We all missed the boat at this year’s Grammy Awards. While Prince’s remark “[that] like books and black lives, albums still matter” sent reverberations across political spheres, its chief call to reignite our passion for the album format fell on deaf ears.
Given the context, name-dropping Prince may seem out of place, but stay with me and the logic will come clear. You see, Pond have always played in the shadow of their more glamorous sister Tame Impala. Pond will never scalp a rock hit. Go ahead, choose a track of theirs and see if it sticks in the mind at first listen. Impossible.
But Pond’s existence justifies the saviour of the album. A wall of warm, beautifully twisted neon odysseys, the band’s latest LP carries you to alternate dimensions. A sonic hallucinogenic, ‘Man It Feels Like Again’ can only be created by those supposedly extinct – the characters, the mavericks.
”I’m in Perth now man,” begins Pond guitarist Joe Ryan. “I was living in Melbourne since Tame Impala started, but I’m back at home for a bit, just catching up with friends and family before we start Pond’s European tour, which begins in Dublin.”
There’s an unsettling familiarity to Joe’s accent, perhaps it’s the endless repeats of Home and Away I’ve sat through, but before I catch his Irish lilt in full flow he cuts in: “I was actually born in Nenagh, both of my parents are Irish. We moved over here when I was six and half so I never really shook off the accent… Yeah, us Irish are causing a bit of mayhem over here, ahh sure it’s just a bit of craic really – you can’t blame them for having a laugh.”
Pond have had two weeks to absorb the phenomenal critical response of their latest LP, but Joe is taking it all in his stride, “Well, I only heard from mam that the reviews have been positive. I try to stay away from critics and the likes.”
Looking back to the band’s early days sees Joe drawing parallels with the equally tongue in cheek Spinal Tap. “We used to be more of jam band, friends would come over to our house and just play out these long tracks.” Though fun, Joe explains that it was a largely unprogressive time for the band, “it just got a bit wearing to be teaching friends how to play instruments a certain way to achieve the sound we wanted.”
While jamming with some mates may sound inconspicuous, it was the spark that ignited Australia’s psychedelic renaissance. “The funny thing is that we all lived under the same roof. I mean everyone who is big in the Perth psych scene today lived together at one point.”
So what’s responsible for the outlandish sonic textures championed by band’s like Pond? “Perth is in the arsehole of nowhere, the closest city is in Indonesia – there’s fuck all to do here. I put the uniqueness and creativity of the whole scene down to our isolation.”
As Joe grabs as beer from the fridge we talk about the creation of ‘Man it Feels Like Space Again’, a process that one magazine stated was ‘cooked up while high on consumables.’ Given the nature of Pond’s scene it’s a claim the guitarist is used to. “All of us have been down that road when we were young and I guess it changes some part of your brain. Would we be able to make the same music today without trying drugs in the past? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t say drugs and creativity go hand in hand.”
“Our songwriting process became more defined when we stopped rotating the line-up,” Joe explains, “I think most of our shifts in sound are spontaneous, but consciously we are always pushing boundaries, moving further into uncharted territory; we want to create sounds that nobody has heard.”
The pace at which the Perth trio fashion sound is astonishing. Restricted by other commitments, Joe explains that their latest work was written before their previous LP ‘Hobo Rocket’: “We had just finished our Beard, Wives, Denim European tour and ‘Impala’s ‘Lonerism’ was coming out so we only had four days to record. I figured the songs we had written needed a bit more nourishing, so we completed ‘Hobo Rocket’ instead and waited for a two-week window for ‘It Feels Like Space’.” While it seems like comically short amount of time to prep an album so dense, Joe’s logic was simple: “Man, you have no idea how easily we get bored.”
Before our times runs out, I’m keen to hear about how Pond’s fantastically dense sound will translate into the intimate surrounding of Whelan’s. Ryan’s view is refreshingly frank. “Since we lost our bass player I was really shitting myself about that. Though played at Laneway Festival last week and I thought we killed it. Studio sounds and live stuff never really sound the same, but I think we’ve come pretty close.”
It’s irony in full flow. A bunch of guys who were once described by their frontman “as the ultimate rock’n’roll cliché” now carry the torch for the once beloved album. Who could have guessed that a dash of experimentation and a splash of eccentricity were the missing ingredients?
Pond play their first Irish gig at Whelan’s on February 19th