by Local Creature
VANCOUVER – I have just got off the line with Phono Pony, the bombastic Vancouver two piece who are getting ready to tour their latest release Death By Blowfish; a full tilt extravaganza of feel-good weirdo-garage rock. A mysterious figure who introduces himself as Tony Phono is first to pick up the call however, and claims to be the band’s manager. Tony’s southern drawl is thick as molasses, and I enquire of the whereabouts of Shay Hayashi and Michael Kenyon, the yin and yang of the band, and if I could possibly speak with them. “You called at the perfect time, I’m at the band’s pool party right now, at The Woods…have you seen this space!? It’s great seeing a joint like this still going…”
The Woods is the band’s art space headquarters where they rehearse and house a fare share of, let’s say, atypical events. Cake fights, sword swallowing meet ups, and yes, pool parties.
“Michael’s actually in the blow-up pool right now drinking a cocktail, he’s got his guitar in there with him. He’s writing a riff in there…the kid never stops.” Tony elaborates “You should see the Borat bathers I bought him on the way up here.” It sounds like a fantastic party but I’m desperate to get some concrete information regarding the EP. Time is slipping away and I ask Tony could I speak with Shay…
“Ah the new album,” Tony continues, taking religious puffs from a cigar, “the album’s great isn’t it? Death By Blowfish, I thought it was a bit dark but hey, that’s the trends today. You know they recorded a toaster oven on one of the tracks? A toaster oven! These kids are kooks, I love em’. Michael was either cutting up analog tape or playing that theremin of his and Shay had 20 tambourines around her arms just to get that sound.”
My hope for a real interview is diminishing, although this does sound exactly like the unique working methods of Phono Pony. And he’s right; the album is great. It’s a strut-heavy affair. Lurching, swaggering, diabolical even. Venomous and sly lyrics, Mars Volta and early QOTSA-esque riffs and huge synth-bit choruses; dream pop breakdowns where the duo’s unabashed chemistry is off the chain and on fire. It’s grunge, and like the best grunge, it’s pop.
I’m day dreaming about the textures on the album when a streak of journalistic good luck comes my way. “Listen, it’s been good talking to you, but I’m gonna pass you onto Shay, I’ve got to go see a man about a horse.” Phone static, muffled voices, a pool party gurgles in the background.
“Hi this is Shay…who’s this?” she asks politely. I explain its BeatRoute calling to talk about the new album, I was just on the line for awhile with their manager Tony, I was wondering about the album title, but he couldn’t seem to tell me anything. “Tony? I don’t know anyone named Tony, we don’t have a manager”, she laughs mysteriously, “…but Death By Blowfish could be perceived as Death by Self. Why does one choose to eat a fish that contains a poison more lethal than cyanide? Because it’s considered a delicacy? Status? The thrill of death? What could make someone so bored? Oh, and we also like that it sounds like a ‘50s B-movie horror flick.”
After the words “horror flick”, the phone line is oddly severed and hits a dial tone. I’m left feeling perplexed, although comforted with a beautiful image in my head of Phono Pony. Their music is truly a reflection of their existence. See them now. Up in their fortress, making our world a little stranger. Enjoy the thrill of Death By Blowfish, their brilliant new EP. I’ve got to go see a man about a horse. Cheers.
Phono Pony play The Astoria on Oct 29. Death By Blowfish is available on October 3.