Pond is a bit of an offshoot of the popular Australian band Tame Impala: drummer Jay Watson is a member of both bands, while Pond frontman Nick Allbrook is a former Tame Impala member. However, where Tame Impala leans closer to an alternative pop sound, Pond stretches into the psychedelic realm. Their music is trippy, in the most beautiful way.
The group, founded in 2008 with seven albums to their credit, is a big name in their native Australia and have been making confident strides in America. Keyboardist Jamie Terry and guitarist Joe Ryan took a few minutes to paint a picture of what Pond is all about.
Dan MacIntosh (Songfacts): Have you written a song about Donald Trump?
Joe Ryan: Oh, maybe not overtly about him, but "30000 Megatons," the first thing we dropped and the first song on the new album, we let it loose on the eve of the inauguration.
Jamie Terry: It's a song we released on the day we found out he got voted in. It has sort of an apocalyptic scenario which seemed ever more present in light of that news, so we thought that it was appropriate to put that out. But it was all written before he was even in the running.
Joe: We mostly write about positive life things.
Jamie: We've got our own issues in Australia to deal with. A lot of this new record is about Australia, in Perth, which is where we're from. It's our place in the world.
Songfacts: Let's talk about the process of writing songs. Is there a process, or is it different every time?
Joe: It used to be that we'd just get together and jam in a room, but that's, like, seven albums ago. Nowadays, and it has been for the last couple of albums, Jay and myself will write our own songs. We all have our solo acts, as well, so when we come together after all these albums, we don't get too hurt when someone suggests tearing your song apart. And they don't get hurt when you tell them to fuck off.
Songfacts: (to Ryan) Are you the leader?
Joe: No, myself and those two guys over there (points), Nick [Allbrook] and Jay [Watson]. Nick, with the blue hair, is the frontman, and he can be seen as the endearing face of Pond.
Jamie: He does most of the lyrics, and I guess Jay does the majority of the music.
Songfacts: What do you guys contribute? Are you just along for the ride?
Joe: Well, maybe.
Jamie: Joe's like the George Harrison. He gets, like, two songs per album, and I just tag along.
Songfacts: I've heard a lot of different descriptions of your music, but is there a description you're most comfortable with?
Joe: What do you say, Jamie?
Jamie: That's a tough one, isn't it? I feel like it is evolving every record, as we grow up.
Joe: I usually say we're like David Bowie, but not anywhere near as good. We wanna be like David Bowie, but suck.
Songfacts: Have you ever covered a David Bowie song?
Joe: No, but if we did I'd love to do "Modern Love." That's, like, one of my favorite guitar bits.
Songfacts: How about you? [to Terry]
Jamie: Wow, there's so many good ones. I really like "Quicksand," off of Honky Dory.
Songfacts: You're going back to the vintage era [to Terry]. And you're going towards the more commercial stuff [to Ryan].
Joe: That's why Pond is the way it is. We all have different tastes.
Jamie: That ties into your question about our sound. Bands these days are getting less and less into individualized genres, and taking influence from anything an everywhere.
Songfacts: People can listen to more music. I'm kind of dating myself here, but I go back to the record era where getting into music cost money. I can remember buying albums based upon the album cover. "It looks like it's cool." And then being really disappointed by what I heard. But now, with the internet, it's wide open, right?
Joe: I still buy LPs after I've gone exploring. Check 'em out first, and if they're good, I'll go out and buy the record.
Songfacts: What's the new album called?
Jamie: It's called The Weather.
Joe: We just got a look at the vinyl the other day, and if you're a vinyl guy, it's very cool to hold. It's a nice cover. I like it.
Songfacts: So, is there a song on the album called "The Weather"?
Jamie: There is. We'll be playing that tomorrow. It's one of our favorite ones to play.
Songfacts: What's it about?
Jamie: It's about the aborigine folks who were dispossessed.
Songfacts: When you say that, it makes me think about Midnight Oil, which I heard, they were making a comeback. Is that right?
Jamie: Yeah, they're touring Australia as we speak.
Songfacts: They had to be at least somewhat of an influence, right?
Jamie: I don't think, like, a direct one.
Joe: I had their CDs when I was in high school. "King of the Mountain" [Off Blue Sky Mining].
Songfacts: Since this interview is for Songfacts, can you name maybe two or three songs that you're most proud of as a band.
Joe: I'd put "The Weather" in there because that always stirs up a bit of emotion.
Jamie: All the new ones in there. "The Weather" and "Sweep Me Off My Feet," which is where the music and the lyrics really came together. "The Edge of the World," we generally have one sort of opus, six-to-ten-minute song per album and this one is really the centerpiece of the album.
Songfacts: When I listen to your music and watch the videos, I hear a lot of psychedelic elements. Are you comfortable with that description? Is that a little too retro?
Joe: I like to think of it as more of a heady cocktail of genre spanning.
Jamie: We definitely hope to open people's minds.
Songfacts: The doors of perception.
Jamie: Yep. The psychedelic thing has gotten associated with, like, ten minutes of guitar noodling, but we definitely have been moving away from that version of psychedelic. But still, there's the sense that we want to make everything sound crazy and push ourselves and other people levels.
Songfacts: Do drugs play a part in the music?
Joe: I like to smoke a joint at home and play guitar. But during recording, we don't really have time. Maybe at home, with the conceiving of songs, we might smoke a joint and have a beer.
July 25, 2017