A lot can change over the course of 10 years—just ask singer-songwriter and guitarist Matt Pond. Since his band, Matt Pond PA, released its seminal album Emblems in 2004, the New York-based artist’s approach to making music has evolved, and he dropped the “PA” from the band’s name in 2013. There’s just one change that Pond laments: “Resonate Studio in Manhattan, where I recorded the album,” Pond says. “I just walked by that space and it no longer exists.”
Emblems—featuring a stripped-down, orchestral folk-pop vibe, particularly on sweeping tracks like “The Butcher” and “Bring on the Ending”—was the band’s fifth album, but cemented the band’s role in the indie-pop scene. And though recent Matt Pond albums, like 2013’s The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand, have embraced more of a pop-rock aesthetic, Emblems still holds a special place for Pond, too.
“I made [Emblems] when I moved to New York, and it was a pretty crazy time because I didn’t know anybody, so it was a pretty big deal for me,” he says.
But even on the track “Grave’s Disease,” Elements showed hints of what was to come on future records by combining strings with a driving pop-rock rhythm—something that would eventually become Pond’s musical bread & butter.
And just as Pond’s sound has undergone some fine-tuning throughout the years, so too has his songwriting technique.
“I know what I was going through when I wrote [Emblems], and I know how I approached songwriting,” Pond says. “It changes from album to album, though. I appreciate things I did on one album, but at the same time, I wouldn’t want to do it again. Every album, I’m talking about the same themes, but I want to do it in a different way.”
But now, with 10 years of separation from Emblems’ creation, Pond is going back for a visit—with the “PA” reinstated in the band name for this tour as a way to recall the days when the band was based in Pennsylvania—by playing Elements live in its entirety, with a twist.
Recording the album was a memorable experience and Pond is pleased with the final results. But, he says, that doesn’t mean he won’t be making a few changes to some of the songs.
“What I hope to do with these shows is improve on the songs and make them come to life,” Pond says. “As much as I’m proud of the things I do, I am more aware of their imperfections than anybody, and that’s what’s exciting about this is you can edit. I’m excited to be able to edit the hell out of them.”