Pond, psychedelic rockers from Perth, Australia, stopped by Underground Arts as part of a short US tour following a tour in South America. Nick Allbrook, lead singer of the band, gave WQHS some behind-the-scenes insight in an interview prior to the show.
“Playing South America is usually pretty wild – something about Latin American countries – they’re super passionate, loud, and intense. When we were in Mexico and I was out in the crowd, someone stole my shoes and socks. I was crowd surfing and had this weird moment where I was pulling myself back to the stage and someone was pulling on my sock and I realized they weren’t letting go. I had the moment of like, ‘Fuck, should I have not gone in the crowd? They’re gonna take my clothes.’”
Sharing DNA with Tame Impala (frontman Nick Allbrook was a member of Tame Impala until 2013 and multi-instrumentalist Jay Watson is a member of both bands), the band started getting more attention after the release of their album Frond and an 8-show spell at SXSW in 2012.
“It was really fucking intense, we played eight shows in five days. It is kind of a commercial clusterfuck. It could be seen as the most disgusting imperialism of music you’ve ever seen in your life. But there’s also purity and amazing music, but next to a giant fucking Doritos vending machine. There was a rumor that Snoop Dogg was playing at the Doritos Stage, plus there were all these muscle bound Doritos men you could get photos with wearing Doritos hats and shit like that. It was like a sort of David Lynch hell.”
It’s the first cold night this fall, and coats are piled up on the barricade, flung over the edge of the stage, and tied around waists and shoulders. The show turns sweaty quickly, and Pond’s weighty guitar riffs seem to have their own gravitational pull as heads nod fiercely to their rhythms. Like a puppet master, Allbrook commands the crowd, wading through rows of fans as people clamor to approach him and reach a hand towards the stage in an effort to be physically closer to the music.
Projections flash on a hanging screen, the shifting and spinning patterns casting gentle light on the band’s faces. Jamie Terry on keys takes off his jacket, his white tank top becoming a canvas for pink and yellow geometric projections.
Someone tries to crowd surf, the sparse crowd supporting him for a minute before he crashes to the floor. A fight breaks out in the front row, ending with a bystander being punched and the offender being ejected from the venue. Missing Pond’s performance is a high price to pay (albeit fair) for a punch to a stranger.
The set ends, and Pond leaves for a minute before returning for an encore. Allbrook leans over the mic:
“I know everyone always does the encore,” he says, rolling his eyes caked with dark eyeshadow. “So, we’ll just call this the repriiiise,” he drawls, slinging his guitar strap over his shoulder.
They play “Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind.” It makes me wonder which songs were born out of momentary genius, lightning strikes of musical creativity, and which were the product of hard work and constant refining.
“It’s kind of hard to say how we write because it’s so unstructured. Sometimes it’s just – songs are really obvious – like you think of one thing off the top of your head and then go to actually play a chord to sing along with and then the whole thing is just completely obvious. You play it through and as you’re doing it you can just imagine all the little bits and the little drops that need to go in there. Sometimes it’s just completely clear as day, but sometimes it’s more of a hacking things out with other people and building it up. You don’t know if it’s gonna be good or not but sometimes that shit works and you can just build stuff. Not all valid works have to spring from some magical genius spot, sometimes you have to try and work and grind. You have to be shit and often fail. Cezanne wasn’t good at anything until he was like 80. Most people often only noticed the Jeff Buckleys that shit out genius. One isn’t always better than the other. Sometimes things sprout out and sometimes not, and in the end they can still be not as good as the ones you slog through and cry over and tear your hair out over.”