Metronomy head for Hampshire gig | Joseph Mount interview
A lot has changed in Joseph Mount’s world since his band’s previous album, 2016’s Summer 08.
The Metronomy founder and sometimes its only member, recently brought his family back from Paris, where they’d lived for several years, to live in the UK countryside.
And now the project, currently a five-piece, has released its sixth album, Metronomy Forever.
Its 17 tracks blend off-kilter funk, energising club vibes and esoteric pop. It harks back to their 1999 debut Pip Paine while also looking forward, and sounds quite unlike anyone else out there.
The geographic relocation has also influenced the new album. But the move was initially inspired by simply wanting more space for his family.
Mount, originally from Devon, says: ‘I grew up in the countryside. It's always been a very nice option or an idea and I also wanted to build a studio, so that was the other thing.
I think I'm basically a country chap at heart.’
The new home studio was used to record some of Forever. It’s a far cry from when he recorded his debut while still living with his parents, when he was ‘a proper bedroom producer.’
But having his own studio to play with has been a game-changer: ’It felt like that was a proper achievement.
‘You’ve realised the dream you had when you were young which was to have a studio filled with stuff that that you really enjoy playing with and you can go there at anytime of day and you can make noise.’
Mount started Metronomy in 1999, and has released six albums now under the name. Over that time he’s seen a lot of his peers fall by the wayside. The new album has seen him reflecting on that.
‘There's not many equivalent acts, or currently active projects, whatever you want to call it, there's not many people who persist with the same thing, or are lucky enough to have enough public interest to keep going.
‘So I think in a way, I feel like Forever is looking back and it's also being aware of the current position of Metronomy in general and where it could go.
’It's probably the first record that feels quite like all encompassing in terms of what's gone before and what could come next.
‘There's also an element of a band having a kind of natural lifespan, in a way.
‘Maybe the unusual thing about Metronomy is it's kind of impossible for me to quit myself, so it’s like I’m stuck in purgatory,’ he laughs.
While Metronomy is a fully fledged ‘band’ again, the others weren’t as involved in the recording as Joseph had originally intended.
‘Anna [Prior, drums] sings on a song and Oscar [Cash, multi-instrumentalist] produced one of the songs which is a first, but in a way the whole thing ended up being sort of circumstantial.
‘I did plan to get everyone else involved more, and I kind of gave the record label what I thought was a bunch of quite advanced demos.
‘And in the end the label were like great, let's release it, and so it was finished almost before I realised it.
‘So the recording is much more me-centric.’
Joseph seems content with his lot, and doesn’t subscribe to the theory that great art can only come from equally great suffering
‘It’s a difficult thing to subscribe to because it's so troubling.
‘I think it’s true to a large extent that you get some of the best, classic albums ever made are made because of some sort of pain.
‘And in the worst cases, you get these amazing albums made by super-troubled people and then they end up dying or taking their own lives.
‘It's a really complex thing, and I suppose to me, it's possible to be very content and to be happy and to still be able to feel despair, you know? You can still contemplate existence and the big stuff while being quite happy.
‘It would be a shame if something amazing can only from pain.
‘A really good example was when PJ Harvey released that record, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, and it was her kind of love album and it was the first one she’d made when she was happy and no-one else was really happy about that.
‘Everyone was like: “Oh, we missed the old PJ Harvey”. That’s horrible, you can’t condemn someone to a life of misery.
‘I don’t think it’s necessary, I think beautiful stuff can happen anywhere and anyhow.’
Joseph has also started directing some of the band’s videos for the first time. He made his debut with the album’s lead single Lately and then the larger scale video for its follow-up Salted Caramel Ice Cream.
As Mount explains: ‘Years ago a friend of mine gave me a VHS tape of the MTV show 120 Minutes. It’s something I’d get him to do every so often as I was a bit obsessed with music TV at the time.
‘On one particular tape was the video for Sonne by Rammstein, I’d never seen them before and it blew my mind. This video is a sort of homage to that, but with an added story about the gentrification of ice cream parlours.
‘Directing the videos was something that I’d definitely been interested in trying for a while. When I was a teenager school at school I was into making films with my friends, as well as making music and, and obviously the music took over.
‘We got some people to send some ideas in for the videos and none of them felt quite right to me.
'It's trying something new as well, it's stimulating in that sense to try something new and to have another way of expressing yourself. It's kind of cool.
‘I just felt for the first time that, okay, if I don't do it now that maybe I'll never have the chance to do it.’
O2 Guildhall, Southampton
Wednesday, November 6