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Metronomy Interview

April 11, 2011

Originally posted on The 405

Metronomy 2011 interview Mount

In 2008 Metronomy, the brainchild of Joseph Mount, went on a Night(‘s) Out where they celebrated the glorious unravelling of a night out gone awry, whilst concerning themselves with belting out an upbeat, electro party vibe. And boy did they achieve this with such style, vigour and fun – so much so that it helped launch them to a well-deserved critical and commercial success.

In a week’s time the re-jigged quartet (brother Gabriel Stebbing having left amicably to play full-time for Your Twenties, whilst adding two new members in Anna Prior and Gbenga Adelekan ) are to release third album The English Riviera, a remarkable album that beholds a very different vibe full of sun-kissed West Coast US nods. A full review you will be able to read on these pages soon.

Meanwhile The 405 interviewed a chatty, affable and patient Joseph Mount (patient in the face of a dodgy phone connection) where we discussed this more laidback aesthetic – basically of his love letter to his native Torbay and the sun-kissed ideology and influences of The English Riviera.

So, I understand that you are in a studio at the moment with Nicola Roberts (of Girls aloud)?

Yeah she was in yesterday and I’m just here now finishing the track… alone.

Okay, all on your lonesome?

Well I’m with Matt the guy who does the engineering for me…

How did the producing for her come about in the first place?

It was kind of this err… well to be honest I’m not sure how these kind of things end up happening – it might have been, well it probably came from someone at her label I reckon. But I’ve been mentioning Girls Aloud in interviews for fucking ages in the hope that one day I’d be working with them, so I like to think that that helped.

Obviously The English Riviera is coming out very soon, how have the new tracks gone down on the mini UK tour that did earlier this year?

You know, it’s always funny when your plugging new stuff. I guess no-one knows the songs, and so you can’t really expect them to dance or anything – you can’t really expect them to do anything apart from listen. So, it’s pretty… it’s pretty nerve-racking when you’re playing them because… if you’re playing a track and the room stops moving you feel a bit weird. But no, I think generally really good, people seem to go for them for sure.

That is good to hear. It’s one of those things I guess as people start to hear more of the album, for your next tour, they’ll know the songs more intimately and…

Yeah yeah, absolutely, though the worry is that the next time you play them and they still don’t move it might mean they don’t like them… but we’ll find out.

When did you actually start playing the new songs live?

I guess in January we did this… maybe it was before… yeah it was in December we went to Australia, and, I think my thinking was ‘oh we should start to pack-up the new songs as far away from England as possible’. So yeah we started kinda trying them out just before Christmas.

I just want to talk a little about the recording process for the new album – it seems like quite a different process compared to Pip Paine and Nights Out. For a start you have four members this time round (two of them new). So how was it recording with three other people, as opposed to a more solo process?

To be honest bits of it were similar, the four of us weren’t there (in the studio) the whole time… often it was just me doing stuff – and I’d get them to come down and play bits and bobs. But it was – I think it’s probably the beginning of something that’ll become a lot more… kind of… I dunno, like, exciting – as a process for me it was brilliant.

It was really nice to feel like you were going somewhere to do work instead of doing it at your house, and to be able to indulge yourself – yeah it was great… different. I mean it takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s all for the better I think.

So was it recorded in London… or your native Devon…?

The recording? Yeah it was in London, in Wapping in a little studio…

Nights Out had a loose concept, about a night out that has gone slightly… dodgy. There appears to be a loose concept on The English Riviera in terms of a general theme among the songs, can you expand on this?

Yeah I guess the concept of this record is much more to do with the way it sounds you know? I kinda wanted to try and imagine like a music scene that existed where I grew up – there wasn’t really one down in South Devon. So I wanted to create this feel, and this type of music, and a sound that I thought might exist down there… and it’s the idea is much more to do with the atmosphere of the whole thing and the actual sound quality.

And it also ends up feeding into the lyrics a little bit… I was writing stuff about – well I spent a lot of time thinking about where I grew up and that, so I think that feeds into it quite a lot.

