Metronomy’s steady rise to the top

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

JOSEPH Mount is in a good mood, is relaxed and happy, no sign of the wear and tear of 18 months worth of touring bearing down on the Metronomy front man’s shoulders.

JOSEPH Mount is in a good mood, is relaxed and happy, no sign of the wear and tear of 18 months worth of touring bearing down on the Metronomy front man’s shoulders.

And why would the young Devon man not be in a good mood? He is in festival season and close to the end of touring Mercury Prize nominated album The English Riviera, his third and one that has sprang the electronic music quartet to international prominence since its release in early 2011.

The album is a belter; unashamedly pop, languid and smooth and bursting with funk hooks and electro-delights that carve a delicately niche furrow through modern pop records with its outlook.

Mount, softly-spoken and genial, says he was pleasantly surprised by Riviera’s success.

“It is funny, I have been asked that a few times and it is a difficult thing to answer without sounding like an egomaniac,” he says with a gentle laugh. “When you are making the record, the whole process of you trying to do something that you are really proud of and that you feel is really worthwhile - and by that I mean worthwhile in very minor way. I guess with every record I have done I have been very happy and have always wanted it to be very successful - (but) I have always thought, why don’t millions of people like this?

“The difference is, when it actually happens (that people like it) it is actually a kind of surprise. The way that it makes you feel is very surprising. I definitely didn’t imagine that this would be the year. It feels like it is an album for this summer as much as it was for last summer, which is quite unusual really,” he adds.

It is an album for summer, full of gently soothing tracks and even the odd seagull crying, while the haunting, Specials-inspired The Look is an instant classic.

However it sits in some contrast to Nights Out, Mount’s second album recorded as Metronomy, which has had a relatively fluid line-up, but has now settled on Anna Prior, Oscar Cash and Gbenga Adelekan, who replaced original bassist Gabriel Stebbing, who is credited on Riviera nonetheless.

Nights Out, critically loved, had a kind of melancholic tone that perhaps left it beyond the reach of some ears. Both this and debut offering Pip Paine (Pay The £5000 You Owe) were recorded in Mount’s bedroom, while The English Riviera was recorded in studio, perhaps leading to the plush sound reflected within. Mount reflects on this point momentarily before answering.

“I think it would have been really odd if I had made a record that had been made in the same way as Nights Out,” he explains.

“The only reason that the first two records are as they are is kind of out necessity in a way, I just used what I had available to me. I have always been as excited or interested in my production as I am with writing songs, so it seemed right to me, with each record, to imagine you are like a different producer.

“You record in bedrooms and then go to a studio and realise that everything sounds so much better,” he says, noting that the follow-up - slated for recording time in December - will be done in studio also.

But what of the Mercury Prize, eventually won by PJ Harvey, which has helped to bring attention to Metronomy?

“There is no doubt in my mind that it is a very good thing to happen to anyone,” says Mount immediately. “Nowadays there is a lot more pressure on bands and record labels and it is a lot harder to sell albums. Something like the Mercury nomination makes life a bit easier and I mean that in much more passionate way than it might sound.

“It does mean you can really enjoy the process. I have had three records and obviously the first two didn’t get nominated and you know the distance between the two ways of it happening. It was great and I think it introduced a whole lot of people to us and also certainly gave me, or confirmed what you hope, which is that you have made a good record.”

The quartet have also found their feet in terms of playing live, eschewing the use of tracks to perform all of the songs on-stage, growing in a confidence that the Metronomy frontman says is important.

“The more time I spend involved in music and the industry, you realise that confidence is literally the only thing you really need,” he says. “Confidence in being able to carry out your ideas, not confidence that you are the best thing in the world! A marginal confidence,” he laughs.

Metronomy play at Electric Picnic this Friday. See Electric Picnic.ie for details.