Put on your fancy pants, because today is the premiere of our new blog feature Austin Artist Weekly! As the title suggests, each week ACA will be featuring local artistes, whether they be bands, theatre troupes, visual artists, writers, comedians, or designers.
To kick of this weekly dive in to local artsiness, ACA will be featuring the awesomeness that is The Pons. I sat down (and by sat down I mean emailed back and forth) with Tommy Mazzi, lead vocals/guitar/keys, about what has been and what will be coming up for The Pons.
How did the band start?
Ruby (bass & vocals) and I(guitar & vocals) met Steve (drummer& vocals) when she and I had our first project (Lalaland) in the recording studio back in 2004. The producer and engineer knew Steve and invited him in to record drums on a few songs. We knew he was right for us straight away and wanted him to join us. He was under a Recording & Touring contract with another band and couldn’t make any commitments, but we eventually got him to drop everything else and become a full-time member. We played out as Lalaland for a little while as we pushed the record we had just released, but we knew that our sound had changed and that our name should change as well. When we finished a new record in 2008, we decided to release the record under our new name, The Pons. “In the Belly of a Giant” – Coup d’etat Publishing 2008 was released in Dec. 2008. We were meant to play music together. We all feel that everything we have done in our music careers has led us to this band.
Who are your musical influences? What genre do you consider yourself?
Our influences are too vast to have any direct impact on how we write. References people have made about us that we can agree on: Low, Pixies, Talking Heads, Wedding Present, & Galaxy 500. Lately, The National has been mentioned. But there really isn’t anything like us. In short, we have submerged ourselves in our creative process which is really not listening to anything else too specifically and spending most of our time focusing on our stuff. Our ship has drifted too far from the dock at this point. We no longer have any other heroes to live up to. They need to be listening to us at this point.
How does Austin influence your band?
Austin is a moving target. Fans are fickle and fade. But somehow they are always there for us. This is a great city for music but can be too overwhelmed to give very much to any one thing for very long. We’re not a folksy band, we’re not a party band, and we’re notan experimental band. Those are typically the types of bands that seem to draw people out in Austin. We’re taking the same road that Spoon or Okkervil River took. We will keep writing songs until we write that one special moment of a song that reaches out beyond these borders.
How has 2011 been different for the group as a whole and each member individually?
Big question! Well – and I speak for everyone here – divorces, break-ups, falling in love, unemployment, re-employment, dead friends, getting kicked out of a rehearsal space that we occupied for almost 4 years, tons of writing about this stuff, & recording the best record of our lives.
Can you give us details about the recent drama surrounding the band, and other Austin artists, being evicted from their studios?
The Pons along with probably 25 or so other artists, musicians, & local business owners were evicted from our spaces due to building code violations. We were all located at 501 Pedernales and most of us had been there for years. Some of the artists had been there 10 years. We received notice (after several random inspections that took place over the course of two years) that the city wanted everyone out within 48 hours and that the power would be turned off at that time. We then collectively met with the landlord who told us that he would try to hold the city off and buy time. That failed. So we all prepared to find other places. Some did and some didn’t.
The story we got from the landlord and subsequently confirmed by others in the community was that some city official had been targeting spaces like this during the Eastside studio tours – posing as an art lover – going in a checking out the spaces for violations and then going back to see if permits were filed. If not, this person would then cite the landlord with violations, forcing all the tenants out, shutting down the business, and placing a huge financial burden on the landlord to make the necessary (and sometimes WAY unnecessary) changes to the property. So, no money coming in and no money to get the business back up. What next? Sell the property at a huge discount? Very convenient for developers isn’t it?
I suspect that’s exactly to where that information was funneled. But what do I know?
Did this affect your decision in getting involved with Frameworks E.A.S.T.? And how do you feel E.A.S.T. and other benefits are doing at curbing the evictions/aiding artists?
That’s exactly why we got involved. Actually, I went crying on Marcy’s shoulder about it after it happened.
Too soon to tell I guess, but stay on it. This city is under attack, particularly the Eastside.
What new projects do The Pons have coming up?
We will be releasing our new record “The Blackest Shine” in September with a release party to follow at The HighBall on October 28th. We are launching a Kickstarter campaign early next week to raise the funds for packaging the record in commercial CD and full-length white vinyl formats as well as to raise funds for a tour and tour support through the Midwest in October.
For more info about The Pons, make sure to check out their Facebook page.