Stopover favorite Ponderosa returns for a Friday-night show at the Jinx, with Athens electro-pop duo Yip Deceiver.
The Atlanta-squatting Ponderosa roared from the gate with Moonlight Revival, an album that craftily marbled hard-edged Southern blues-rock with frilly guitar pop (think R.E.M. jamming with the Black Crowes).
In 2012, singer/songwriter Kalen Nash and his cronies were back with Pool Party, a reverb-drenched set of hooky space-rock that called to mind the echoey best of My Morning Jacket and/or Fleet Foxes.
The material was strong, the performances stronger, and Pool Party — with a few pointed exceptions — got the best reviews of any Georgia independent music that year.
This hard left turn, Nash told Connect last summer, was nothing more than a natural evolution.
We caught up with him again, from his home in Athens, just a few days ago.
We last spoke about a year ago. What's the year been like?
Kalen Nash: The last year we just toured nonstop. Right now, I've been home for 17 or 18 days. It feels like eternity, but it really hasn't been that long. You get home, and you're home for 14 days in a row and you're kinda like "What's going on?" because it feels so weird. We went out to Seattle, then meandered around the east coast for a little bit, went to Texas, hung out in L.A. for a couple weeks, just played a bunch of shows. We got to play a bunch of record stores and a lot of video blogs. There's so much going on around the country, in the independent music world, that was kinda undiscovered for us. It was a lot of fun.
How does that constant road grind affect your writing, and how you're thinking about the next record?
Kalen Nash: This tour was so hand-to-mouth, and a sleeping in Wal-Mart parking lots kind of deal, in that capacity it's a little bit of a creative halt. It's like you go into homeless survival mode. It's a little more of "Oh my God, I have to eat Taco Bell one more time," or "I hope this person doesn't have 17 cats when we show up to their house at 4 a.m." I think that's more of where this last run kind of put us in a head space.
You still find little areas where you can get off with your iPad and try to come up with some ideas. And when you have longer soundchecks and stuff like that, you can jam on new ideas and kind of fool around.
You don't really know what you're playing every night, because some places you're doing a 30-minute set, and sometimes you show up and they're like "Oh yeah, we need you guys for play for three hours." Whoa, shit, I don't know what we'll do for three hours, but we'll figure something out.
Still, Pool Party was pretty well-reviewed — and you've got New West Records on your team.
Kalen Nash: New West is the best. They're already talking about us doing the next record. That's a real crucial part of what we're doing. We don't ask much from them financially, except for putting out the records. With Pool Party, we were like "OK, this is our second record. We don't know where we're going from here." And really, before we could say anything, they were like "All right! Let's start planning to make another one." And we were like "Oh, thanks! Shit, this is awesome."
It was such a radical shift from its predecessor. Do you really have no idea what the next one will sound like?
Kalen Nash: I put out solo records, too, and I have other ventures, and I'd like to be able to put out records whenever I want. I think there's a perception that "This is the way the business works, and this is what has to happen for you to have success." I just don't look at it that way. I look at it more like an outlet of expression. Whatever we're feeling at the time, that's probably what we're going to record. Regardless of whatever is expected. We really don't see any kind of rules or parameters to abide by.
In other words, you don't have any idea what'll happen next?
Kalen Nash: [laughs] Yeah! No idea what it'll be. But I also don't really have a driving force inside of me that's like "You have to be this way, or you have to be this way." We're all very hands-on with recording. We love the aspect and the science behind recording just as much as making the music or writing the songs. Maybe not just as much, but it's pretty close. It's fascinating for us. We get to record things in different ways, we get to experiment, and do whatever we want to do, really.
And I think that's the privilege that you get — regardless of if I'm making money or not, I'm still going to be able to produce the art that I want to produce.