Starting out as a simple side project by Joseph Mount back in 1999, Metronomy has since made its place into the electronic music scene and has grown in popularity in the past few years. Their latest full-length, “The English Riviera”, dropped in 2011 and they have been constantly on tour since then. Good thing for the fans too, since they are said to put on quite an amazing live show, with Gbenga Adelekan, Anna Prior and Oscar Cash playing with Joseph and giving the songs a new life.
When the band was in Montreal back in March, I had the chance to sit down with Joseph and Gbenga for a nice laughter-filled chat. Here’s what they had to say.
CONFRONT: Can I have a little history about the band for people who might not know you?
JOSEPH: When it started, it wasn’t really a band. I started playing music and started recording in a little bedroom studio and I moved to Brighton, England and met a bunch of people that liked the same kind of music that I liked so I gave CDs out and stuff like that. It kind of became more of a thing than I thought it would so I got a band together to start playing the songs. At that point, it was me and a guy named Gabriel. A few years after that, Gabriel left and that’s when Anna and Gbenga stepped in, the most recent record came out and now, we live in a bus. *laughter*
CONFRONT: And how is tour life?
JOSEPH: It can be very dramatic.
GBENGA: I think for the kids, our band has very varying degrees of popularity. On an American tour, we’ll go from playing to 2500 people in Montreal to 300 people in Boston. So that’s very interesting. And at the end of this tour, we’re supporting Coldplay so we’re going to be playing arenas. I kind of like that’s it’s so varied.
JOSEPH: And this time, we have a bus! Last time, we had a van, which was hell. Actually, every tour we’ve done here has been like that, this is the first time we have a bus and we’re very grateful.
CONFRONT: A little upgrade?
JOSEPH: A complete upgrade! So it doesn’t matter if we’re playing to 5 people, as long as we get to sleep on a bus. *laughter*
CONFRONT: And let’s talk about your music. There was a big change between your second and your third album, how would you describe your sound evolution?
JOSEPH: The simplest way to describe it would be: it’s the first record that was recorded in a studio and was recorded without arranging it the way that you would for dance music. All the rest of the stuff was on our computer with loops and stuff like that. To me, it has the elements of the second album but recorded in a traditional way. But also, maybe the feel of the songs was a bit less frantic because I think I feel a bit less frantic! *laughter*
CONFRONT: I guess the more you grow, the more focused you get?
JOSEPH: Yeah! And a really nice thing about the way that it has hanged and the way people have responded to it is that it’s exactly what I want to be doing as a songwriter. And have people edging you on rather than just dropping off. It’s nice! Hopefully, we’re getting better.
CONFRONT: And what about your next album? Is it heading towards the same direction?
JOSEPH: From the little ideas that I’ve got at the moment and the little bits of recorded ideas that I have, it exists in the same atmospheric world but I think musically, it’s going to be a lot more of a tip of the hat to the first album. I guess I’m starting to understand everything of it better. I like the idea of bringing everything together a bit more.
CONFRONT: So kind of going back to your roots?
JOSEPH: Yeah, return to form! *laughter*
CONFRONT: And which song do you think represents the band?
JOSEPH: I don’t know really! It’s kind of difficult. If you came to see us and we played something like “She wants” or “The bay”, I think you’d probably get a pretty good feel for stuff.
CONFRONT: That’s very vague! *laughter*
JOSEPH: It is very vague!
GBENGA: There’s so many different types of songs. There’s the instrumental side to the music as well. I’d say you need one instrumental track and one vocal track.
CONFRONT: So you’d have two?
JOSEPH: If we had to pick one, we’d choose two! *laughter*
CONFRONT: That makes sense! Now, I’ve read a lot about your live show and how great it is. What do you think makes it so special?
JOSEPH: I’m not really sure. I never imagined that I would be doing this and it kind of feels like we’ve gotten to this point without thinking about it too much. The only thing I can assume is that is hat is charming about it. While we’re getting more popular and we’re trying to raise our game to that level, I think it still has that feel of something…
GBENGA: I think a lot of the bands get into the trap of right from the beginning, having a very dead-eye drive to become massive and I think that translate to their live shows. So as soon as they can, they’ll get a lot more crew and they’ll be more “professional” and they’ll put stuff on backing tracks. That consistency is obviously their advantage but I think it just makes things kind of generic as well. Our live shows, I think we still feel like people who come and see them aren’t ever going to see the same show twice.
JOSEPH: We still feel like anything can go wrong. It kind of keeps everyone on their toes maybe? That element of danger!
CONFRONT: Well that’s cool! Because the fans have heard your songs over and over the same way on your CDs so it’s a different experience!
GBENGA: Yeah I think that’s just another thing. Physically, on the records, it’s mostly Jo who plays the instruments so when you come to the live shows, it’s different people playing the instruments and it already give it a different feel.
CONFRONT: It gives them new light right?
CONFRONT: Now, I’m going to ask you to draw something that represents you. And then you have to explain it to me after.
GBENGA: Jo is actually pretty good at art. I’m terrible. [He started talking as he guessed what Joseph was drawing.] Do you have any spreads that you put on bread that are made from yeast extract? We have this thing in England called Marmite and some people love it, like Jo.
CONFRONT: What does it taste like?
GBENGA: It tastes like tar. *laugher* And it looks like tar too but it’s oddly popular.
JOSEPH: It tastes savory. They make it by scraping the top off beer. It’s a by-product of the distillation process.
GBENGA: It’s cheesecake. It’s my favorite dessert. New York cheesecake. The first time I came to the States, my sister-in-law, who is American, made one for me because I had never had any. It was pretty big and over the course of three days, I had eaten all of it myself. *laughter*
CONFRONT: Well that’s it for me! Have a great show tonight!
JOSEPH: Thank you!
Check out CONFRONTube for a clip of the guys when they were drawing and guessing each other’s drawings!
To learn more about them and to check out their music, go on these sites:
Official site: http://www.metronomy.co.uk/