A body of water is typically categorized by its expanse — ie, the vastness of the ocean, the length of a river. A pond implies a minuscule space, embodied by an unnerving sense of quiet save for a few ripples. Australia’s Pond, comprised of three of the members of sensational psych-rockers Tame Impala, takes said notion of water to greater depths, plunging into paisley imprinted psychedelia, thrashing distortion and a jam-band aesthetic that’s simply infectious.
We caught up with the band (and tour manager Jodie) right before their show at Amsterdam’s Paradiso and talked about monster burger eating challenges, recording on a farm, and David Lynch’s musical aspirations.
Beard, Wives, Denim is your first release on Modular. How was the recording process different for this album as opposed to say, Frond or Psychedelic Mango?
Nick: Psychedelic Mango was just done in our house that we shared, Joe and I lived there. Jay was sleeping on the couch like a total bum. We just decided we were going to make an album and do it by ourselves, with no expectation of anyone hearing it except for us. Thus we had no particular drive to make it better than the first thing we could do. Whereas Beard Wives Denim we had second, third takes and we did it live as a band, the first was me, Joe and Jay.
The new album was recorded on a farm in Western Australia. How do you think the record absorbed that particular environment?
Nick: It was inescapable.
Joe: We were on a farm, and access to the nearest town was only by car. So it was either recording music on this farm, with cows roaming around, or hiking to the beach, occasionally getting lifted to town. We were pretty secluded.
Nick: There was absolutely nothing to do except make music, because it was all of us in one tiny little place. You wake up, everyone’s there and you think, I guess we should record something today.
Yeah, there’s definitely an element of closeness that’s prevalent on the album.
Nick: Yeah. Definitely the notion of cabin fever too.
What is your creative process like? Do you go in to record with a fully realized idea or is it more improvised?
Nick: Me, Joe or Jay or a combination of any three or two of us write a full song, pretty much completely conceived. Then we go in and play it with the band, teach everyone else everything. With a process with Beard, Wives, Denim, though, you get times when you got a little spot missing and you can whack on three minutes at the end of the song, do something fun. That’s the creative process. Joe writes a song, I write lyrics, Jay writes lyrics, mush ‘em together. Or Joe comes back with a full song, then we jam with everyone.
How do you think Pond has evolved since you first started to record?
Joe: We couldn’t really play our instruments that well back in those days. It’d be totally a vibe thing, very shaky instruments with people dancing all around stage. Eventually we decided that the songs that we wanted to do needed a particular lineup, and people who could actually remember all the parts. It became more focused. We wanted to play really good songs and that where we’re at now. Trying to get good.
What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you on tour?
Nick: Touring isn’t particularly strange, I mean it’s weird if you’re in it. It’s just weird, the whole concept of being in a rock and roll band and you know, getting a little tassel around your wrist, free dinner. It’s a fucked up concept in itself…
Jodie: Wait, I’ve got a good one! What about the time when Cam ate the monster burger?
Joe: Oh yeah. Cam ate the “monster burger” in Brighton. It said on the menu that if you could eat it within fifteen minutes, it’s free. Cam said I can do that no problem, he was talking it up. We asked the waiter about it and he said, “Oh no one’s ever done before. People have tried, but no one’s finished it within fifteen minutes.” So we thought, it’s on. And he did it!
Cameron: First person ever. Saved 15 quid on that burger. And random people were gathering around us in this quaint English pub, standing on the sides and screaming “YEAHHH!” as I finished it.
Jay: Got his photo on the wall too.
Have you watched Man vs. Food?
Ridiculous. My favorite episode is when he tries to eat the six pound burrito.
Jay: Six pounds?
Cameron: Jesus, and that was just a one pound burger.
Joe: Augh, can you imagine the cheese on that thing?
What have each of you been listening to lately?
Nick: Crazy Clown Town by David Lynch. It’s fucking awesome. Man, you would be surprised. It’s incredibly accomplished, but exactly like you would imagine. Really weird.
Haven’t heard, but I imagine it would be something like the Twin Peaks of music.
Nick: Yeah exactly! Just very melodic, groovy, fucked up.
Jay: There’s always a lot of AC/DC on tour.
Joe: Makes you excited to play guitar.
Cameron: Jay can actually play every single AC/DC song.
Awesome. What’s your favorite?
Nick: I reckon my favorite’s “High Voltage.”
What’s a record you wish you would have made?
Cameron: Bone Machine by Tom Waits.
Jay: Beck’s Sea Change. Wish I would have made that.
Joe: Working Man’s Dead.
Nick: I feel pretty…augh…
Cameron: White Light/White Heat?
Jay: No wait, Ziggy Stardust!
Nick: White Light/White Heat I feel like I could have made if I was in the right situation. I reckon maybe Heroes. If I was involved in the making of Heroes in any way, or Another Green World by Brian Eno.
Joe: I feel like mine’s a bit limp now, maybe I should change mine.
Nick: Don’t leave Jerry hanging!
Jay: Jerry’s the man, he can never hang too low.
Very true. What’s next after this tour?
Nick: Holiday and a couple of weeks off, then recording another album. The Tame Impala tour after that.
Joe: Maybe a whiskey tour around Scotland in between.
Nick: Oh yeah. Me and Joe have this plan to go roam around Scotland. Get our mouths punished by some fearsome, epiphanous whiskey.