Western Australian psych-rockers POND are slowly taking over the world, one insane album at a time. Their latest efforts, Man, It Feels Like Space Again is no exception.
Although a bit more easy-listening than it’s predecessor from last year, Hobo Rocket, the band’s sixth studio album is just as weird and wonderful as you’d expect. We got to chat to Shiny JOE RYAN whilst on tour with Perth brothers TAME IMPALA ahead of their South American jaunt to get a bit of behind the scenes action before they return home for BEYOND THE VALLEY, LOST PARADISE, and LANEWAY FESTIVAL.
How are you, man? Where are you right now?
We’re in Los Angeles at the moment. We’ve just finished the American round of the TAME IMPALA tour, so we’ve got one more day before we head to Columbia!
You must be having some pretty crazy times – any tales from the road?
A couple, yeah! But what happens on tour stays on tour – I couldn’t tell you even if I wanted to!
You guys played a show on Halloween in LA with PETER BIBBY and DOCTOPUS, right? How was that? I saw some photos and it looked pretty insane!
Yeah it was great fun! That place was a lovely little venue, and it got pretty packed out that night.
Let’s talk the new album now – it sounds pretty unreal, but in saying that I’m pretty biased. Do you think this one sounds a bit easier to listen to in a way?
Than any other album we’ve made, I’d say that’s probably definitely true! It’s definitely a lot easier to listen to. The songs are a lot more accessible than any others we’ve done, especially Hobo Rocket. That whole thing was pretty crazy.
Was it a conscious decision to do it that way this time around?
No, it was more like we were going to do this album for ages. We just had a whole pile of other songs that didn’t have anywhere to go so we decided to do Hobo Rocket before Space Again so we could give Space Again a bit more of the time that I think it deserves. They’re everyone’s best songs that didn’t get into Hobo Rocket. Also I should mention, I just woke up so I’m not very articulate at the moment!
That’s okay! I was running late too, it’s raining here!
It’s pretty sunny here in LA, I’m gonna go get a margarita after this!
I feel like your inspirations and influences vary with each record; previously there was a bit of Prince and some Fleetwood Mac in there. What were you guys vibing this time around?
I guess everyone wrote their own songs, so everyone has their own influences. I guess I can hear some German Motorik stuff going on in a few songs… There is definitely a shit tonne more synthesizers going on so it’s a bit of early ROXY MUSIC stuff happening. I don’t know! It’s hard to pin it to one particular thing. It’s a nice mix, I think the album works very well with how it flows and what not. I guess it’s that kind of thing though, that we don’t stick to one genre. It’s hard to stick to genre for a song, let alone a whole album.
I read Nick’s description of the recording process of the album as, “some kind of multipurpose otter-tank/chimp-enclosure/dog-training facility with strobe lights.” I assume you’re fluent in Allbrook, so how DID you guys record this time to warrant that description?
Well, we recorded in this small studio in Smith Street in Melbourne, behind this pub called the Robert Byrnes. It’s just one room, so I guess we were all in the chimp and the otter enclosure or whatever. Especially after two weeks, I think I was about to lose my mind! We were fighting over silly things over the sound of a bass or a snare sound. Anyone would lose their mind in that way.
Is that how you guys normally record; all in one room together?
Yeah, I guess so. We haven’t been able to afford anything too plush so it’s usually in the one room. This time we just did like two or three instruments at a time, just to get the vibe, you know?
Does it affect your creative process that much anymore having a POND tour on, or a Tame Impala tour, and half the band being on the other side of the world for long periods of time? Or have you adjusted to it seeing as it happens all the time now?
Yeah, well, it’s definitely still hard to write or even consider writing a song when you’re on tour. It’s probably the most uncreative atmosphere you can get. Something about travelling around all the time playing music makes me not want to play music! I’d just be looking for other things to do in my off time like going for strange walks and stuff. I guess I played guitar the other night, and that was pretty fun just strumming through some ideas. Who knows though? I don’t know how anyone writes anymore.
Do you guys just call each other up and say, “Look, we’ve got two weeks here – let’s do this”?
Well, I don’t know. There is talk of recording next month but I don’t know how or where… Or when… Or what we’re going to record. It changes constantly. Everyone just writes their own songs and records their own demos and on the off chance we happen to be in the same place we’ll play each other a few songs. It’ll be like, “Oh, I like that chord progression,” or, “I like that thing you did there!” It all works together somehow. Everyone just does their own thing and brings what they want to the table.
You guys have done your fair share of festivals overseas, and now you’re coming home to do Laneway and Beyond The Valley – how do you think Australian festivals compare to overseas?
It depends. BIG DAY OUT was always a bit strange for me. I didn’t like that very much. Just the size of it and the punters, and the big shirtless blokes running around going, “Oi Jonno! Fuckin’ do a line off my cock!” I guess it’s a bit strange when compared to overseas.
They don’t have those guys overseas?
They do but I just can’t understand what they’re saying! I’m sure there are still those punters there, it’s just less obvious to me overseas!
Your sound morphs and changes with each record, so have you noticed your fan base changing too? Have you had any unlikely folk come up to you as you’ve gone along?
I’ve never really noticed, I guess. I think everyone’s a freak though, probably with me being the biggest freak next to Jay Watson. Halloween was pretty wild, and hell crazy, and I thought that was more normal than usual. If everyone dressed up all the time, it would make more sense.
You can make a POND dress code!
No normal clothes allowed.
Everyone has to dress up as cheerleaders, like you did!
Yeah! I finally know how it feels to have people looking up your dress!
So what’s still to come from you guys? You said there was talk of a new album…
It’s definitely going to happen. It’s just a matter of whether it’ll happen in the next three weeks or three months. I have a feeling it’ll just be a working progress; a week here and a week there. I’ve heard some of Jay‘s ideas for songs, and they’re pretty wild. I think we’re just going to go for a really fucked up album again, now that we’ve done the whole mature album with this one!
Then back to the craziness!
Let’s just go with more syntheziers. We’ll just buy heaps of them. They’re great!
Man, It Feels Like Space Again is out January 23 in Australia.
POND UPCOMING TOUR DATES:
30 Dec 2014 – 01 Jan 2015
Beyond The Valley, Phillip Island VIC
30 Dec 2014 – 01 Jan 2015
Lost Paradise, Glenworth Valley NSW
31 Jan 2015 – Laneway Festival
RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane QLD
1 Feb 2015 – Laneway Festival
Sydney College of Arts, Sydney NSW
6 Feb 2015 – Laneway Festival
Harts Mill, Port Adelaide, Adelaide SA
7 Feb 2015 – Laneway Festival
Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne VIC
8 Feb 2015 – Laneway Festival
Esplanade Reserve And West End, Fremantle WA
Words by Emma Jones.