INTERVIEW: Metronomy, Possible Splendour In The Grass 2014 Appearance Revealed
It’s always refreshing when you find a band or artist breaking away from conventional music composition. It unravels a whole new listening journey for you as the audience, digging deeper and asking more questions upon every subsequent release. Something we’ve always found appealing about British outfit METRONOMY.
Initially conceiving the project as a solo artist, Joseph Mount adopted the name fifteen years ago. Officially making something out of it years later with his debut EP Wonders (2005), it didn’t take long for Metronomy to grow from one to four, as the incorporation of live instruments and a larger sound was soon acquired.
Nine years on from the first release has seen the band drop three full-length studio albums, travel around the world on headlining tours & festival bills and even launch their leading single from forthcoming record Love Letters through a smart phone application.
Before they jet off on their huge European/American tour, we managed some quality phone time with the man who started it all – Mr. Joseph Mount.
You created Metronomy back in 1999, but you didn’t release your first album until 2006. Was there a reason for such a big time gap or was it just something that progressed naturally?
I say things that come back to haunt me. In 1999, I was 17 years old I think? And that was the time where I really started making music on my own, but I was so far off like looking for a record deal or something like that. I was just in between that time of me being 17 and me being 23 or 24. I just kinda did loads of stuff; learning about making music, I went to university.. I guess I’d started to think about the idea of trying to put a record out but I wasn’t pushing for it all that time.
So you were basically just you know, being a teenager and trying to become an adult as well? At 17 years old going to uni, music wasn’t the main sort of thing going on?
I think at that point I probably was like calling myself – doing the music as like Metronomy but… You know when you’re 17 or 18 you feel pretty grown up, but I still had a lot of growing up to do.
I’ve read that you were in a few different bands as a teenager. Has music always been your main pursuit? Have you always kind of had it there that you wanted to do it for the rest of your life?
I don’t know, I started playing drums when I was like 10, and that sort of started me getting excited about music. When you do something like play the drums at school, you just end up getting asked to play drums for every single band that’s going, but there was only ever really two bands that I was in that kind of meant anything to me.
So it’s maybe like the first band that you’re in that feels really cool. I think from that point, if you just get really caught up in the magic of it, well then I think you very quickly decide that this thing gives you enough pleasure that you can imagine it forever, you know? So you don’t necessarily at age like 15 make your decision. I think from very young I could see myself not doing something like a “normal” job.
Seeing as you started Metronomy as a solo artist, was it an easy task recruiting and sharing your music with the rest of the band that you have now?
When I started, I wasn’t really thinking about it in terms of what it actually was. I wasn’t really imagining anyone to be talking about Metronomy at all [laughs]. So I didn’t really think about what it was.
Since tbe first album, Metronomy became a live thing, I guess it just changes, and your idea of what it is changes. I feel like now it’s like me off having a bender when we’re out playing gigs. But I’m still writing in the same way that I have always, really, which is just kind of alone [laughs]. No, no, there’s kind of two sides to Metronomy – the side that in fact most people end up seeing is the touring side and that is me, Oscar [Cash], Anna [Prior] and Benga [Adelekan].
Your forthcoming album Love Letters has been recorded in an analogue format. Could you please explain the intention behind this?
Yeah it was a studio called Toe Rag, which is willfully living in the past, you know, the most modern thing they have is a CD burner that’s just how it is. The reason I wanted to do something in this place was because if you’re very used to using a computer and it being very integral to how you write music, then to suddenly have to do something without one just changes how you think about it. I mean I did it because I quite like the sound and aesthetic of it, but yeah the main reason was because it forced me to change how I wrote music. I think if you’re releasing albums and you want to keep releasing albums, you need to keep finding new ways to keep people interested and ways to keep you interesting.
This is like the complete opposite experience to what most people have when they’re recording records. And it kind of makes you behave differently and that’s what I wanted to force myself to do.
Would you say that Love Letters is a concept album?
No, I mean it definitely has themes and it has feeling and stuff but I didn’t want this record to be something that I talked about as a concept of something you know? Because the last album [The English Riviera] had that element to it. This album is really just collecting a bunch of songs which were written in between touring and where I was traveling. To me they all have a kind of similar influence or starting point, but yeah if there’s any concept it was to record in an analogue studio. That would be the conceptual side.
The release of ‘I’m Aquarius’ saw fans locating the constellation via the Night Sky app in order to unlock the track, which was a really unique and cool way to launch it. How did you guys come up with that idea?
That’s pure, blue sky thinking [laughs] from the record label.
But nah, I think it helps if you have a nice way of, you know, getting people interested in a new record. Obviously you get people, like you get Daft Punk who did a very long, teasing campaign, and either way it ends up becoming a bit irritating. We just wanted to do something that was a bit more fun. So the woman who runs the label was like “oh we should hide it in this app” [laughs] and I was like, “yeah, that’s a brilliant idea!” And you know, you’d never have the same excuse to do that with another song unless you wrote a song called ‘Angry Birds’ or whatever, so it was pretty unique. I don’t think we’d be able to do something like that ever again.
Bit of a tricky question for you now, if you had to choose only one album to listen to for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Ummm, ooh. Errr either something like Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys or ABBA’s Greatest Hits.
You’ve just been confirmed to play Austin’s NME Awards. What are you looking forward to most about the ceremony?
I know that Paul McCartney is going to be there, so I’m quite excited about that. I’ve been to that awards ceremony before; the great thing about it is it’s just like spotting people from mid-level indie bands is the best thing and getting a bit drunk, and maybe kind of talking to people in banter, quite successfully making a fool of yourself which I quite enjoy.
Metronomy’s touring calendar is looking pretty solid for the next few months. We can only see up until June, so can Australia expect a visit from you guys sometime soon, possibly even at Splendour In The Grass?
Now though I can’t put this with enough detail into writing, Joseph gave off a very cheeky noise as if to say, “you sly dog interviewer, trying to catch me at my own game” type thing. This was executed with a grin, I could just tell. Anyway.
I’m not sure where I’m at [laughs].. When do they announce that festival?
I think it’s usually around April?
Okay… I mean, I think we’re planning on coming to Australia in your Winter (looking good) but I’m not sure where that falls with these things but we’re excited to come and visit and we’ll be seeing you in maybe.. I don’t know, maybe June? July? (Bingo!) That kind of time?
Awesome, well that falls perfectly, I say as we both finish the conversation off with a laugh.
Metronomy’s fourth album Love Letters is set for release on Friday, 7th March via Warner Bros Music.
Words by Hannah Galvin.