Interview by Paul Salfen
Now in its tenth year, Pond has always been considered an offshoot or a sibling band to Tame Impala, but seven albums and a decade later, the group is well past the point of standing out on its own. For band leader Nick Allbrook, the multi-instrumentalist from Perth, Western Australia, it has been all one in the same.
He played guitar and synth for Tame Impala – and although Allbrook hasn’t toured with them in 5 years, drummer Jay Watson is listed as a current touring member, and former Pond member Kevin Parker still making all of the recorded music for Tame Impala and produced Pond’s latest album, The Weather, last year.
Calling from London, Allbrook recognizes the fact that that band hasn’t toured in a while and calls the jaunt so far “pretty chill.” Here he discusses where the band is with new music, the constant Tame Impala tags, and what life on the road is like right now.
AMFM Magazine: There’s so much music to choose from these days, so is it hard to cut it down to one set when planning out the current US tour?
Nick Allbrook: Yeah, it is, actually. There’s not much scope of playing around I hate to say because I guess we get sick of all of our songs pretty quick and maybe because we’re lazy, we kind of have to be fucked practicing them. Also, if you mess around with new things, it makes me really, really nervous. And you’ve kind of got one job: to play a good show, so I kind of get neurotic so I wear the same pair of shoes and not fuck around with the set list too much. It’s scary enough as it is standing in front of a shitload of people if you don’t know what you’re doing.
AMFM: Your bio is pretty hilarious. You’re listed as vocals/guitar/astronaut?
NA: Really? [Laughs]
AMFM: The other members have their instruments listed as normal plus Jay listed as “dad jokes,” Joseph listed as “actual spaceman,” and Jamie listed as “good vibes.” NA: Yeah, that is pretty accurate.
AMFM: I notice a recurring space theme.
NA: No, not in a straight up academic astronomical kind of way. Not it all. I guess the Man, It Feels Like Space Again [2015 album] thing isn’t in reference to outside of the earth’s atmosphere and the blackness of space.
AMFM: Well, you seem to have a great sense of humor: “2014 unveiled the full-formed POND and the Northern Hemisphere barely survived.”
NA: [Laughs] Yeah, it’s a big part of my life. It’s scary if people don’t have that in their life and it’s almost more scary if people deny that from their life because it’s almost like there’s an idea in the art world that humor denotes a lack of intellect or artistic integrity. If you’re taking the piss out of something you don’t believe it but I think that’s bullshit.
AMFM: Of course there’s all of the Tame Impala association out there, too.
NA: Yeah, and before Tame Impala, we were living together and making music together in other bands and we still get back from a massive tour and saying we’re sick of everyone and then it’s like, “Hey, do you want to hang out?” [Laughs]
AMFM: Or “psychedelic songsters all grown up.”
NA: I wish they didn’t peddle the psychedelic thing. I guess I’ll have to amend it.
AMFM: Then how would you describe it?
NA: Ah, shit. That’s not what I wanted to do. [Laughs]
AMFM: Just “art?”
NA: Yeah, yeah, it’s art. [Laughs]
AMFM: The band is often referred as an offshoot – but it’s a different thing. Is this a great association or frustrating like a successful older sibling referenced all of the time?
NA: No, that doesn’t frustrate me at all. We’ve got a shitload to do with Tame Impala and I love what Kevin does and we still all are super close. And I suppose we all form each other’s committees in a sense and the committees are attached and we’re all involved in each other’s stuff anyway, so it’s fair enough.
AMFM: Even though the album came out last year, fans are already waiting for more music. Is there even more in the works?
NA: Yeah, definitely.
AMFM: When will we hear it?
NA: Um, this year I’d say. We’ve done it, it’s just about getting it out there.
AMFM: We’ll hear some of that this week?
NA: Actually, no [Laughs]. I’m sorry. We can’t wait to play the new stuff and we just finished recording before I left for London so between finishing the actual album and we didn’t have time to rehearse the new stuff so giving The Weather a proper ride around the USA.
AMFM: You’ve got a lot of aspiring musicians looking up to you. What do you tell them?
NA: Oh, man. I don’t know. It’s hard to tell what to say. It’s hard to accept that people think you’re more qualified than they are. I suppose I usually say just be honest about yourself and keep trying. Because it doesn’t really happen suddenly. And if you’re looking for it to happen suddenly, you’re probably not looking for the right thing. You’ve got to really go through some shit to make things work, whether you’re starting a business or opening a restaurant, you’ve got to really push and be broke and be unappreciated. But if you love it, you keep going.
AMFM: Who was that artist for you?
NA: There’s a lot, hey. It’s hard to say exactly. There were a lot of local type things that blew my mind. Shit, it’s hard to say. When we first met and got on stage and got involved with The Flaming Lips, that really kicked me hard. MGMT were really, really supportive and human and wildly creative even though at the time they were massively famous and popular.
AMFM: Who do you think is doing it right?
NA: Ah, man, there’s a lot of shit I love. I really like Arca, Princess Nokia – I like a lot of the independent drill thing in the UK. They shirk having labels at all. Then there’s a lot of people like King Gizzard who started their own label and are unwaveringly honest. It’s not something I’m about to do [laughs]but I think it’s a great way of using the whole new paradigm of using promotion and recording and playing stuff to make something that wasn’t accessible until really recently like Soundcloud rap. It’s pretty amazing.
AMFM: You’ve got another trip to US ahead. Do you get out here at this point or do you feel like you’ve seen it all?
NA: When we’ve got time but the problem is that you’ve never got time. If I’ve got a day off, I’ll definitely try and get out and go to something. I don’t mean going to a gallery or museum, but a dirty bar or something like that.
AMFM: We’ve got plenty of those for you.
AMFM: Do you write on the road as well?
NA: It’s really hard but it does happen. But I guess most of the time you wake up and you’ve pretty much got to start driving and in the van, you pretty much read, listen to music, or listen to podcasts. Maybe fuck around on Ableton and make some cheesy trap bangers. Then we get to the place, load in, do a soundcheck, then there’s an hour or couple of hors and I usually find a bar, get a beer, come back and play and come back and get high and go to sleep. I’m 30. I’m well over the hill. It’s all about cups of tea and keeping yourself sane.
AMFM: It’s hard to do in your line of work.
NA: It is but making sure you get a good stretch is very important. [Laughs]
AMFM: It’s nice to hear you’re more responsible than most.
NA: There ain’t no out of date rock and roll decadence there. There’s no high god of rock and roll looking down making sure you fuck yourself up.
AMFM: Thank goodness.
NA: Yeah, and I hope every aspiring musician knows that.
AMFM: I know you’ve have the set ready to go but will we hear any surprises?
NA: Yeah, we’re gonna do some covers and reworkings of pop disco bangers. You’ll see. [Laughs]
Pond performs at Trees with Fascinator on Monday, May 14th Doors at 7pm, show at 8:30pm. $16. Tickets available at www.treesdallas.com.
Pond performs at White Oak Music Hall with Fascinator on Tuesday, May 15th. Doors at 8pm, show at 8:30pm. SOLD OUT
Pond performs at The Mohawk in Austin with Fascinator on Wed, May 16th. Doors at 6:30 Tickets $15 HERE.
For more information on Pond, go to www.pondband.net