January 2015 – Stream Pond’s new album, their sixth, Man, It Feels Like Space Again, and watch its four music videos. Cam Avery is no longer in Pond – he’s focusing on Tame Impala and The Growl, his band with Shiny Joe (both bands are confirmed to release albums in 2015). GUM also has a new album in the works. Preview Tame Impala’s third album – expected out within the next few months – here.
May 2014 – Mink Mussel Creek’s Mink Mussel Manticore, Shiny Joe Ryan’s The Cosmic Microwave Background, and GUM’s Delorean Highway will all be released on vinyl in June. More details and free downloads of tracks from each are here.
February 2014 – Cam Avery is also part of Kevin Parker’s newest side project, the disco funk group “Kevin Spacey.” Watch their live performances here.
Jay Watson and Nick Allbrook (vocals/ multi-instrumentalists), Joseph Ryan (bass/guitar/ vocals), Kevin Parker (drums, mastering), and Jamie Terry (keys) created one of 2012’s most fantastic explosions of psych: Pond’s breakthrough fourth album Beard, Wives, Denim. They quickly followed it with a slight change of roles – Parker mixing, Cam Avery on drums – and last summer’s heavier, but just as explosive Hobo Rocket. Now the band is set to issue their most ambitious record yet, plus several side projects. “They’ve just been piling up,” Allbrook told FasterLouder. In addition to Pond’s long-awaited Man, It Feels Like Space Again, there’s a “Shiny Joe Ryan” album recorded in 2011, Jay’s LP under his GUM alias, and an Allbrook/ Avery record with four-fifths of The Horrors. All are due out this year.
If you’re not sure why those name seem familiar it’s because Nick, Jay, Cam and Kevin have all toured the world in Tame Impala. Actually, Joe has too.
“Pond was just another band that me, Nick and Joe Ryan, who’s Tame Impala’s guitar tech, started around the same time [as Tame Impala],” Jay explained in issue 32 of Prog magazine. Both Tame Impala live and Pond in concert and on record feature the same core players, though they have separate identities and the members have different roles in each. At Tame Impala concerts Nick mostly played bass with Jay as the band’s original drummer whereas Nick sang and Jay played guitar in Pond. In 2012 Jay shifted to keyboards with Tame Impala with Julien Barbagallo replacing him behind the drum kit; and Cam filled Nick’s slot on bass since he abruptly left the band last May to focus on “various fucking awesome artistic spewings and endeavours.” Dominic Simper – a friend of Parker since their teens and his bandmate since their pre-Tame Impala group, The Dee Dee Dums – is the only principle member of Tame to have never played in Pond.
The biggest difference between Tame Impala and Pond though is the songwriting, both the style and the authorship. Joe explained to The Stool Pigeon, “Kevin writes pretty much all the Tame songs…Jay, Nick and I write all the Pond songs.” Jay elaborated to Glide, “I’m one of the main songwriters along with Nick and Joseph. And it’s pretty much split evenly, like I’ll write a song and Nick will sing it, or vice-versa, or we’ll both write a song and Joe will sing it. I don’t know, it’s far more collaborative [than Tame Impala].” To date the only Tame Impala album tracks not solely by Parker are “Apocalypse Dreams,” “Elephant” and the interlude after “The Bold Arrow of Time” – each by Parker and Watson. Likewise Kevin overdubbed almost all the parts on both Tame Impala’s LPs by himself (Jay’s keys on “Apocalypse Dreams” and “Elephant; drum’s on “Solitude is Bliss” and “The Bold Arrow of Time”; and guitar on the following interlude are a few exceptions).
