Time happens to everyone, even someone as eternally rowdy as AC/DC’s Malcolm Young, for example. We all have many things we’d like to experience in life, from seeing the Grand Canyon to smooching some European Twitter crush to skydiving. Indie rock lifer Matt Pond has spent a lot of his life entertaining and charming many faces with the band Matt Pond PA, releasing 12 albums and constantly adding to a legacy of work.
These days, however, Pond is feeling like he doesn’t want to be the face of a band and after many years Matt Pond PA are playing what for now is potentially their last show as a band on Saturday Dec. 16th at BSP. JK Vanderbilt and Wild Pink open a night that will be an important moment in the band, and Matt’s, personal mythos.
I meet Pond at the new Rough Draft coffee house, wine/beer bar and book store on a very crisp fall afternoon in the Stockade District. The location, the latest incarnation of the as-old-as-it-gets-around-here Kingston Academy building is awesome — we are both excited to check it out for the first time. I mention to Matt I am impressed he put out his most recent two very concise and well written albums in such close proximity, within a year’s time, give or take.
“You have to kind of credit the people doing a lot of the work, like Chris Hansen [guitar, engineer],” he says, reflecting. “I mean, I’m there too but you also rely on the kindness of a lot of strangers. People on the West Coast send us things. People here. There is a kind side to the Internet.”
Discussing the upcoming show, he says, “It is cool it is here and it is a big deal. Kingston is my town and I love it but it is full of misguidedness and flaws. It’s beautiful for that. It’s a big night. I get to spend it with bandmates and friends and then I get to walk home.”
I mention his band’s songs leave me feeling a range of joys, pains and more. Everything isn’t spelled out; they’re more like a voyeur’s peek at a scrapbook of someone else’s life that becomes more and more relatable as you listen.
“I struggle with complacency and bitterness,” Pond confesses. “There’s only a small amount of time you can spend on that but when it comes in it can be jarring. If it becomes routine that is bad. ‘Street Squirrels’ yeah … I wrote that song, for example, on my front steps just blocks from here.”
There is vivid imagery and vibe but not just a simple nostalgia, even when some passages have the comfort of the familiar or make you pine for things and times. Yet there is still a sense of movement and wondering what will come next. It is much like what Matt is undergoing now.
“In the future I want to move away from crossing the past with the present. Nostalgia is a big thing right now, but I’m interested in talking in a different language than I have been talking in,” he says. “Matt Pond PA has so many records! We play shows and people want deep cuts. We’ve been around almost two decades. There’s hundreds of songs. I don’t know all those songs,” he laughs.
“I want the best things we have done to have been completely independently made,” He says. “We have faithful fans and friends but I am writing the check. There is no advance. I don’t know if there really are advances anymore. They were something when I started.”
I joke that you used to be able to make at least some bad life choices with your record advance.
“I’ve made many bad life choices with advances,” he says, cracking up. “Pull quote,” I holler and we laugh.
“But it let’s you live in a bubble,” Pond continues. “You think everything is fine but it’s not fine. You actually do need health insurance. You need to think beyond the next six months.”
Rock ’n’ roll is like being a pirate, never a perfect science but as you age you have to find ways to keep it sustainable on your terms, I say.
“It used to be Rock ’n’ roll was for the young,” Pond responds. “They are on Snapchat now. It has to flip back around. The old people have to keep exploring. I don’t want my fate predicted by algorithms. Music has to stay experiential. Pushing back against the system. I’m not there yet, but I am not just going to lie down and let things push over me.”
I mention how you can have regrets in life at some choices but perhaps you, say, in my case, might have not had the music to battle mental health stuff or lead you down other roads you needed to travel to be whole eventually. You have to try to be in the present and make the best choices while staying authentic.
“It’s better to articulate myself now than ever,” Pond replies. “I don’t want to get stuck in my phone. I need to limit screen time.”
I ask if he somehow knows what the future holds?
“I have an idea about dreams,” he says. “I don’t want to let the entire animal out of the bag. But I don’t like touring in a band named after myself. It all comes down to me.”
You don’t want to be Bon Jovi, I ask?
“He has great teeth! I met him once. He was very kind. Bon Jovi. John. He is larger than life.”
We get sidetracked talking about building houses with Bon Jovi and how it makes sense that women love him. But Matt insists he indeed doesn’t want to be Bon Jovi.
“I don’t want to talk a lot in a break up,” he says. “I like the moving forward. There are other little collaborations I want to do where I’m not ‘the dude.’ Not having the cycle of albums to deal with, I can come out of my cave now. I don’t always feel there or in the moment in this town sometimes as a result. I don’t want to answer to just my music. I want to answer to a real conversation. You can’t help but be in your head when you want to make things, but I want to … take a day off sometimes. I always thought I was going to be an academic.”