Exclusive Q&A with Metronomy
Having just arrived in New York City after playing to thousands at the Ultra Music Festival Live Stage in Miami, and with one day off before playing at NY’s Irving Plaza before two sold out crowds, the members of Metronomy (Joseph Mount composer, singer, keyboards and guitar, Anna Prior drums and vocals, Gbenga Adelekan bass guitar and vocals, and Oscar Cash saxophone, backing vocals, guitars and keyboards) sat with Elektro to reflect on this past whirlwind year, their 3rd album entitled English Riviera and what the future holds:
Elektro: Welcome everyone! Is this your first time playing together in NYC?
Gbenga: No I guess you can say we’re vets.
Mount: How many times have we played here? I lose count.
Gbenga: Yeah Metronomy has played here quite a healthy number of times.
Mount: This is the 3rd time this year (since the album released).
Elektro: It’s been almost exactly one year since the album was released. How has this year been?
Mount: This year has been great, lots of touring, lots of traveling, but that stuff only comes with things going well.
Anna: We couldn’t have wished for a better year. Everything seems to have fallen into place, we’re all pretty lucky.
Elektro: Yesterday was your first day off in a long time, how was that? Have you had time to decompress and look back on the year or has it felt like you’ve been on fast forward?
Gbenga: We took about two weeks off before we started this tour that was quite nice.
Mount: I still don’t feel like I’ve had much time to actually think about what we’ve done, you know when you have that week off you really spend thinking about nothing.
Oscar: I know that on the date we finish on Sept 7th, when we finish the festivals, that will be the point that we can look back and think “wow that was quite something” I presume we’ll get some sort of certificate.
Gbenga: A gold watch.
Elektro: So tell me then how you guys manage to get pumped up. You’ve been in New York City 3 times, and this past year has been crazy. Your fans will be out in droves, can they expect the same level of energy all the time?
Mount: The funny thing is we really don’t need to get pumped up. Everything you mentioned gets us going. We’re in New York playing a gig. Regardless of how many gigs you play a year, the fact that people are coming to watch you is all I pretty much need anyhow. You know what I mean?
Oscar: Yeah although we’ve been here 3 times since the album hit, you need to make each time count.
Elektro: So how do you make it count? Do you do something different each time?
Mount: They can certainly expect something different from the last time we were here.
Anna: We tend to change the beginning and the end a bit basically, and then we’ll look back and think… “ahhh”, so we’ll go back and change the beginning and then everything kind of changes.
Elektro: “Change” seems to be the one constant in your music and your shows. Your sound has shifted from almost purely instrumental electronic sounds to vocal based electric pop. I can think of a few bands that have changed and done that successfully, Pink Floyd and Radiohead come to mind. Their sounds are definitely their sounds but the albums as a whole are different. What drives you to explore these new boundaries and what is the “essence” that is your band or that sound that is definitely yours that connects these albums?
Mount: I mean the thing I always think is “why don’t other bands push?” It’s an unstable place to work, there are a lot of hazards I suppose, but as someone who has grown up loving music, you really respond to people who take risks and make changes. You mention Radiohead, I remember when they made “OK Computer” and it seems like an exciting thing to hear, and that’s an exciting way to make music.
I wouldn’t say there is an ethos, it’s hard to nutshell, but if you grow up loving music and have a desire to make something interesting then you have to change, you can’t just sit or make it easy for yourself, because that is when it becomes boring.
Elektro: Your fan based has certainly grown in size as a result of your new sound. When listening to a song off your first album You Can Easily Have Me I remember thinking “this going to be a banger”, but then leaping forward to Trouble on English Riviera, a song I personally connected with, I saw very little similarities. What would you tell your fans about evolution and growth? As a fan how should I interpret that and want to listen to the full spectrum that is Metronomy?
Mount: Well I think, “Why not? Why wouldn’t you?
Gbenga: You need to come on the trip, you know?
Elektro: Have you received any negative responses?
Mount: Well, I think there were more or it felt like there were more negative responses after the second album, after Nights Out but I think that’s because people weren’t really I guess you at least 3 records to be able to listen to need generally get a feel of what a band or musician is about, and so often nowadays bands only have the chance to release one or 2 and then they disappear or get dropped. So I think by now with the three records that are out there you can get a better feel for what it is. It’s not like we’re trying to get a specific type of fan. It’s about the enjoyment of music and that’s what holds it together.
And I think the fans that we have known from the beginning; from when we first started they feel like it’s a bit of a reward. Probably a lot of bands that came along when they were 15 years old and now they’re 21 and they hopefully feel about us like “oh yeah! I’m glad I didn’t drop out”.
Elektro: So in some ways your fans have matured alongside with you. As your sounds has grown and matured so have they. They’re on the trip with you guys. Do you have an idea of what the next evolution or change is? Is that even on the radar?
Mount: Well we don’t change for the sake of changing. I guess the last record was recorded in a studio, and from now on I think that’s the way I want to record because it simply sounds nicer.
Elektro: You’ve commented in another interview before that you weren’t always in the studio together. Now that you’ve spent so much time together this past year, do you see that process changing, how the album comes together?
Mount: Well yeah, I think that’s how I see the next album will come together. The point we are at now there is this wealth of experience. The album will be different because we can take all of that on board, but I’m not really sure what it will be like.
Oscar: Well I guess all the changes will happen naturally, but that’s what we look forward to.
Elektro: In this album I feel like you’ve revealed a lot about yourself, more so than in the previous album. In Trouble and She Want, what was your inspiration in writing those lyrics?
Mount: The two songs you’ve hit are about relationships; what do you do call them? Relationship songs.
Elektro: Each song felt like it had a story to tell, whether it was about a relationship or something else. In We Broke Free you sing “the gold is mine”, what is the gold you are talking about?
Mount: It’s funny because I started doing instrumental and the singing and lyric writing came after all of that, I’ve never done it in a premeditated way. I never say I want to write a song about this. I start with a few things and discover where your head is in a way.
With We Broke Free the gist of that is taking someone, a girl around the place you grow up and showing them and going back to all these places you’ve been to a hundred thousand times.
Elektro: In essence sharing something special to someone special to you, a fresh set of eyes
Mount: I think the gold is not very literal; the gold is the sounds of that girl, it’s like a precious metal.
Elektro: Do you think that adding the vocals to your music has allowed you to communicate better? An all instrumental show evokes feelings, you are moved by the sound, but now you have words behind it…
Mount: Well in the beginning, we had a different line up, it was me Oscar, another guy and we were playing all the instrumental stuff, and there was one track at that time called Radio Ladio, the only track we sang on, and when we’d sing it was like a whole different think happens. If you’re in the audience you feel like we’re speaking to you, it definitely has a different impact on the audience.
Elektro: It’s probably pretty cool to hear your lyrics come back at you.
Mount: Especially if you forget the words.
Gbenga: You discover which people in the world are most musical from being in all these different cities
Oscar: My favorite isn’t when they sing the words. It’s when they sing along to the keyboards. Like in Spain or Mexico they’ll clap along. It sounds a bit like a football chant!
You can catch and clap along to Metronomy in Boston, Toronto, Montreal and Chicago. A full list of upcoming shows can be found at here.