More about: Pond
After creating two of the most enriching albums that could ever bless your ears in 2018’s The Weather, and 2019’s Tasmania, Pond felt they had enough credit in the bank to create something pretty ragged and prickly. With their latest release 9 (out 1 October), they instead pay a small homage to their early-year albums Beard, Wives Denim and Psychedelic Mango while exploring new ground too.
We had the absolute pleasure of speaking to guitarist/frontman/entertainer/legend Nick Allbrook. Read on for talk on the upcoming album, Pond’s swanky new studio, Jamie Terry’s cooking skills, and much much more.
Gigwise: Hey dude how’s it going?
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Nick Allbrook: Hey man yeah, I’m good.
GW: One of the main things that intrigued me about 9 is how you guys went back to jamming as a method to spark ideas: did it feel quite natural to return to that way of creating music?
NA: It happened naturally, really naturally. There was a little time last year where everything felt a little naughty, but then things started to chill out.
GW: Were you able to hire a studio space in lockdown?
NA: Yeah, we’ve actually just started hiring out a space: the Pond studio called Dreamdust. We just set it up and put all of our shit in there, then lockdown happened. It was fortunate timing as we could kinda skulk down there and hang out once the personal paranoia had dried up. We could mate up, go down, have some tins, and have a lovely time.
GW: You said the Krautrock band Can were an influence on this album, particularly with the track ‘Czech Locomotive'. Where did that idea come from?
NA: I was writing about Emil Zátopek, this long-distance runner from Czech Republic, and his nickname was the Czech Locomotive. He’s got a very amazing, romantic, and inspiring story, and I wanted to write about it because he seemed like a badass and I really like him.
GW: Having listened to your lyrics so carefully in the past, links between the Autobahn, Krautrock and Locomotive would be believable too. There’s plenty examples of words carrying multiple connotations and phrases often having overlapping meaning.
NA: Things move in mysterious ways and it’s never black and white. Even from my end, something might start out with a fairly pointed meaning and then connections do happen, and even if they’re picked up by someone listening down the line it doesn’t make them false or anything.
That [connection] was also something I picked up on after we had started recording it. I wrote the lyrics before we started doing the music, and of course all the things that went on before him getting his nickname all sort of flowed into something that makes sense.
GW: Do you write a lot of the lyrics separate to the music: I know a lot of previous Pond songs were initially ideas individual band members brought forward, do you have a notebook of lyrics you accumulate?
NA: I used to do that a lot more, with Man It Feels Like Space Again, and I can’t really remember with The Weather or not, maybe actually with The Weather a little bit.
GW: Yeah, I can imagine with The Weather, especially on ‘The Edge of the World’: you’re so invested in the narrative of it that I imagine it's more than possible to write that without an instrumental for inspiration?
NA: Yeah, I think you’ve got it man that’s what happens. There’s no set formula. I’m glad you like that song, I actually quite like the lyrics to that song too.
GW: Obviously GUM is on tour with Tame Impala at the moment, does that mean you guys aren’t thinking about touring 9 in the near future?
NA: We’ll think about it when it begins to feel viable. It’s fucking hard especially when going back home to Australia...it's a giant pain in the ring, basically. We’ll start thinking about it when shit eases up a bit, which we’ve been saying for more than a year now but it’s starting to look slightly more realistic that it will ease [now].
GW: I know Kevin Parker has helped with mixing The Weather and Tasmania, but with so many stacked ideas and melodies did you still choose to mix this album in-house? I can imagine that’d be super difficult.
NA: Yeah, it was Gin and Gum. It was funny, it sorta got mixed while writing because the songs grew from very small seeds in the studio so you’re kinda mixing as you’re building things, whereas with other albums we’d come in with a fully complete song, bash it out then it’d have to be mixed. With this it was sorta as we were doing it really.
GW: So when you were jamming did you mic everyone up individually or did you just get one mic in a room and listen to the best ideas?
NA: No we had everyone mic'd up, that was definitely the point of doing these sort of improvisations: we wanted to get the magic bits. They can’t be imitated, that’s what’s good about them. We wanted to have a whole bunch of those magical moments to put on the record.
GW: I’m really intrigued to hear a bit more about Jamie Terry, from afar he feels like the most lowkey member of Pond and maybe doesn’t get too many headlines, I think he’s a really cool guy and an incredible musician, so yeah any random facts about Jamie Terry?
NA: (Laughs!) You reckon he’s a cool guy. (Laughs again). He’s a very good cook. He knows a lot about bitcoin. He’s a lovely man, he’s a very dedicated yogi. He’s actually really good at guitar: it’s really funny, in Pond Gum plays bass, which is my favourite instrument, I play guitar but Jamie is probably the best guitarist, Jamie plays keyboard but Ginola is definitely the best keyboardist, and Gum who plays bass is definitely the best drummer.
GW: I remember hearing an interview with you guys before saying it was actually intentional to all play instruments your perhaps less proficient with in order to generate new ideas.
NA: Yeah I mean it’s easy for someone like Gum to say because he’s fucking shit hot on every instrument but you know, he could just be like 'man I don’t fell like playing drums anymore' give me a go at bass and be like *chugs out funky bass riff*.
GW: One of the things I notice so much from footage of you guys is how much outboard gear you guys use, but you’re big fans of Ableton which feels like a little bit of a juxtaposition. Do you venture into some of the Ableton plugins & automation or is most stuff created externally and just captured in Ableton?
NA: Nah we’ll use fuck loads of automation, heaps of vsts and urm you know it just depends what works, sometimes you’ll bung on a midi piano, and you can eq and compress it enough to make it sound bang on, and sometimes you’ll use a fucking six-million-dollar dbx compressor and that’s what needs to be done. If something sounds a bit too clean then maybe we’ll whack it through a tape delay or something to crunch it up again, whatever needs to be done.
9 arrives 1 October via Spinning Top Records.
More about: Pond