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Pond on the Double

Nick Allbrook, frontman for Perth psych rockers Pond, talks going large on the band’s first ever double album


Michael Tartaglia

It’s the day after psychedelic rock band Pond have opened for US rock royalty Queens of the Stone Age in Sydney, and the Western Australian five-piece’s singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nick Allbrook has just done the most un-rock star thing imaginable: gone for a lengthy run.  

“I wanted to try and change the oil — we got a little bit pissed last night, so I need to flush the system,” says Allbrook with a laugh. “It’s tough, but you just gotta do it. I just tell myself it feels worse than this after the 30th kilometre of a marathon, so I may as well just do it.” 

Allbrook’s post-show hangover comes as little surprise when he reveals his pre-show ritual involves the time-honoured rock ‘n’ roll tradition of downing hard liquor before hitting the stage. 

“Before the show it’s just heaps of shit talking and a big cup of tequila and ice and some pineapple juice,” says Allbrook. “For a while I was really trying to do vocal warm ups. But I don’t think I know how to do them properly, so I just wore my voice out. And then I did the opposite thing, where I was trying to keep real quiet, and that didn’t work either. So I just gave up and now just employ the old tequila technique.”

A regular participant in marathons, Allbrook says his fitness regime, surprisingly, doesn’t assist much when it comes to gig stamina.  

“I still manage to puff myself out on stage,” he says. “I thought, ‘OK, surely if you can do a 50 to 60km race, then [a show] is going to be a piece of piss.’ But last night I was lying on the ground in the middle of the set, just feeling my lungs and heart pumping. Still, I’m from the Peter Garrett camp, which is if you’re not covered in sweat and fucked by the time you get off stage, then you haven’t really done your job.”  

Although they’re currently on the road with Josh Homme and co. (“They are so nice, just lovely, lovely guys”), Allbrook and the rest of Pond will be hitting the road throughout June and July to play headline shows in support of Stung!, the band’s first double album.  

“I don’t know what [a double album] even means in the streaming world, but I’ve been wanting to do this sort of [Fleetwood Mac album] Tusk, [Rolling Stones album] Exile on Main St. collective brain-dump album for ages,” says Allbrook. “Because they’re always my favourite albums, where there’s weird little interludes and a really wide variation of moods. And I guess in that Exile on Main St. way, [Stung! is] also a healing album as well.

“For the last couple of albums, we’ve been trying to nail down the ever-elusive aesthetically cohesive album, and I think we kind of did that with the last one [2021’s 9]. It all sounds like one album of nine songs, and every one is good. But I’ve always loved albums like The Love Below by André 3000 — stuff where there’s just all these little skits and there’s like a jazz song and there’s a couple of big bangers on there. And then there’s like, instrumental weirdness. It’s just my favourite thing — I get a real kick out of albums like that.” 

Despite music that can often feel bright and joyous, Allbrook admits there’s also a lot of “dumping all the horror and trauma into songs” when it comes to writing music for Pond.  

“On this album, there’s definitely a lot of moving through loneliness,” he says, singling out album track “Sunrise for The Lonely”, the first song that he wrote for the project. “There’s also the tried and tested Nick Allbrook tropes I use, for example ‘Constant Picnic’, which is about Australia, and not ever being able to be one with the land that we’re actually on, and just sort of importing a British way of thinking, eating and dressing. It’s that sort of stuff, but it’s pretty varied.”  

 Despite the heavy subject matter, Allbrook stresses that keeping Pond’s trademark weirdness and whimsy alive is also a crucial ingredient in the band’s creative process and overall identity. 

“Being filled with wonder and passion is so important to me, and that’s what the word ‘stung’ means to us,” explains Allbrook. “It’s kind of a dumb thing we always say. At first, we said ‘I’m stung’ to mean having a crush on someone, and then it just became, ‘I’m real stung by this restaurant,’ ‘man, I’m real stung by the trees in Sydney,’ or whatever. It just became a through-line for me that means keeping joy and wonder in your music and your life even through really, really tough and trying times, both personally and globally, I suppose. Because everything just seems to get harder and harder and more disconnected and you have to make more and more of an effort to be happy.”  

Now 10 albums into a career that began in 2008, Allbrook takes great pride in where Pond are at in 2024.  

“We’re enjoying ourselves more now that our teenage egos have settled down, the songs are better and the shows are better,” he says. “From sitting in a sharehouse we all lived in together, ripping cones and listening to Todd Rundgren, we’ve somehow managed to have somewhat of a career. 

“I’m proud that we’ve stuck through all the bullshit and all of the silliness and pressure. We’ve never had onstage walk offs, although it has definitely come close many, many times. No one’s become a junkie, although it’s come really close. And no one’s had a mental breakdown, even though it’s been pretty close. We’ve sort of just managed to keep our hands on the wheel and we’re all pretty solid for it, I think. 

“We’ve had a great run, man, what a dream come true. And we’re still great friends — I think that’s what I’m proud of the most.” 

Pond’s Stung! is out now via Spinning Top Records.

This article features in the June-August 2024 issue of Rolling Stone AU/NZ. If you’re eager to get your hands on it, then now is the time to sign up for a subscription.

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