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Oct 17, 2013 POND Bookmark and Share

The past 18 months or so have been busy for Australian psychedelic rock band Pond. The band has released two albums in that timeMarch 2012’s Beard, Wives, Denim and this August’s Hobo Rocketwith a third one, Man, It Feels Like Space Again, due out in 2014. Drummer Cam Avery and guitarist Jay Watson have also been occupied recording and touring with Tame Impala, the band fronted by former Pond multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker. The band’s lineup is ever-changing, but currently also features Nick Allbrook on vocals (who until recently was also in Tame Impala), Joseph Ryan on bass, and Jamie Terry on keys. Speaking from his hometown of Perth, Western Australia about Hobo Rocket, their fifth album, Watson explains that such a punishing schedule leaves little time for actually recording the albums.

“We just did [Hobo Rocket] in a weekend so it’s kinda rushed. That reflects the feeling of [the record] to me. [Pond’s albums] have always been done quickly, but that’s been of our own volition. In this case, though, we actually only had three days to do it! So it was quite rushed, but that was because we used the first or second take of everything we recorded. We could have maybe made it a lot tighter, but we’re always pretty proud to be sloppy! With this one especially, we wanted to sound loose. The next record has been recorded track-for-track…a more traditional, modern-sounding album.

“We wanted this one to sound like we do live. We grew up on blues and the Stones, and we wanted to make an album like that before we moved on to pretty, orchestrated songs.”

Watson gives the impression that Pond takes a laid-back approach to recording, and is indeed quoted as describing the band as “something stupid.” This isn’t to be dismissive of their work, but rather to capture a sense of enjoyment. “We were never really a joke band,” he explains, “but we put a lot of jokes into our albums and then slowly we’re getting more serious. I think that’s the way it should be in general. [The band] is like a boys’ club, it’s pretty goofy, so it seems weird that you then agree to go and make serious music. Our songs do seem to be getting more introspective and serious though, I guess. Maybe not on this record or the single‘Xanman’which is quite an old song about party people who take Xanax. It’s not a throwaway song, it’s a really good song, but there’s not much to that one.”

The band is often talked about in the same breath as neo-psychedelic acts such as TOY, Melody’s Echo Chamber, and Crystal Antlers, but while there is an element of this to their music, Hobo Rocket also carries more traditional rock elements. “It’s definitely got simpler drums,” agrees Watson. “The songs are maybe simpler and both of the singles are riff-based. I think that after this one we’re definitely not going to do too much classic rock, it’s going to be synthier and sound weirder. We’ve never done a properly heavy riff-based album before and we all knew that we wanted to make something different. This album’s definitely our most ‘punk’ one, although it’s not really punk at all.

“To our detriment we [have] never really made the definitive musical statement we could,” he continues. “We’re more concerned with having a particular mood and then the eventual catalog of albums. We think more along the lines of, ‘If you’re feeling like this, then you’ll like this album.’ We could do an album where we get our sound perfect, but then you’d end up having three albums like that and we’d much rather get out a radio one and then an ambient one and then a punk one.”

The sprawling, haphazard sound of the albumtoo close to glam to be lumped in with stoner rock but then also too unpolished to really count as pure psychedelic popcould easily be written off as unfocused, and you get the sense that Watson would happily accept this as fair criticism. “If you feel like listening to Pond it’s probably the only thing that’s going to fit! I’d rather my music was shit and idiosyncratic than the kind of thing where you could get the same kick from a few other bands.”

[This article first appeared in Under the Radar’s August/September 2013 digital issue.]


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