend Zakarias Lindhammar who produced our first single, all three of us knew how to handle the studio from working there before and it felt very homey/familiar. Emil Isaksson who built and owns Studio Möllan left the keys with us so we could just roam free. Our apartment was only a few blocks away so we went home to sleep a little now and then but probably spent around 18h a day in the studio haha. Everyday a new friend came around to play on a track or just to say hi. It was the most magical 10 days of summer.
FTR: Did you approach this record differently from your debut? Did you feel any pressure to live up to that album?
Yes, pretty different.. Our first album was recorded in just 2 days, doing live takes of the songs as we used to play them in the rehearsal space. That totally made sense back then but when it was just me and Harald doing the new album, we knew that we wanted production to play a much bigger part of the songwriting. We call this a bit jokingly our first “studio album”, counting Makes You Happy as more of our garage album. In that way I never felt that we had to live up to our first record because I knew that I wanted to do something completely different in approaching making an album. And the fact that we had given ourselves so much time in the studio changed everything. It was a real step up for us on trying to realize our shared musical output.
FTR: I read you had some line-up changes after the first record, was it a difficult decision to carry on making music with just the two of you?
We definitely thought about killing the band and starting a new one lol. But it also made a lot of sense to continue to build on this project and allowing it to become something else. I had started writing the new album and it felt pretty natural for things to be changed around a little. The two band members that left also really had it going with their own thing: Bathouse. Which is probably the coolest band in Malmö right now. No joke. (check them out).
FTR: What were you listening to when you wrote Make You Wonder?
Pom Poko, Deerhof, Bob Hund, Guv’ner, Sun Ra, Autopsy, Gee Tee, the list could go on forever. Reach out if you want a playlist or DJ 😉
FTR: The album’s coming out on Rama Lama Records, how did that come about?
We had known the guys from Rama Lama for years since they are local music-heroes that release good bands but also hosts this really nice showcase festival for swedish indie labels called Fools Gold.
Around the time we were doing the new album we had a meeting with our old label Feverish which is run by Ebba and Michel (they also have a cool band called WY). They were having a child together and wanted to take a step back with the label but instead pitched us over to Rama Lama….. the rest is history!
FTR: What’s the music scene in Malmö like at the moment? Are there any bands we should be looking out for?
I would say that Malmö is a city of rock. At least attitude wise. So many of our favourite bands, all time, are from Malmö. Here are some present cool ones: Already mentioned Bathouse! CB3, 7ebra, Hater, Guds Pengar, NOVA BLAST, The Ohnos.
One that dosent get mentioned that often but has influenced us and our close circle a great deal is Bent Spanner Arty Banner. A Malmö staple.
FTR: What can people expect from your live show? Are you going to be touring the new record?
We love to play shows and we think our band mates are super awesome and talented. We want people that see us live to feel a little bit of everything: hm…? wtf lol! aww<3 hells yeah:=D “Zzzz” Music is meant to be full circle!
There are some european dates ahead but we’d like more. Feel free to reach out if ya want us to hit your town or festival 😉
FTR: What’s next for Mary Anne’s Polar Rig?
Playing live in London 17 & 18th of February. Making an epic music video for the last single. Planning our 2 DAY- release party for the album that takes place in both Malmö and Copenhagen. Other than that we’re just generally gonna hang in there 🙂
Makes You Wonder is out March 24th via Rama Lama Records. For more information on Mary Anne’s Polar Rig visit https://maryannespolarrig.bandcamp.com/.