Pond: Jay “GUM” Watson details recording techniques used on new record 9

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Pond: Jay “GUM” Watson details recording techniques used on new record 9

pond band press photo
(Image: Matsu)
Words by Sam McNiece

Including what microphones they used and an interesting use of tape.

The undefinable Pond have been a force in the music scene since their 2012 record Beards, Wives, Denim led them to tour the world from humble beginnings in the Western Australian city of Fremantle. The band, which are prolific musicians in their own right, also feature a couple of Tame Impala’s touring outfit.

Their newly released record 9, saw them take a new approach to writing music, focusing on crafting songs out of improvised jam sessions. The new effort, regardless of the basis of the songwriting process seems incredibly thought out and well crafted as well as oozing fun. This is evident on numerous tracks but especially ‘Human Touch’, which has a pulsing groove sure to get bodies moving.

In light of the newly released record, Mixdown Online had a chance to chat to multi-instrumentalist, Pond founder and mainstay Jay “GUM” Watson about how the new record came together, what gear they used and some interesting recording techniques used on 9.

Read all the latest features, columns and more here.

I’ve heard you’re all currently scattered around the globe at the moment, what’s the vibe where you are?

I’m in L.A currently, in between Tame tours. It’s hot and sunny here, it’s nice to get outside after 6 weeks of COVID safe touring (basically stuck in your hotel room/bus so you don’t catch it and ruin the tour!)

Your music has such a strong groove to it, can you elaborate on your songwriting process? Does it start with a vocal idea or is it led by the instrumentation?

Usually instrumentation, but Nick will also write pages and pages of lyrics that aren’t to music, poetry I guess, and then we fit that to music sometimes.

Where was your new album recorded and how did it all come together?

We recorded it in Perth over the last year. We set up our own little studio in an old theatre/hall in Fremantle and just chipped away at it. It was mostly done through recording ourselves improvising, then sifting through what we’d done and chopping it up into songs. Most of the time spent was mixing it i’d say, it was almost like we were remixing ourselves.

So tell us, what’s the secret to your vocal processing chain?

Well we record vocals all over the place, often just at home. We always try to at least use a good preamp and a decent interface. I think for the studio recorded vocals they were mostly: Electrovoice RE20 into Heritage Audio 1073/500 into Teletronix LA2A into Lynx Aurora.

What pieces of gear used in recording your new record 9 helped craft your sound?

We used loads of spring reverb boxes, as well as tape echoes, constantly printing things we would make digitally on to the tape and back again. We wanted it to sound dusty and mid-rangey but futuristic at the same time if that makes sense. We mixed mostly in the box with plugins. Soothe by Oeksound was an absolute revelation and saved us quite a lot. If anything we overdid it with that though!

Any interesting recording techniques you used on the new record you’d like to share?

One of the tape echoes we used was called a Fulltone Tube Tape Echo. What’s really cool is you can make it 100 percent wet (no dry signal at all) and then make it only 1 single repeat. So in effect you can print your stem to tape in real time. Then you just have to shift it back in time with the rest of the stems. We used this a lot, especially on drums.

If you could own any single piece of gear, what would it be and why?

I would love to own an insanely expensive old Neumann mic, like a U47. Although i don’t think any bit of gear is worth that much money to be honest, the humble SM57 will get the job done every time!

Finally, what’s your favourite track off the new record and although touring is limited in Australia at the moment, which track do you think will go off when you finally play them live?

My favourite track is ‘Take Me Avalon I’m Young’ (tied with ‘Song For Agnes’). They’re both grand and ambitious and i’m very proud of them. I think they’ll both go off live hopefully.

is available now via Spinning Top Records.