Metronomy are ready to embrace pop again on their fifth album. Just don’t call it ‘casio-pop’, says Joseph Mount
Joseph Mount began Metronomy as an instrumental bedroom project, with just 500 copies of electronic debut Pip Paine (Pay The £5000 You Owe) being printed on its initial release.
Conceptual follow-up Nights Out brought critical acclaim, but it wasn’t until third album The English Riviera that Metronomy truly entered the music industry’s inner circle.
That record saw the band receive a nomination for the Mercury Prize in 2011, and the four-piece have since flourished as a live act – headlining London’s Field Day Festival and their own show at Alexandra Palace.
Mount describes latest project Summer 08 as “the next logical step” to the band’s breakthrough 2011 release, and a departure from the sound of 2014’s Love Letters.
Daniel Jeakins caught up with the Devon-born multi-instrumentalist to talk disc-scratching, DJ sets and why taking a break from touring means there could be another new album very soon.
Hi Joseph. The lead single to this new album, ‘Old Skool’, is a collaboration with legendary turntablist Mix Master Mike. What inspired the song’s disc-scratching sound, and how did you get him on board?
“Scratching is something I’ve always thought sounded really cool. It’s one of those things where it took a while for me to be sure it’d work, but it’s something I haven’t heard anyone do for a long time. I got in touch with Mix Master Mike through email – had we not got him I’d have tried to get DJ Shadow.”
You’ve produced this album on your own and it feels a lot more like your own project rather than a collaborative effort. Why did you decide to go down that road?
“Metronomy’s always been my thing, but the last two albums have been produced in a studio rather than my bedroom. I guess you could call it a bit of a selfish endeavour! It was made in a similar way to early Metronomy albums – that’s the only real difference I guess.”
You said in a previous interview that you named the album after the last summer you had free. What did you get up to in ‘Summer 08’, and how did that inspire the album?
“It was actually Summer ’07 that was the last one I had free! That’s a bit of a bad mistake. It was the last summer I had before I started touring. My own existence changed so much when I started going on tour – when you start travelling and seeing the world your life changes so much. The album is quite carefree and reminiscent of that time.”
You’ve also spoken about not planning to tour in support of this album, which feels like quite a privileged position to be in since most bands are encouraged to do as many live dates as possible these days. How did you manage that?
“Obviously we can’t afford to not tour forever! We toured Love Letters like crazy, so everyone involved was cool with not playing shows for a while. We’re not on the level of Radiohead where we can do pretty much whatever we like, but for the sake of self-preservation I decided not to tour for a while.
“On our last tour we played Alexandra Palace, which was by far the biggest headline show we’d ever played. It felt like a nice point to stop and decide whether we wanted to push on and start playing bigger and bigger venues. You do lose a bit of intimacy playing those kind of shows, so I wanted to stop and really think about where we were going.”
Would you be more inclined to do DJ sets in support of this album?
“I’ve been doing a few already. It’s so easy! When you tour with the band it’s about 12 people travelling together, but you get paid the same amount just going around on your own. I think I’m going to become a f****** DJ!”
The English Riviera was a huge breakout album for you. Is there ever the temptation to try and recreate the sound of that record, since it proved so popular?
“I’m not sure. I guess Summer 08 is the next logical step after The English Riviera. I made that record as a reaction to criticism of Nights Out, which some people described as ‘casio-pop’ which anyone could do.
“The English Riviera was my way of proving that not anyone could do what I do. Everyone loved it, which was great, but I think people that hadn’t listened to previous Metronomy albums misunderstood what the band was about.
“Love Letters sort of brought us back to what original fans would have expected. This new album is different – it’s a pop record, and it’d be great to see a few more radio stations take a chance on it. It’d be helpful.”
With no immediate plans to tour, what’s next for you now this album is finished?
“I want to record another album straight away. Without the fatigue of touring there’s no reason why not.”
What direction do you think your next project could take?
“I’d like to do another album in the same spirit as Summer 08. I’ve always wanted to do a double-album as well. They can often be quite boring and just have too much material, but I’d love to give it a go. So look out for that.”
Metronomy’s fifth studio album Summer 08 will be released on July 1. More info at metronomy.co.uk
All images by Andrew Whitton