Interview with Metronomy singer Joe Mount ahead of UEA gig
18:19 26 March 2014
For Metronomy’s highly-anticipated fourth album, Love Letters, singer and producer Joe Mount has steered the band away from indie-dance towards 1960s influences, soul, psychedelia and showing his sensitive side. He took time out ahead of tonight’s UEA gig.
Three albums in Metronomy reached the mainstream with the critically-acclaimed ode to the south coast The English Riviera, nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2011.
It’s taken almost three years for the highly-anticipated follow up, Love Letters, but it is now finally out there and marks a change of tack, with singer and producer Joe Mount, as the title suggests, exploring his sensitive side — perhaps it is due to his relocation to Paris or his recent fatherhood.
After the disco-pleasing indie and almost bubblegum pop of hits like The Bay, A Thing for Me and The Look, Motown influences can be heard on the album’s title track, while comeback single I’m Aquarius is littered with ‘shoop doop-doop ahs’.
The Devon-born singer’s vocals sound uncannily similar to Space Oddity Bowie on strong opener The Upsetter, while Month Of Sundays also has the feel of that era. Love Letters may be more of the same from Mount and his three bandmates — Oscar Cash, Anna Prior and Olugbenga Adelekan — but his sound is distinctive and the album is highly polished.
According to Mount the new songs are influenced by a lot of classic 60s records – seminal funk and soul artists like Sly and The Family Stone, Love, The Byrds and The Zombies.
You can judge for yourself when the band stops off at the UEA as part of a UK tour to coincide with the album’s release.
Why a musician and why not a librarian or traffic warden?
I’m not sure really. I think if you talk to anyone who is young and good at something there comes a point when you realise that actually it could be a job. The first band I was in was a school band called The Upsides. I was 15 with some guys a few years older and we were getting a lot of interest. Unfortunately one of the guys went off to university and we had to break up. But it’s when you are about 17 and you decide to make it your life goal. It’s a gamble but I always wanted to work in music. If I hadn’t been able to do that in a band I would have just been happy to have been involved in music some other way.
It’s taken a while for critical and mainstream success to come along, did that matter or is it simply a nice by-product of being in the band?
The nicest thing is to be able to make a living out of something I love. It has taken a while and to be honest people were not really expecting us to be a big success, which was always reflected in our record deals.
What was the turning point for the band in terms of suddenly being more popular?
It all happened pretty gradually. The first time I felt like something was really happening was at a gig at the ICA in London in front of about 300/350 people. I was thinking to myself ‘this is incredible; we’re the only band on the flyer’. After that each venue becomes bigger and bigger, but you have to try hard not to focus on that too much. I just find it amazing to think that people are prepared to pay to come and see us.
Funniest moment in music?
Most of it involves things like turning up at the wrong airport or equipment suddenly catching alight on stage. It’s an industry that’s not exactly renowned for being organised so clearly there can be a lot of chaotic moments.
There was a gig we did in Biarritz in France with Two Door Cinema Club and we were supposed to go on stage at midnight so we had a drink at about 11pm, as we sometime do. We didn’t get on stage until about 1.30am and by that time I was way too drunk, it was embarrassing. I felt horrible for anyone who was there. I hadn’t done that before and haven’t since.
There are lots of things I’m proud of but the answer would probably be getting to our fourth album and people still being interested enough to listen.
If you could be in any other band which one and why?
I’d probably be the drummer in a young band - anyone who would have me really. I’d probably say The Strypes, though I might be too old for them. I think I definitely imagine I’m still young. Yeah, one day I’m going to see if I can join The Strypes as their drummer.
What can you tell us about new album Love Letters?
It was recorded in an old studio, which give sit a completely different quality in terms of sound and arrangement. I definitely feel it is a record that might surprise people in that it feels a lot more intimate than our last album. When we were recording it I was listening to a lot of 60s bands, psychedelia and that is reflected in the sound.
Do you believe in it? What would you do if you didn’t?
I definitely believe in this album and we are really happy with it. We put a lot of effort into it to make sure it is absolutely right, changing things time and again where need be. If I didn’t believe in it we wouldn’t put it out. We don’t really kick songs out; we record them again, sometimes for up to 10 times, until we are happy with it. There’s nothing that cannot be fixed.
You’re a band I’ve only seen live at Latitude Festival. What can we expect when you play in Norwich?
We know that the bigger the gig, the more people pay and the more we have to step up. We’ve played the UEA before [as part of the NME Tour in 2012] and it’s a good venue. Clearly we’ve got our new songs and a new style set and hopefully everyone will have a great time. I really look forward to playing live and can’t wait to play these shows.