Holy Fuck interviews POND's Nick Allbrook to celebrate their new collab, Free Gloss
The cross-continental collaboration is apart of Holy Fuck's forthcoming new record Deleter, out January 17th.
It's hard to find two cult-adored musical bands that thrive on experimentation as much as Holy Fuck and POND. The former are long-time favourites that have helped defined Canada's electronic market this millenium, with albums stretching back to their self-titled 2005 debut establishing the band as a chaotic source of frenzied indie-electronica; flashing synth darting at an incomparable immediacy that, as we've found over their long career, is amongst the genre's most spectacular.
POND, meanwhile, are a band that need no introduction to the Australian audience. Led by Nick Allbrook, the Fremantle-born outfit have become a go-to for euphoric psych-rock-funk journeys across the years, whether it's in their recorded work - their last record, this year's Tasmania, was amongst their best - or on the live stage, where the West Australian group have come to play everything from Splendour In The Grass to Laneway Festival; leaving a trail of confetti-blasted psychedelic brilliance no matter where they go.
It makes sense, then, for the two parties to come together, something they're at last doing with the release of Holy Fuck's latest single, Free Gloss. Featuring Nick Allbrook on vocals, the track is a spiralling intersection of the class we'd expect from both acts over the years, with the Toronto outfit creating a frenzy of lasering synth and clunky percussion for Allbrook's vocal to float in between, leaving a certain, distinct haziness we've come to expect - and love - from the musician no matter what form he's taking.
"We're very excited to have Nick's contribution to this song and knew that his voice would go well on this track," Holy Fuck say on the single, before summarising it all together perfectly: "It's ethereal, yet steady and grounding, he helps to provide the calm needed in the middle of a trippy storm. A welcomed departure guiding you into the ether before everything comes cascading back in waves." It's pummeling and thick - maximalist at its most hectic and ferocious moments - yet Nick keeps everything in line; his vocal the floating element that brings it all together and settles the track back to earth.
Following on from the Alexis Taylor (Hot Chip)-assisted single Luxe earlier this year, Free Gloss is the second taste of Holy Fuck's forthcoming new record Deleter, scheduled to arrive on January 17th via LAST GANG / AWAL. In the meantime, however, to celebrate the coming together of two of the world's most spectacular and adventurous musicians, we got Holy Fuck to interview Nick Allbrook. The result, is a great chat on collaboration, being in the public persona, and annoying the shit out of Tame Impala on tour. Dive into it all below, alongside the video for Free Gloss:
Hey Nick, thanks for singing on Free Gloss. Have you ever been asked to collaborate with other artists in a similar capacity? What were those experiences like?
Yeah i've sung and played some flute on a few things. Its always real fun, especially when i get to write some words and be free with the singing. The last one was by another Canadian, this disco producer Nicolaas. That was super fun coz i never produce cold hard disco bangers, as much as i'd love to.
I suppose we should thank technology for helping make this happen. Though we did initially meet in Toronto and had plans to record together in the end we had to resort to the ol' internet. We sent the track and some time later you sent us a bunch of vocal files. How does the role of technology play into the songwriting of Pond, thematically in the lyric or in the recording process?
We can share ideas in their most nascent form. Even just whip over a song we're loving and want the others to be on the same page. We send each other demos, fuck with them, send them back, etc. That's how a lot of our writing happens coz its dam hard to find time to sit around a piano like Leiber and Stoller.
There was a wild story you told us about an experience you had while on the way to the studio to record your vocals. Can you tell us about? Did it influence the lyrics?
It did influence the lyrics! Completely! But that was on the other song that you didn't use my vocals for which I'm totally not upset about and didn't even remotely develop a crippling rejection complex over! HA HA HA. Nah jokes. I was walking along Mare Street in London to the studio and this very thin unwell looking bloke was losing his shit at everyone and everything around him and when i came near he started screaming at me saying "why won't anyone talk to me!?" with such agony and desperation. So I stopped and talked to him and he quickly calmed down and just told me his situation. He went from being the scary guy to being a lovely person in a few seconds. All he needed was for someone to actually notice he was there. I gave him some cash and he gave me his email address so we could chat more. It just made me think a lot about the feeling of being invisible, but surrounded by so many people, and how agonising that must be for so many people for so many different reasons. Everyone just wants to be seen.
