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Perth band Pond on their new album and the magic that keeps them together

WORDS BY TINA SUMMERS

“So many chance factors had to coagulate at the right time for us to be here that it’s actually too much of a head spin to think about sometimes… our shared but slightly divergent interests.”

Perth’s psychedelic super band Pond is back with its ninth — NINTH! — album, which has the very apt title 9. Long term fans of Pond’s genius sonic experimentations – not to mention the band’s amazingly weird and wacky videos, each of which is an art piece in itself – my excitement at the news of the new album was tempered by confusion and jealousy.


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How do you even make one finished project let alone nine? And a band is like a never-ending group assignment where everyone has to get along, and after nine albums how do you stay so cool and arty and!? Anyway, as an insanely jealous fan, I asked frontman Nick Allbrook some questions.

Could you tell us what ideas and inspirations guided you while putting together your new album 9

I’ve written a lot about the problems I see in the world – climate change and injustice and whatnot – but I kinda reached a point of overwhelm, where the accumulated global crises were so big, and politicians so stuffed that they didn’t need me to make fun of them. These problems speak for themselves, and so I focused on the minutiae of everyday life – the fruits ripening, the soles of shoes wearing, the toy rotting in a puddle.

I guess in that sense a lot of the album is about the microcosmic life that happens close by, which I couldn’t see before because of my comically oversized binocular-fish eye spectacles I donned while penning lyrics. Sonically we were trying to kick up the tempo and inspire me, at least, to do big rock ’n roll high kicks and yell “Muthafucka” or “Uh!!” like in ‘Enter Sandman‘. Aesthetically it was Reznor, Blade, The Matrix, Dusters and Godzilla.

Do you have a favourite track from the album and if so why? 

Shiiiiiiiit probably ‘Take Me Avalon’. Jesse Kotanski’s strings are unbelievable and he’s the same bloke who did ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’ by Aerosmith, my signature karaoke song. I’m pretty proud of the lyrics, too. I worked on them and refined them and they’re only just starting to peek through the mists (of Avalon, if you will) and show me how truly personal they are. It’s a me and Ginole tune, so there’s a paternal pride element too.

Can you share any funny anecdotes from the writing and recording of the album? 

The whip sound in ‘Pink Lunettes’ was done by Joe, with his whip, while he was drunk. He got some good ones, but then he copped himself a nasty one on the neck or face or something. One of those hilarious moments when you’re not allowed to laugh.

This is your ninth studio album and honestly, I’m impressed you’ve finished one because finishing stuff is hard. What’s your advice for the creative procrastinators? 

Start, no matter what. Even if, like me, you get tied up in knots thinking about how you’re gonna fuck it up. And collaborate, at any cost. It might be separate to your personal pet project, but just do it. For fun. That’s where the mystery forms and one of the secrets to our evolution bubbles, in the coming together of humans.

Bands are always splitting up. What’s the magic glue that’s held you together? 

This is really hard to answer. I still just love them. They’re my best mates and most respected collaborators. So many chance factors had to coagulate at the right time for us to be here that it’s actually too much of a head spin to think about sometimes… our shared but slightly divergent interests. That we hold different spaces in the group, we live in the same place, but are still fine if each other explore… It’s an infinitely complicated Venn diagram and in the end, there’s no explanation for the trickery behind true magic.

So much of what Pond does is fun and experimental and unexpected. How do you stay inspired and excited about making stuff?

I’m gonna try not to answer this too obliquely because the last question fulfils that hot air quota, so I’ll try make it tangible. We come up with the musical version of a thesis statement long before we start an album – like “We will make a J Dilla style lo-fi beats album from samples of our own past music” – and try to start from there. Usually, it’s just because a few of us are really into a certain sound or artist and we think it’d be a cool thing to try. Imitation is the highest form of respect.

But then inevitably there are a hundred deviations from each member, or non-member, that gets kinda mashed up into something brown and amorphous like a pond, funnily enough. And the more real but less interesting version – I just love to do it, and if I didn’t, I would stop immediately and move to something that I do. If there was nothing else inside music, creativity, work or life in general that inspired me, I would be dead.

Some of our readers are still in lockdown. Did you find lockdown a time for creativity? If so, any tips?  

I had an enormous burst of joyful creativity in the first week of lockdown, then after that I just had to set little tasks that I would sometimes honour – practice flute, write, play piano. Each had a similar trajectory to the Challenger disaster – up, across, then whistling down in flames – and I met their death just as NASA would, to build again until something stuck.

What are you looking forward to in 2022? 

Gardening, going back to the Kimberley, and playing this bloody album live hopefully!

What’s your advice to other young bands that look up to you? 

Follow the child. By that I mean you. The same person who loved a shoe so much they would DRAW the bloody thing over and over in a textbook, then next week be glued to a skateboard, then a football, then a guitar, and listen to albums so much they’d literally fall apart. I mean, I assume this still happens in the social media age, right? If not, shit I dunno, I’m stumped. And if you’re not young, follow the child, and by that I mean, shit changes and it is written in stone that you will NOT be right. Especially with art. Just because you don’t get it, doesn’t mean it’s bad. You are just getting old.

Pond’s new album 9 is out now. Listen to it here and keep up with the band here.

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