Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
The one thing better than unburdening oneself of all the fucked up interactions with fucked up people on tragic nights, that go on like endless loops, is overburdening oneself with those same things, welcoming more and more and more of the tempestuous drama that comes forth in the blinkered light. There's more trouble in the air when the headlights are on and when Hades is more in congress than any other time.
All rise for the honorable Ponys, who spin feeling miserable into a victorious swatch of turbulence, a new life that could be enviable for the right people. There's sin in them there nights. There's disappointment and depression in the same nights. The Ponys, through three records, have marked their existence with those pockets of life when the dregs and the drags become overwhelming and you've got to shovel yourself out of the muck with huge, industrial-sized scoops. People get annoying and nights - even more than days - have brutal endings, where hopefulness and wishful thinking get shot down as if targeted by sniper fire.
All aspirations meet their ends one way or the other when the clock tolls late. More bad things than good happen after midnight and it's within that span that Ponys lead singer Jered Gummere must find the bulk of his inspiration, rolling around in the superfluous disasters that aren't always courted, but always seem to be lurking around the corner and always seem to find host subjects to wreck.
The Chicago-based Ponys are gothic in attitude, if not in look. Without a doubt, they're pessimistic when it comes to human interactions and their various repercussions - sometimes serious, sometimes not, but always tattered and emotionally draining. They come into songs with all intentions set to explore the multi facets of just how wrong things can go. They deal with piss poor people that you'd never want to consider friends. They deal with the thoughts of love that conclude with a complete unraveling, a disheveling that racks souls dry and renders the heart into obsolescence.
This is the way it is, you see, because the subjects that Gummere sings about on a continual basis - the sunken nights, the bleakest hours - aren't themselves hopeless, but they are encountered at the time when the dark clouds are circling and heart is getting heavy. When it gets so far in that direction, it dismisses itself and lets all of the other parts of the body take over. When the structure of hope gets pummeled, there's actually a resurgence of spring in the step that starts the body and arms swinging, cutting out a bit in defiance of the somberness that's set in.
The fire comes from somewhere in Gummere and it could just be from the depths of unfortunate events, which have that effect. He throws spiky punches, like knuckle sandwiches, into the whirlings and hummings of all the material found of the new record, Turn the Lights Out, the band's first release on Matador Records, continuing the slow but steady rise in popularity that's made them one of the most important bands operating in the Windy City. They're explosive in all of the most rough and tumble ways, but the predominant mission is to form a mood that snakes through the various deviations of prickly and on edge. The combinations are multitudinous and always flaming, leaving hypnotics out there to fall victim to time and again. It's with minor effort that 40 minutes are eaten up, your clothes unmistakably have cigarette or battery acid burn marks in them, you're sweaty and out of breath and damn if your eyes don't feel glazed over, with the pupils bigger than dimes.
What comes next can be any of a number of the arbitrarily chosen responses that a person chooses to follow feeling totally unlike yourself. Where did you go for so long, you wonder at the end of the record - at the end of every Ponys record. It feels like you wore the chains of a year's worth of late nights and early mornings - eating poorly, sleeping little and nursing the harshest of hangovers - in less than one hour.