Brag catches Pond frontman extraordinaire Nick Allbrook as he’s enjoying some relative downtime from his numerous musical outlets. He’s been popping up occasionally around his current base of Melbourne, hitting the stage in solo mode while three fifths of Pond are engaged with touring duties for Tame Impala – the outfit Nick recently departed. “Jamie [Terry] is asleep downstairs on the couch. The rest of the guys are in Brussels or something,” Allbrook says.
With such a busy and multi-faceted schedule over the past few years, the fact that the still-nascent Pond have managed to clock up five full-length releases, including new LP Hobo Rocket, is astounding. However, Allbrook self-deprecatingly dismisses the idea that they’re particularly prolific.
“The first couple of albums were pretty…eccentric,” he says. “A lot of veteran bands could just pop one out if they so desired. It’s just that we’re dumb. We decided that if we did something, it should be out anyway. I don’t feel like we’re that prolific, it’s just we have those stupid albums at the beginning.”
Hobo Rocket follows up last year’s Beard, Wives, Denim – Pond’s first release on Modular – and the band may well be primed for another quick-fire full-length release within the year. “We’ve recorded a whole bunch of stuff, we just need to figure out how and when and if we’ll put it out. Cam’s off with Tame Impala, and I’m in no rush to do it.”
Clocking in at a tidy seven tracks, Hobo Rocket is very much a focused musical statement. As Allbrook explains, it’s the result of a measured ethos. “You’ve definitely gotta cut yourself off, because it’s never finished. Otherwise you keep doing shit forever, refining it. Then your tastes change and ‘refined’ isn’t refined enough, or ‘refined’ is too refined so you have to re-refine it. Then once you’ve re-refined it you can do it all again. So someone at some point needs to come in and say, ‘Shut up and pull your finger out, and put [the record] out’. I guess there are certain tiers [of decision making], everybody’s got to call it a number of times before it’s actually ‘called’. I’m pretty good at it. Probably because I’m lazy, saying ‘I can’t be fucked, let’s move on.’ But there are also deadlines.”
One of the many excellent, intertwining projects to emerge from Western Australia in the past half decade, Pond stem from the primordial ooze of outfit Mink Russell Creek. “Mink Russell Creek is like the original band, and we stopped doing it ages ago. Well we didn’t really stop doing it, I suppose – there’s no quitting, we just did the one album. We could always play shows again, but it’s not really going in the usual sense. Most of the guys are in Perth, Kevin [Parker] is on tour, and there’s no particular reason to rehash the old songs.”
Throughout the concise tracklist of Hobo Rocket, we’re taken across a disparate array of mind-bending psychedelia – including a star turn from a Perth street performer in the title track. “It’s a sort of accumulation of Cowboy John’s lyrical musings, and he just came in and cut loose on the microphone.”
Allbrook says that Pond’s revisiting of a golden age of heavy and experimental rock wasn’t necessarily a conscious move. “I didn’t think it sounded like a vintage thing. There was all this different stuff we were listening to. Joe was probably listening to bloody Paul McCartney and Wings or something. Gum [AKA Jay Watson] was probably listening to ELO, then decided that ELO is too pussy, then listen to Chrome or something,” he laughs. “So it changes daily, with each person.”
Allbrook is very much the frontman of Pond, in contrast with his former role in Tame Impala. So what does he think makes a good frontman? “You’ve gotta be completely aware of your own stupidity for 40 minutes a day or something, that’s probably it. I got good at forgetting that I looked like a fool.”
As for his experience with Tame Impala, particularly during the runaway success of last year’s acclaimed Lonerism, Allbrook is philosophical. “I got to do stuff that no one else gets to do. That’s pretty cool. I saw the world in a way that nobody else gets to see it. I saw it from a different angle, a very privileged angle,” he says. “You learn what you learn, these little things stick to you as you go along. I swear I saw a Japanese game show where they have to run as far as you can with all this shit sticking to them, gradually picking up more and more. Maybe it was a dream, I dunno. But either way, that’s what life is like – a Japanese game show that I invented.”
BY LACHLAN KANONIUK
Hobo Rocket is out Friday August 2 through Modular.