Interviews

Nicholas Allbrook: saving the Kimberley one single at a time

Nicholas has had a shift in the way he approaches writing music and it’s resulted in a new sound that is honestly worthy of GOAT status.

Pond frontman and multi-instrumentalist Nicholas Allbrook has released his new single When The Marshes Flood and is donating all proceeds to Environs Kimberley to help protect the Martuwarra Fitzroy River and the Kimberley region of north Western Australia.

Nick actually grew up in the Kimberley and wrote this song while uncovering memories from his childhood. We were lucky enough to get a little insight into where Nicholas was at when he wrote When The Marshes Flood.

HAPPY: Ok. So a new single, When The Marshes Flood has been released and all of the proceeds are going towards saving the Kimberley, basically the Kimberley region, which is such a cool cause. I know that you grew up around there, I just wanted to know a little bit about what it was like for you growing up, watching the land that you were on, literally being mined in front of you.

NICK: I didn’t really notice.

HAPPY: Yeah. You were busy being a kid?

NICK: Yeah. Just loving it. I definitely like was aware that there were a lot of these big moments happening, like these big bush meetings and stuff and the people were, you know, like I learned to say like, John Howard’s an idiot. Like that.

HAPPY: *Laughs* Yeah.

NICK: Without really much context. It wasn’t until like later I think, visiting and getting more of an idea of what was going on. I guess it’s hard to see it when you’re just a kid.

HAPPY: Yeah. Do you think that what you saw was more than just the beauty of the land?

NICK: Yeah, absolutely. And enjoyed it in like in the way that kids do, you know, the right way, I guess, like in the moment and with your feet and hands in the ground and like using your body to enjoy it instead of sort of theorizing.

HAPPY: That’s cool. And the cover art for the single, is that a shot from the Kimberley?

NICK: That’s actually stock…

HAPPY: *Laughs* Yeah. Right.

NICK: *Laughs* I didn’t realize people would care.

HAPPY: Do they?

NICK: About this coming out. So I was just like, I need something to put it on band camp. So I just searched like mudflats.

HAPPY: *Laughs* Oh, that’s great.

NICK: I paid like seven bucks or something!

HAPPY: That’s very funny. Well, look, the image itself, it’s very shocking. So I think it definitely… Yeah. It makes a real impact

NICK: Oh good!

HAPPY: OK, now, so you did say about the song that you were uncovering memories from your childhood. Are you doing anything specific to uncover those memories or is it just kinda, you know, reminiscing cause you’ve got time on your hands?

NICK: Yeah. I suppose I have been doing a lot more like introspective thinking. I don’t know why maybe it’s part of 2020 and 2021 being the sort of annus horribilis for my generation, and just kind of inspiring a bit of like how did I get here?

HAPPY: Yeah…

NICK: Where did this stuff come from? And I don’t think I found it with that, but there are a lot of these sort of like cinematic snapshots that come out when you’re younger and especially in a place that’s sort of magical in the air, in the ground that everything does seem in your memory kind of does feel like a waking dream.

HAPPY: Yeah of course. That’s pretty cool. It’s pretty special. Other than lyrically, instrumentally it makes me feel nostalgic and it feels like it’s portraying this kind of urgency as well. You know, the way that the baseline kind of shifts just as the hook is starting and then there’s this drop it’s dark and it’s cool and I just wanted to know if that was intentional in your writing or if you feel like that just kind of came out subconsciously.

NICK: Yeah. I think it just sort of came out. I mean the chord progression definitely went hand in hand with the subject matter, a bit pastoral, a bit kind of country vibe and very nostalgic. It made me want to reminisce about a small country town

HAPPY: Yeah for sure. Okay. So the song did that come first, and then you thought to raise the funds or was the cause first?

NICK: The song was first.

HAPPY: Okay. That’s very cool.

NICK: Yeah. And I kind of left it alone for a while. I didn’t know what to do with it. And then when there was a bit of a scandal about Gina Rhinehart and the other, I can’t remember their name…the other agricultural company from over east, trying to push through something to be able to pump water. I sort of thought that I would love to do something. And I was trying to think of…I should do a sort of…my however small version of…Do They Know It’s Chrismas? With what I had imagined at first, like, ‘I’ll get all the people, all the famous people that I know and will make a song together.’ And then I found that song again and I was like, eh, I have already done it.

