More about: The Rhythm Method
The Rhythm Method are running late. Hardly a surprise, seeing as it took them five-years to bring out a debut album, one that their fans have been yearning after for an age. All can be forgiven, however, as they sit down and tell us they’re late due to already working on album number two. “Getting this album out has been such a relief, such a weight off” lyricist and front man Joey Bradbury tells us, “it was like being constipated. Once we got into the flow of this album coming out, a new one has just come immediately after. We’ve basically written a second album in the past two months.” Synth player and all-around multi-instrumentalist Rowan Martin pitches in, “it was like blocking a path, sorry to use the constipation metaphor again, but we were carrying it around for so long. Now that it’s coming out it’s so exciting, but we know we’ve got a follow up album that’s ready to be made.”
Their debut album How Would You Know I Was Lonely? is an amalgamation of niche British references, pub-karaoke ballads and nostalgic Brit-Funk, tied up and delivered in a melancholy package of millennial culture. As we sit in a Camberwell pub garden the pair cheerily bounce off one another with inside jokes and the comfort that comes from knowing one another for over a decade. Here’s what they told us about their no-doubt seminal debut.
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Gigwise: Clear it up for us, is The Rhythm Method named after the form of natural family planning, or is that just a happy coincidence?
Joey Bradbury: Yes, I went to Catholic boys’ school and remember hearing it in an RE lesson when I was about 12 or 13, I thought that’d be a good band name. Sat on it until I was 25.
Rowan Martin: It’s a great band name, I can say that as the band was originally just Joey, so I saw it as an outsider.
GW: How long have you two known each other?
RM: 12 years.
JB: We met through the 2007 indie scene. It’s much liked the Brixton Windmill scene now, and a lot of people came from that scene. Not us, obviously, but Florence and the Machine, Jamie T, Bombay Bicycle Club.
GW: How does it feel to finally have this album out?
JB: An absolute relief. We’ve had most of these songs for 4-5 years, some of them are only a year old and some only a couple of months old, but it feels like a real weight off.
GW: You’ve been knocking around for half a decade and like you said, a lot of the songs off the album have stayed with you for all of that time. How have you made the album feel fresh and interesting when the songs on it have been listened too and loved for years?
RM: One of the things we aspire to do is try and write songs that don’t really have a shelf life. I think our greatest achievement is that we’ve actually done that, with a couple of songs at least, and I think that just comes from writing about personal experience and being as honest as we can. Our songs don’t tend to conform to any sort of fad that’s going on at the time. In the past 12 years we’ve watched fads crashing like waves around us.
JB: Even just in the past five years, we’ve seen so many bands, particularly ones signed to major labels, that have released an album and been dropped straight away. It happens over and over again.
GW: Was it a conscientious decision to name the album after lyrics in one of your earliest songs?
JB: It wasn’t actually our first choice, but we stuck to this one. It seemed right. It was one of the first lyrics I wrote, and I do consider it my best lyric. I’m the king of the lonely men.
RM: I think it captures the melancholy of the album…
JB: And I think, not to blow our own trumpets, that it does sum up the times pretty well. The age of social media, where you can tell when someone’s having a bit of a breakdown by their Twitter and Facebook feeds.
GW: Would you think it’s fair to say that it’s quite a sad album?
RM: That’s interesting. I think it’s the release and relief factor. A lot of the songs to us actually sound quite happy. I think we just start from a very melancholy base. All of my favourite songs, no matter who they’re by, always have a touch of sadness about them. I think you have to have that note of bitterness or discord there for it to agree with people.
JB: And that gives us the room to have fun and make jokes in our lyrics. I mean, look at people who are regarded as miserable; Leonard Cohen, he’s meant to be very sad but he’s actually very funny. Even, well not now obviously - he’s been cancelled, but Morrissey was renowned to be a misery guts and his lyrics were hilarious.
RM: It’s so much more honest. People have that mix of melancholy and humour, no one is smiling from ear to ear constantly, but neither are they crying and sad all the time. That’s not how life is, life’s actually quite mild, I think.
GW: In the production of your album you’ve frequently said that you’re trying to create a story, an album with a narrative. Do you think you’ve achieved that?
