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November 2018
Feature

Pond: "It was a bleak time for Australia"

Pond return with ‘The Weather’; an album partially inspired by their sunny hometown, Perth.
Published: 8:27 am, May 03, 2017
Pond: "It was a bleak time for Australia"
“Even Jaden Smith is woke to the fact that your cells completely regrow every six years,” Nick Allbrook exclaims. Referring to a video for Vanity Fair in which the star dispenses pearls of wisdom such as “In an average lifetime human skin completely replaces itself 900 times,” and “Sharks have been around longer than trees,” Pond are highly attuned to how much the world is constantly altering around them. “Everything changes far too quickly,” the frontman affirms.

The universe that the group inhabit is one that's continuously shifting. Whether writing / recording / touring together as Pond, in Tame Impala, or as their individual projects, the only constant in their world seems to be their unrelenting creativity. “We all write music habitually whenever we've got time off," Nick states. “That's a thing we've all been doing for too long to really know how to stop." Building from vibrant sparks of inspiration, everything Pond create is richly layered and ripe for exploration.

“We all write on our own, and we communicate all the time what each of us are writing," the frontman details of their multi-faceted approach. “If there are gaps in things or we need input from someone else because it's fun, then we get them to do it." With the lines between creative outlets blurred, the music that emerges is as characteristically vast as the range of influences that trigger it. "Unless it's totally obviously something that is too…” Nick pauses. “…too much music for the alone times,” he grins, “then I think I pretty much just play whatever to the other guys."

Drawing on each other’s' feedback for everything they create, the result is as eclectic as it is richly structured. “If Jay's ears perk up at a certain thing then we might take that and do it in Pond," Nick laughs. “Unless there's something desperately batty and weird, that's pretty much it." With their new album, 'The Weather', the collective have taken something of a step back from the "batty" and "weird" that's always been an undercurrent of their music.

“It is less fantastical and whimsical," Nick comments. "Maybe I'm getting old," he laughs. "Maybe we're all getting old. Old and jaded." Whether it's through the wisdom that comes with age, the increasingly more harrowing and inescapable nature of the reality we live in, or something else entirely, Pond's latest effort is grounded in a sense of the innately familiar. “It's not talking about fantasy things anymore," Nick describes. “Outside of the fantasy, there are a lot of hard things happening," he mulls. “Maybe that just made the lyrics heavier."

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Recorded with Kevin Parker at his studio in Perth, perhaps the biggest inspiration for the album was the place that birthed it. “A lot of the album seems to focus thematically on the city that we all live in," Nick conveys. “Why would anyone possibly go to Perth unless you were mining or you were going for the weather?" And so the album name was born, a sweeping title for the shimmering appeal and concrete influences the album condenses.

Real life certainly had a striking influence on the record, but that isn't to say the music remains grounded. “We had Tony Abbott in power and stuff," Nick recalls the first time he heard a roughly demoed sketch for one of the album's tracks. "It was a bleak time for Australia. It felt grey. Melbourne felt grey." Against a monotonous backdrop, the band used their music as a vehicle of escape. “I'd just read somewhere that there was about 30000 megatonnes of nuclear weapons on the face of the earth..."

The resulting track - ‘30000 Megatonnes’ - twists and turns through a soundscape that wouldn't be out of place in an eighties stage musical about aliens. “We added to it a lot in production," Nick enthuses. “Kevin did lots of really cool things, like making the throbbing side chain part at the end, where it's like the whole mix gets sucked in by the kick drum." Bursting into a fit of giggles, he continues, “and he added the little birds at the end!”

Combining celestial sonics and very real influences with a wry sense of humour is how 'The Weather' was born. “There's stuff happening every day that's inspiring for different reasons," Nick asserts. “There's stuff from completely different angles that will always inevitably influence what's being made creatively." The result is a record that challenges the nature of where we stand carried along a tapestry of ethereal sounds shimmering as if from slightly beyond our plane.

It's fitting then that the album announcement arrived alongside 'Sweep Me Off My Feet', a bust of celestial escapism accompanied by a video seemingly ripped right out of stock footage heaven. "The sentiment of the desperately naive 'Sweep Me Off My Feet' worked well with stock advertising footage," Nick expresses. This very desperate questioning of the world around us runs ever present through 'The Weather' and its many varied sound constructions.

“The album's so ADD, and so all over the place," Nick alludes. "So we got to thinking that we may as well take that to its logical conclusion, and just put these two half songs together..." From its rough and rapidly ricocheting origins to the gentle piano-guided croons of its ending, 'A B' faces the dichotomy of the album head on. "They're both conceived in different ways," Nick explains of the track's two parts. ”We thought we should just mangle them together with tape and radio noises, taking the polarities of the album to an extreme at the middle."

It's this affinity for the extreme and the unpredictable that make Pond's music such a hard thing to define, even in their own terms. “Pond... doing... music... band...?" Nick offers in description of the new record, before laughing. "I don't know." Undefinable though it may be, the group's hopes for the record are much clearer cut. “I hope some people really get a kick out of it," Nick enthuses, "and that the people who don't get a kick out of it recognise that they don't have to, and they just do fine anyway."

“Or maybe they'll just go and do a little cover of all of our songs," the frontman speculates. "They can record them all in their basement, and get carried away and make their own songs. That'd be pretty gnarly." Releasing a new album in their ever-constant flow of creation, Pond sound at their most ambitious yet, and the future is anyone's guess. “The merry go round continues."

POND’s album ‘The Weather’ is out 5th May.




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