POND – Feeling Like Space Again (INTERVIEW)

Heroic Shart just happens to be one of nine creatively named tracks on POND’s sixth album, Man It Feels Like Space Again. Foregoing nomenclature, the album listens like an opus, beginning with the drizzly, 80’s drenched track “Waiting For Grace” which evolves into notable numbers like “Sitting Up On Our Crane” that burst in signature POND-like fashion into fireworks, melting back into cerebral fluid lines that indicate a musical growth spurt for this Perth based trio consisting of Nick Allbrook, Jay Watson, and Joe Ryan. Licks of Prince and nods to David Bowie-esq glam pop is put through a psychedelic funnel throughout the album. A combination of frantically dancey, synth immersed beats meet more delicately constructed melodic lines that coagulate with the help of rick funk strands, making Man It Feels Like Space Again their most complex work yet. Known for their silly antics and cavalier demeanor, POND is not to be undermined by their nonchalant veneer; with shared members in psych-rock outfit Tame Impala, POND is not an “offshoot” but rather a different breed within the same species.

While albums Hobo Rocket and Beard, Wives, Denim give a taste of POND’s sensibilities, that include milky way like clusters of notes that rise and shatter in a trippy blizzard, Man It Feels Like Space Again exhibits a kind of maturation, as it chips away at the “wall of sound” they’ve been known for, and puts forward a blank canvas that is both thoughtfully and erratically painted on. With a little more left to the imagination, gems like “Outside Is The Right Side” and “Zond” give a melodic foreplay before they’re undressed to reveal hypnotic, funkadelic jams.

A sleepy Monday morning and Nick Allbrook is just waking up, coffee cup in hand. Much like any beach enthusiast, Allbrook talks about wanting to take a dip in the ocean outside his home in Perth. From drugs to discussing their video Zond, Allbrook provided a candid conversation with Glide this week that proved POND, though serious about their music, are just a group of dudes getting weird and doing what they love.

The new album seems to be really taking off, what was the inspiration behind Man It Feels Like Space Again?

I don’t know its very very hard to identify one inspiration for an album. Sort of, you know, its sort of like you know you’re opening up a whole years diary and saying what the inspiration was. That’s what albums seem to come out of, some kind of an audio aesthetic diary that you can polish up and look and sound really nice for other people.

There’s some interesting names on this album.

To be honest, I was just kind of sort of momentarily fed up with the amount of names of musical and artistic products that you get bombarded with. New things, there are so many things, differentiations and stuff going out the window, and you don’t know if you’ve heard a band with a certain name. It just all sounds pointless, so I was just going to call that yeah… heroic shart. It’s some kind of art that I do, but I’m happy to call it shit.

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At least its heroic.

I don’t know…. seeing yourself. Seeing your creative output as hugely heroic, but its not. Its not, but it is.

You recently played Primavera Sound in Spain, how was that?

That was good, actually it was really fun. Yeah it was good.

You’re playing St. Jerome’s Laneway festival soon, looking forward to it?

Definitely. It’s always a really good fun time that one.

Your video for “Zond” is pretty wild. How did you come up with the aesthetics of it?

That’s actually one of the first ones that we haven’t had anything to do with the conception of. That was all Johnny. He’s got a very eccentric imagination. When he told us the idea it seemed like he was taking a lot of nouns and putting them together.


There’s hot dogs on someones groin.

(laughs) Yeah, it was pretty funny.

Fun to film?

Yeah it was pretty damn fun. More professional than I thought. I thought we were going to be meeting Johnny under a bridge and he was going to throw sausages at us, but then we turned up at this place really early in the morning and there was like ten people there, and cameras set up and green screen and catering, like a makeup person and I just had no idea that was going on until we got there. We’ve never done anything like that before.

Was it a lot to handle? Were you expecting it to be that crazy?

Yeah, I was also sleepless and feeling horribly rough and sort of in that early morning sleepless delirium and everything was kind of unreal already. Going through the shots and like getting a churro is the most bizarre thing already, let alone having eyelashes strapped to your lips.

Eyelashes on your lips sounds uncomfortable.

