When it comes to Australian psychedelia, there can be no mistake: the scene revolves around a nexus of likeminded West Australians. And as the drummer and occasional guitarist for possibly Australia’s best current rock export Tame Impala, Jay Watson is at its very core. Yet, it’s as a multi-instrumentalist for sister band Pond, which shares multiple members with Tame Impala, that Jay can really unleash his psychedelic spirit. “We edit ourselves a bit,” he says, “but it’s more fun to leave in the rogue shit.”
Pond’s latest album Hobo Rocket is the result of that rogue shit. Flowing from dreamlike verses to intense guitar riffs, from space rock into ornate outros, it is as eclectic as it is unstructured. Yet somehow, it works. A particular highlight is the title track, with vocals supplied by Cowboy John, whom the liner notes describe as a “mystic, wanderer and eccentric”. Cowboy John’s mumbling about flying through the universe at twice the speed of light on a horse with wings go some way to encapsulating the album’s audacity and aural scope in words.
With the release of Hobo Rocket, Pond have now impressively pumped out five albums in the space of four years, a particularly notable achievement given the hectic touring schedules and endless side projects of the band’s main members. But despite the time demands, Jay makes no apologies for the rough and organic way in which Pond create their sound.
“It means we have to do Pond a bit half-arsed” he admits. “But if it was our only thing, and we were doing it professionally and touring constantly, we’d lose a bit of interest in it. A bit of our juju. Hobo Rocket wasn’t planned at all, but I think that’s what gives it that rogue charm”.
It’s those visceral and unplanned elements that separate Pond from Tame Impala, with Jay having a very idealised audience in mind.
“I think if I gave it to the eighteen or twenty-year-old version of me, and we played it in a car ride across town, the whole way, I would think it was pretty awesome… I think that’s the ideal. Having epiphanies in the suburbs.”
And just like his fantasy roadtrippers, Pond aren’t slowing down any time soon – their next album, Man It Feels Like Space Again, is due out before the end of the year. Plenty of planning for the new release is already underway.
“We’re recording it here in Melbourne in September. It’ll be by far our most epic album.”
With choral harmonies and strings already promised, it may well be a significant departure from expectations, but no doubt an album to look forward to in coming months.
Pond’s latest album Hobo Rocket is available on CD, Vinyl and iTunes now. The band will be appearing at The Falls Festival in Lorne, Marion Bay and Byron Bay over the New Year’s period. Tame Impala will be touring as part of the Big Day Out early next year. (Photo: Ben Hayes)
Bren Carruthers once received a sausage in bread from a Labor supporter on Election Day in 1996, but otherwise does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.