In the first days of September in London it seems like the weather itself is helping to celebrate the occasion. The sun is finally out upon Dalston where we are happy to meet one of the nicest Australian musicians and just a genuinely cool guy – Jay Watson of Pond and Tame Impala, who’s here today to have a chat with Frock & Roll. Unlike English weather, he is in a rush to finish what he’s started – for the past month he’s been recording the second GUM album in the UK’s capital and he kindly agreed to share some curious details about his next record.
Hello Jay, how has London been so far?
Yeah it’s been really good, it’s been great, thank you!
So what is it that you’ve been doing here exactly? Because we heard about this recording process you’ve been involved in. Would you tell us more about it?
Oh yeah, I’m just doing my second GUM album here with Jerome (*Watson) who’s helping me with it. He works at the studio owned by the band called The Horrors, who are the friends of mine, and Jerome is their in-house recording guy.
How many tracks have you got so far?
Erm, I think 12 or something! But they might not all go there. Ten of them are my favourites. They are all finished, like, the basis is done. But I am going to do all the singing and all the sprinkles back in Perth.
Is it just you playing all the instruments on your records?
And what do you think about the live performances, do you suppose it’s going to be quite a challenge to arrange?
I played live once with this band… When it was more like a guitar thing, more of a garage band thing. But this stuff is going to be more synthy so I might as well do it with me and one other person, more like a dance live music rather than rock performance. But yes, it is hard to find the right people and stuff.
How long have you been making this album so far?
Just this month! But I’ve been working on it in my head and on my computer for like a year or so, or even a year and a half.
How does it feel not being on tour and instead, having a chance to be fully involved in making your second solo record?
It feels pretty great, yes. The first album I did probably two and a half years ago and when it finally came out it felt so good! But it felt so old to me. I do hope more people to hear this next album but I don’t mind, because being in Pond and Tame Impala, I don’t have to try and be like the biggest musician in the world, because I think it’s the people who have never been in different and, kind of, big projects are sort of desperate for success whereas to me that’s not the point now.
Is it going to be released under the label of Spinning Top Records?
Yes, I guess so. Hope the next song is going to be released around the world. Because with the first album, I think only 1000 copies were released on vinyl and a lot of people were really upset about that. Hope it is going to be different this time.
Could you give a little spoiler on what your next record is gonna sound like? How would you describe it?
The first one was more just overtly retro kind of rock music…
..Even psychedelic sometimes?
Yeah, I guess so, although, I don’t really think about it anymore. I think I always use the crazy sounds and stuff, and this next record is more… I wouldn’t say futuristic but it definitely sounds more modern. And it’s weird but I can’t help myself, I am trying to cross some real abstract things when describing it, instead of referencing something that is classic, Black Sabbath for example, you know. The sound we’re working on is supposed to be original. I am really proud of the stuff we’re doing now, it’s definitely my most original and forward-thinking music. It doesn’t sound like 60’s or 70’s music, whatever. There will be a couple of songs that are dance, almost like electro pop-songs. And there’s a few guitars but they’re all made through synths, there are no real guitars, you know. It’s really pop and it’s also really fucked-up sounding! Like, it’s probably way weirder sounding album compared to the previous one, but there are some really cool dancefloor pop tracks.
Do you already know when it will be released or are you taking it really easy so far, not thinking far ahead?
It’s always 6 months after you think it’s gonna come out. Probably this time next year (August, 2015*). It is sometimes hard to predict. And also, every time you’re working on a new album you think it’s the best music you’re ever gonna make, and then 6 months later you think to yourself “Oh shit, I can do way better job now!”. Well, I just figured, what I can do is keep on making new music and try to make it better and better every time.
I would like to ask you about some new bands from around the world, what would be your top 5?
Well, Jerome’s band is cool, The History of Apple Pie. There is also a band from Australia called King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, they are really good. There’s a dude from Sydney, Kirin J Callinan, I listen to his album a lot. There’s a guy, Todd Terje, really cool electronic dance music. I also love this band from America called Chromatics.
You’re really into electronic music these days, aren’t you?
Yeah, more than into rock music. Well, even my record, it is basically quite rock’n’roll, indeed, but still it’s very electro music-inspired, as I said, all the instruments, even the guitars, are made through these MS20 synths.
The next issue of Frock&Roll is dedicated to the women in music. What female artists would you call inspiring?
On this album I’m covering a song by this Australian band called Divinyls. Their singer Chrissy Amphlett is pretty cool! There’s this song called “Science Fiction”, my own version is completely different! Also, you know the song (singing) “It’s a fine line between pleasure and pain..”? Real good. As for some other female artists, I guess all the obvious ladies. Patti Smith and Stevie Nicks and Kate Bush… All the biggest ladies are my fave… Mmm, Queen Bey, Beyoncé? Yes!
We then talk a little about London and Jay tells me how much he loves how comfortably the UK is placed on the map, which makes it a great spot to stop by when they are on tour. As these are the last days of his stay in England, he also goes on mentioning how painful it is for him to even imagine his upcoming 30-hour flight back to Perth. Inevitably we end up chatting about his homeland, and this conversation can last for days but time goes by pretty quickly, and unfortunately, we now have to finish the interview. Jay apologizes he has to be in a rush. But he’s got good reasons – there are still some important things left to finish in the studio before he leaves London.
It’s been a real pleasure seeing him, and as we wave goodbye, we wish him good luck and a safe flight back to the lands of sunny Australia.
photography: polina belehhova
By Frock & Roll