I totally fell in love with Pontiak Innocence last year, it was easily my favourite LP of 2014. An album that pulled off the neat trick of managing to sound really classic sounding without being too much in thrall to the past, basically not nearly enough people have heard this album. You need it in your life right now, it’s a great collection of songs, produced and sequenced to perfection and unlike a lot of albums these days, Innocence sounds whole, a complete cycle.
Rather damn excitingly they are currently in the process of opening a craft brewery in Sperryville, VA as well as rocking our world some more. I recently got the chance to put some of my inane questions to one of this band of brothers (literally), drummer Lain Carney. I also took the opportunity to advance my quest to find every rocker’s favourite breed of chicken.
One of the reasons I like ‘Innocence’ so much is that it sounds like it was made to be an album, not just a collection of tracks. It dips, surges and flows. Was that an aim of yours to create an LP to be listened to in one go?
Hey Joe, thanks for taking time to listen to our music! I’m glad you like it. Yes, that was our intent. It is often a working rule of ours to see the big picture and this carries over into what an album is for us.
As well as the bits that rage, I find ‘Innocence’ to be a very emotional LP, how personal are the lyrics to the likes of ‘It’s The Greatest’ and ‘Darkness Is Coming’?
My brother Van wrote the lyrics. I would say he puts as much time into writing the lyrics as anything else. Hold on, I’m gonna ask him how personal they are. He’s sitting right here…he’s says “very”.
Vinyl, CD or MP3 for your own listening pleasure?
You’re on a great label, I love their whole aesthetic and the cover and whole package of ‘Innocence’ is really striking (especially on white vinyl!). How important is the way your LPs look to you?
Well, when we start to wrap up the music, we spend a long time passing around album names. We write it down, look at it and say it. We do the same with the art work. Van does the design and then shows it to us and we usually just use our instincts to say yes or no. Van has designed every album we’ve done and I think he’s developed a fairly good eye for what we need and what we do.
Your Favourite breed of chicken?
Old English Game fowl. Though, they are hard to keep from flying out of their pen and thusly get eaten a lot.
What’s your recording set-up like at your studio? Is it really a barn?
It is indeed in the loft of a barn. We did the build out ourselves which took like 6 months. We have a fairly simple studio with just a few pieces of outboard gear. We have a Soundcraft 6000 board which runs to an Otari MX 5050 tape machine. We have a smattering of mics and our outboard gear is an AKG BX3 spring reverb and a Lombardi analog compressor. We mix down to a 2 track Teac mastering tape machine. That’s it.
Do you think that where you make music in affects the sound/type of music? I’m thinking of your ‘Heat Leisure’ jams played in a field, which (as a farm boy myself) really do sound rural to me.
I think it does for sure. But it isn’t something you can see or point to explicitly. I think it happens subtly. We’ve lived in country most of our lives anyway so we’ve always been surrounded by the woods n’ stuff.
What were you listening to when you made ‘Innocence’?
Hmmmm…I haven’t the slightest clue. Probably Roy Orbison or something.
Which bands have you most enjoyed playing with?
You know, we haven’t toured with another band in a while. We toured with Old Baby from Louisville in 2014 and they were super chill dudes. It’s always nice when you get along with a cool band. We also just released Heat Leisure III & IV in October and it was great to work with all of those guys again.
When are you coming back to the UK? (I missed you last time)
I don’t know! We are very busy in the studio and also we’re opening a brewery so time is crunched every which way. But who knows, we are always down for spontaneous one-off shows so maybe very soon…
How long do you get to spend out there gigging every year?
Last year we spent about 5 months on the road I’d say. We released INNOCENCE in January so we had an album to tour on. I think the amount of time we spend on the road mostly has to do with touring on an album. Because we’ll be in the beat laboratory most of this year I don’t think we’ll hit the road as hard.
‘Innocence’ is the first LP of yours I’ve got, where should I go next in your back catalogue?
Ooh…I don’t know. Check out the songs ‘Second Sun and Beach’ together. I think they’re on Spotify. Or the Revolve 7” record we just did.
What’s next for Pontiak?
Well, the brewery and the studio are going to be a 7 day a week job for sure. I see that keeping us occupied for a very long while. But I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing than hitting the studio and brewing beer.
All I can say to that is, Amen.
501 Down (still)