It's been a busy year since I last caught up with Johnny Polygon about this same twelve months ago, but in the world of Polygon, when isn't he busy? Constantly bouncing from coast to coast and taking his rap wherever the demand is, he's always on the move. Even so, this has been an active year, even by Polygon's standards.
When I brought this up in conversation last week, Polygon reflected "The last time I spent more than a couple of months in one place was probably a couple of years ago. I just go wherever the demand is and right now, that's New York, L.A. and Oklahoma. I live on Virgin Airlines," he laughed.
Even so, when trying to describe all that has happened in 2010, even Polygon had to stop to back up and try and put it all in order. As it lines up, Polygon released his last CD, Rebel Without Applause, on DJ Green Lantern's label, Invasion Music Group in late February to a solid response. Just as that CD started to take up, his contract with the label was up and he opted not to renew, allowing him to become a fully independent artist again. Just after that, MTV picked up his video for "Riot Song" and it broke into the Top 10, gaining him airplay on both MTV and VH1. Of course, that only added to his popularity and demand, keeping him busy performing coast to coast all year long.
Somehow, in the midst of all that, Polygon also found the time to write and record a new EP. Before releasing it, however, he unleashed The Catch-Up mix tape, a retrospective of 30 songs scrolling back to the opening of his career in 2001 through 2010, which includes some previously unreleased remixes. If you haven't picked it up yet, he's making it available for free download on his website at www.johnnypolygononline.com. As if the retrospective wasn't enough, that was just to get things up to date before he dropped the latest EP, Wolf in Cheap Clothing, just last week to an amazing response which sees Polygon already breaking his own download records.
Overall, it's a matter of Polygon's hard work all catching up to him. After years of hustling, traveling coast to coast and performing wherever demand allows, that demand is finally booming. One example of that is the locations Polygon is playing: he has a new virtual home in Los Angeles, the famed Whisky A Go-Go, where he has now headlined twice and in his own words, "Those shows have been crazy -- I can't even describe how well the audience has responded."
Even in Polygon's hometown of Tulsa, he's continuing to blow up. Last year's Christmas season show sold out at the last minute and when he return for a show at Bob's in May, that performance sold out the week of the show. Following a headline slot at the Free Tulsa festival, Polygon is back this week for the official CD release party for Wolf in Cheap Clothing on Wednesday night, December 22 with Here Is There and Heady P opening the show. After quickly selling out, however, Polygon added a second show this Thursday night, December 23, sharing the stage with Mac Lethal.
"This time I warned people it would sell out early," he told me last week. "I tell everyone that Tulsa kids are hungry. My biggest support has always come from my hometown -- I've always had a great fan base here and it would be a disservice if I didn't come back and put on a good show here."
"At the same time," he told me, "I have to travel and spread the gospel (of my music)." Even though he loves Tulsa and q would love to play here more often, he also understands that part of the allure is not over-saturating the market. "Everywhere I go, I try to spread myself out and create demand," he explained.
Even so, demand remains high in Tulsa, where attendance continues to grow as Polygon's popularity rises. Larger rooms, multiple shows and stacked bills (like Thursday's show with Mac Lethal) all make Polygon on of Tulsa's most successful independent, touring hip-hop artists to date.
With a new CD in hand, however, I had to ask what sets this disc apart from the others. According to Polygon, it's akin to a snapshot of his life at the moment. "At this point, I'm in a big transition period in my life and I'm trying to make sense of things," he shared. In turn, his lyrics reflect that.
"When I write music," he explained, "I kind of tap into a stream of consciousness... It's like it's already written and I just have to open up and let it out. It's kind of like a photo album for me. As for a progression, I think that's more evident musically."
Even in his lyrics, Polygon admits that he prefers to not be too specific about just what has inspired him. Instead, he prefers to hear how his audience translates his lyrics, often finding meaning in them that even he wasn't aware of initially.
When Johnny Polygon returns to the stage at Bob's this week, you can expect two things: First, that it will be that same kind of high-energy party vibe that Polygon always brings to the stage. Second, you can know that every show will be new and different.
"I never play -- ever, ever, ever -- the same show twice," he told me last week. "Every night it's different people, a different energy, different passion and different songs that need to be played."
That said, you can be sure that even if you have tickets to the first night of Polygon's stand, a return on Thursday night will provide a while new experience. Add in the fact that Mac Lethal shares the stage on the second night, and thing promise to get crazy. "That's guy's insane," Polygon laughed with me. "I'm really looking forward to the show because I'll be there as a fan that night."
The Tulsa shows will also be something special as this is the official CD release party for the new EP and Polygon will have a limited first run (only 100 copies) of the physical CD available for purchase. Just like any other night, Polygon will stick around and be talking to the fans and signing CDs after the show. Most of all, however, you know both nights will be primed for great shows as Polygon always goes nuts for his hometown crowd. If you didn't get tickets to the first show, tickets for Thursday night are still available for $16 in advance or $20 at the door.
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