Interview With POND's Nicholas Allbrook

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, April 18, 2017 01:47pm | Post a Comment


By Dominique Gomez
Photo by Matt Sav
This article also appears on DoTheBay

After almost two years of silence, Australian rock band POND has spawned their new album, The Pond, The WeatherWeather, releasing on May 5th, 2017. The whimsical and multicolored group has yet again brought their honest expertise to the table. Yet, the band twists expectations by fusing pop and semi-political messages into their mind-bending songwriting. Produced by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker, POND’s glam and glitzy rock tendencies are now fully embraced in The Weather, with touches of a younger POND’s jammy and experimental artistry.

Their first single, “Sweep Me Off My Feet,” was released in early October, giving audiences a taste of their bubble gum dance abilities. The song sheds awareness, challenging masculinity and the ideologies modern society holds as true beauty. Much earlier than planned, their second single, “30,000 Megatons,” was brought to us shortly after the world learned that the United States would soon be led by reality T.V. star and actual super villain of humanity, Donald Trump. Lastly, the album’s title track, “The Weather,” was released this spring.

Frontman and songwriter Nicholas Allbrook gave DoTheBay and Amoeba Music an early listen to their long-awaited album along with a quick phone call to discuss his master plan behind the scenes of the band’s music. If you find yourself weak at the knees after getting this sneak peek of The Weather, head over to the Great American Music Hall on Tuesday April 25th, 2017 to catch POND perform their newest work right before your eyes. Enter to win a pair of tickets to this show with DoTheBay HERE!

In some interviews that you’ve recently participated in, you mentioned that The Weather is a loosely political album. Your recent solo album Pure Gardiya contains similar elements. I wanted to know if writing The Weather as a political piece was your initial idea or the band’s as a whole?
I think it was more that the other guys, they sort of didn’t want to write any lyrics. They just like making chords. I like writing lots of lyrics, even when I don’t have music and stuff, so I end up doing all the words, usually. And I guess, I don’t know, we definitely didn’t all sit down and say, “Look guys, we’re going political,” or anything like that. It’s just, I suppose I... you’re always trying to be more honest in your self expression and the more I do that the more that sort of stuff is inevitably gonna come out. That’s just what I’m surrounded by and what most occupies my brain and my emotions and my country.

You must have put a lot of thought into collecting certain ideas and things you wanted to convey in the album. What main issues were you really trying to highlight?
I feel like a lot of musicians make really powerful statements. And the thing is, I’m just not, like, in the same position as a lot of people to actually make proper highlights of issues because the only thing I have true experiences of as a cis white boy is pretty much ignorance. It’s less highlighting issues instead of trying to point towards big resolutions. It’s like trying to make a point that it’s okay to just accept and listen, and accept that there are dark truths that could be reconciled in colonial culture and male culture, masculinity.

So are the songs placed in a certain order or did you guys just say, “This song would sound good after the other…”
Yeah, it is more of the later, actually. The musical flow of it all.

For sure. In “Edge of the world Pt. 2,” you had mentioned in the lyrics that you feel like you’re stranded. I’m assuming you’re talking about Australia as it’s literally an island. Could you imagine or would you prefer to live somewhere else other than Australia?
No, not at the moment. I think with that sequence of lyrics… I know, it’s really confusing isn’t it? (Laughs.) But with that sequence of lyrics, it’s a lot about... like, it’s a pretty popular feeling for young Australians. That feeling when you’re bigger… it’s cultural cringe. I don’t know if this is a phrase you use in America? I think it’s actually Randolph Stow that brought this… and he’s an Australian. But yeah, it’s this idea of cultural cringe where you feel like the place you grew up in is too backwards and stupid and philistine, and you gotta get out and do something massive and monumental, and you move all the way over to Melbourne and after all this you kind of come back to the realization of, “You’re not stranded at all.” (Laughs.) Everyone’s got their own shit to deal with and it’s not going to change with just getting out of a small town and moving to Berlin or something or New York. So yeah, I was being sarcastic, really. (Laughs.) Just a long way of saying that!

