Track By Track: Pony Face
Guitarist SIMON BAILEY and bassist ANTH DYMKE pick apart the synths, drum machines, pedals and inspirations (from Ennio Morricone and Rowland S. Howard to ‘Deadwood’ and “disco cops”) on Pony Face’s debut LP ‘Hypnotised’.
Simon: Okay, this song was written and demo recorded in 2010 with the Alesis SR-16 drum machine. Apparently it’s a classic. Don't know about that; I always just need a beat to write words or melodies over. [Drummer] Kris [Emond] wanted to do the mando part so we kept the drum machine in, instead of real drums … and Phil Collins rototom. At 3.09 the beat was piped through all my guitar pedals at once. It sounds like it’s throwing up. Matty Vehl plays the Yamaha CS-15 through the song, and he rules. You'd recognise the sound of a CS-15 if you've seen the movie Blade Runner. Our good friend Jaye [Kranz from Brighter Later] sings the chorus with me; she also lent us her church to do some overdubs in.
Simon: Albert Swearengen is very quotable and one time said to his girlfriend, Trixie the whore: "I'd rather try touching the moon than take on a whore's thinking." I agree, but I think the same could be said for absolutely everyone, as well as yourself. Who knows what anyone is really thinking? Trust is as close as you get. So this song must be about coming to terms with that. Also, floor toms on floorboards on two-inch are really sweet.
Simon: ‘Alabama’ is a missing song and firmly planted in D major. It’s as close to a one-chord song as we can write. I was worried that the phaser pedal was a bit too much (it comes in at 3.20), ’cause I never used one before and didn't know if I liked the sound of it or not. And because when we've got our recording heads on, we usually turn into schizophrenics and second-guess everything. Anyway, [producer] Casey [Rice] said "No, no, it’s fine, ’cause it’s way too much…" ‘Alabama’ is a very percussive girl’s name. Casey also put the tambo and synth pulse in when no one was looking. Nice.
Anth: ‘Disco Cops’ spewed forth from a need to kick up some dirt. The tune reminds me of a boot scoot gone bad and goes back to elements of glam mixed with a Morricone spaghetti western. Case's brutal production on this track perfectly sums up the “I might be packing a piece” feeling we wanted to bring to this tune.
Simon: A woman I worked with once told me about cramming herself and her friends into the back of a panel van and doing a road trip on acid in her heyday in the early ’80s, spontaneous and such. It made a movie in my head instantly, Dogs in Space era, as soon as I heard Anth play his riff with Kris. I put the lyrics down real quick, which was great ’cause sometimes they take months. Disco cops look flamboyantly wrong … too sparkly. They shouldn't use sirens, just doof.
Simon: I like the name Holly. The words are about being a stalky obsessor, the music’s about surf.
Simon: Let’s face it: Biddy Connor's amazing and people should throw bundles of cash at her. We thought she really connected with us in this dreamt-up territory. I mean, we had a pretty good thing going, but when she played over the top it turned the music into a spell. Our friends’ place in Fitzroy was called Lady Land – it had a peculiar window attached to the lounge that was apparently comfortable to sit in and smoke. But only for girls; when guys tried, they bumped their heads and hurt their backs. Lady Land is also the place where we did a lot of the overdubs.
Simon: One time I went to a pub and saw a friend I’d known for a long time sing one of their own songs. I'd known them for about 10 years and had no idea they could do that. It wasn't the secret that struck me dumb, but the performance. Biddy's singing saw really hits the spot too.
Simon: This song was originally called ‘The Hypnotist’. Kris started playing with the E-bow and then we put on lots more. Mark Ferrie [of Sacred Cowboys, Models, RocKwiz Orchestra] has a classic Australian narrator’s voice; it just sounds interesting and is naturally relaxing at the same time. I didn't think he'd agree, but I thought I’d ask anyway. As it turns out, he's the nicest guy in the world. "Hey man, we've got this weird track [that] needs like a hypnotist at the start of it, to set it off, like a psychedelic guru character that spouts shit all day. We want you to do it." Four seconds pass. "Mmmm. Yeah, fuck it." Kris and myself are a bit obsessed with tremolo and drone.
Anth: ‘Stripper’ is a song that we tried to evoke feelings of obsession, seduction and danger in. We believe that it was the perfect track to finish the album because of its broody nature and Simon’s desperate commitment to a simple vocal line together with Kris’s drum part, so cemented in the backbeat that it should be named ‘peat moss'. ‘Stripper’ touches on the inner workings of Pony Face and is splattered with the deep musings of Matty Vehl's keys.
Simon: We'd been listening to Teenage Snuff Film heaps.