It’s been a hot minute since Polyphia last unleashed their fiery juggernaut instrumentals into the world. But following 2018’s New Levels New Devils, the Texas four-piece have been tinkering away on their mythical fourth album. A seemingly gargantuan task, the fearsome band have been creating more than ever, with guitarist Tim Henson even branching out into the YouTube world to offer up sharp, minute-long daggers of potential new songs, all while building a new home studio. 2022 is indeed just the beginning of Polyphia’s expansive and prolific new chapter.
How are you feeling about this year?
TIM HENSON: Incredibly excited because with the pandemic and everything — I’m sure lots of people can relate — it just felt like life was standing still for a bit. Now, with touring coming back in the last year or so, it’s like, “Let’s put out this record.” We literally just finished it last night. So that feels very good. I’m very excited for 2022. It’s been since 2018 we’ve been working on this record, and it’s been the most difficult thing to make because there’s so many different things that we’ve done that are new to us. It’s been a challenge for sure, but we finally did it.
Do you thrive when challenging yourself?
Looking back at it, I can’t believe we did it because there’s so many far-fetched ideas that just seemed like super-far stretches. In terms of collabs, there’s so many cool things, like bucket-list stuff that we’ve wanted to do and got to do.
Can you give anything away about the collaborations?
We’ve got one OG goat guitar player on the record. Just one, and he’s like the OG goat. Then [we] got an OG goat rock singer, and we’ve got a few pretty well-known rappers and then lots of incredible instrumentalists. So that’s the hints that I’ll give.
Going into this year, do you feel Polyphia are stronger than ever?
Yeah, it’s weird because we’ve been so stagnant. We haven’t put out a full record since 2018. We’ve done one tour just in October of this year, and before that, our last one was in early 2019. Because it’s been taking so long to finish this record, we just wanted to be relatively quiet about it. We hardly post on social media anymore.
The only hints that we give towards it are printed on merch drops with little texts on hoodies and stuff. It’ll say something like “album four is a myth,” just to mess with people because they’ve been waiting so long, but it’s really interesting to watch our Spotify and our socials grow without us doing anything. Obviously, we’re doing a ton of things behind the scenes, but not putting anything out for anyone to grasp on to when they’re just rallying together with all the old stuff, it definitely feels good to know that we have a very starved fanbase waiting for us to drop [songs].
How do you feel about Polyphia reentering the musical landscape proper in 2022?
I think it’s very opportune. I think this whole revival we’re experiencing right now with the MGKs and Olivia Rodrigo and all that, we’re starting to hear drums and guitar in mainstream music again…and it’s not necessarily my cup of tea. But you know, it’s a start. It’s great that the masses, the new Gen Z and everybody on TikTok, are being exposed to instruments. And that’s come at the correct time. It’s definitely helping bridge the gap between the very specific niche type of music that we do to more of what the masses listen to, so it’s easier to make that connection now than it was in 2018. I think kids these days are less concerned about genres. [It’s] more about, “Is it a bop?”
Given your last album was in 2018, breaking the ice like this, has it made you want to create more?
The last three years, I did not like [going] that long without putting out music. The nice thing is that we’ve pretty much made two albums. We made 24 [songs], and we whittled it down to 12. So there’s 12 other songs that we’d need a little more time to work on, and then that’s a whole other album or EP, but also in the meantime, there’s other music that we’ve been working on with other artists for their projects that will be coming out all at once.
Is it going to feel overwhelming?
I very much like that feeling of showing the world what I’ve been working on, and during the pandemic, I got a little bit of that every time I would drop a one-minute-long clip on my YouTube or something. I would always look forward to release days, and of course, lots of other music that I worked on for other artists came out during the pandemic, too.
So release days were nice for me, but of course, there’s nothing as close to my heart like a full-on Polyphia release. I very much can’t wait to get that out and feel that overwhelmed feeling because it’s awesome. It’s motivating to just keep making stuff because I’ll read my mentions for a second on Twitter when we drop something, and it’s just people expressing so much love, and it just feels great, and it’s motivating to continue making more stuff.
What’s the Polyphia mission statement for this year?
Normally, I’d have some stupid tongue-in-cheek nonsense to say. I think through the past years, and especially this last two, the current theme that we experienced among ourselves in this recording was friendship. We just really started to appreciate and value each other’s friendship a lot because this is our 10th year as Polyphia, and it’s crazy to be doing this for a decade. Personally, I’m just so grateful for everything. The fact that I can build a studio in my house, it’s incredible. The fact that our fans fucked with us throughout a pandemic and we didn’t drop anything, it’s incredible. I’m just grateful, and I know that’s not really a mission statement or anything, but peace and love, baby.
This interview first appeared in issue #402 (22 for ’22), available here.