Q&A: Bardo Pond On Label-Hopping, Loving Philly, And Being Bummed About Not Going To Vegas
The sublimely dissonant psych-smear painted by Bardo Pond for the last two decades has been one huge slice of fuckheaven. While the Killadelphia band brings the noise via mounds upon mounds of distorto-waves, wah-wah swoosh and pedal hopping, its music is actually quite gorgeous, thanks to the flute action and ethereal voice transmissions of Isobel Sollenberger. From 1996 through 2001, Bardo released a string of rad LPs on Matador; they then put out a couple on ATP Recordings and now record for Fire.
Not only do they churn out slow-burning atonal psych jammage, they engage in unexpected goofball hijinks to boot. I spoke to guitarist Michael Gibbons and bassist Clint Takeda, and hilarity ensued. (Michael's brother and fellow guitarist John Gibbons was also there, but he kept quiet for the most part.)
What are your memories of being on Matador Records?
Michael Gibbons: Good memories. We're still friends with those guys. I wish we were still with them, in a way. But we did four albums with them and those guys are the funnest guys in the world and they're supportive.
We got on the anniversary comp, but we didn't get to go to Vegas though. We're a little crushed about that.
That's right. You guys didn't play Matador's 21st Anniversary in Vegas.
Gibbons: Yeah, we're bitter about that...but everything else has been great (laughing).
Clint Takeda: Being flown out to Vegas...that would have been cool...
Gibbons: ...only if we would've broken up ten years ago then had a reunion they probably would've had us there.
Yes, If Bardo Pond had broken up then you could have gone on a successful, lucrative reunion tour and hit the festival circuit.
Gibbons: We fucked that up too (laughing)! We screwed this whole thing. My management skills suck.
Your last record came out on Fire last year. Do you think the label hopping you've done over the years and self-releases has worked against you?
Gibbons: We were with ATP and it was really good for those two records. When we left there, it was mutual and everything was cool. We did some records with Three Lobedcomps and things that didn't come out on records. The major labels we've been on (besides Maatador) are ATP and now Fire. It's a natural thing: we were on ATP for seven years but we only did two records.
Do you work slowly?
Gibbons: We do seem to work slow... a glacial, glacial pace. I want to get the next record out within a year and a half instead of a two-three year thing. It's hard to get us all together in the same room sometimes--even though we're in the same town. Everybody's got their lives.
All of you live in close proximity to each other?
Gibbons: We're ridiculously close, actually. Me and my brother live in the same warehouse building, Isobel lives with John and Clint lives twenty blocks away and Jason (Kourkonis), our drummer, is right downtown. Yeah, we're all together.
So it's hard to get everyone to rehearse?
Gibbons: Yeah, I don't know why. We get together at least once a week. I'm trying to get it to be more so we get more shit done.
Can you talk about Philly, its music scene and the fact you've stayed there? Has it been an albatross?
Takeda: (Laughing)...The scene is really good here.
Gibbons: There's a lot of great bands.
Takeda: Sometimes they look at us like, "You guys are still alive?"
Gibbons: We love Philadelphia. We miss Jack Rose a lot. He was a sweet guy to have around here.