Psych-band Pond are back with their much-anticipated seventh album, The Weather. The four-piece, based in Perth, Australia is helmed by ex-Tame Impala bassist, Nick Allbrook, and includes Jay Watson, Shiny Joe Ryan and since the departure of Cameron Avery, Jamie Terry.
Fresh off their performances at Coachella 2017, the foursome will kick off their current tour with the first official show in San Francisco tomorrow, Tuesday, April 25.
Produced by Kevin Parker, The Weather will be released May 5, on the Marathon Artists label. It marks a shift for the band: They take on weightier issues such as climate change, wanton consumerism and Islamaphobia. Music videos for "30000 Magatons," "The Weather" and "Sweep Me Off My Feet" highlight these themes juxtaposing glossy advertisements with religious imagery, and scenes of our seemingly unrelenting attacks on nature and the planet.
The most recent video, "Paint Me Silver" was posted last week. One of the album's many standouts, with its smooth groove and deep bass; it features aliens taking over a household as a nuclear strike is about to take place.
Ahead of their show at the Great American Music Hall, we spoke to Allbrook about the songs on the new album, their eclectic music videos, and those formative, early days of Pond.
AXS: What’s your favorite track? Mine is “Paint Me Silver”. If ever there was a Perth sound, this would be it. There’s strains of Tame Impala but with the slight shape-shifting it’s uniquely Pond, plus that sunny, fresh feeling. A sense of Icehouse, sun in your hair, summertime driving in sandy cars to the beach.
Nick Allbrook: Yes. That’s awesome. That’s a great dissection. My favorite track, I am totally biased but I would say “Zen Automaton.” I’m not sure why? I like the underwater creepiness of the verses. And it’s very minimal. I also love all the abstract horn work.
AXS: Why did you split up "Edge of The World" into Part 1 and 2, instead of just opening the portal to another part of the song? Even in Part 1 it does goes from slow and droning to like a cartoony skip and a hop.
NA: We just thought purely sonically, it flowed better with those other songs. We weren’t ever going to put them together.
AXS: Part 2 is beautiful like Major Tom in space looking on the earth, then just over 3 minutes in, some aliens just blow it up! Is that Perth that you’re referring to – or you’re preferred state of mind?
NA: It’s Perth. It’s also a state of mind: that feeling of being on the outer edges. Being outside looking in at whatever dramas; beautiful or terrifying, are unfolding. We’re all part of the same species and world. It can feel like we’re looking on a bizarre game.
AXS: Several of the songs have that sense of tuning in and out of TV channels, like back in the day when you had to walk around the living room with aerial in hand – what was the intention there?
NA: Well Jay particularly, was really into J Dilla. When we were on tour, he would be sampling sounds, and playing with that idea of cutting on our own songs in an abstract way. So you have that idea of Pond radio; it's eccentric, that strange piecing together, tuning in and out.
AXS: This album deals with weightier themes than your last six albums, is “All I Want for Xmas (is a Tascam 388) about consumerism?
NA: No. Actually that’s one for Joseph Ryan. It’s about him purely wanting a Tascam 388. He wrote it: it's the undercurrent subject of Joe’s brain.
AXS: Who comes up with ideas for your videos? It’s always been trippy, glammy, spacey or like a children’s TV show? Old videos have featured fluffy stuffed animals, dancing feral kids (Man It Feels Like SpaceAgain), backyard shenanigans (Elvis’ Flaming Star) and cosmic stars and sparkles (Zond). Though the latest videos tackle more serious subjects.
NA: Well, it’s often different. Sometimes we throw around ideas with film-makers who are friends. For “Man It Feels like Space Again” and “Midnight Mass” we were living with Jenna Erickson and Jeffrey Smith. “Elvis’ Flaming Star” and “Giant Tortoise” we did it all ourselves. For “30000 Megatons” someone high up the echelons suggested an easy video. The need to sort something out, it was done out of necessity.
AXS: There's this great live gig on KEXP that Pond did in 2014. When it ended Jay and Joe were arguing about coming in wrong, or fluffing the back-up vocals, Jay said “The Ponds don’t like being in the spotlight, we’re like marsupials,” is that still true? Or are you more comfortable with it now?
NA: (Laughs) That particular thing, doing those sort of station shows, KEXP, that was fu*king uncomfortable. You have to be there at 9am, after a show the night before. In a room that is way smaller than it looks. All your instruments are very quiet. And it’s a challenge to hear each other. I’ll never get comfortable with that.
AXS: Ok the million dollar question: Which came first Pond or Tame?
NA: Tame was before Pond. We were all playing together anyway. Me, Kev and Joe were in Mink Mussel Creek. Jay was constantly playing around in the house and recording. One day, Jay, Joe and myself, we just said ‘Let’s make an album. I bet we can make a full album by tomorrow. It was very early days still. There was some recognition happening, far, far more than we ever anticipated; we were going to Sydney to do the odd show and even that was pretty amazing at the time.
AXS: Folklore has it that you were playing music together purely because you were all living together.
NA: We started playing together before living together; folklore inflated it. That time was totally formative: we built together our idea of what we were making. It was a huge time for me: Kev and Jay did music in school, I had an appreciation for music. I was really learning how to be a musician. There were lots of different things that motivated us at the time; we were poor, it was very DIY, self-sufficient, exploratory, dreamy, natural and still very much in that narco-hippie kind of phase. And it was comic and intelligent, all just a huge part of what we are now.
For tickets to the Pond show at the Great American Music Hall, please click here.
POND North American Tour Dates:
April 25 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall
April 27 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
April 28 - Seattle, WA - Neumos
April 29 - Vancouver, BC - Biltmore Cabaret
May 2 - St. Paul, MN - Turf Club
May 3 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
May 5 - Toronto, ON - Mod Club Theatre
May 7 - Cambridge, MA- The Sinclair (Grab tickets here)
May 9 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg (Grab tickets here)
May 10 - New York, NY- Bowery Ballroom
May 11 - Philadelphia, PA- Johnny Brenda's
May 12 - Washington, DC - Black Cat