IT’S breakfast time on a dreary morning in central Wrexham and 19-year-old Polly Mackey is sitting in a booth in a cafe, sipping a hot chocolate.
At a glance you might think she was a typical student, passing the time before her first lecture or a young woman readying herself for a day at work.
But there is nothing typical about Polly, nor is she studying at the moment – she is on an “extended” gap year from her intended degree course, studying English and philosophy.
Polly is working hard, but her job is not your average nine to five.
She is a singer and, with her band, The Pleasure Principle, is on the verge of big things, both here in the UK and across the pond.
Though they remain unsigned, Polly and co have been enjoying a massive following on Myspace and were recently asked to play the HMV ‘Next Big Thing’ festival in London, alongside the likes of Paloma Faith, Ellie Goulding and Marina and the Diamonds.
Last year they also shared a stage with Paul Weller and Oasis at Heineken FIB music festival at Benicassim, Spain.
Their American following has come off the back of a string of successful shows at SXSW, the legendary showcase event in Austin, Texas, in 2009 and again this year.
“I’m not sure we were ready for it last year,” Polly mused.
“We’d only been together as a band for a few months so it came as a bit of a shock.
“This year we opened the festival and played nine shows during the week, which was great. I got to go and see a lot of bands. I saw The XX, Dum Dum Girls and The Drums – they were good.”
As well as performing and watching their peers on stage, there were also some rock n’ roll antics in ‘The Lone Star State’.
“Our bassist, Paul (Bates), sometimes gets the ‘mick’ taken out of him,” she explained with a smile.
“He got drunk one night and went to a tattoo parlour where he got the outline of Texas tattooed on his leg. I think he was most annoyed that he couldn’t go in the hot tub the next day.”
Polly grew up in Wrexham and attended Darland High School. Her love of music developed at an early age.
“My dad is a real music lover – he likes bands like Roxy Music and Velvet Underground so I suppose my taste in music is influenced by his as well,” she said. “He’s got a great ear for music and always comments on our new tracks.
“I was a bit of a tomboy when I was younger,” she admitted. “I started playing guitar when I was eight-years old – this shiny red Stratocaster I’d seen in Argos. Then, when I was 14 I started getting into live music. I did my first gig when I was 15, at the Goulbourne in Borras and, after that did about 60 gigs all around the country.”
But Polly soon found herself becoming a little frustrated as a solo singer-songwriter. It was then that she found the Pleasure Principle.
“There’s a really good music scene in Wrexham,” she continued.
“I knew lots of people from gigging around here and had made a lot of friends, but I knew exactly who I wanted to approach. We’ve been together about two years now.
“It’s great not to just be writing for an acoustic guitar. We’re working together, co-writing songs and it’s great to have all this extra input.
“I’m now playing the music I’d like to hear rather than before, when I was playing music I myself probably wouldn’t have listened to.”
She’s been writing her own material for quite some time but how does she some up with her lyrics?
“I write about a lot of different things,” she said. “People always assume that it’s about yourself but I always use the analogy that if an author writes a book then it’s not necessarily autobiographical. I might write about a story in a book or a good film I’ve seen.”
The band are due to go into the studio to record some tracks this summer, one of which will be released as a single to co-incide with their first UK tour in September.
“Going back into the studio is one of the things I’m really looking forward,” Polly added.
“We’re also going to be shooting a video for the single, though I’m not sure which track it’s going to be yet!”
She is also excited about playing some more big gigs.
“We’ve got the Radio 1 Big Weekend fringe show and we’re playing Wakestock,” she added. “It (Wakestock) was the first festival I went to and I’ve been there the past few years. This will be the first time playing though. We’re also playing the Liverpool Sound City festival this month.”
On the back of a very successful 2009, 2010 is developing into another huge year in the story of Polly Mackey and The Pleasure Principle.
But what does its driving force make of all the hype surrounding her and her band?
“It has picked up over the last few months but I suppose it does at the start of the year,” she says modestly. “We’re hoping to get on bigger tip lists, but we’re really pleased with the coverage we’ve been getting.”
Polly Mackey and the Pleasure Principle join Gallops, Trader and No Room For Heroes, with DJ support from Adam Walton, for the special Radio 1 Big Weekend fringe event, tonight at Central Station, Wrexham. Doors open at 7pm and entry is free! Age 14-plus.
See next Thursday’s Leader Guide for a full preview of Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Bangor.
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