Metronomy made their mark on the UK music scene with their impressive 2008 album 'Nights Out'. Now the band return this month with new album 'The English Riveria' which is certainly set to make them a festival favourite this summer.
Gigwise caught up with Metronomy’s brainchild, Joe Mount, after the band’s last sound check before their first UK tour date in Nottingham. He has a refreshing attitude to the sudden pressure the band has been placed under to produce a worthy follow up to 'Nights Out', and talks openly about his old sweater-type relationship with the traditional English seaside…
Does the first date of this tour fill you with excitement or nervous apprehension?
I think it’s a bit of both really. The first date of a tour is always exciting and we’ve not been to Nottingham for ages. All the responses so far to the album have seemed to mention this sudden pressure we’re under to perform that I hadn’t previously been aware of, so it’s fair to say there’s now a bit of apprehension there, but mostly excitement.
'The English Riviera' coastline encompasses your home turf, Totnes, in Devon. Was the album something of a homage to where you grew up?
It kind of is and isn’t at the same time. I grew up there and I’ve got a lot of happy memories, but the album’s also me trying to re-invent the area because it’s not the most stimulating of places from which to create music from – the way of life is quite laid back. I’d say the album is meant to be an affectionate kick up the arse.
Your latest single, 'The Look', actually has that traditional seaside sound – I take it that was a purposeful move, looking at the album title?
I was aware of playing that jaunty organ sound so I know people would connect the two, and it became a tip of the hat of sorts towards the idea. We travel to different countries and people have an attitude towards the seaside that’s very English, in that they consider those towns to be quite depressing old resorts, so I think I was trying to reflect that and turn it on its head a bit.
The new album’s got a different sound to 'Nights Out', and definitely 'Pip Paine', which both feel like soundtracks to parties. Was the change purposeful or organic?
Half and half, as part of me knew that people were probably expecting us to do something predictable, but I think the fans who understood us knew that wouldn’t be the case. I also just wanted a change and for everything to feel fresh. It wasn’t a struggle though so I suppose in that sense it was quite organic.
You’ve also slowly made vocals more and more prominent within your material. Has storytelling become more important to you?
Not so much. But I felt I needed to do something more confident vocally than 'Nights Out', something more engaging. It’s all part of this thing where I can see myself moving around between new ideas, but I would like to go back to instrumental on the next album.
Was there pressure to match the critical acclaim of 'Nights Out'?
There is an element of pressure, but when you start making music you have this idea that you expect and hope you are going to improve over time. If you created a good album and thought that was as good as it was going to get that would be depressing. I had no ideas how this album would be received – I hoped people would respond well to the chances we took with the sound.
You’ve produced all three albums, along with mixing other artists’ work, so how do you think that’s helped you develop?
A lot of the remixes have definitely helped, especially as you learn more about how other people have arranged songs. Writing with other people has also had an influence.
Metronomy - 'She Wants'
Your videos are always imaginative, the latest using backwards footage on She Wants and pigeons on The Look. Does the band play a big part in coming up with these concepts?
On the last album I was involved with the videos but for She Wants I said I didn’t really want to be in them as we were touring. The mad idea for the seagulls came from Lorenzo, the director!
Onto the summer festivals... You’ve been placed on the main stage line up for Glastonbury. Does that feel daunting or a natural step up?
Someone told me about the Pyramind Stage and I was like, “What?!”, as I suppose I kind of thought we might be put further up the bill on another stage, but to be there is crazy. Having said that in the past I’ve been the one walking past the Pyramid around the time we’ll be on and I’ve felt sorry for those bands, as people are just lounging about in the sun and there’s not really a big crowd, so that’ll be us this time! We’ve just always been the kind of people that roll with the punches and enjoy ourselves whatever so this’ll be fun.
I’m sure you always get asked about your t-shirt lights you add to your live performances, but it’s always been a burning desire to know the answer to that question. Where did those come from?
It was about three days before me, Oscar and Gabriel (Stebbing, former band member) were due to do our first ever live gig. I thought we needed something to pep the show up a bit as we were focusing on the laptops, so I went into a pound shop, saw the covered lights and thought I’d stick them on a t shirt. It was really a spur of the minute idea that’s become quite a permanent feature.
You’re also a fan of the on-stage theatrics and dance moves, will the change in style curtail the antics?
I think we’ll always weave it into our gigs as we’re fundamentally the same band and we come from the same place. I think to ditch it would be to turn our backs on where we’ve come from, so we definitely won’t be losing the theatrics.