22 Feb


“He IS Heavy – He’s My Brother”

Praising Pontiak for their remarkable recorded output is an easy thing to do – we’re inclined to admire the intensity of any band who can release five albums in four years. Still, it’s of course a matter of quality over quantity – and as legendary rocker “Full Throttle” Aristotle once said, “Quality is not an act – it’s a habit.”

The good news for us is that Pontiak don’t look prepared to break themselves of the habit of quality song writing and sonic experimentation any time soon. Their most recent album – “Living,” on Thrill Jockey Records – is an indescribable joy, a blend of blade-sharpened hooks, threatening, dust-covered distortion and sub-atomic bass particles, vocals emitted largely in a state of stoic catatonia, all marbled by a drum sound that recalls nothing so much as a wooden bat smacking the back of your neck. It’s pretty great.

Brothers Van, Lain and Jennings Carney were kind enough to grant us just a peek into their strange and beautiful world.

The last remaining Pontiac dealer in the United States shuttered its doors on Halloween, 2010. Were you stoked? (We assume the whole reason for starting a band was the ultimate destruction of American automobile manufacturers.)

We own the name completely now!!


What can you tell us about your own musical path leading up to the formation of Pontiak? What bands first captured your attention as a child, and what bands first inspired you to make music of your own? What were your first forays into forming a band? Is there any music you made in the past that makes your cringe in retrospect?

We grew up listening primarily to classical and country music. Aside from that, I think in the eighties U2, the Fine Young Cannibals and perhaps the B-52s records were floating around the house.

It’s difficult to accurately categorize the music of Pontiak – which is almost always a good thing, and is certainly a good thing when referring the to the consistent vision portrayed on Pontiak’s albums. How do you describe your music when forced to do so? One thing that amazes this listener about the band is your ability to be heavy – from a very riff-centric point of view – even when the music isn’t necessarily … heavy. Despite the very real possibility that the preceding statement makes no sense at all, what do you think? Who are the riff-centric bands that have captured your ear in the past?

Currently? I think we approach what some call the riff as a sort of melodic structure. By approaching it that way, the options are endless. It can be heavy without being loud or too distorted and it can be light while being completely maxed out. But we certainly do not strive to be a riff-centric band.

What bands have you been listening to lately? If push comes to shove, what is your favorite Pink Floyd song of all time?

Lately, the I have been listening to the new Psychic Paramount album and it is absolutely awesome. John Prine, Glenn Gould … “Echoes, Part I.”


Would you care to comment on the rumor (the rumor that I am attempting to start right here) that Pontiak will open their set at Austin Psych Fest 4 with a cover of the “Judge GTO Breakaway” jingle, the song recorded by Paul Revere & The Raiders upon the 1969 release of the GTO Judge by Pontiac?

Hahaha … wow.

How did you first hear about Austin Psych Fest? Are there any bands in particular that you are excited about sharing the stage with?

We heard about it a couple of years ago just through talking with friends. We are excited to play with everyone; the lineup is amazing. Hope I can catch Dead Meadow’s set.

One song in particular from the most recent Pontiak album that Revolt of the Apes has been known to hit the “repeat” button on several dozen times in a row is “Algiers by Day.” What can you tell us about the origin of this track? Are we hearing correctly that, “the lemon lady is on the brain,” or is it time for another dozen listens? Would you care to elaborate?

Yes, that is the correct lyric. The whole album flows lyrically as one piece. Algiers is a beautiful city.

In the recent book, “Becoming Elektra: The True Story of Jac Holzman’s Visionary Record Label,” Holzman recounts his impression of working with Love’s Arthur Lee, saying, “Arthur was very difficult to work with. He was a downer, so super critical of those he worked with. He rarely had a complimentary word, because he considered himself better. But he couldn’t keep it together to show the world his true talent. Arthur is one of the few geniuses I’ve met. But genius needs focus and intent. Otherwise, it just discharges into the ground.” Your thoughts? How do you keep your own focus and intent when it comes to creating music – or do you at all? How do you balance the consuming creative impulse verses potentially being an asshole?

I think its easier to create a wall around oneself than it is to learn the hard process of collaborating with other people without making enemies.

What’s next for Pontiak?

We just finished recording an EP that is due out in June, and we are in the middle of recording an LP that will be released in September. We also have tentative plans to tour Europe in September/October and possibly a few festivals in Europe over the summer. Thanks for the questions!!



One Response to “PONTIAK”


  1. Pontiak : Updates - March 7, 2011

    […] are a couple nice posts about the band, one here at Spinner/AOL which is covering SXSW, and one here at Revolt of the Apes in preparation of the Austin Psych Fest. Both are […]

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