Interview with Pomona Park

Divine Magazine
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2021, fresh out of the second UK lockdown, Bassist Bobby Mears messages Guitarist James Reid. He tells that Frontman Chris Smith has succumbed to the weight of his material and is tired of writing and releasing solo tracks. They grab Drummer Aaron Wrigglesworth along for the ride and just like that, Pomona Park, by the Quays of Salford, an Indie band, was born.

Months later the group released their debut single, Overdrink, which found its way to No 4 on the UK Alternatives chart and Top 100 on the UK main chant when released. This is only the beginning of Pomona Park. Fans of Sam Fender, Blossoms, Paolo Nutini and Harry Styles will feel right at home with Pomona Park in their ears. After having played over their spiritual home city of Manchester, the 4 lads from the rose counties aim to fill crowds and playlists alike.

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Chris – Lead Singer and Guitar

What’s your creative process like?

I often struggle creatively when I partition time to write, I seem to come up with ideas while I’m driving, or at the gym, walking, etc. I’ve had it many a time where I’ve created a phrase and thought “that’s a good lyric” and so I pull over and record a voice note before rushing home to finish it. I generally pick up my guitar and play a variety of chord progressions to find what fits the melody. When we write as a band, somebody normally comes up with a piece of music and I like to take it away and write some lyrics alone. When I get into the groove with writing, a song can be complete in 10-15 minutes and then I shelf it for a while if I’m uncertain, if the shoe fits then I usually record a voice note and pop it into the group chat to get the lad’s opinion. My creativity comes and goes in a very unpredictable manner.

If you could pass on a nugget of wisdom to the next musical generation, what would it be?

Express yourself and don’t try to copy others. Everyone is unique and we shouldn’t be made to feel bad for not following the norm. My other piece of advice would be to familiarise yourself with music production early on. It makes you start to hear ideas before they’ve even materialized. Get yourself a laptop, and a DAW and mess around the plugins, experiment with synths and see what you can create.

What makes you nostalgic?

The weather. Different weather conditions bring back all sorts of memories for me, from when I was younger walking home from school, to being on holiday and experiencing new things and cultures.

If you were talking to a younger version of you, what advice would you give yourself?

I’d say to ignore the noise and focus on yourself. I think I’ve been held back musically from overthinking people’s opinions of me. I used to be afraid of writing lyrics that really meant something because I didn’t really want other people knowing, or I feared how they’d react. But I’ve come to realize now that it doesn’t really matter. People don’t even care, it’s just overthinking the situation. So my advice would be to just express yourself and don’t worry about what other people think.

James – Lead Guitar

What is the best advice you’ve been given?

It might be far too cheesy and artsy but the best advice I’ve been given for creative things, but also just difficult things in general, comes from a poem by Piet Hein called “The Road to Wisdom”. It goes, with some preamble, “Err and err and err again, but less and less and less”. The err’ing being some confused or frustrated feeling that you might have and though it is only 12 words, it makes me think about 2 things. Firstly it gives me a path for getting to the thing I want to make. To “Err and err and err again” is to fail over and over, to play a riff wrong 100 times, to write a chord progression that would send people to sleep or to play a show that that even your Nan wouldn’t want to come to. But do so “less and less and less”, to make gradual improvements every time, and not stop just because it wasn’t good enough. That riff will be killer soon, that chord progression will become interesting over time and if you try hard enough your Nan might come to a show or two. Always look to improve, but don’t worry too much about it right now, just do, then improve. Secondly, it’s quite comforting to have the idea that there is no perfect version of the thing you want to make. You’ll get “less and less and less” or the “eer and eer and errs”’s, but never none of them. You get better at your craft and your output will get better in that the value for yourself and the audience will go up, but its never whatever it means to be perfect. Some might think that’s a bit pessimistic, and it is in some sense, but I find it very freeing. The idea that the song you are working on isn’t perfect, so you have to scrap it, doesn’t make sense when you think like this. Its not perfect just like every other song, but that doesn’t mean it’s rubbish, just needs a few more err’s.

Are you a valuable asset on a Pub Quiz team?

If they have a round where it’s “guess the song from the first 2 seconds” I think I’m pretty good at those. I’ve seen some really good versions of this idea, like guessing the original from a cover or guessing the song from a single note. So for that round, I’m your guy, for anything else I think you better look elsewhere. A couple of mates of mine are great at Pub quizzes, to the extent that they can name all the countries, capital cities and flags in Africa and Europe… which I think is ungraspable for me, but I’m always glad to have them on the team!

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Bobby – Bass Guitar

Do you enjoy recording and production?

Being in a band can be four mates playing stuff at the same time and it is always fun. But recording your songs forces you to take a look at each part individually and then think about its place in a cohesive piece of music. Sometimes this can lead to a few unicorns being killed, as our producer Ady likes to say, but it’s worth it to produce something that fully works. It’s fulfilling to get behind a collaborative project like that.

Do you sing in the shower?

What songs? Everyday – Our songs. I like to pretend I’m the lead singer… On other days I like to sing whatever’s in my head but I always seem to go back to two songs: I shall be released (Bob Dylan) and Don’t let the sun catch you crying (Ray Charles).

Aaron (Drummer)

What do you enjoy most about being an artist?

For me, being an artist has always been mainly about enjoying the music you’re playing and believing in the music you’ve created. I love taking an idea from a lick or a riff and building it up over a few sessions and then playing in front of an audience. I have always enjoyed the feeling it gives when an audience is enjoying all the work you’ve put in and it really makes it all worthwhile. The gigs we’ve played so far as Pomona Park have been the best gigs of my musical career as the whole band has enjoyed playing our songs and performing. Sitting at the back lets me see everything and everyone and it’s a great feeling knowing the music we’ve created is bringing enjoyment to ourselves and the people who watch us. It also makes me feel quite proud of myself and the band when people are pleasantly surprised at our standard of music and our playing and come and find you after a gig to tell you so.

As a kid were you ever frightened of a monster under the bed or in the cupboard?

I used to be afraid of the dark and monsters as a kid, yeah and I remember the exact moment I stopped being afraid. One night I was too scared to sleep cause I thought there was a monster in the cupboard but I was too scared to look. My mum asked me to write down everything I was afraid of and even at the young age of 6 I remember thinking “I can’t write that I think a monster has somehow got into my cupboard, I’d be embarrassed if people knew” but I knew I had to write something so I put “birds tweeting in the tree outside my window!” And that made me realize my fear was irrational, even if I didn’t know what irrational meant at the time! Even now I have a chuckle to myself every now and then if I hear the birds when I’m in bed.







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