Joe Mount on Love Letters, 'self-made' pressure and the impact of touring
gigwise intern
11:19 23rd January 2014

It feels like it's eons since The English Riviera, Metronomy's third album - the record that broke them through into the mainstream - was released. It was the subject of countless gushing five star reviews, was nominated for the Mercury Prize and soundtracked endless quirky insurance adverts on TV screens.

It's actually only been nearly three years, but Joe Mount, the man behind Metronomy, agrees that it feels like much longer...

"I feel so out of touch," he admits, almost apologetically. "I don't know what's been going on. I had a baby this year."

"Well, my girlfriend did, obviously," he adds dryly.

This new addition to Mount's life is just one of the facets that occupies the themes of upcoming album Love Letters. Famously, The English Riviera is an ode to Mount's hometown of Devon, specifically his return to the coastal borough after pursuing a career in music in London. It was a concept album in a resolutely non-Spinal Tap way. Can we expect the same immersive storyline from Love Letters?

"I didn't want to do another record that I had to talk about in terms of like, 'Oh, it's about this...'" Mount says. "For a long time, doing an album like [The English Riviera] really helped because I didn't start as a guitarist, writing songs, so I had to get better at writing lyrics, and it helped to have a theme.

"With Love Letters, a lot of the songs are about being away from home and travelling, because that's what I'm good at," he continues. "Everyone was asking: "What's the next album about?" and I was like, 'All I know how to do is tour'."

Watch the video for Love Letters' lead single 'I'm Aquarius' below:

Indeed, thanks to the success of The English Riviera, Metronomy spent most of 2012 on the road, playing a slew of shows across the UK, Europe and the US; not to mention dozens of global festivals, including the likes of Reading and Leeds, Latitude, Coachella, Sonar, and Field Day. 

This incessant touring has clearly influenced Mount's lyrics, as showcased most honestly on Love Letters' stripped back closer, 'Never Wanted'. 'Mini bar with many choices/bedside table/distant voices/but it gets better,' Mount sings, before querying doubtfully: 'Does it get better?'

It all sounds like it could be veering into "woe-is-me-I'm-so-famous" territory, but Mount insists this isn't the case. "I love touring but when you're away from your girlfriend, or your family, you feel worse for enjoying it. You feel guilty," he says. 

Love Letters is an excellent album - electronic tinged indie rock, with plenty of sing-along hooks, heartfelt lyrics and even an 80s disco-funk-rock freakout. It surely must have been a fairly intimidating prospect, however, to follow the success of The English Riviera. So the obvious question that springs to mind is: was there pressure on him to better TER?

"Yeah..." Mount says uncertainly. "But it's a self-made pressure. The pressure never comes from the record label or management. It's always: 'Why wouldn't I want to make a good album?'. It would be odd if anyone else was putting more pressure on me than myself." 

Unfortunately for him, Mount is the only person who has to shoulder this pressure. Since he formed Metronomy in 1999, the band have grown from a one-man project into, well, a band. Mount tours with multi-instrumentalist Oscar Cash, drummer Anna Prior and bass guitarist Gbenga Adelekan, and they appear on the albums and some promotional images.

It's a fairly confusing set up - even Mount constantly corrects himself with "we" when he says "I" throughout our conversation. "I always say "we" because we spend so much time touring," he explains. "I still write the songs but we operate as a band most of the time." Mount is still the main songwriter, however, admitting he feels it's "personal" when he's writing something.

Band or no band, Love Letters is sure to spell out more touring and success for Metronomy - but what else does Mount want to achieve?

"I've always had pretty modest ambitions," he says. "Having said that, with each record it would be very weird to not want it to be popular and to not want it to be successful. I'd love it if its success is much bigger than the last album. I feel really happy with the record, I'm really proud of it so I'm excited for people to hear it, and for as many people to hear it as possible. But I don't want to play Wembley Stadium."

Maybe stadiums aren't his bag, but Metronomy's status is certainly rising. They have a headlining slot alongside the legendary Pixies at London's Field Day to look forward to, which Mount confesses he's "really excited but really nervous" about. That, and playing Brixton Academy in March, he says, "are the things I wished to happen, and are now happening."

However, Mount hints he's not quite done with wishing for more. "Desires are rolling," he adds.

Love Letters is out March 10.