TEN QUESTIONS WITH POND
Pond, the psychedelic rock band from Perth are back with their ninth studio album 9. It is a supercharged, wild ride of clever chaos - in the best way. Naturally, we love it. “We did say to each other, ‘Look, we’ve made three albums of pretty polished psych pop,” says frontman Nick Allbrook. “We’ve earned our reward of doing something completely fucked.” It’s Pond letting loose. We spoke to Allbrook about the desire to create a divisive album and the Pond evolution:
The album begins so brilliantly. The whole body of work is epic and adrenaline-inducing yet still feels carefully considered. You were trying a more spontaneous way of working. You began at the start of 2020 so this way of working wasn’t even a reaction to the pandemic, right? Why did you feel the need to be spontaneous and create more loosely?
"We’d been doing the same thing for the last two albums - write songs individually, record them with Kevin [Parker of Tame Impala] at his studio, he’d mix, we send it off to master, badda-bing badda-boom. We just wanted a change. Maybe part of it was that in our dotage, our teenage ego has started to go the way of our luxurious locks, and with it the anxiety that we might make something fractured and imperfect that won’t be universally considered at least ‘ok’. We didn’t mind leaving behind the safety net of finished tunes and just get together to try different, strange and often way more collaborative approaches to conjuring something into existence. Keep it fun. Keep the wonderment alive.”
Where did you create the majority of the album? What was inspiring you during this time?
“We did it in Fremantle, W.A. Lots of it was done at Dream Dust, our little studio, some of it at Kevin’s, some of it at Tuna Fish in O’Connor. We were inspired by no-wave dance music (liquid liquid, ESG) and aggressive lo-fi electronic synth shit like Suicide and Severed Heads and Throbbing Gristle. But the whole rolodex of influences are always spinning around waiting to be caught by the fairies while we’re making a song - more like a roulette wheel really - and send us off in another direction. Sometimes they’re right there, big in the rearview, sometimes they’re just ghosts of a maybe memory, but they all exert their own sway on the proverbial steering wheel guiding a song.
"Lyrically, I paid a lot of attention to things around me that were actually touching my heart at the time. Sort of narrowing the lens to zoom in close on the truly meaningful, magical quotidie that seemed to be all I had anything real to write about at the time. Berries and shoes and people I thought were cool or interesting like Agnes Martin or Yukio Mishima or Emil Zatopek. Sometimes that lead me down a rabbit hole that brought me face to face with a mirror, and sometimes that mirror reflected me, my love, or the whole world that stood burning behind me.”
What did you want to let go of on this record?
“I guess the aforementioned steering wheel.”
You were waking up before sunrise to write about the quotidian parts of your life. Is there a lyric or concept on the record you are most proud of?
“I’m pretty happy with the whole banana, but one that comes to mind is ‘Take Me Avalon’, at least for now. There’s a kinda nice through line of anglo-centric imagery and the wretched realities of England and looking back at a youth and levity that spontaneously combusted while you were filling out a job application, which is partly imaginary, partly for me, partly for my Jamaican cousins, and partly for the millions who left home for the gilded streets of London and ended up wet and broke. The songs about dreaming finding, myth and reality. It started from seeing a discarded Winnie the Pooh doll on the streets of Berlin.”
9 feels like it would be a great soundtrack for a journey to another planet. If there were an alternate universe where Pond reigns, what would it be like?
“Man, tell Bezos that! Maybe he’ll give us a sync, the greedy prick. Hook us up JB, I reckon Toast would be a sick tune to play while yr escaping to fuckin’ Amazonia or hell or wherever you’re going. As for the Pond universe, I’m an “argh-teest” and have been so thoroughly gaslit by the boomers that I don’t trust myself to man the controls of my own universe, let alone yours, theirs or ours.”
How do you think Pond has evolved from the first album to now?
“Have you heard ‘Psychedelic Mango’? Well we’re not recording on a BOSS digital 8 track, for one, and I no longer assume I know what mastering is, or that I can do it on Garage Bands in the time it takes a sugar cube of LSD to travel from my tongue into my pea sized brain. I’d really like to hope I’ve evolved from lyrics like “psychedelic mango vision, coming in your mind / psychedelic mango vision, coming from behind, to your mind” as well, but… hell, who am I kidding, that’s genius.”
You have said you like really divisive music. What would be the ultimate compliment to receive from a listener about 9?
Dream place or venue you’d love to play this album live?
“I’d love to play it in a nice sized theatre with a good PA, indoors, in a country like England where people get fuck-eyed before the first note and rage like they were trying to burn off a lifetime of Greggs baps, or Mexico where the sound system IS the crowd. Or Freo Prison, we played there once and it felt like a very special moment - my mum used to be a counsellor there and said she would ask inmates what they wanted done with the place after it closed down. They said either burn it down or used for music.”
How do you hope Pond fans and newcomers feel while listening to this?
“I hope they feel something, at minimum. At best they’d be kicking a hole in their door while crying.”
Noted. If spontaneity was the vibe going into this album, what do you think you’ll be feeling for the next…
9 is out now on all platforms.