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Metronomy: „Pop music always has the same spirit”

Metronomy / fot. Radek Zawadzki

Metronomy / fot. Radek Zawadzki

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Metronomy evolved from solo project created by Joseph Mount. Now this four-piece British band is touring promoting their fourth album, „Love Letters”. Their dynamic electropop is quite contagious all around the world. This time, they came to Poland to play at Warsaw edition of Electronic Beats Festival. I had a chance to talk with the frontman and main force behind the band just before the show. Beneath, you can find few words about working on the last album and future plans or discover what do Taylor Swift and old Motown singers have in common.

Welcome to Poland! Are you excited that you play in our country again?

Joseph Mount: Yeah! The last time we were here we were playing a summer festival and we had very nice time. The people are always so generous and crowds are very good. Now we’re a bit anxious because we haven’t played any show for two months. It isn’t actually that long but it feels like an eternity. It’s because last year we did 150 shows or so and we didn’t even have any time off. The wheels are just beginning to turn, so it’s great, it’s exciting, but we’re all a little bit nervous.

You’ve released an album last year, „Love Letters” and it doesn’t quite sound like most people expected it to. Are you satisfied with the overall reception?

Joseph Mount: We’re lucky enough that there are many different countries in which you can observe what reaction of the people is like. It’s interesting to see which country has responded in what way. I’m aware that after I did the „English Riviera” people were anticipating probably another similar record to that one. Some would almost cynically take the „English Riviera” as the first step of becoming the huge, global band. I’m not saying I wouldn’t like that to happen but I want it to happen on my terms. I’ve always wanted to make an album in an analog studio in an old-fashioned way and it felt like now was the time to make something different before taking over the world (laugh).

The response has been amazing. In the UK it was in the TOP 10, which for that kind of record is quite something. Actually, we’re more successful than we’ve ever been, so yeah, it’s been great!

You’ve said you recorded „Love Letters” in an analog studio, using more old-fashioned technique. Was it harder to make such a stripped-down record, comparing to spectacular „English Riviera”?

Joseph Mount: It’s harder in a way. It’s only more difficult because in that situation I was consciously trying to make it very simple and when you listen to a modern pop song or modern pop record there’s so much happening and there’s so much… What would you call it…

They’re overproduced maybe?

Joseph Mount: I guess it’s just like cushioning the whole thing so it doesn’t necessarily creates opinion. It’s catchy and works on the radio, so to consciously do something which doesn’t have that, is quite a challenging thing to do. It’s easier in a way, because you just don’t do much but I think committing to it is quite a hard thing. But then it makes you appreciate what all of that kind of cushioning or production does to stuff so it can be used as well as a tool to learn from.

On „Love Letters” there is this retro vibe that recalls the sound of 60s/70s pop songs. Do you think that these old classics have anything in common with what’s happening now in popular music?

Joseph Mount: I’m not sure, there’re many different ways in which you can compare things. I guess if you look at people like Adele or Sam Smith, this kind of very popular singers, their records could almost have been made in the 70s or the 60s. That’s the first thing, the sound. Whereas when you think about Taylor Swift or Charlie XCX and that kind of music, what they’re doing has exactly the same attitude that old Motown singers would have had or all different artists in the time when pop music was invented. It has that same spirit but it doesn’t sound the same. I think it’s easy to underestimate how exciting that old music was at the time, how the old people didn’t like it. Pop music always seems to have the same attitude.

You’re the brain of the operation called „Metronomy” but there are other members as well. When you’re recording and mastering a record are you sometimes challenged by them? Because the truth is it’s your music, your lyrics…

Joseph Mount: I don’t let them challenge me really [laugh]. I mean, in the way that band has come to this point there’s no mystique. I started making music and I made two albums entirely on my own and then the band and the touring was constructed around it. In a way it’s not the project… Oh I hate to use the word project! It’s not the thing where I’d ever necessarily want anyone else to say anything. If we’re recording, Oscar for example is involved, because he has been in the band for a long time now. He is probably the one who would comment on something and I like it, I trust him. But overall it’s quite a single-minded process and that’s what makes the record sound like it does and what makes it what it is.

Yeah, I was just curious how’s working between you.

Joseph Mount: I mean, the other thing is when we’re performing. There are four, now five people and it is much more collaborative thing. But I think for me if you look at any bands, any kind of music, you’ll find that recording is always much more single-minded than live performing is.

So how important for you as a band is this stage image that you have now?

Joseph Mount: We’re gonna probably change it a bit this year but for the last year and this new album it was very, very important. While in one respect the record wasn’t necessarily the „English Riviera 2″ the live performance is always bigger. We wanted to follow this trajectory by trying to make it more exciting. I think last year another big achievement was creating this really solid live show.

From what I’ve heard there’s going to be a new song performed today. Does it mean that you’re already thinking about another album?

Joseph Mount: Yeah, I’m thinking about another record. In a way it’s a shame that it’s the first gig of the year because we’re trying to get back to where we were last year, get back up the speed. So we’re not going to be too crazy tonight but maybe in a few months we’ll be playing more new songs. I keep on working, there’ll be new stuff soon.

So are you going to follow the path laid by „Love Letters” or are you thinking about something bigger?

Joseph Mount: Upcoming record will be a logical next step. I’ve done what I wanted to do with „Love Letters”. Any kind of conceptual album making, ideas that I’ve had I’ve done for now. So this next one will be just a very simple good album [laugh].

Well then, good luck with the future record and I keep my fingers crossed for tonight’s gig!

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