Having just released their 6th studio LP Man It Feels Like Space Again, POND have set out to bring their brand of sweetly melodic, at times raw psychedelic rock, and ever interesting sounds on tour across the many festivals and venues that Ireland, the UK, and Europe has to offer. Ahead of their show tonight at Whelan’s, we spoke to Co. Tipperary expat Joe Ryan from the band about all things psychedelic, trips to Osaka’s jungle-like forests, and of course, Ronnie James Dio. Obviously.
What was the creative intent with Man It Feels Like Space Again? Considering it’s the 6th studio album, would you say it’s your most ambitious to date?
To be honest, I feel that every album we try to be as ambitious as possible, it just varies to the degree of our playing abilities at the time. I’d say that it probably is our most ambitious so far…and certainly, creatively, we strive to be moving forward all the time with every album.
…and the title?
Ha..I think I came up with it in Osaka, we were all over there, I was there with the Tame Impala boys just being their kind of crew/hype-man type thing/buddy and we were playing this festival and I might have been a little bit queer in the head. I may have eaten certain natural substances deemed by society to be “illegal” or whatever. I came back from this huge run, like, I went off into this huge jungle, or what seemed like a jungle to me, a forest, really, in Osaka, Japan, and just came back to the gig where the bus was and went up to the guys and said “man it feels like space again,” and they said “Jesus! Thats not a bad name for an album.” “Well if you think so,” I said, “remember it, because I certainly wont remember it…”
That’s a pretty good backstory for an album name, Joe….
The strange thing with us is we always have the album name before the album is even finished, until now really. We’ve started writing a new album and don’t have a title yet, which is very unlike us, so we’ll see what comes up next.
Another forest trip?
Ha..maybe, probably not though, getting a bit old for that craic now.
In terms of the music itself, easy comparisons are made to psychedelic, spacey rock music – the likes of Zappa, The Flaming Lips, etc. but what about your contemporaries? Is there anybody you’d say has had a direct impact on your evolving sound or the new record, now more so than before?
You know it’s strange, I kind of listen to what everyone else is, or really, what I hear them playing in terms of discovering new music. I’ll be on the bus drive and hear something that’s catchy and be like what’s this? you know? So everyone kind of has their own tastes that they bring to the table, what they like, but just as of recently, because we’re on tour at the moment and we’re here in Australia, I was at this festival – Laneway festival – and this guy Connan Moccasin was playing, he’s a New Zealand born lad and his style is so sick and I think if you were to see us live you’d see some of the bravado and guitar lines that are kind of indicative of his style.
You said earlier that you were on tour with the Tame Impala guys and I know that musically you’re all involved in projects like that in a collective, fluid manner, so is it difficult to then separate those projects or do you find that you merge the other aspects of your musical careers?
Well, yeah, it’s easy in the sense that when we have a song we know where it’s going to be directed, to which band. I’ll break it right down though, you know all these guys from all these bands – Allbrook and Avery, GUM, Tame Impala and just all of them, we’re just best friends and living in the middle of nowhere, we all just sort of got marooned in this big country town and it’s just what else do you do except this? And it doesn’t matter about the name of the band, its something we just do. We just sort of found each other really early in life and now we can just “ride the tiger,” to put it in the words of the late, great, Ronnie James Dio.
With this new record, because it’s so densely packed with different layers of sounds, and you all put a ton into it, is it difficult for you guys to arrange it for a live setting?
We used to be a five piece, it’s funny, it’s like Spinal Tap, when the drummers explode, instead we just lose bassists all the time and we have to keep trading up for new bassists. I think in the end we just thought there’s only four of us that write the songs really, the bassist was this other guy, a friend of ours of course, and we had great times and a good evolution of the band with him but at the moment we’ve dropped down to a four piece and we’re using tricks, so to speak, we’re not afraid of using technology so we’re able to pull off everything we’re doing and I think, live, we’re doing it really well.
So technology, electronics even, are becoming more relevant and something POND rely on, or are even willing to explore further?
Totally, I mean, it’s an incredible age of technology where someone can just sit at home and write an album and all of a sudden everyone can hear it. I don’t think it’s something to be afraid of and we certainly aren’t, if it makes our lives easier and though it’s not quite, like, conventional, as long as the people out front get the best possible experience then you can use whatever you want. Just embrace it, you know?
And what about this ethos in differing settings, for example, the studio, festivals or venues?
Well, they’re different things, recording in the studio and playing live and as stark as that, I think as long as people are digging it and we’re feeling the love at the shows, when we feel it on stage it doesn’t matter if it’s a big gig for a few thousand people outside or a small gig in front of a hundred or so people in Whelan’s or wherever, really. It’s all down to the people and they give us the energy to act the maggot and do what we do, or want to do. Soundwise, If I had to choose I’d prefer the indoor gigs because it’ll probably sound better because there’s no wind blowing and not a ton of speakers to work with.
You can catch POND this evening at Whelan’s as part of their wider European tour. Tickets are still available here and are priced at €19. Also available is the latest POND album, Man It Feels Like Space Again which is via Caroline International.