– by Tobyn Fitch-Rabbitt
POND is a Perth band famous for their spaced out sound, charismatic on-stage personas, and their boundary-pushing approach to making music. Recently finishing up a killer tour of the US with Peter Bibby and Doctopus, Pond have emerged with their 6th album definite and meaty, loaded with bangers. Man It Feels Like Space Again is out on the 23rd, you can listen to it here.
We recently had the opportunity to chat with POND guitarist Joe Ryan about their upcoming album, their recent US tour, and (very importantly) food:
Going to into recording the album did you guys aim for a retro-futurist vibe? At least for me that’s kinda what I heard, sort of like B-grade 80s scifi soundtrack.
Aww mate, we could’ve definitely made it more 80s. Retro-future? I guess it wasn’t intended but considering we recording onto 1 inch tape using modern gizmos I can’t be surprised if that’s what you picked up from it.
We set aside a two week period in the studio to record this album. We did drums and bass at the same time and then everything else separately. After that we proceeded to do a few more overdubs in our various rooms and such.
Did any songs come about whilst in the studio or were they all already written going in to record?
They were all written before we went in. Everyone kinda came in with their own song. Nick (Allbrook) wrote his songs, I wrote mine, and Jay (Watson) wrote his. Then in the process of recording parts everyone had their time to add their flavours and what not to each track.
We didn’t really get much of a time to rehearse, it was just emailing each other demos. But once we got in the studio they came together. There wasn’t much arguing either over what the song should do, it just kind of made sense.
Some of these songs we’ve been working on since Beards, Wives, Denim so you really get to refine it down to what works. I guess when you’ve had two years to work on songs it’s a luxury.
Did you (POND) have an aim as to what you wanted the album to sound like? Or for a unified theme to run throughout?
I’m sure we did, I can’t really remember what it was. We wanted to make it more space-ier sounding and more freaky, looking back on it’s as space-ier or freaked out as it could’ve been. In terms of a unified sound I’m not so sure, we just wanted to make it unlike any other record we’ve done.
We had a few heated debates about maybe not jumping straight on and doing two or three guitar overdubs. It feels like all our other albums are quite guitar heavy, so we wanted to pull back on the guitars because there’s only so much you can do with them, you know?
So that’s where we branched out into broken clavs and odd synthesizers to play the parts we’d normally play on guitar just to make it sound a little more sonic. Just to branch out into other aspects of the audio spectrum that we weren’t utilising. Once you have like six guitars that’s like one block in the whole sound spectrum that’s taken up. The best thing to do with your album is to just try and find some silence, try and say as little as possible.
You each released solo albums last year; with Pond did you try to avoid sounding like your solo output?
The thing with Pond is, even though all the songs are written by me, or Jay, or Nick and we all have our own solo albums, when we bring them into the studio and everyone gets their teeth around them it becomes more than any of us could do individually. The combination of all our thought processes mixed together, I think, makes the Pond sound. Like, you can figure out what’s a Pond song and what’s a Shiny Joe song.
So your song ‘Medicine Hat’ which is on the album, starts off with a country vibe then ends up somewhere else entirely, was that the others’ doing?
Actually with that song, we just ran the demos off my computer into the tape machine, because I was worried it wouldn’t sound as good as the demo. It’s funny you should say that actually, because the songs I wrote that are on there were on my solo album originally. I showed the guys the songs I’d written for MIFLSA and they were all like ‘hmm, yeah I think this is more for your solo album’. Then I played them my solo album and they were all like ‘woah, what’s this song and this song!’ So I ended up giving my two best songs off my solo album to the Pond record, leaving my solo album maybe wanting some more bangers.
How was the recent US tour where you took Doctopus and Peter Bibby along for the ride?
Mate it was like a travelling freak circus, it was a very natural line up, it was a bit like a Spinning Top showcase as well. I think it was Peter’s first time out of the country, and two of the guys from Doctopus had never left Australia either, so they were all excited and pretty stoked to have gone and been and driven all around the place. They were well received too which was great, not to mention that they’re our best friends and so every minute of every day was just a party.
You’re playing with Peter again at St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, are there any other acts there that you’re excited to see?
Well I’ve never seen Mac DeMarco or Conan Mockasin, I’m a really big fan of both those guys and I’m yet to see them live. So I’m looking forward to maybe sink a beer with them after the show and being like ‘that was pretty bloody sweet mate.’
Thinking a bit more locally here, is there an upcoming Perth band you think we should keep our eye on?
I’m gonna tell you both these two bands because their new release is a split, so you can’t have one without the other: Gunns, Clint who writes most of the songs plays in The Growl with Cam Avery, and the other one is Hamjam, which is a really bloddy sweet-ass two piece, at least they were a two piece when I last saw them. Just pretty good music, you’ll have to see for yourself.
What food best describes your sound?
That’s interesting, I haven’t really thought about that. Probably maybe bangers and mash might be pretty good. Pork sausages, Irish pork sausages definitely if we’re going that route, it must be.
Pond are touring as part of St Jerome’s Laneway Festival on the following dates:
24/1/2015 – Singapore, SG
26/1/2015 – Auckland, NZ
31/1/2015 – Brisbane, QLD
1/2/2015 – Sydney, NSW
6/2/2015 – Adelaide, SA
7/2/2015 – Melbourne, Vic
8/2/2015 – Fremantle, WA