It was really really uncomfortable. That day particularly I just kind of wanted to be in bed watching fucking I don’t know, Ellen or some shit, scratching my tummy. But instead I was like frozen face not being able to really move or laugh, and I was all delirious and Jay was being really you know, funny in his way. The eyelashes wanted to fall off every time I laughed.

What are you listening to right now? What’s been playing around your house?

I’ve been listening to Macintosh Plus its called, and Krakatoa.

When you are songwriting is it more individual or collaborative?

I usually do songs by myself these days. Way back when we all sort of lived together and the weight of the world hadn’t crushed our like childish spirits, we used to write stuff together but its more of an individual thing now.

You wrote most of the songs on this album?

No, not at all. It’s all pretty equally um distributed between me, and Jay and Joe. I guess we kind of, well its kind of hard, a lot of them are collaborative, but its not like we sit down at a piano together and do that sort of thing. We just kind of collate different ideas.

Any good drunk stories as of recent?

The other night my really great friend Kim had a birthday gathering at this French Cafe that I love more than anything in Melbourne called La Niche cafe. It’s one of those charming places that makes you feel like all the shit you’re doing and all the wine and champagne you’re drinking is kind of homely, like in a spirit of, its fun and yeah it makes it all right, so by the end of it you’ve kind of consumed so much more than you need. You can consume all the things you can’t consume in other places, out in the back courtyard. I was walking home, and usually you need like an obstacle or a challenge to make you fall over, but when you walk home from La Niche, a long session at La Niche, you don’t need any obstacles. You just kind of walk along the road and fall over. It’s hard enough to navigate like perfectly flat surfaces.

You guys have a lot of music that has these melodic lines that go into a kind of “wall of sound”. Is that more intentional or something that just comes out in the creative process?

I think a lot of the time its intentional. We’ve gotten a lot better at like producing or rendering pretty clearly our sound. We all really like that idea of having one big torrent of sound kind of tied together, and a more delicate melody.

There’s less of this “wall of sound” on this album.

Yeah totally. We kind of tried to trim the fat more with this recent album, like instead of just piling and piling shit. We’re a bit more like efficient, being more economical with what sounds were used.

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Though tracks like “Sitting Up On Our Crane” have those explosive bits.

Yeah, we just started getting more convinced on how much more powerful you can make things. Like “Kiss” by Prince is pretty much the same until that one guitar line comes in.

Are you a big Prince fan?

Yeah he could convince anyone of anything.

You guys have a lot of funk influences.

Oh yeah, absolutely. We, its like you know, not so much anymore, but for a while it was like our religious connection between the three of us. We would religiously listen to Prince and Parliament and stuff like that.

How long have you and Jay known each other?

Oh shit, like seven or eight years. Something like that.

You guys have a pretty tightly woven web of bands in Perth. Seems like you’re all really close.

Yeah, the collaborations just kind of came. It’s like whenever one of us would think of you know a new idea for a musical project, you’d eventually get to the point of who could do some other thing. It sort of just felt like we already knew the best people, which was just each other. Then it was just like a whole sort of different names for different things, like the same people helping out and it was just easier and more fun.

It kind of seems like a chain reaction, where the knowledge of one band leads to another.

Yeah there’s an ease afforded through the internet.

What are some odd touring experiences you’ve had?

Well we were staying at this really really really shitty hotel, which is fair enough because we were playing in this beautiful valley. I went to explore the area around this shitty hotel. On one side was this massive massive McDonald’s, like a superstore McDonald’s, so I went to the other side of the hotel and walked through trees at the back of it, and all of a sudden there was like a racetrack and all these horses were like right there in front of me with jockeys in colored clothes. They went into their things and they did the whole start off, with guns and they rumbled like right past me and it was super loud and it was a race. They had all these people cheering and then I went for another walk like ten meters away and there was a river there with all these holes in the ground that might of been snakes, but I think they were just crabs.

You were like tripping in reality, no acid necessary.

Yeah, weird weird shit happens sometimes.

You must meet some interesting people while you’re touring.

I suppose so. Often you don’t have enough like energy to really like explore how interesting potentially interesting people are, which is a real shame, but I don’t know tour does tend to zap a whole lot of your vivaciousness. Touring tends to zap your wonder sometimes.

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It’s interesting because you get to go to so many places but maybe not see everything you’d want to see.