Jay, Nick and Joe started Pond in 2008 as a counterpart to Tame Impala – and Parker’s heavy-hearted Tame Impala writing. “Not like a joke band,” Jay clarified in Prog, “but something like Ween or The Mighty Boosh. Then with each album we’ve been getting more serious. “Beard, Wives, Denim” was still pretty silly, but we’re not taking the piss anymore. In fact, we started getting embarrassed about the fact it was silly, so I had to remind myself about Frank Zappa, who had an entire career based on complete stupidity. But it was still really clever music at the same time.” Nick counters, “Band names and album titles and songwriting credits and all this business…it gives everyone really concrete definitions to grasp onto, which are probably false. I guess the easiest thing for people to wind their heads around would probably be to invent a new name to tag onto the whole gamete of shart that comes from our mob. Everything we do is a spin-off of something bigger, something probably too fun and pure to put a silly ol’ name to.”
Joe simplified the difference between the two bands: “Kevin likes to get everyone in Tame playing the correct riffs and chords, whereas Pond are loose as a mother bitch.”
In addition to most of the members touring with Tame Impala, Pond have been cranking out one album after another for several years. As far back as 2011 Jay explained to Faster Louder that the band’s next album was “already written [and] it’s called Man, It Feels Like Space Again. In Pond we like to do albums at a stupidly fast rate. We’ll probably release two a year for the next three or four years… I’m not sure if anyone listens to them!”
He wasn’t kidding about the pace. In 2012 they released acclaimed LP Beard, Wives, Denim and prepared for both a full length follow-up Man, It Feels Like Space Again and an EP called Hobo Rocket. That plan was soon scrapped as Pond “decided that because we’ve got so many songs that would take ages to unburden ourselves of, we’d just make an album [of the EP recordings] instead.” Joe explained to ToneDeaf, “we went to [Wasteland Studios] in Fremantle owned by the guys from Eskimo Joe and we did it in three nights. We think it’s going to have eight tracks in the end and it’s still going to be called Hobo Rocket.”
Nick confirmed to Uncut “the songs [on Hobo Rocket] were written after Man, It Feels Like Space Again and we got scared that if we waited too long we would be inconsolably bored with them by the time it came to doing them. So we figured to put them in an EP Then we decided the same thing about some more Space Again songs and then it turned into an album.” Jay added to Tone Deaf that Hobo Rocket was recorded before Space Again to take advantage of the Pond’s momentum as a touring unit. “We were going to do a really nice, beautiful orchestrated album [Space Again], but we figured we might as well capture the live band as we’ve been touring and then do that one. So that’s what Hobo Rocket is, the full on, manic acid rock one.”
Although the material for Man, It Feels Like Space Again was written first, they waited until after Hobo Rocket was released last August to record it. At that time Jay discussed with Prefix’s Dylan Tracy the decision to focus on Hobo Rocket at the expense of temporarily shelving Man, It Feels Like Space Again, as well as the difference between the two LPs:
“We haven’t put enough time into Man, It Feels Like Space Again – we want strings and tracks to be right… we wanted to do something more like evil, because, like, jam bands don’t really do that. But we wanted to do something heavy and psyched-out, because I feel like we kinda fell out of the last one – there were some parts that were kind of cutesy or goofy or “sunshine-goofy-kid” sort of thing. So, this one’s a bit of a darker one. And, of course, we failed by making it darker, like, overall, because they sound like goofy party songs. But some of them are darker, heavier, or freakier like “Midnight Mass” and “Aloneaflameaflower”… The end of “O Dharma” where it’s really blissed, spaced-out sound – that’s more of this one. It’s going to be really dreamy. It’ll sound something like Pond, but we’re just now exploring drum machines. Every time we try and do something really different, we sound off, and to do something properly different, you really have to “go for it,” you know? I think the same kind of juju will be there.”
