POND have become one of Australia’s most popular exports, particularly when it’s come to the international festival circuit. Of course, being cut from the same cloth as Tame Impala has long driven much of the press surrounding the WA band but in recent years and over their last few albums, the Nick Allbrook led group has really stepped into a spotlight all its own.
While at Coachella this year, we sat down with Allbrook and Jay Watson to chat about touring abroad and their new album, The Weather.
Welcome to Coachella, second weekend! Is it weird, doing the same festival twice in a row? I guess with the Falls Festival and Laneway, it’s not much different.
Nick: No, the weirdness isn’t in doing it twice, the weirdness is in Coachella and festivals in general. When you step back from it and look at what is actually going on around you, it’s pretty fucking strange.
People here are not like people out of here, if that makes sense.
Nick: It’s a nation unto itself.
This is quite the iconic one, I guess. You’ve played quite a few of the iconic ones now – does that make any difference to the performance, though? Often with the more iconic ones, the crowds are shittier…
Jay: Our crowd was really good. I think the Tame shows have always been pretty epic and big. People seem less drunk and more stoned. They’re a bit less hectic at Coachella than at Glastonbury, where they’re rolling around in the mud with a litre of cider.
Nick: I swear it’s something to do with the inherit Englishness of England and all its colonies, like Australia. When we have festivals, we still get English drunk, which is fun, but it’s pretty trash.
I find it’s pretty hard to get drunk here because you sweat it out.
Nick: I don’t think people get as lary here as they would in Britain. You go and play T in the Park in Scotland and it’s just fucking bedlam.
It’s disgusting. I literally had someone just pour a cup of piss on me at that festival.
Nick: I think that happened to Kev [Parker] at maybe that festival. He got pissed on directly.
What?! Wow. Well anyway, it’s good to see you guys here, a week before you release your next record. How are you feeling going into this one? Is it number seven?
Jay: The first couple don’t really count, in our minds. (Laughs) Well they do, but I don’t know if you’ve heard them, but they’re cooked. It’s the fourth one that got released outside Australia.
Everywhere you go it’s like, ‘This is our fourth record in France, but it’s our seventh record in Australia’! I got to listen to it a few weeks ago and it’s an incredible record. Lyrically, impressive and musically, as good as ever. I liked the little Gina Rinehart mention as well, a big shout out there.
Nick: It was like 16 versions of me saying ‘Gina Rinehart’ at once. It was pretty funny.
She’s a big hearted woman.
Nick: She’s a giant, fat slug.
You were talking about colonisation and I think there’s a little bit of that that goes into this album; the idea of Australia as this colony off of the mother state…tell me a little bit about some of the themes behind The Weather and what inspired you this time around?
Nick: Well, I think it’s a bit more direct and honest. It might be a little less of the psychedelic whimsy.
There’s plenty of it, but do you mean that lyrically, it’s more direct?
Nick: It’s more honest. We grew up in a fairly sheltered, recent British colony and it just purveys the way we live and the way we think, for better or worse. That’s what it is, in the lyrics.
Getting on the bandwagon each time to make a record mustn’t be the easiest thing to co-ordinate – when do you know an album’s ready? You seem like someone who is always writing whether it’s for POND or for your own music, for GUM or for Tame – how do you know?
Jay: You don’t have much time together. We had a three-week period in January 2016 and then it’s whatever you come up with then, that’s it. Kevin took a year to mix it but he only really mixed it in the first and the last week of that year. You know it’s done because you can’t do any more. With the third album, we did it slowly over a year, but almost every record since then, we’ve done in under two or three weeks.
Do you think that’s been to the advantage of it? The music probably wouldn’t sound like it does, if it wasn’t.
Jay: It wouldn’t sound like it did then, if we did it now.
Nick: It’s a lot easier to do it like that than say, with me and Jay and Joe’s recordings that don’t get put into the POND basket, because you’re still flapping around your room not really knowing if it’s ready or not. With POND we make it easy because we all get together for a short period of time and it’s done.
Jay: That’s why it’s not hard any more to decide what project it’s for because it’s the best stuff you’ve got from those three weeks, give that a shot.
Working with a new label for this one as well, did that impact anything at all? You’ve got some good label mates now like Jagwar Ma, who are here as well.
Nick: They’re sick. How did it impact though…? Pass. We’ll leave them out of it. [Laughs]
Let the music speak for itself. With your performances, are you fitting in some of the new songs?
Nick: Yep, we’re playing four at the moment, I believe.
Are you enjoying playing the new ones?
Nick: Shit yeah, I love playing them. They’re great fun.
Jay: It’s nice playing them, knowing they’re a bit smarter and also a bit more immediate as well. It’s the best of both worlds. You know it’s a bit easier to groove to. You feel a bit better knowing they’re cleverer in lyrics and also arrangement and chords. You can enjoy it with your head and your hips.
And maybe even your heart!
Jay: Maybe even your heart.
So after Coachella, what’s next for you guys?
Jay: We’ve got another three weeks here, roughly, and then we have 10 days off. We go to Europe for holidays for 10 days and then we do a month in Europe. It’s a long time away from home. It’s the main touring [bout] for this record; I think we do a bit in Japan and Europe later in the year and then Australia for the summer.
It’s going to be a while before Australia hears The Weather live.
Jay: That’s always the way, you tour in the summer, you know? I don’t think I’ve had a winter in ten years. There’s been snippets here and there because it’s always touring over here or in Europe when the festival season is on. Hopefully Laneway will have us next year.
Nick: I don’t know if they’ll have me. Am I allowed to play Laneway again? That would make it five years in a row.
Jay: I think I did four years…
I really think they would have you every year. You just need to keep coming up with different pseudonyms.
Nick: They are seriously wanting to do the Nick Allbrook Award for Most Laneways Done…
Which would just go to Nick Allbrook.
Nick: Of course! I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Pond’s new album The Weather is released on May 5th.
The author travelled to Coachella from Australia via Honolulu with Hawaiian Airlines. For bookings and more details head to http://hawaiianair.com/