Australian Band Pond Brings Perth's Psych Rock to Denver | Westword

Australian Band Pond Brings Perth's Psych Rock to Denver

Pond, which shares close ties to Tame Impala, will be at the Ogden on Saturday.
Pond's Jamie Terry, left, and Joe Ryan get trippy on stage.
Pond's Jamie Terry, left, and Joe Ryan get trippy on stage. Courtesy Lachy Starling
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Perth, the Western Australia capital and biggest city in the otherwise bush-filled state, is home to 80 percent of the population. Despite 2.3 million people calling the greater metropolitan area home, Perth is fairly remote, sitting closer to Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta than Australia’s largest metropolis, Sydney.

But the isolated coastal post has recently become popular for an unlikely export — psych rock — thanks to a handful of international bands headlined by such acts as Tame Impala, Pond and Spacey Jane.

Without much influence from the outside world, there’s a lot of cross-pollination going on in the close-knit Perth scene. For example, the members of Tame Impala and Pond are all longtime friends and collaborators. Pond lead singer Nick Allbrook regularly handled bass and guitar live for Tame Impala from 2009 until 2013, when he decided to focus on Pond and his solo work. Then there is Pond co-founder Jay Watson, who still tours with Tame Impala as a multi-instrumentalist and backup vocalist. Tame Impala mastermind Kevin Parker also played drums for Pond from 2009 to 2011 and produced several of the band’s albums up until 2019.

Pond guitarist “Shiny” Joe Ryan, who currently oversees Tame Impala’s visuals, mentions a Christian Bale classic when talking about the relationship with his fellow Perth musicians. “I think it’s like American Psycho, like, ‘How did he get a reservation at this place?’” he says, referencing the competitive nature between the film’s materialistic characters. “No, I’m joking. We’re all mates. It’s always fun to bump into people on the road. It’s a small town, so some of my friends who do sound for Spacey Jane are also with Psychedelic Porn Crumpets,” another Perth group.

Pond and Psychedelic Porn Crumpets played the Shaky Knees festival in Atlanta earlier this month, sharing the bill on May 3. “It was like, ‘What are you blokes doing here?’” Ryan shares. “No, It’s a good scene. It’s a healthy scene. I think people are really supportive of each other and such. But in terms of ideas, I’m not giving them any bloody ideas. I’m keeping all of them for myself.”

The cheeky Irishman runs sound for a club back home called Mojo’s Bar, which allows him to keep his finger on the pulse of Perth’s psych rock. “It’s fantastic,” Ryan says, adding that the only “issue” for groups like Pond is that “we’re running out of venues” to play.

“But it’s really good to see the young bands coming through,” he continues. “They’re all very driven, pleasant and loving life. It’s quite infectious. It keeps you from becoming too jaded and weird, all these young, fresh-faced kids coming in excited about music. It just rubs off on you.”
click to enlarge five men pose in front of a fish-eye lens
Pond continues to put Perth on the map.
Courtesy Michael Tartaglia
Pond is currently stateside promoting its new album, Stung!, set to be released on June 21 via Spinning Top Records. The group, which also includes keys player Jamie Terry and drummer James "Gin" Ireland, is playing the Ogden Theatre on Saturday, May 11, with 26fix.

The band has already shared two singles, “Neon River” and “(I’m) Stung,” from its upcoming tenth album, which is a double LP and Pond’s longest offering to date at fourteen tracks. “It came quite organically, this album,” Ryan says. “We didn’t have to overthink too much or try too hard.”

Following the “classic Pond formula,” as Ryan calls it, each member brought a batch of songs to the table for the others to tweak and tinker with during a string of writing sessions at Watson’s home studio.

“It was quite interesting. We went every Wednesday over to Jay Watson’s garage studio for a couple hours and just knocked it out,” Ryan explains. “Then a friend of ours had a lovely studio about three and a half hours south of Perth, down in the bush, and we went down there for two weeks and tracked everything. It was a really, really nice time.”

The length wasn’t necessarily part of the overall scope, though. “It all just seemed to work out quite well,” he adds. “We didn’t plan it, but when we tallied up all the songs, it was like, ‘Sick, it’s a double album.’”

That just means that fans can expect an extra helping of Pond’s poppy psychedelia that draws from ’60s and ’70s rock. Ryan admits that while writing for Stung!, he was also listening to a lot of music by his fellow countrymen.

“A couple of mine, including the final track, are very Nick Cave-inspired,” he says of the Victoria native. “It’s a bit embarrassing, but I just discovered Nick Cave like three years ago, so it’s still quite fresh and exciting in my brain.”

Dirty Three, a Melbourne instrumental post-rock trio that includes Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds member Warren Ellis, also inspired Ryan, who is excited to catch the act on June 22, a day after Stung! comes out, in Perth.

But for now, Pond is focused on bringing the sound of Perth to America. “The new songs are sounding great. It’s been great to play,” he concludes. “I think everyone’s over their jet lag, too. By the time we get up to you guys, we’ll be in tip-top form.”

Pond, 8 p.m. Saturday, May 11, Ogden Theatre, 935 East Colfax Avenue. Tickets are $30.
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