Okay, I see. Yeah, we definitely have that in America. I’m 23 and there’s so many people that feel that sort of way and they actually do move all the way to Melbourne and suddenly realize that everything is still fucked up, so whatever.
(Laughs.) Exactly!

Yes, cultural cringe, is a real thing. So, the song "A/B" is like jumping from chaos to beauty. Jumping from point A to point B. The words death and angel are used so closely to one another, could it be something about an experience with life and death? Would you mind elaborating on the song’s purpose at all?
Well, the first part is just like manic materialism, I suppose, and hyper stimulation. Like, just an onslaught of colorful, fantastical bullshit that’s kind of gross… like Bollinger or Virgin Airlines or breast augmentation in a furious cavalcade. The other side is about a girl who came up to me at a rural train station in Western Australia, like in the country. She started talking to me lots. She’d probably had an affair many years on meth, but she was talking about her children and um... she was really, really lovely. It stuck with me as some kind of end proactive art—desires or fantasies that you’re provided with in western culture. You know? The things that are placed up in front of you as desirable things and she was still kind of vaguely clinging to something like that.

It makes the song amazing hearing that. It’s beautiful.
Oh well, thank you!

Well, being an American and noticing you guys released “30,000 Megatons” on the day Trump became president—
Oh… yeah, god….

I was super happy that you guys did that because I thought, thank god other people are watching and taking it seriously—
Yeah man, I feel like America has always seemed so insular but now it really feels like even just pissy little things like a rock band from Australia saying something is like… you guys need something. I would want to know that if shit really, really went crazy, I would want to know that other people in other countries care. Like, if you had to runaway or you know, who knows! Fuck!

Yeah dude, it really… I cried on that day.
Of course...

I thought okay, that’s it, I’m moving to Australia! I need to get out of here! But thank you for doing that and I’m assuming that song it kind of… well, why that song? Why did you feel that particular song should be released when Trumps presidency was announced?
Well, that song has the most nihilistic side of me and that day when Donald Trump got elected it just seemed so bleak for a moment. That was kind of the sentiment of the song. Although it tries to be having some kind of humor in it, like trying to remember that it is just a fucked world. Just a vast collection of atoms that will expire.

Interesting, it is very true though. In an interview you and I did in the past, you mentioned how having a comical personality in music can be seen as low art to some people or not taken seriously, so to speak. When I listened to “All I Want For Xmas is a Tascam 388,” I found it funny because you guys are releasing a Christmas song in May! I wanted to know if this was a satire towards something or if you guys just really wanted a Tascam 388 for Christmas?
(Laughs.) Well, that was Joe’s song. He was making a little country album by himself ages ago and Jay was always telling him that that was the best song he’s ever written. Joe never took him seriously because the song is titled, “All I Want For Christmas is a Tascam 388,” but it finally got through to him and we were like, “No, seriously, man. This is actually the best song you’ve ever written!” For me, it has a lot of meaning. I find it a really beautiful song. It’s very pure and materialistic, which is hilarious and fun and honest.

I knew it was Joe’s song! I feel like I can figure out when each song is by a different person in the band. I’m assuming “Colder Than Ice” is by Jay, right?
Yeah! You’ve got it down! I bet you can tell the moment of at the end of “All I Want For Xmas is a Tascam 388,” the moment when it changes from being Joes song to Jays song because it suddenly turns into King Crimson meets Gwen Stefani. (Laughs.)

I like that. (Laughs.) I don’t think I’ve ever heard those two names put together before.
It’s an epic combo!

So, I’ve got a couple more questions. Veering away from the songs, I wanted to know about the album artwork and where it came from?
That is an old postcard from the early '80s advertising Perth as a place, an upcoming and upwardly mobile city, and its just fuckin' beautiful! The colors are incredible and it looks so plastic and gross and it’s also got the Western Australian sky.

It kind of reminded me of a Pink Floyd album, the colors and the placement of the people.
Yeah and the shaking hands guy on the front! I never thought about that, actually. I didn’t think about that until you just said it!

Any music video plans that we can look forward to?
Our friend Alejandro who’s in New York has been doing stuff with us for ages. He does visuals for MGMT. We’re all friends and he’s done a video for me and for POND and for Jay. He’s doing one for the next song we’re gonna put out.

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