JB: Initially we wanted to make a concept album. I think a lot of that still remains in it, but I guess at the crux of it it’s a weekend in the life of a fundamentally sad male. It’s very male because we are two men.
RM: Originally, we thought of the album as a compilation of different London genres. ‘Local, Girl’ and ‘Wandsworth Plain’ as your pub-rock, ‘Ode2Joey' is like garage, ‘Single Life’ was sort of Brit funk. We wanted to capture each sound that we grew up with and give each one of them a story.
GW: What’s the most niche British reference you’ve made on the album?
RM: Definitely John Sitton.
JB: Yes, he was a football manager for Leyton Orient. They were being filmed for a Channel 4 documentary and there’s a clip of him doing a team talk and it’s just mental. He’s swearing his head off, it’s really bizarre. It’s like a meme now.
RM: It’s a very Shakespearian outburst.
JB: But he’s a black cab driver now. We follow him on Twitter which we kind of regret because he’s incredibly right wing.
GW: In terms of politics, for a band that coined the phrase “if your dad votes Tory, he’s a nonce” the new album isn’t overtly political. Is that on purpose?
JB: There are a lot of political undertones to it, but they’re very much rooted in personal experience. Personal experience comes out in your political agenda. The poster we made suited the time, that time when, leading up the last general election, we did genuinely feel like we might win.
RM: I’ve never really liked overtly political songs. I like The Clash but I like their pop songs, ‘Lost in the Supermarket’ instead of ‘White Riot’.
JB: It’s just so easy to turn into Bono or Bob Geldof with that kind of thing.
GW: You’re an incredibly ambitious band for a pair that says you want to exist in the middle of Mercury Prize and Ibiza chart music… what do you want your legacy to be?
JB: Managing to stay un-cancelled…
RM: That’d be the best thing. Or coming back from being cancelled.
JB: Yeah, that’s the dream. Coming back from hugging the cactus. After Mel Gibson had his anti-Semitic racist breakdown, he had to go into hiding for a while and he referred to that period of his life as ‘hugging the cactus’, which is a big inspiration for us. I don’t understand it as a metaphor, but it works well.
RM: We’ve all hugged the cactus.
JB: But what do we actually want to be remembered for? I have a feeling that we’ll be regarded as the ones that started something but never got the fame it deserved… at least until we’re dead.
RM: Shall we kill ourselves? We’d probably do a lot better.
JB: I do have a feeling that we won’t be appreciated in our own time.
RM: But most of our musical heroes were never the biggest band, Prefab Sprout, Dexy’s, Style Council, they weren’t massive. But I think if our legacy is to be one thing, I’d want it to be bring a sense of honesty back to music. Being yourself, being unashamed of your background and not caring about anything but that.
GW: So, you’ll be happy dying un-appreciated?
JB: I mean, I’ll definitely be happy when I’m dead.
GW: Ok – quick questions. Favourite 2019 Love Island contestants?
RM: This season? Amy.
JB: Are we watching it? I didn’t think we were watching it. Tommy Fury?
GW: Ant or Dec?
JB: Ant for me.
RM: I’m Dec. That pretty much sums up our relationship, you’re the one that’s going off the rails.
GW: Who’s your ideal support act?
JB: The Rolling Stones.
RM: Chas and Dave.
JB: well, just Dave. I guess, HMLTD.
GW: Favourite lyric off the new album?
JB: “How would you know I was lonely if I didn’t tell everyone”, it’s the first lyric I wrote for this project and sums it all up for me.
RM: “Clapham kind of common”, sums up the band and captures everything in a way.
GW: Who’d win in a fight Mike Skinner or Chris Difford?
JB: Mike Skinner. Chris Diffford is a Christian.
RM: He’s a pacifist, a very peaceful man. We’ve never met him but even through interactions on Twitter and reading his book, you can tell he’s a gentle man.
GW: Who’d win in a fight, Elton John or Mike Skinner?
JB: Elton John. The bitch is back.
GW: Joey, describe Rowan in one line.
JB: A special, elegant wasp.
GW: Rowan, describe Joey in one line.
RM: He’s beautifully flawed and flawedly beautiful.
More about: The Rhythm Method