It’s no secret that the Australian psychedelic scene is making major waves in the music world at the moment, and there’s no better band than POND that perfectly embody the unpredictability and eccentricity expressed throughout the genre.
Having begun in Fremantle as a collaborative project between members of Tame Impala and other local musicians, core members Nick Allbrook, ‘Shiny’ Joe Ryan, Jay Watson and Jamie Terry evolved the group from a weekend jam band into a formidable genre-bending musical entity, with albums such as 2012’s Beards Wives Denim and 2015’s Man, It Feels Like Space Again displaying influences from Black Sabbath to Outkast - often in the space of a single song.
Following the release of this year's synth-heavy politically charged album The Weather, POND are gearing up for an appearance at Splendour in the Grass this weekend and an Australian tour in September. With an arsenal of vintage instruments and effects at their disposal, we take a look at some of the gear used by Australia’s favourite psychonauts.
MID 1960'S FENDER MUSTANG
Lead singer and guitarist Nick Allbrook favours a battered Dakota Red Fender Mustang for both studio and live work with POND, adorned in colourful Japanese stickers and vintage wear and tear in true psych style. In a recent interview with Australian Guitar Magazine, Allbrook discussed his primary guitar and its use across The Weather, admitting he doesn’t know much about the instrument. “I always use an old Fender Mustang, I don't know how old, it's 60-something?," he said. "Is that possible, did they make them back then? Anyway, it's the only good guitar I've ever bought, it's lovely.”
MID 1960's EPIPHONE WILSHIRE
In the past year of touring for POND, Joe Ryan has been spotted slinging an original Epiphone Wilshire, a student guitar produced in America to profit off the rock and roll boom of the '60s. Hailing from around 1966, Ryan's Wilshire is worn and missing a tone knob through more than fifty years of use, and oozes out cool from every cavity.
While details are a little scarce on this one, it looks like Ryan’s Shoreline Gold Telecaster is a custom build, judging from the lack of a decal and the two circular string trees on the headstock of the guitar.
SQUIER J MASCIS JAZZMASTER
Supposedly received as a gift from the Dinosaur Jr. frontman at Coachella 2013, Jay Watson used a googly-eyed Squier J Mascis signature Jazzmaster when assuming guitar duties with POND, before being pinched by Tame Impala mastermind and bandmate Kevin Parker for use as a guitar synth controller for Currents.
1971 GIBSON SB-300
After years of switching between playing drums and guitar with POND, Watson has held down the low end of the band live and in the studio for the better part of a year now, using a 1971 Gibson SB-300 bass picked up last year while touring America with Tame Impala. Produced by Gibson for only two years in the early 70's, the SB-300 features two single coil pickups with corresponding on/off toggle switches, and comes in a natural walnut finish.
MID 1970’s FENDER MUSICMASTER
Before Watson bought his SB-300, a vintage blonde Fender Musicmaster was shared by the members of POND for live bass duties, featuring a shorter-scale and one single-coil pickup. Tame Impala live drummer Julien Barbagallo was often seen playing the instrument during his brief stint as POND’s live bass player in 2014.
FENDER SUPER REVERB
Allbrook primarily plays through a single 45 watt 4x10 Fender Super Reverb combo, with the black control panel on the amp indicating it was made by Fender some time between 1965-67.
Ryan uses a Vox AC30 combo when performing with POND.
AGUILAR TONE HAMMER 500 + AMPEG SVT410
While POND’s bass rig often changes in between tours, Watson has been paring a Aguilar Tone Hammer 500 head with an Ampeg SVT410 4x10” for a hefty low end thump.
Despite his taste for unconventional sonic textures, Allbrook manages to squeeze all of his sounds through a surprisingly small bunch of effects pedals. “There's not that much, there's a (Peppermint) fuzz, (EHX Memory Toy) delay, (BOSS Blues Driver) distortion and a (Diamond) vibrato," said Allbrook in an interview with Australian Guitar. "The main one that stands out actually is the BOSS Harmonist pedal that I use for octave jumps and stuff. And the Peppermint fuzz has a real strong gate on it, so when you do octave jumps and really gated high compression buzz, it sounds real computerised."
In contrast to Allbrook, Ryan tends to favour a more decked out pedalboard, using conventional effects such as a Dunlop Crybaby Wah and overdrive pedals with a Diamond Vibrato, Digitech Synth-Wah, EHX Mel-9 Mellotron Emulator and a EHX Superego Polyphonic Synth Engine to achieve the psychedelic synth-like guitar tones in ‘Don’t Look at the Sun or You’ll Go Blind.’
To replicate the myriad of synthesisers heard across The Weather, keyboardist Jamie Terry uses a monophonic Moog Sub Phatty 37 for bass sounds and a vintage Korg Poly-800 from 1983 for string and pad tones, while Watson uses a powerful Dave Smith Instruments Prophet 8 for the apocalyptic analogue squelch heard on '30,000 Megatons’.