As a band we are rarely asked to interview another band. Our gut instinct was to take the piss and make this more obtuse but were advised to keep the questions 'more conversational'. So first, how are you? How's life in the Pond? That sounds pretty conversational. But really, I'm feeling there's a current idea that artists should also play the role of their own publicists, engage on social media and do a lot of what would have been done before by PR people or some other part of the entertainment biz. How do you react with this expectation? Do you enjoy the public persona that it allows or would you prefer to be more private, more elusive? Is it an important part of the artistic process or would you rather just focus on the music?
Good! Feeling fine. It's hot as fuck here. I honestly HATE having to play my own publicist, but luckily i don't have to do it so much. People hold the fort, and then all I rly do is log onto Instagram before anything significant happens and say "oi, this exists" then promptly delete it from my phone so I don't get sucked into the maelstrom of shit plastic and self-doubt and have to jump in front of a train or something. BUT, in saying that, I do enjoy the independence it grants artists, kinda flattening the industry and levelling the playing field in that regard. That's cool. I guess I'm just old and getting sensitive to things being icky and vacuous. I feel like we don't have enough time left with nature and love and I'm so capable of falling headfirst into a social media spiral so I kinda have to steer clear. That being said, I've done Instagram live twice this year and it was a laugh. People are completely fucked and hilarious and I love them.
Most of us in Holy Fuck are from Canada, and geographically speaking, our country shares some similarities with Australia. The vast expanse of land, with only a few major cities spread very far apart. As a band who makes records and wants to play shows, is there an urgency to escape, and try to find audiences elsewhere? Did you make that a band goal? Of course, there are bands in Canada who only tour and have audiences in Canada, but the US is right below us, so there's it's always a goal to try and play down there, or get to Europe. Australia is even further isolated though, so, how did you do it?
I have no fucking idea. Got a label in Australia, shows in London and USA and everyone seemed to like it so we went back. That was what it looked like from my hazy 20 yr old bubble haha but I'm sure there was a shitload more work going on that I wasn't helping with, telling everyone we're hot shit and they're wildest dreams will come true if they let buy our music etc. But before our manager discovered us I genuinely had no clue that there was a wider world waiting to consume what we produced. It wasn't 'unbelievable' because I couldn't even think of it. But, yeah, Australia does have a pretty huge complex about legitimising itself through the eyes of distant, and supposedly more cultured places. That's why we're always buzzing around London and Berlin and New York and stuff, because of the 'cultural cringe' and the feeling that your art, work, or even your self, will be worth nothing if it doesn't get off this burning iron slab and into a brownstone.
You've released LP6, and we're releasing LP5. As you move forward as a musician and songwriter, how are you always conscious of trying new things or bringing something new to the table?
Everything moves so fast these days, and trying to engage listeners and cut through all the noise (pun intended?) is getting more difficult. There's can be pressure to really shake things up when you make new music. Do you feel that? Sometimes we think internally that we're reinventing ourselves, but to the outside listener, it's still the same old thing.
Is there a certain way you find your music 'misrepresented'? Are you tired of answering certain kinds of questions?
I did, a few years ago, I think. I started getting very anxious about our perceived "retro-rock"ness, because I wasn't listening to anything remotely resembling that. So I pushed quite hard to make things more, I dunno, new? But I'm really leaving that anxiety behind and trying to focus on actually enjoying music in the moment. Even just listening to LPs again, buying them, playing piano alone and, most importantly, actually playing with my bandmates! Fucking up, trying again, playing horrendous 30-minute funk jams that sound like a sort of narcoleptic No Doubt - no, drunk no doubt...like really, really fucked up drunk where they can't plug in their instruments. Fun stuff. I don't know if that answers your question but I sure said a lot of shit so whatevs. Soz!
On that note we're playing with Tame Impala next May. Anything you want us to say to your friends... or rather, yell past security who probably won't let us near them? Any prank we should play?
Oh badass that'll be great. Ummmm I dunno. Maybe practice really really hard at FIFA before and just swan in and destroy Julien. That'd piss him off. Rip straight into a cover of an old Mink Mussel Creek song? Open your set with Thirsty Merc’s In The Summertime and just love every second of it. I mean really give it hell. And dedicate it to the boys, you know, "this is a special one for our great "mates" from Australia" Something foul like that. Love the Merc.
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