Perth psych troubadours, POND, are back with a new album, Tasmania, and an Australian tour to back it up, hot on the heels of a string of dates across the US. Around The Sound spoke to POND drummer and vocalist, Jay Watson as the band prepared for their show at The Astor Theatre on Sunday 3 March.
that’s the thing with POND, they really don’t go out of their way to be obtuse and different, it just happens. But that’s one of the reasons that they’re so likeable, so attractive to audiences and still feel so fresh even though they’re now eight albums in
We started by asking Watson how his day had been so far.
“I woke up and I played some tennis with some friends and I’ve just got home.”
Any good, we ask?
“It’s all relative, isn’t it? It depends who I’m playing.”
So, Watson’s playing his cards close to his chest tennis wise, but we have a sneaking suspicion he’d be pretty good.
About the life of the musician, Watson was more forthcoming, especially when it came to figuring out whether you’re any good. Speaking of POND’s new record, Tasmania, Watson offered these words of musical wisdom.
“I think we’re more comfortable these days at making music that sounds like us. There’s less deliberate references to other music. It's more influenced by us these days. The last album (The Weather) was the first time where we felt truly comfortable after it had come out and weren’t embarrassed by any of it. We felt like we’d represented ourselves truly. I mean, we’ve been making good music for a while now, I think that this is just accurately reflecting where we’re at now.”
Eight albums in and POND are just finding their sound, it seems. Perhaps that’s not surprising for a band that is known for its deliberate eclecticism and musical, if not personal, eccentricities. When you’re an outfit that seems to have the musical attention span of a kid who constantly forgets to take their ADD medication, departures from the road most travelled become the norm. And, as far as the critical and fan acclaim for POND goes, that’s no bad thing. But it does seem to have caused some conjecture among the band’s members.
“We were very insecure for years about whether we were any good at all. The biggest fear when you make music is to work out, if you heard it somewhere, whether you’d even like it or not. I think we’ve convinced ourselves that we have written some good songs now and we are a good live band. It doesn’t matter how many times other people tell you, it doesn’t really do any good unless you believe it yourself.”
“I think, in order to get good at something, a certain amount of thinking everything you do is rubbish is quite useful, because it keeps you trying to improve constantly. But, at a certain point, that kind of thinking wears you down. It’s a nice feeling now doing a couple of interviews and being able to stand by the record, instead of worrying if it’s any good while you’re doing the press interviews.”
At this point, I felt compelled to check whether Watson’s meaning it or just toeing the corporate line, again. He confirms that Tasmania is indeed all killer, no filler and the most POND record since The Weather. Now, that is a relief and, having had a sneaky listen to a pre-release copy (it’s on our record player right now), we can confirm that Watson’s judgment is bang on.
It’s must be tough being an artist and for every worrying whether you’re any good. Seriously! For lay people like us, it’s hard to fathom how you could be as enduringly good as POND and still question whether you’ve got it.
Asked about the live shows, Watson feels on safer ground. Reflecting on the band’s recent US tour, he told us, “It was long, about five weeks, we did lots of shows.
“We were supposed to have the record out by then but, we didn’t because there was supposed to be a song on there that had a sample on it that we couldn’t clear, so we had to take the song off and change all the art work and that pushed back the pressing of the vinyl. But it was good. We had a tour bus for the first time, which was pretty cool. We’ve had it for other bands, but POND’s never been able to afford one — we barely did this time! It just means that you get to sleep overnight and play even more shows and you don’t have to drive in the day time. And we got more sleep, so the shows were even better.”
“We’re playing some songs off the new record, we’re going to try to play about half the new album and we might do a few old ones we haven’t played in a while, which will be cool, because it will have just come out that day. We aim to play a couple of songs off each record and then a few weird old B-sides and weird old cuts. We don’t go out of the way to play an obtuse set, but ...”
And that’s the thing with POND, they really don’t go out of their way to be obtuse and different, it just happens. But that’s one of the reasons that they’re so likeable, so attractive to audiences and still feel so fresh even though they’re now eight albums into a pretty lengthy career.
It’s good to know that POND are sounding more like POND than ever before on their records these days and that their upcoming live shows promise to be just as high energy and dripping with trippy psych pop as ever, but don’t get too complacent.
“Tasmania is the first one (album) that’s similar to the last one, but I have a feeling that the next one will be a real left turn.”
It’s OK, Jay, we’d expect nothing less!
POND play The Astor Theatre on 3 March. Tickets at ticketek.com.au
Photo by Pooneh Ghana