HAPPY: *Laughs* That’s great. Well, that’s easier.

NICK: It was well-intentioned, but also a bit lazy.

HAPPY: I don’t know. I feel like it probably sounds cooler and better because it wasn’t created in that kind of way, you know? It’s got a lot of musical integrity.

NICK: Ah, thank you.

HAPPY: It’s awesome. I love it. I don’t know if you’ll take this as a compliment, but it reminded me of a mix between The Cure and Echo & The Bunnymen, but like more cooked somehow, you know?

NICK: That’s definitely a compliment, I love The Cure.

HAPPY: Good, it’s intended to be. Well, so the song sounds like it is more gritty, I think. And wild than your past song releases that I’ve heard. Do you think anything is influencing you or do you think it was just the subject matter or maybe are you listening to anything new that would be influencing your style?

Photo by Dani Hansen

NICK: I think I am getting more sort of moving further towards just honesty and my ambition, my grand sort of widescreen musical ambition to do heart-stopping drum fills and like Todd Rundgren kind of psych epics is lowering a bit.

HAPPY: Yeah. Okay

NICK: I think maybe it’s that sort of classic…maybe this is the actual Beard, Wives, Denim phase of my life. I guess I’ve been listening to more of Neil Young and Dylan and Adrianne Lenker. I really love Adrianne Lenker. I’ve been enjoying my folk, but I’m enjoying everything. I’m listening to heaps of dub and sort of eighties, Afro Boogie and stuff, which has nothing to do with this song.

HAPPY: Yeah, well, it makes you feel good.

NICK: I think maybe I’m getting less ambitious and I just want to say what I have to say and do it quickly and emotionally and honestly.

HAPPY: Okay. Do you think that that’s something you feel like you’re more able to do because you have the audience that is there ready to listen to you?

NICK: I think it’s almost more… Not an ego death, but maybe an ego sickness.

HAPPY: Yeah.

NICK: Like getting…I don’t really care about producing some…being an acclaimed one-man producer and making grand compositions. I’m quite happy to write words and a few chords and have people I love help me.

HAPPY: Did you work on this one with some friends as well?

NICK: No, not really.

HAPPY: Well, it sounds great. That’s all you, it sounds freaking cool.

NICK: No, I did. I did a bit with this guy Tomas Dolas in Los Angeles, he was producing and engineering it and Joe McMurray, who I met because he was drumming in Mac de Marco’s band. He was there. He was just like free. And I tried to do the drums, but it was just too bad. I feel like Mac is around and it takes too long. And then you stop having fun, so am like why bother? Is it some sort of badge? You get little gold stars. *Sarcastically* I played all the instruments. So I got Joe to do it and he was great. And then, um, Stu from Giz, I wanted him to play stuff, but he didn’t, he said he didn’t think anything needed to be on it. So he gave a little mix and a master and then that was it.

HAPPY: Wow. So are you planning to release the track elsewhere? Is it just some band camp at the moment?

NICK: Yeah, I think so. I mean band camp, you’re all good with money.

HAPPY: That’s awesome. That’s it. And I imagine that that would be the best way to raise funds as well.

NICK: Exactly. Maybe one day I’ll do something else with it. What do you call…

HAPPY: Yeah. Sick.

Photo by Dani Hansen

NICK: Yeah. I mean that’s it. I guess.

HAPPY: Cool. And, last question from me. Do you have any plans to get out on the road soon?

NICK: Yeah, I’d love to. I’m suffering from the same thing. A lot of people, this sort of anxiety about this agoraphobia. Because it’s just hard and it’s very threatening because shit changes and then it’s all really fucked suddenly. So when that’s kind of a bit safer, I’d love to go out and play. I’d love to go up to the Kimberley and play.

HAPPY: Yeah. That’d be incredible.

NICK: Sure. Everything gets soggy and melted.

HAPPY: That sounds like a fun mess. Thank you much for talking to me. It’s been a pleasure.

NICK: Yeah. Thank you so much. Sweet.

When The Marshes Flood is available now on Bandcamp.

Interviewed by Chloe Maddren.

Header image by Matsu.