“We go on really intense flirtations with sound and aesthetics,” says Nick Allbrook, vocalist and occasional flautist with Pond. “Whenever I get some spare cash I’ll get hold of a record player and just buy a load of stuff I’ve never heard before. Gobble it up. Pond is the sound of us vomiting everything we consume.”
Pond evolved in 2008 from a collective of jamming musicians “living a free and frugal lifestyle” in Perth, Western Australia. “Perth is a giant transit lounge for miners digging great big holes in the ground,” says Allbrook. “Gradually, like-minded people joined the dots, came together at peoples’ houses or garages.”
Pond invite comparisons to various well-known and obscure rock, pop and funk bands – Flaming Lips, R. Stevie Moore, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Todd Rundgren, Animal Collective, Van Dyke Parks and Sly Stone among them. They’re often described as “psychedelic” but it’s a term Allbrook refutes. “The things we really enjoy are beautifully crafted – you can create more of a powerful effect that way. We wear studdy singlets and footy shorts and play footloose three-minute songs. Is that psychedelic?”
At one level, their latest album Man, It Feels Like Space Again evokes the hilarious spirit of players and listeners alike – diving head first into several generations of great black and white music. Live, they are a riot, though more internationally than domestically: “In South America, they’re just insane for it. Crazy, buckwild, passionate people. At festivals in England and Australia, it can sometimes be more like people are there to spend three days taking vast amounts of E and vomiting.”
Yet there is a structure and seriousness to Pond, who have described themselves as the “hardest-working lazy people on earth”. They may resemble slackers but the sheer love of their source material, and determination to hone down their output to a laser purity, means that theirs is a serious work ethic. From 2009’s debut Psychedelic Mango to 2013’s Hobo Rocket, they have come more and more into focus, looking to “get more in tune with ourselves – hit exactly what our pure personal expression is”. With Man, It Feels Like Space Again they’re coming closer still.
“I feel lazy as shit all the time,” confesses Allbrook, who once passed up the chance to jam with Can’s Damo Suzuki to spend a fortnight holidaying in Scotland. “And yet somehow stuff keeps coming out, keeps getting written. People ask how we find the time – but what else is there to do? It’s so pleasurable.”
Debauchery? On-the-road antics? “We get up to stuff, sure, but just as often we’ll go back to the hotel and have a cup of tea. Occasionally we might end up in some Sydney nightclub surrounded by coked-up rabble rousers… But seriously, I’d rather cut off my dick than be in places like that.”
Man, It Feels Like Space Again is out now on Caroline Records.
FOR FANS OF: THE FLAMING LIPS
As with Flaming Lips, Pond have a similar eclecticism belied by a sharp sense of what a pop song should be. Like the Lips, Pond aren’t afraid of appearing eccentric. But the Lips are just one of Pond’s many jumping off points. They’re voracious consumers, but create unique patterns from their influences.