They may have come to public attention as the zaniest components of Perth’s fruitful psych scene, but on new album ‘The Weather’ Pond are treading more concise, and considered new ground.
As of late they’ve been turning their attentions towards massive pop records, drumming on discarded demoes for Adele (casual) and dodging narrow brushes with food poisoning. Lovely.
We caught up with Pond’s frontman Nick Allbrook and guitarist Jay Watson at London’s Moth Club to chat Beyonce, bangers and getting “swell AF”.
Hello chaps, how are you!
Jay: I just ate a Turkish wrap. It’s very spicy. I’ve got a very sensitive stomach; I’ll probably shit myself on stage. Shitting yourself isn’t very cool. I normally only shit myself once every two years though.
That’s nice, let’s change the subject now. When did you start on this record?
Nick: It’s hard to say, we all write stuff habitually so it’s not like there’s a delineated time to write.
J: If we didn’t tour we’d be able to do about two a year. And we’re all living in different cities too: the last two albums have been written in the only time we’re actually together, which is normally about three weeks over Christmas.
N: It’s pretty easy to narrow all the material we’ve accumulated down though.
Because there’s a lot of shit in there?
N: Oh yeah, totally!
J: Everyone pools their ideas and when all three people think it’s good then we go with it, which filters out about 80% of the original ideas.
This album’s pretty concise and poppy for you – is this a new era of Pond?
J: You do one like that and then you wanna do one that sounds like a truck falling down a hill.
N: We’re just back and forth all the time. In one day we’ll probably go between being into Butthole Surfers and then totally vibing on Rihanna. It’s pretty scattershot.
We took out stuff [on this record] that in the past we would have left in. If you’ve got even the slightest inkling that in the future there’ll be a moment where you’re all high with your friends and you might want to skip a song or, even worse, cringe at it, then it needs to go.
Do you look back and cringe at a lot of your previous music?
N: Fuck yeah! God yeah.
J: When we’re writing set lists for tour we go through all the albums and list the songs we want to play, and often we’re pretty much struggling to get to an hour of music after seven albums. But you can hear the obvious censoring on this one, which is good.
Censoring’s an interesting one, as you’ve always been known as the very uncensored, madcap ones in the Perth scene.
J: Well, we prided ourselves on not censoring it too much and putting in pretty much everything that we recorded because it’s more honest, even if it’s a silly song about a table. But this one feels quite big and epic even at 39 minutes, which I don’t think we’ve done before.
N: I still get my tits blown off listening to a completely bullshit insane song by an obscure Japanese band. But at the same time I think ‘Lemonade’ [by Beyonce] and [Rihanna’s] ‘Anti’ are some of the best albums ever made.
When you’re younger you try harder to be purposefully obtuse with your musical choices…
N: It’s so true, and I think we’ve been trying to get better at being truly, truly honest instead of having this constructed honesty of being more obtuse than we actually are. We’re just getting a bit bolder in showing that we actually just like bangers.
J: For so many years I thought I was keeping it real, liking great stuff for great reasons, but also I was being pretentious in my shutting out of other stuff that my brain thought was good but I wouldn’t let it.
Also, pop music’s hit a critical sweet spot right now.
N: ‘Lemonade’ compared to the shit she was doing before, it’s just a true socially important opus.
J: I think everyone just looked at Kanye making insane records but still being just as huge, and thought shit - we can do what we want with real small time producers and weird people, and if there’s enough steeze and charisma then we can still stay as big as ever.
Would you want to work with someone huge like that?
J: Oh yeah, it’s the dream.
N: Fuck yeah.
J: I submitted a song for the Mark Ronson album that Kevin (Parker) was on, but it didn’t make the cut. It was fun being there though. I played drums on a demo for a track on the Adele album that never made the cut as well. Almost been there twice. So close.
‘The Weather’ feels more socially engaged than previous albums. Did you want to be less escapist than before?
N: The stuff I wrote in the past was absolutely head in the sand hubris. Everything in my life now - not just world events, but who I spend my time with and the way we spend our time - is a lot more considered. Less selfish.
As in you’re taking less drugs and being less messy now?
N: That’s part of it, yeah. I just don’t have any thirst for it [right now].
J: I wanna go for a run and make a sandwich.
N: I just want to be a good person. The ultimate drug is feeling like a worthwhile member of the universe.
J: More Pond members have been going to the gym than ever before. We’re getting swell AF. You can put that on the record.
It’s no coincidence that you’ve written a more socially conscious record if you’re in that kind of headspace, then.
N: It’s a really uninspiring way to describe it, but when we first started we were completely enamoured with The Mighty Boosh and MGMT and Funkadelic, and that’s changed. A lot.
J: We still like all those things, but all of a sudden everyone’s listening to Robert Wyatt.
A lot of the record seems to reference Perth, what’s your relationship with the place like now?
N: It’s a multi-layered thing, somewhere between being a warm seaside paradise but also having all these strange, dark sides: colonial massacres and meth addiction and boredom, while also being a beautiful, nurturing place.
J: I don’t think the whole image of sitting there listening to Tame Impala, dreaming about Perth is real.
N: There’s not an army of Kevin Parkers playing sitars around the city.
Does it still feel isolated?
N: It’s not just Perth that’s isolated, but us as the most privileged demographic to pretty much ever exist. 25-45 year old white Australian middle class males; there’s a real strange headspace knowing that the things that have brought you to this are completely unfair, but also you love Perth and you love the sun and the beach and you try and be a good person…
My grandpa just died who was an incredibly thoughtful, amazing man, and he said he hadn’t figured it out but he was quite happy with that. That blew my mind. You don’t figure it out, you just keep going.
Pond’s new album ‘The Weather’ is out now.