It is 11:30 at night in Zurich and all five of Pond’s members have just arrived in the city. Nick Allbrook is sitting in his hotel room, talking slowly into the landline’s receiver. They’ve been touring for three months so far, promoting their seventh album, The Weather, and Allbrook describes the trek as “an endlessly fatiguing and endlessly rewarding thing.” Some nights, they’ll drunkenly toss around ideas about what they want to do next, but mostly, on tour, they don’t get much work done. They’ve been making music together for nine years now, though, so the rhythms of touring are familiar.
What he knows for sure is that, over the years, the band has become a smoother, smarter organism, a group of five friends who learn from each other. “It’s getting easier. We’re getting older and our egos are getting kind of shrunken,” Allbrook explains. When he, Jay Watson and Joe Ryan started Pond in 2008, they had ambitions about forming something truly collaborative, a “happy nonjudgmental” group without hierarchy. They disliked cliché band dynamics, in which battling egos and trivial arguments dominate, and they also disliked the hyper-masculine “cock rock” world and myths of male bonding that certain other all-male bands embraced.
All of them worked on other projects—a number of Pond’s members have belonged to the psychedelic band Tame Impala (and Tame Impala’s founder, Kevin Parker, produced The Weather). They wanted to experiment in different, more open-ended ways. But ambitious ideas about collaboration have long since taken a back seat to very real friendship, as the band expanded to include keyboardist Jamie Terry and drummer James Ireland.
“We really enjoy each others’ company and creativity,” says Allbrook. “We’re now helping each other move forward and trying to break down preconceptions about what sounds are good, what styles are worth embracing or listening to.” He continues, “If you have your preconceptions that you don’t waver from, it seems like a surefire way to get old and jaded really quickly.” The Weather, an amorphous, politically charged landscape of meditative and aggressive sounds, can lull its listeners into a sleepy trance, then abruptly wake them up. It’s cynical sometimes, but not jaded.
“That’s the thing with good friends in general,” says Allbrook, explaining that his bandmates help each other see the world differently and stay interested in experimenting. “So we don’t really give too much of a fuck about whether someone has a big role or not. Everyone just gets on with it.”