INTERVIEW: Metronomy

Metronomy’s much anticipated return continues to gain momentum. Their sublime single ‘Lately’ premiered back in May on Annie Mac’s Radio 1 show and with new single ‘Salted Caramel Ice Cream’ has set the standard for their eagerly anticipated sixth album ‘Metronomy Forever’ and major UK and European tour.

We caught up with band leader Joseph Mount.

What are we interrupting you doing today?

I’m on holiday. Well It’s not really a holiday, it’s half a holiday.

Have you had a full-on Summer this year, what with the album release?

We’ve sort of held off doing some of the bigger festivals until next year to be honest but we’re still doing loads and of course with the album, there is lots going on. It’s been incredibly busy!

You’ve also directed the last two videos as well, so you’ve crammed that in also haven’t you?

Yeah, I think it’s great. You know when you’re stressed out when you’re not organised, well I’ve been quite organised, so I haven’t felt too manic.

When did you start working on the album?

I guess I started some of the songs probably around three or four years ago and I was working on a Robyn record and we were touring. It probably wasn’t until this time last year that I actually started just concentrating on
the Metronomy record. It starts off as a big thing and then the real finishing off stage takes place over eight months or something like that.

You say you’re a planner, how do you plan a Metronomy album? Do you have a set day and say like right today I’m going to start writing and I’m going to do that for two weeks or do you book studio time and see what happens?

Well you can do it like that, I’ve done it like that before and booked studio time. I think what you need to do basically is start by finding the feeling or the thing that is going to give you enough creative mileage to make
a record. I think it must be different for a lot of people. I think if you want to make a record that has some sort of integrity, from super pop stuff to jazz, to anywhere you want to go, there has to be a feeling for the record that you have to try and get to.

According to Wikipedia, which means it’s probably wrong, this is Metronomy’s twentieth year, is that right?

I mean, it’s actually not wrong, it’s maybe more misleading. Twenty years ago, I was a sixteen-year-old boy just making beats and stuff like that, I’d probably just come up with the name so it was probably twenty years ago that I thought of the name. But the first album came out in 2005 I think, so it’s not ancient like that. It’s quite a hefty album, seventeen tracks Yeah, there are seventeen tracks but some of them you can’t sing along to, some are more like an interlude sort of thing. It’s intentionally quite a long record.

I miss interludes in albums

I think it’s interesting that with streaming there is more space for that interlude kind of stuff. If you’re making playlists or whatever, it helps break it up and makes it a bit different. I think, weirdly, people will start to get more interludey.

Going back to the first album and relistening to that, the majority of the tracks are instrumentally led aren’t they? Is that very much a Metronomy thing do you think, is it that sometimes words really aren’t necessary?

I dunno. I’ve been trying to explain it recently that for me there is an interesting thing that happens when you’re just listening to instrumental music. Even if it’s electronic or if it’s someone performing on a trumpet or something, it’s just this idea of conveying emotion but without using words, I find that kind of nice. It’s something that doesn’t rely on language or someone speaking a particular language and I also think that people kind of scrutinise it in terms of grammar.

When lyrics do come into play, a lot of what you write comes across as auto biographical, is that right, do you plunder your own life for song writing?

I mean it’s not autobiographical. What I’ve learnt about the way that I write is that I try to use language and stories that I think people can listen to and understand in quite a kind of literal way. I think they’re written in a way that people can quite easily understand what it’s about and what is going on. It’s quite often describing an event and I guess it always comes from something that is true and that I feel like is a nice feeling to write about and something I’ve experienced. It gets to the point where
that thought is just a starting point, that initial idea. It can then become something that is total fantasy. So although It feels kind of autobiographical, that’s only the starting point. The truth is, I’ve been really happy in a relationship for the last ten years so any story about that kind of stuff is plundering very old feelings or situations and then kind of adding to it and embellishing it a bit.

Does it make writing harder; people making that assumption? Does it sway your song writing?

No, it doesn’t because I think in the end, as long as it’s not incriminating, as long as I’m not writing a song about having some weapons in my
house or something. You can read books and you can watch films and you can separate the actor from the part and all that stuff and you can understand that JK Rowling isn’t a boy wizard or whatever. It’s easier in other formats for people to suspend their disbelief a bit. When you’re making music and you’re using these instruments that are traditional and you’re part of this tradition of storytelling and singing about yourself, I wouldn’t try and avoid being misunderstood.

Maybe songs just seem so much more personal. You’re taking this album on tour this Autumn as well. The music is very performative, is that an intentional thing from the start?

Maybe when you’re writing a song, you’re kind of subconsciously thinking about that. I would always try and make stuff that feels cool and genuine and coming from the right place without necessarily worrying about how it’s performed. The thing we’ve kind of done with live stuff is that we’ve decided it is its own thing. If you go to a gig you shouldn’t come expecting for it to sound exactly the same as the record or comparing it to the record, it’s something else. If you want it to sound like the record, then the record is the best thing to listen to. The live stuff becomes about us all and it’s much more of an inclusive gang sort of thing.

What’s your favourite song to perform live?

My favourite new song is called Insecurity, I’m enjoying playing that live and from the new album I think ‘Insecurity’ will be quite a good one, hopefully people will like that song. I think there are quite a few on the album, there’s another song called ‘Upset My Girlfriend’ that I hope becomes a sing along hook.

‘Metronomy Forever’ is available to download and stream now. A limited edition deluxe bonus triple-vinyl edition will also available from www.metronomy.co.uk and select indie shops.

 

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