For all their nonchalant posturing and brash dismissal that the band initially crackled into life as a joke, Pond certainly aren’t keen on resting on their laurels, nor likely to fall victim to the proverbial pressure teetering on their shoulders recently. “I think I recognised the expectancy when the last album came out, I psyched myself out with that record. I think that what we lack in balance and songwriting talent, we make up for it in our, erm, character. I never used to be able to see that side of it”. With remarks like that, Jay Watson certainly seems to share the sentiments of his fellow band mates.
The band in the early days was pretty much a collage book
Impressing the hotel receptionist with my excruciatingly limited Portuguese, it is Watson, multi-instrumentalist of Tame Impala, Pond and GUM, that I share a hissing phone line with, resulting in a somewhat bellowed exchange, but his languorous temperament, at odds with a fierce work ethic, shines through from the outset. “The band in the early days was pretty much a collage book, which we never denied. In fact, there are actual songs where I could tell you who is responsible for them. We haven’t done that in a while, it’s more that there’s just a few touchstones”.
Within a month of Hobo Rocket’s completion, the band’s most unhinged flirt with bombast, Man, Feels Like Space Again had been stitched together with the introduction of woozy drum machines and blissful soundscapes – or so I’ve been told. Like much of Pond’s impulsive existence, the details are a little hazy, every proposal vulnerable to unpredictability, but a release date is tentatively mooted for the end of the year. Although Pond will have inevitably fleshed out another record in that time, Watson is steadfast in confidence that Man, Feels Like Space Again is their most assured body of work. “I honestly don’t think we’ve pushed it hard enough in the past, so it’s a lot different to the last one. It’s not dance music, but it’s got drum machines and synthesizers, which I really like”.
His passion for the forthcoming LP is tantalising, if a little revealing, hinting that, while Jay is gloriously laidback, I am chatting to a fiercely accomplished musician. “I guess the new one is slightly more mature, as you can appreciate the songs in greater detail”, he admits. “We did an album called Frond, which was mega glam-pop, and this one kind of sounds like that, but less…bad. We really focused on the sonics of it this time”.
I honestly don’t think we’ve pushed it hard enough in the past
And what of Hobo Rocket, the record that prompted Alex Turner to come a’knockin’ for last month’s Australian tour? “My beef with the last one was that I’d never feel like putting it on if I was just hanging out by myself, whereas the next one we’ve done, in the back of my mind, it sounds kind of lame, but we tried to make it more general. Not that it’s easy listening, it’s still kind of freaky, but you could put it on and make dinner or clean the kitchen or something, and it would still be really fun. I’d put Hobo Rocket on, or any of the older stuff, and I’d find it kind of annoying”, he laughs.
I’m keen to hear about their notorious live show, and the daunting translation of record to festival stage. Watson’s view on it, of course, is refreshingly throwaway. “Most bands would say, “Oh, it’s so important to keep that in mind”, but we think of it entirely separate. I think we’re most proud of keeping the spirit of the band serious in the fact that we want to knock people’s socks off”. He pauses. “But never that serious”, he chuckles. “Saying that, we are changing a bit. We definitely feel more ambitious now”.
While you would have to be feeling particularly brave to predict what Man, Feels Like Space Again will resemble upon its release later this year, it is bound to be a breathless examination of whichever genre the band have been savouring recently. “It sometimes works against us, because people think that it’s a defining statement, you know”, Jay Watson confesses. Little does he know, it only adds to Pond’s barmy appeal.
Buy: Pond – Hobo Rocket
Live: KOKO – June 10th