Athens, Ga., act Polemic, which plays Friday at the Hangnail Gallery, was built against the backdrop of bands breaking up.
Both McKenna Mackie, who fronts the emotionally raw rock act, and guitarist Jonathon Lueke, were in the throes of band dissolution when they discovered each other. Ms. Mackie was involved with an earlier version of Polemic, and Mr. Lueke was recording with the band Ampathy. Ms. Mackie said that she saw her job in the new-model Polemic was to establish a continuity between what she and Mr. Lueke saw as the band's future and its several previous incarnations.
"But I just keep trying to lay my guts out in the most honest way I can. And whatever that comes as, we run with. Polemic isn't a political band, but we are a band that likes to keep things in check by living up to the name," she said.
Mr. Lueke said there was a period of pleasant adjustment required when he and Ms. Mackie formed their musical partnership. Both had become accustomed to shouldering most of a band's burden and were pleased to discover someone who was willing to lighten the load.
"What had happened in the past is that McKenna and I played in bands where we were doing all the work," he said. "So when we hooked up and started playing music together, we discovered that this idea of my song and her song kind of went out the window. Our goal became trying to get to the best idea."
Ms. Mackie conceded that there was a certain irony to the musical focus her life has taken. She explained that early on, she had few musical leanings.
"I didn't really grow up as a musician," she said. "My mom used to make fun of me and tell me I was tone deaf. And as I got older, I got to a point where I wasn't sure who I was. But after a while I came to this and realized what it was that would make me happy. It is weird, because this was such a long shot."
Ms. Mackie said that her unschooled approach to music and songwriting have altered the band's measure of success. She said that while they would all love to make music a full-time career, it's the quest for the perfect song, the perfect crystallization of an emotional moment, that drives Polemic.
"I'm still looking for that, that perfect song or, better yet, series of songs," she said. "I think if we're sitting in the same spot in five years, but we've become really great songwriters, I'll tell people we've succeeded. That's my measure of success and I absolutely know we have the potential to reach it."
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHO: Polemic, with Lita Gray, Finned Pilot, Mourningstar and Brown Frown
WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday
WHERE: The Hangnail Gallery, 306 Eighth St. Call 722-9899