Top image: Nicholas Allbrook at Field Day 2016. Photograph by Sean Carpenter
The expression ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ doesn’t really apply to Nicholas Allbrook, because anything he turns his hand to is nothing short of intriguing. And in intrigue, there’s interest. It could be said that he pursued music as a soloist after touring as part of Tame Impala, but for Allbrook, wearing many hats and covering a lot of ground is somewhat second nature and constant.
Fronting his own outfit, POND, and being one half of duo Allbrook/Avery, he also illustrated The Vine; a children’s book by friend, fellow musician and writer, Amber Fresh. A way with words and a way with music, his new record Pure Gardiya follows his debut LP Ganough, Wallis and Fatuna (2014) and EP Walrus (2015) with a circadian rhythm that marches on its own. Tracks Tramadol With Fear and Advance paint him in the unique light of an artist evolving. It’s an honest outlook in both its dreams and reality, and a snapshot into Allbrook’s aspiring sound.
Clementine Zawadzki: What’s your earliest musical memory?
Nicholas Allbrook: Maybe Black or White by Michael Jackson, an older girl played it to me in a cabin while my parents were at an enormous Bush meeting in the Kimberley [outback region in Western Australia].
CZ: Most of the features and reviews I’ve read about Advance and A Fool There Was mention how Australian it sounds…
NA: I’m glad people say that. Maybe it means that I’m getting better at being myself.
CZ: What are the main themes that run through your new album Pure Gardiya?
NA: I don’t know really. Unspecific thematically. It’s not exactly Tommy. Being alone, being with another, finding love and losing it, dead and dying loved ones, a cemetery, Kim, a sad inflatable wavy-arm man, the invasion of Australia, deportation and embarrassment and cruelty, mindless evangelism, masculinity and rural loneliness, homophobia, Americana, ignorance, a dream where my good friend was stabbed, kalopsia.
CZ: What non-musical influences inspire you?
NA: Jeremy Holmes, John Darraga Watson, Yves Klein and Miro, Prince, Mum, Dad, Julie. Everything that happens or doesn’t happen in my life that isn’t music.
CZ: Are you driven more by lyrics or melody?
NA: They take turns at the steering wheel and I guess I just sit in the back seat. I can’t drive.
CZ: How do you differentiate an idea from being something you’ll pursue as a soloist or as a band? Apart from other band members being involved in other projects, such as POND, how do you know what ideas to savour for your own?
NA: I don’t put too much thought into it. It sort of depends what is happening and who’s around at the time and what feels right. They just kind of fall into their place.
CZ: POND of course had an album out last year, and you released your Walrus EP – how do you find the time?
NA: The time is there for the taking, staring me in the face. If I have time, and I want to, I do it. I still feel incredibly lazy.
“Maybe its a primitive pursuit of love or just procreation. Maybe its habit. I still often think to myself, “Wow, I love music”, so I guess it has something I can’t explain which keeps me going.”
CZ: Is there anything you haven’t done that you’d like to do?
NA: See an orchestra or two perform a John Luther Adams piece. Express my admiration for Leunig. Make pottery and calligraphy. Visit Prague and Peru and Jamaica and more of Indonesia and see the northern lights and be truly content and speak properly in a language other than English. Spend more time in Japan, quietly. Spend more time quietly. Help Jarlmadangah Burru. Call Grandpa. Walk the rest of the Bibbulmun. Purify myself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
CZ: What about music keeps you going?
NA: Well, it feels better than almost everything when it is right. Maybe its a primitive pursuit of love or just procreation. Maybe it’s habit. I still often think to myself, “Wow, I love music”, so I guess it has something I can’t explain which keeps me going.
CZ: What does music mean to you?
NA: Thats a really hard question. It can mean anything and everything. Music is evolutionary cheesecake.
CZ: You also just dropped the video for A Fool There Was. What’s it about?
NA: A man painted white running around, circling two garishly clad guitar players, under the gaze of a bunch of Australians drinking cheap piss in a carpark.