I think that aesthetic really comes across on the album. The seagulls at the start, the organ grinders and so on. Also on the album your voice really seems to have come one from the first two albums (Pip Paine being instrumental). Do you feel more confident in your vocals these days?

Umm yea! I mean I don’t feel confident in the sense that I think I have a really great voice. But I think if you’re touring all the time you end up having to become more confident and comfortable otherwise every night you’re just riddled with nerves. Yeah I supposes purely by doing it you become more comfortable with it.

I think as far as the recording goes I wanted to sound like I was more confident, so it was kind of a conscious thing as well.

In the third track (‘Everything Goes my Way’) you have a female singer, is that Anna’s voice?

It’s actually Roxanne who plays in Veronica Falls…

Oh I didn’t know that…

Yup I recorded it before I knew Anna can sing… so, it should be Anna really (laughs)

What kind of music did you listen to when you were growing up, was it a very musical household?

I went through lots of phases. To begin with, I guess like everyone it starts with The Beatles, and I listened to The Who a lot and Led Zeppelin when I was younger and started playing in bands. But I guess I went through a dodgy Hip Hop phase, and I went through an electronic music phase, and I just ended up coming back to everything I liked in the first place and the ‘Best of’ of a lot of stuff as well.

Did you go through any cringe-worthy phases of listening? Hip Hop’s pretty respectable I’d say..

I… well I don’t regret anything – but there’s obviously some bad stuff. I used to really love The Propeller Heads and I obviously realise now that they’re terrible

It could be a lot worse, I went through a shameful Limp Bizkit/nu-metal phase…

Ah okay, there you go!… I never really got into nu-metal.

You’re a very lucky man in that respect… I was just wondering if you could talk about your influences for The English Riviera music-wise?

I guess I was listening to… to stuff I haven’t listened to in awhile, all these old records that I really liked. Things like Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder… and The Eagles and those almost indulgent kind of 70’s records that were really as rich as they’d ever be, old artists that’d work in studios in terms of production. That was the inspiration.

I can hear Fleetwood Mac as an influence in terms of production?

Oh yeah yeah, The Mac certainly were…

You must be looking forward to festival season?

Oh yeah of course, they sort of start coming through now, and I think we’re gonna have a pretty enjoyable, busy time. We’re doing the Pulp gig in Hyde Park which is really exciting, as they’re a band who I liked when I was younger… so it’s a dream come true.

Absolutely, and you’re doing Glastonbury?

Yes we are I think, yup.

Do you feel it almost as a… I hesitate to use the word ‘home-coming’, perhaps a bit more special to you, being a South West lad?

Umm, not really (laughs) … It’s so big, its got to that point where… I mean I used to go there when I was young and it felt different. It has become this really big thing, so you kind of feel like you’re one of millions of bands basically when you’re there.

I just want to talk to you a little about your live show, I understand that you’re not doing the lights on your chest thing as much anymore, is that true?

Oh no we’ve still got them, it’s just when we first started doing it all we had backing tracks so we had loads of time to like to do stuff with our hands… but now because it’s all completely played (live), we physically can’t fit in stuff the way we used to be able to.

But we’re still keeping it… the live show’s the live show, and we want it to be a nice, fun thing for people to enjoy, so I guess… yeah we always try to put on a show for sure.

What would you say your favourite song off the album is? Or is it a case of picking your favourite children, it’s something you shouldn’t do?

(laughs) yeah… umm I think the one that was kind of the most hard work, but now I really like is ‘The Bay’. There’s loads of different versions of that song and at one point it didn’t look like it would ever be finished, so that one I liked a lot. But, it’s not my favourite, like I say they’re all my favourites.

And it’s at this point that the connection finally dies a death, but we’ve covered a lot of ground and Joe can return to his other favourite love aside from Devon – the studio.

Metronomy are currently on an extensive UK tour which will crossover into the rest of Europe.

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