Yeah, exactly. Yeah you start turning into a grumpy teenager. But I feel like such a tool complaining, because its the cushiest; like you get praised so wildly for doing so little. People take care of you like you know you’re a defenseless babe, then yeah I don’t know its great, its good.

You guys must have a great time together when you can just let loose and party.

Yeah, it can be fun. But sometimes you just want to go to bed and have a cup of tea. You can reach like new heights of laziness on tour when you really commit to it.

What does that include?

Ah man, you know there’s no sort of good, its not like really good wholesome laziness like lying on the beach reading the book or drawing or something. It’s like real real gross type of laziness that you never tell people about. Lying in bed like eating pizza and watching tv; I don’t do that, I’m sounding like a dick I suppose. No, usually if I’m just feeling really really fucking tired and I can’t even be bothered talking to anyone or dealing with anything, I just do something brainless and listen to a podcast or something.

Do you ever have stage fright?

Um I guess not that like really bad on stage, stage fright. Though sometimes before going on stage I sometimes get irrationally nervous, you know. Like vomitously nervous. But then when its actually underway its usually okay. I had it once really bad in a high school play when we were doing Madea, that Greek tragedy, I was like the nurse and had a shit load of lines and had terrible stage fright, and forgot what the words are. It was bad.

Do you guys hang out a lot outside the band?

I guess we do actually. Um yeah, pretty much.

Psychedelic rock has been traditionally associated with a kind of drug culture. Do you feel like drugs can encourage or detract from the creative process?

Yeah both for sure. Um, yeah I don’t know I think it really depends on the way you’re balanced at the time, the reasons behind taking things. The people you’re with, surroundings, the regularity, it can all change a lot. When it becomes a sort of habitual comfort, then it sort of like makes its own. What was meant to be like breaking a way out of normality starts becoming its own kind of normality, and a regular daily thing, than it just isn’t particularly inspiring or anything. Maybe thats it. If there’s any kind of reliance, than it must be like someone kidding themselves that they need it to make anything. Unless its actually, I don’t know. If it starts getting habitual, I don’t know after that.

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Kevin Parker mixed this album.

Yeah yeah with much help from Jay. Jay got a lot more involved and committed to it.

How has it been working with Kevin in the past? Do you both still collaborate musically?

Um, nah not really. Not for any reason. We used to all the time because we lived with each other, we were I don’t know less focused and maybe… we lived in rooms next to each other so we would do shit all the time. But now you know we’re both very focused on our little uh sections, and its kind of nice just being normal buddies. Now that all that’s kind of on the back burner, all thats just left is talking hilarious shit and laughing our asses off and being goons. Being goon teenagers again.

Just being able to fuck around is always nice, seems like you’re doing it right.

Hell yeah, thats how to do it.

Tame Impala in some way has put the rock scene in Australia on the map. How does it feel to have the world looking and commentating on your music?

Ah, its bizarre. Its truly bizarre. I find it so hard to believe that its almost not real. I find it hard to accept. Its obviously happening all the time. I’ve read things, talking about Tame Impala like they, like its a movement or something. This is just this thing you know we kind of do and have been doing and still do and enjoy. While still staying isolated and personal, but its affected a lot by the looks of things.

It must be nice to return back to Perth from the madness.

Totally, but it’s amazing how little you let that information get into your head. I swear I just haven’t managed to let that reality penetrate, that people care about us that much.

Like fake Instagram accounts and fake URLs, like Bon Iver erotica- that exists.

What the fuck. That’s pretty funny. (Laughing) Jesus.

If someone just put out Kevin Parker erotica…

Oh man that would be the funniest shit to read. Oh god, (pauses) that I would get, actually no I’m not gonna say that. (laughs) That sounds weird. Um that would be fucking funny yeah.

You guys had some cool costumes on Halloween at your show in LA.

I decided that you know Halloween was just another corporate fuck fest where you buy lots and lots of stupid things from big shops and I wasn’t gonna have any part of it. But everyone else had these hilarious costumes and I went to the thrift store like two doors up and got something.

Jay’s costume was a bit visual..

You mean you could basically see his balls? (laughs) Referring to Jay Watson’s gold speedo, who was dressed up like Prince.<

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