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Introducing Polyphia, Rising Stars of the Instrumental Guitar Scene

Introducing Polyphia, Rising Stars of the Instrumental Guitar Scene Polyphia (from left): Tim Henson, Clay Gober, Clay Aeschliman and Scott LePage

Says Henson, “We were like, ‘Let’s make this like a rap album and feature all our favorite guitarists!” The band pulled back on the guest appearances for their second and most recent full-length, 2016’s Renaissance, while continuing to plow even further ahead in terms of exploring non-rock sounds. So much so that these days LePage says, “We’re kinda closer to the whole pop side of things than metal.”

As for the fact that many people still tend to think of them as a metal band, he continues, “It’s kind of funny, because we’re similar enough to be grouped in with that type of music but we’re different enough to where nobody knows what tour to put us on. Because we’re not metal anymore. At least not like we used to be.” “A lot of times with us it depends what era of the band people are listening to,” Henson says. “Like, some of them go, ‘Oh, yeah, Polyphia’s a djent band.’ But they’re talking about the Inspire era.”

He laughs. “Or they’ll say, ‘Polyphia’s such poppy bullshit!’ But they’re definitely talking about Muse and the more recent stuff.” This stylistic adventurism has often led to confusion about just what type of band Polyphia really is. While they’re often lumped in with acts like Animals As Leaders, Chon, Intervals and the like, the fact that they’re so young, that they embrace more modern pop styles, and that they don’t exactly look like a metal or shred act has resulted in some negative reactions from fans of the genre.

To that last point, Henson says, “I guess we kind of asked for it. When we first started it was like, ‘We can appeal to musicians with our music, but we want girls to like us, too!’ ” So we cared about how we looked. And maybe we were really dumb to do that. Because sometimes people don’t even comment on our music. It’s only, ‘You guys look bad. I hate you.’ ” But on this next release I don’t think we’re going to focus on any image at all. Because it’s irrelevant. It’s just about the music and that’s all that matters.” As far as the next release, Polyphia are currently holed up at a Detroit studio putting the finishing touches on an EP due later this year. And for fans who may have felt the EDM touches of last year’s “Lit” were a step too far, be prepared.

“We have songs on this upcoming EP that are straight-up hip-hop,” LePage says. “Just rap beats with guitars over it.” Adds Henson, “We brought in a few electronic and hip-hop producers, guys like Y2K. So there’s a lot of really cool shit going on with electronics and how we’re using them with real drums and bass and guitar to make something that I would say is very unique. And the shit bumps. I keep saying the words ‘party banger’ when I describe the songs, because I just picture people at parties going off to them.” When it comes to continuing to develop and push the boundaries of their sound, LePage says that he views it as a necessary component of being a musician. “If you like a bunch of different styles of music, why just stick to one?” he asks rhetorically.

“That just gets boring. We did the deathcore-type shred guitar music thing, we did the kind of groovy djent thing. We went through those phases. Then we tried the pop thing, and that was cool. It was like, ‘This is the sound we want to do because this is really fun music.’ And with the whole EDM thing, it’s music that’s developing so quickly. People are doing new shit every month. And we love that. We always want to be doing something different because that’s fun for us.”

As for what Polyphia hope to achieve going forward? “The most important thing is to feel fulfilled with the music,” Henson says. “But as far as achievements and things like that? I guess I want a Grammy. So that’s something to work toward. And I want to make music with my favorite artists. I definitely have it on my bucket list to make a song with Kanye. That would be legendary.” Henson pauses. “But, you know, I’m also aware that I’m saying these things to a guitar magazine…”

Polyphia Axology
GUITARS
(Henson)
Ibanez Prototype, Ibanez RG652AHM, Ibanez RG350M, Ibanez S5521Q , Ibanez RGAIX6FM, Ibanez RGDIX6MPB, Ibanez RG852, Ibanez RG920MQM, Fender American Elite Stratocaster, Fender American Rosewood Stratocaster
(LePage) Ibanez Prestige RG655m, Ibanez Prestige S5528LW, Ibanez Prestige S5470F, Ibanez Prestige RG2620Z, Ibanez Prototype, Ibanez SA

AMPS
(Henson)
Orange Dark Terror head, Orange PPC412 cabinet, Fractal Axe-Fx II
(LePage) Orange Dark Terror Amp head, Orange PPC412 cabinet, Fractal Axe-Fx II

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