With more time to overdub heavy textures for Man, It Feels Like Space Again, recording was finished soon after (according to last fall‘s Pond press bio). “We recorded over two weeks in September in this studio that’s kind of hitched behind the Robert Burns pub in Collingwood,” Joe explained to Rip It Up. “There’s no toilets in there, so every time you needed to go to the toilet you’d need to go into the pub and get a midi otherwise [you’d] feel a bit weird just using their facilities without buying anything…A lot of the songs [on Man It Feels Like Space Again] we’ve actually had for about a year, just floating around. We were going to put some of them on Hobo Rocket, but we decided it would be nice to wait until we had a studio and a bit of time to give them a proper look-in…It’s going to be interesting. There’s a lot of strange kind of ballads on there, a lot of synthesisers. It’s a different sound anyway from Hobo Rocket. I think in all my songs I was going for a Neil Young or a Guns N’ Roses sort of inspired sound. It was kind of interesting; all of my songs I got to sit with my keyboard and recreate string orchestras and stuff, which is fun. It doesn’t sound like a real orchestra, but it was interesting trying to think about all that weird, orchestral stuff.”
To add to this, in 2012 Jay recorded a debut album for a third band, his solo project GUM. “It’s more kind of super-honest, heartfelt, shoegaze-y music, I guess,” he revealed to Mess and Noise. “All these songs I wrote about being paranoid. [Laughs]… I finished the album but I’m gonna release it after this Pond record. There’s live videos of stuff. The album’s called Delorean Highway.” The title-track was originally teased by Jay and ToneDeaf in September of that year as:
“inspired by a dream Gum had of driving through the desert in the silver car from Back To The Future, before taking off into the night. In real life Gum can’t drive, but he has seen Back To The Future and does look a little bit like the Doc.”
Jay told Tone Deaf at the start of last year,”I tried to make it different, I did one album, and it was kind of 60s psychedelic stuff, and I didn’t just want to do that again and have it sound kind of like Pond and kind of like Tame Impala. So I tried to do a new kind of thing, and some of it sounds weirdly 80s. Not hi-fi 80s, lo-fi 80’s…There’s a Phil Collins cover on there; Phil Collins on acid, that’s what that sounds like.” In December 2013 a second taste of GUM was released, “Growin’ Up,” along with the first single from Shiny Joe Ryan’s debut album, The Cosmic Microwave Background. The latter was recorded in 2011 with Nick later adding drums and Kevin Parker mixing:
Last year Pond teased they were all going to release their solo albums on the same day. “Joe, the dude with the afro in Pond, me and him have decided we’re going to drop our albums at the same time on the same day,” Jay told Tone Deaf. “And Allbrook/Avery, Nick and Cam’s band [with four/fifths of The Horrors], it’s a three way competition…We’re going to have an online poll, me and Joe, ‘who’s album’s better and who’s more handsome’?”
Although the multi-release plan did not come to fruition, both debut albums – GUM’s Delorean Highway and Shiny Joe Ryan’s The Cosmic Microwave Background – are finally set to drop in 2014 after 2-3 years of delays, and the Allbrook/ Avery LP looks likely as well. There’s also the possibility of a series of “bootleg recordings of all kinds from gigs that happened years ago to now…All for free for everyone,” announced in December 2012 but yet to come.
As for Allbrook and Avery’s new album with The Horrors, Nick explained to NME that their guitarist/pianist Josh Hayward owed him a favor “because he threw a bag of pedals at my face in Australia once, the wanker, resulting in the collaborative effort between the Aussie duo and the self-described British ‘zombie punks’.” What’s more, Mink Mussel Creek – the band that pre-dated Pond and Tame Impala fronted by Nick Allbrook with Shiny Joe Ryan on guitar and Kevin Parker on drums – may finally get around to releasing Mink Mussel Manticore, their long-awaited debut album previously only available as a limited edition USB wristband. Additionally talk of Tame Impala’s highly-anticipated Lonerism follow-up is beginning to stir. In addition to all the above projects, Tame Impala and Kendrick Lamar reworked ‘Feels Like We Only Go Backwards’ for the Divergent soundtrack and Pond has contributed “Colouring The Streets” to the surfing documentary Spirit Of Askasha. Whatever the next twelve months bring, it will surely include some exciting releases from everybody’s favorite Aussie psych collective. Jay summed it up best last year to Tone Deaf: “We’re all just recording stuff, Pond records… and solo records and stuff. We’ve got nothing else to do; thanks to Tame Impala I don’t have to have a job, but I don’t want to waste my time.”