From St. Augustine with Love

Over the last 450 years, St. Augustine has served as a winter home for countless artists, politicians and multimillionaires. But indie rock fans may be fascinated to know that hyper-literate singer-songwriter Matt Pond spent a good chunk of late 2012 and early 2013 in the Oldest City, where he fell in love with the bucolic surroundings while recovering from a broken leg and letting a relationship run its natural course. Pond has since moved back to New York City, where he’s working on a fresh batch of melodic, intensely personal and highly orchestrated songs. But as Folio Weekly found out, the New Hampshire native is still readjusting to life in the big city, realizing how much he misses Florida and marveling at escaping a recent bicycle accident unscathed.

Folio Weekly: Your last album, “The Lives in the Lines in Your Hand,” came out in 2012. Are you already working on new songs?

Matt Pond: I am, although it’s kind of hard because I recently moved back to New York after living in St. Augustine for some time — and we’re about to go on tour again. I kind of feel like a semi-Floridian, although it’s so hectic running a band from several different states.

F.W.: Where are your bandmates based?

M.P.: Chris Hanson is one-and-a-half hours north of me in upstate New York, but the rest of them are Orlandonians.

F.W.: Even more connections to Florida.

M.P.: Florida is good. I like St. Augustine, I like Tampa, I like Orlando … I like every city in Florida that I’ve spent time in just as much as anywhere else. Florida is a vital place. Hot, but good.

F.W.: As a prolific songwriter with 10 full-length albums under your belt, how do you determine your live set before a performance?

M.P.: There are so many albums — so much you have to stay true to. Everybody likes a different one, so you have to pick and choose songs and try to do your best. There are almost 200 songs, so there’s no way we can play them all.

F.W.: Do you feel like your new material might come from a different songwriting perspective?

M.P.: I’ve moved so much that, this time around, I think there’s an inspired-ending feel to it. We might use more electronic elements, or we might rely a little more heavily on guitars. You always want an album to move in a different way than the last one. The problem is trying to write it and then play the thing altogether live.

F.W.: So what prompted you to move back 
to New York?

M.P.: You know how relationships are. They’re like life, and life is limited — I guess relationships have a limit, too. But I love St. Augustine. It’s a great place, and it’s only going to get better when The Distillery and the new Ice Plant Bar open up. A lot different than New York, though. I was used to that quieter life. New York’s almost a little overwhelming.

F.W.: You can see any concert on any night of the week, though, right?

M.P.: The funniest thing is, I was at a show in Manhattan recently, and there’s Roadkill Ghost Choir from Florida. I said, “Oh my gosh — I’ve seen this band two or three times in Orlando!” I know I keep circling back on Florida, but I can’t even escape it when I try to.

F.W.: Does the hustle and bustle of New York City give you more motivation? I read on your Twitter feed that you recently finished filming a new video.

M.P.: We actually shot that video in Orlando. It’s sort of an homage to Orlando, and Florida in general. Wherever you are, there’s a heart to every city — a heart to Jacksonville, a heart to Orlando, a heart to St. Augustine. People have this preconceived notion of what Florida is, but it’s the real deal. As for the video … it actually includes a bicycle accident that’s real. I just broke my leg a couple of years ago, and nearly broke my leg in the video. It’s very intense — probably the most honest and funniest thing we’ve ever done. Luckily nothing happened, though; I was just bloodied.

F.W.: You’ve got a good mix of festival and club dates coming up this summer. Do you prefer one to the other?

M.P.: If you’re open air and playing a shorter set to a less-captive audience, you have to streamline things. But after I broke my leg, I came to realize that I truly enjoy playing music and can’t take it for granted. I’ve always been able to do what I want, for better or for worse. That’s my curse, in a good way; I have a lot of good curses. So I can’t deny that I’m lucky to be here and lucky to do this. I can’t be finicky about long drives and the lack of sleep. As long as the audience is engaged, I don’t care where I’m playing. o