Eleven Pond’s ‘Watching Trees’ provide one of the poppiest moments on ‘Cold Waves and Minimal Electronics’. Their 1986 self released LP ‘Bas Relief’ was recorded in an abandoned swimming pool in Rochester, NY called the Hamster Cage.
This is the original video they made for their track ‘Portugal’, and recalls other mid-80’s synthy post punk such as Fad Gadget, Depeche Mode and Echo and The Bunnymen. The album Dark Entries Records re-released the LP in 2009.
In the first of a series of interviews with ‘Cold Waves…’ artists, I emailed some questions to Jeff Gallea from the band. Enjoy!
Hello, how are you and what have you been doing?
This is Jeff from Eleven Pond. I’m making lo-fi minimal wave music, designing leather accessories and painting watercolors with my mom.
James owns an electronics company. Jack is a baker. Dan lives in the woods.
Tell me about the song you have on the compilation, what were the ideas behind it?
Watching Trees was originally an instrumental song I wrote that had a dark and raining electro feel. James came up with lyrics on the fly while I recorded it to a 4-track cassette player. The song is about voyeurism, being lonely because you know too much and feeling lost in the industrial world. We re-recorded it to 8-track in an abandoned swimming pool/recording studio called The Hamster Cage. It’s vocals on top of pure analog cv controlled arpeggiation with melodica and vocoder. Then at the half way point I come in with a driving chorus-drenched bass riff. It was a solid dance song then. It still is. Funny thing, I was the only one in the band who actually liked the song!
Where did the inspiration for this music come from?
I was inspired by Joy Division, New Order, the film Taxi Driver and the film Two Lane Blacktop. James was inspired by anything from the 4AD record label and poetry. Dan was inspired by sculpture.
What was your working process like in those days?
Downtown Rochester was full of abandoned warehouses so we had a great big rehearsal space. I wrote music to drum beats and suggested parts for the other band members. James consulted his book of poems and a secret diary. We would marry them together in rehearsals.
Was there anyone in another group that you would have like to have worked with from that time?
Musicians? Not really. But I would have loved it if the band had been signed. We gave up too soon. Rochester was out of the loop. It still is. We had no options.
What impact do you think you’ve had on the music “scene” at the time, and indeed since?
We had no impact on the music scene of the 80’s. I opened a night club called Club Zero so I had to quit the band. The music sat on shelves for years. Somehow the song Watching Trees has been brought back to life and has become “The Free Bird of the current new wave scene” (quoting Peter from Wierd)
How important do you think it is to do an array of creative things? do they all feed into music or is it symbiotic?
Yes to it all. Creativity in all form defines who we are as humans.
What do you dream about? What’s the best dream you’ve had?
Sex and flying. All my dreams are the best. Even the scary ones.
How do you feel about this music coming to prominence once again, 25 plus years after the event?
We didn’t cheat. We worked hard to create all those sounds. No loops. Nothing digital. People can hear that analog purity. And song writing was influenced by a great post punk scene. That’s why it’s relevant today.
What do you do in your spare time?
Avoid computers if I can. Make things. Explore.
What contemporary music are you listening to?
Xeno And Oaklander
Absolute Body Control