I first interviewed Eric Stang in 2012 when he was starring in the Off-Broadway run of the Tony Award winning musical Million Dollar Quartet as "Jerry Lee Lewis." Since then, Eric has left New York City and is establishing himself in the Los Angeles music scene with his band, Polarcode, which he formed in 2010! Polarcode, just released their latest single "I Crave You," featuring Lauren Ruth Ward on lead vocals.
In addition to Polarcode, Eric recently performed with Selena Gomez on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon during her song "Same Old Love."
1. It's been four years since we last spoke. At that time, you were starring in Million Dollar Quartet as New World Stages and getting the word out about your band Polarcode. Now, you have left the great white way for a life out west in Los Angeles. When was the moment you decided it was time to leave NYC? What influenced your decision to move? I’m originally from Chicago and life in NYC was very new for me when I was in Million Dollar Quartet. Living in Manhattan was exhilarating but very challenging at times. It’s such a hectic place and my aspirations of leading a successful original band and becoming a music producer seemed to fit better in Los Angeles. I always wanted the experience of living in L.A., and I had some friends and family out there that I was rarely able to spend time with so that was a really nice motivating factor. After being in L.A. for the past two years, I’ve found that it suits me quite well.
2. How has the transition from East Coast to West Coast been? What do you like better? What do you miss? It took a bit of adjusting but I think I always had the right temperament for life in Los Angeles. I’m not shy, I like to meet new people, network and I love the climate out here. One of the biggest differences is that L.A. shuts down super early! In NYC and Chicago people are out to all hours of the night eating and drinking and seeing music but in Los Angeles, most people call it a night by midnight. As a musician and night owl, it’s definitely a bit of an adjustment but I’ll admit that it supports a healthier life. I’m very active and I end up going hiking, swimming and being outdoors more than I ever could in the Midwest or East Coast, so that’s been a huge plus. I’d say I miss the changing of seasons but I had enough of that through years of shoveling snow and it makes a musician’s life much easier knowing it’s going to be 75 degrees and sunny most days of the year. Try loading a bunch of music equipment through two feet of snow or the pouring rain, it’s not much fun.
3. How do you feel this move helped your career? The collaborative nature of the music scene in Los Angeles has been incredible. Artists in Los Angeles are very ready to try new things, work in different styles and the vast amount of singers, filmmakers, and musicians in Los Angeles has been very helpful for creating the music that I’ve always strived to make. It took a lot of people to make the song and video for "I Crave You" happen. We were lucky to find so many talented and passionate professionals to get involved. Being in Los Angeles has also opened other opportunities up for me, as I was given the chance to perform in Selena Gomez’s band this past year as her keyboardist/background singer. It was a great learning experience and I had a blast joining her for performances on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Ellen and The Today Show.
4. Your band, Polarcode has also had a lot happening recently. Before we get to what's been happening, let me ask, how did you come up with the band name Polarcode? My drummer and band mate Mario came up with Polarcode. We were looking for a unique band name and he put together two Tom Hanks movies Polar Express and Da Vinci Code. We thought it was a fun name it worked well for us.
5. You just released your latest song/video "I Crave You," featuring Lauren Ruth Ward. What made you decide to have Lauren on lead vocals? What does this song mean to you? We met Lauren last year and immediately wanted to work with her on a song. She has a beautiful voice and a very strong and unique character. We had this jazzy instrumental track that we wrote that was sitting around and we realized her vocal style would work really well with it. We got together with her and she loved it. We wrote the song together in about an hour and half. To me, this song was a great opportunity to capture a classic sound. Instead of leaning heavily on sampled drums and synthesizers we brought in the organic elements of piano, upright bass and a beautiful violin solo performed by Molly Rogers. It was very refreshing and enjoyable to produce as well as create a music video for.
6. Since the new song is called "I Crave You," what is something you crave? Well, since I’m from Chicago and I live in Los Angeles, I end up craving deep dish pizza because nothing out here comes close. Giordanos in Chicago is the best!
7. You have another song that features Lauren Ruth Ward, "Nowhere Fast." When were was there a time in your life you felt you were getting "Nowhere Fast"? Although most people could look at that title and think it’s negative, it’s really almost a tribute to the moments in life when you can be calm. I’m so motivated at most times to be learning and accomplishing something that it can be difficult to slow down. As I get closer to my dream of being able to make a living only performing my original music, I realize that at least for the short term, I will have to say goodbye to those moments, goodbye to extra leisure time and vacations because once you start putting everything you’ve got into a band there is not a moment to spare or you’re really just wasting your time.
8. As someone who has been in both musical theatre and the music industry, what are some challenges you face in the music world you did not face in musical theatre? In musical theatre it is very clear what your goal is when you are in a show. You have a script, you have a director. Putting the work in is important but there is a very strong framework for what you are doing. Many times in the original music industry there is no real outline or timeline. Everything is up to you. How hard you work. How far you push the production on a song. How creative you get with a music video or song release. It can be very challenging but extremely rewarding when you succeed.
9. When you tell people your plans, everyone has an opinion. When you told people you were moving to Los Angeles to pursue your music career, what was the most encouraging thing someone said and what was the harshest thing someone said to you? Most people were very supportive of my move and encouraged me to learn all I could, network and give it my best shot on the west coast. Some people did warn me of the possible negatives of a life in Los Angeles…it’s expensive, the people are shallow and it’s hard to get around town. But I’ve found like anywhere else there are all kinds of people and all kinds of situations out here, and it’s up to you to make a life that works well for yourself. I’ve made great friends out here and have been welcomed into the music community here with open arms.
10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent every day? I would like to improve my creativity by one percent every day. I can sometimes stay in box when it comes to my songwriting and ideas for music. You can’t make great music without breaking new ground, getting out of your comfort zone and getting past the fears that can really hold back your potential so I’d like to focus on that as much as possible.
Keyboardist/songwriter Eric Stang and drummer Mario Cerutti first met back in 2006 in the practice rooms of DePaul University’s Music School in Chicago where they studied jazz and classical percussion. Since the launch of Polarcode in 2010, the now Los Angeles based duo have played their unique brand of indie/alt pop across the country. Every song is its own experience, featuring different vocalists over vibrant, intricate production.
Over the past year, Polarcode released a series of singles and creative music videos with a variety of singers such as Whitney Myer (NBC’s The Voice) and an upcoming release with KYLE, (singer for Nick Jonas). They also did a remix of "Watercolors" for Columbia Records artist Machineheart.
Their 2013 EP Supernatural received accolades for its poignant and powerful songs. The EP’s first single, "My Best Friend," was featured in a segment on E! News. The title track, rock/funk anthem, "Supernatural," was featured on TNT during NCAA March Madness in 2014. The powerful ballad, "Breaking My Own Heart," was featured by Victoria Secret Pink in its 2014 Fall Promotional College Tour.