Pond’s Nick Allbrook: ‘I Feel Pretty Soppy About Live Music At The Moment’

5 June 2024 | 1:45 pm | Anthony Carew

Nick Allbrook says of Pond's brand-new album 'Stung!', "It’s got some kind of hue. But I don't think I’m bold enough a music critic to try and lock it down."


Pond (Credit: Michael Tartaglia)

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“There's not gonna be a big reveal at the end of this album,” says Nick Allbrook, frontman of Perth psych-rockers Pond, in talking about the band’s tenth LP, Stung! “We're not King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard. We're not gonna suddenly drop it on everyone that you play all ten of them backwards and it syncs up to a William Gibson novel or something.”

16 years and ten albums into their career, Pond are still rattling on, still exploring. They may not work within conceptual framework, but eventually, Allbrook says, he works out what an album’s about. And, while Stung! may wear an exclamation in its title and have a funky step to its stride, he identifies it as a record filled with “isolation and loneliness and longing for [community]”.

“It’s about both community and loneliness,” Allbrook explains. “There's a lot of oscillating between, like, different feelings of loneliness and love and togetherness throughout the album. And the inevitable pain that comes with being alive and falling in love. But that we're all in it together as well. And that it’s wonderful, beautiful.”

In following up 2021’s 9, which landed in the ARIA Top Ten upon its release, the band did what they always do: following their noses, and songs wherever they go. Allbrook, Shiny Joe Ryan and Jay ‘Gum’ Watson all had a pile of ideas, which were developed “with each other in different permutations of the band, depending on who was free that afternoon”.

“We’d just been meeting up like once a week, pretty much, and kind of churning, grinding away,” Allbrook says. “But we've got such tiny little goldfish brains that we’d forget what was going on by the time we got to the next week.”

So, the band retreated “down South” to Yallingup in order to whip the songs into shape; to “hang out together and get a wider lens on what the album was.”

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So what was the album, musically? “I don’t know,” Allbrook offers. “It’s got some kind of hue. But I don't think I’m bold enough a music critic to try and lock it down. It’s pretty all over the place and kind of sprawling, which is good.”

Lyrically, though, Allbrook has a stronger take on it – its twin poles of community and loneliness remaining throughout. They’re both deeply personal and greater cultural ideas, echoing the increasing individualisation and isolation of the digital dystopia. “Inherent in capitalism, and the way we live is a siloing of the individual. That Fountainhead kind of ideology that people love to latch on to, fuckin worship,” Allbrook sighs.

In the middle is love: the desire for it and the reality of it. “It’s about the uncertainty of it, and the weird kind of dance that you have to do. Between you and another and another person, two infinitely complicated creatures,” he says. “Not just romantic, you know, it's friendship too. And love of the world and love of your own self. It's all really complicated and kind of scary. But you just go in, you just go in again and again and again and again. No matter how much this shit hurts and how terrifying it is, there's nothing wrong with sentimentality. And there's nothing wrong with stupidity.”

“So,” he continues, “as well as a lot of real horrible sadness and fear, I think I was also feeling this kind of new blooming happiness about the wider world and my friends and my community, my family and society and stuff outside of an individual relationship.”

Where Allbrook spent years refining demos and albums by himself, on the computer – thereby playing into the isolation of the era – he’s come out the other side. Boldened by a feeling of wonder at the very idea of live music, something that dawned on many waking from COVID’s protracted gig slumber, Allbrook is again seeking community through music-making. “Now, I crave collaboration. Taking a song and sending it down the water slide, where you don't know what's going on and where you’ll come out at the end,” he says.

“It’s also made me appreciate, way more, the live experience. I really feel pretty soppy about live music at the moment. Like, it is so special. Playing it myself is amazing, but just going to a rock show, I don't think I’ve ever appreciated as much as I do now.”

“So much of it,” he continues, “is that presence, that feeling, of community. But it’s so hard to articulate. And so vaporous, whatever that emotion is. There’s some sort of real primal monkey comfort in knowing that you’ve got a group of like-minded monkeys around you. It’s just so safe and good-feeling.”

With months of international touring on the horizon – in Europe with Barbagallo opening, across North America with Fazerdaze as support – Pond will be taking that good feeling out on the road. In foreign countries, Allbrook finds that listeners connect Pond with their pals Tame Impala and King Gizzard, and imagine that “Australia is like some sort of psych-rock wonderland”.

But Allbrook also experiences the “rare, weird” phenomenon of having people from the other side of the world are engaging with music he thinks of as quite personal. “It’s sort of inconceivable when you think about how many different people are interpreting, or listening to, some words I’ve written. But when you go out on tour, you see those people. That feels really big to me.”

Pond just played to huge audiences on a run opening for Queens Of The Stone Age. It found the band playing their most “rock songs”, with Allbrook summoning the “excessive energy” that is his familiar stage presence. Though some struggle with being the opener, Allbrook is all for it. “It's sick! Give me that gig,” he enthuses. “We play at, like, 7:30 for 40 minutes. And people are, at best, curious; at worst, disdainful that you're even there. Most people in the middle are just pretty chill. You just get your shit done. Low pressure. Early nights. It's really nice. You can be you can be at the pub having dinner by teatime, after you’ve clocked off.”

Stung! will be released on Friday, 21 June - you can pre-order/pre-save the album here. Pond will be performing at Vivid Sydney on Friday, 14 June. You can find more details about the show here.



​JUNE & JULY 2024

FRIDAY 14 JUNE – Carriageworks, VIVID | Sydney NSW (Not a Frontier Touring show – tickets here)

SATURDAY 15 JUNE - Altar | Hobart TAS

THURSDAY 27 JUNE - Lion Arts Factory | Adelaide SA

FRIDAY 28 JUNE - Northcote Theatre | Melbourne VIC

SATURDAY 29 JUNE - The Princess Theatre | Brisbane QLD

SATURDAY 6 JULY - Freo.Social | Fremantle WA

SATURDAY 20 JULY – Splendour In The Grass | Byron Bay NSW (Not a Frontier Touring show – tickets here)