Metronomy's Joseph Mount
Published Aug 27, 2008Joseph Mount is the sort of DIY musician who doesn't adhere to any set of rules or formula. He basically just grabs whatever instrument is beside him and uses his imagination. So far, this approach has resulted in two brilliantly wonky recordings, 2006's Pip Paine (Pay the £5000 You Owe) and this month's Nights Out. For his latest LP, Mount has instated his two live band-mates, Oscar Cash and Gabriel Stebbing, full-time, fulfilling the potential of his project, softening the edges, weeding out the zippy IDM and developing it into a proper pop band. Mount took some time out to answer questions about the band's evolution, hybrid cars and how to distract an audience and convince them of your professionalism.
What made you decide to turn Metronomy into a proper three-piece band? It was a need for a live show coupled with the fact that I felt a bit responsible for answering to everyone alone. It's nice to have back-up.
How did recording Nights Out differ from Pip Paine? Was it any easier or difficult for you as a songwriter with more bodies involved?
I still recorded the album alone and the process was exactly the same as the first. It's just me using my computer and a few bits and pieces besides. The main difference was that I had a shorter amount of time to record... which was a very positive thing. Oscar [Cash] and Gabriel [Stebbing] appear on a couple of tracks, but were kind of out in the cold for the most part I'm afraid.
What made you decide to sing more on the record than the previous one? Do you find vocals help sell the music a little easier?
From playing live I'd built up the confidence to sing. There was no real desicion I made about it, it was a pretty natural progression I think. I guess people consider vocal music more "sell-able." But, that didn't really figure in my doing it.
You've described Nights Out as a "half-arsed concept album about going out and having a crap time." Was there a moment that inspired the concept? Did you go out and force yourself to have crappy times to give yourself inspiration?
It was just a common feeling me and the band had. In the "rise" of new rave we found ourselves playing to the clubbing crowds quite frequently. I really don't have a problem with that crowd, it was just funny that we found ourselves so often in front of a drugged up crowd who didn't really care what music was being played... they would have just danced to noise. In all honesty I actually enjoy going out, I think the negative side of it is just associated with certain times/places etc.
The album is very scattered in its scope - I mean that in a good way. When I first wrote about you last year for "You Could Easily Have Me," I described your style as "punk as fuck," because you really don't seem to adhere to any sort of boundaries. Do you ever follow any sort of structure when you're writing and recording music?
Because I don't know that much about songwriting, the way I write is very un-forced. I suppose that can be seen as a punk ethic and it's a big compliment for me to hear you say that. I think the best music is music that is just made without any real worry about where it sits or who it's made for. Not to sound selfish, but I still make music for myself as much as anyone else. I like all kinds of things so it's quite natural for it to come out the way it does.
Where does your musical inspiration come from?
So many places, but I think mostly the records I grew up with and that have stuck with me... that and American pop music.
I noticed there's a Toyota Prius on the cover of the album. Is that any kind of environmental statement you're making? Or is it part of the reason for having a "crap time"?
It's actually a Honda Insight (the first commercially available hybrid car). There's no statement there really. To me that car represents someone's vision of the future. It's someone's effort to make a step towards a better and more advanced world. Of course, that car hasn't changed the world, it actually looks a bit old fashioned. There's something about that I find quite poignant.
How did you end up working with Because? What did they offer you as a label that made you choose to release your record with them?
They are miles ahead of most UK labels in terms of how they treat their bands and music in general. They are committed to people's careers, sadly that is quite rare nowadays.
I really liked the name the Food Groups for a band. Do they still exist at all outside of Metronomy?
No they don't. But I might use the name for something else.
How did you get involved with remixing? What is it about remixing that appeals to you?
It was a very good way of keeping the band afloat in the early days. But, I always loved Cornelius remixes when I was younger and enjoyed the idea of making something your own.
Your live show sounds like you put some effort into it, what with the dance routines and lighting. Are those a part of your routine?
The live show is supposed to be a spectacle. So much electronic music is associated with laptops and static figures. We just wanted to get away from that really. The lights and dancing are our effort to make a big pop production.
Is it difficult adapting your music for the stage? It sounds like there could be some parts that are tricky to replicate?
It can be tricky, but that's why we have the dancing... it's a distraction for the audience.
Do you think Pip Paine will ever get a proper release along the lines of Nights Out?
No, which is a huge shame.