We don’t need to ask what Metronomy were up to in 2011 - they featured in Issue One of DIY. Joe Mount and his merry gang were readying third album, ‘The English Riviera,’ a breakthrough record that kickstarted a five-year period that’s seen the band grow with every step. At times, it’s proven intense. “It’s insane. How have I still got a girlfriend?” Joe jokes, speaking about the time spent on the road. Metronomy racked up around 150 shows in support of 2014’s ‘Love Letters’. Talk about putting in the legwork.
In the time since, they’ve taken a step back to reflect and work out the next chapter.”With having a break, you can enjoy music in a much more simple way, whereas touring is such a physical thing,” Joe says. “I don’t ever want to take a break from doing music.” With such an outlook, the prospect of new music is as exciting as ever, but it’s the last five years that have laid the foundations.
We invited Joe Mount along to DIY’s 50th issue party to look back over a rammed half-decade.
What’s been your favourite Metronomy moment of the last five years?
Five years ago – I guess that’s when it really kicked off for us. There are the most things to pick from in the last few years as there would be in any period. The one that stands out from that time would be the Ally Pally show that we did last year, but then in that time we’ve done our first Brixton Academy and the Royal Albert Hall, which were really wild. It’s difficult to pick one really, but I’d say Ally Pally.
If you could give the Joe Mount that spoke to DIY five years ago one piece of advice, what would it be?
I don’t think there’s anything that I would have said that I wasn’t thinking already at the time. I think I’d say to have more confidence in your instincts, maybe. I did already have confidence in my instincts, but I’d say have more – become even more self-assured.
People listen to music in an entirely different way now. How do you feel about those changes?
Five years ago was the point at which things were starting to change I think… whereas now the future has arrived, or whatever. Being in a band that has the kind of success that Metronomy has, it means you’re in this sort of middle ground when you still really rely on people buying your music. I feel really lucky that I can sell albums and stuff, but in the next five years they’re going to have to work out how streaming is going to work so that musicians can get fair deals. It’s the future, it’s kind of unavoidable and it’s not a bad thing at all. I think artists probably just hope that people are still interested in listening to albums… but you know, musicians were still getting screwed over by record labels when they were physical sales anyway, so it’s all the same.
" I feel really lucky that I can sell albums, but in the next five years they’re going to have to work out how streaming is going to work so that musicians can get fair deals."
— Joe Mount
In the last five years Metronomy has stepped up from making bedroom records to headlining festivals. When you’re closing those sets with songs you wrote in your bedroom ten years ago, what’s going through your head?
I feel incredibly proud of what I, and we, have been able to do. There is always this thing in the back of my head – thinking that when Metronomy started out I don’t think that it was ever seen as the band or thing that would have had the most longevity at the time. So it feels fantastic now to be able to play those slots, and for people to have been there from the beginning, to not have compromised anything, and to have been quite faithful to what you were doing in the bedroom at the start.
In our first ever issue you spoke about touring and the need for a break. Are the pressures of touring become greater, and do you think that’s an obstacle for bands?
Touring and playing live should always be part of what bands do, but my point has always been ‘should it be the most important thing’? As someone that just loves recording and loves recorded music, I think it can be a shame to stunt people’s output. The one reliable way of making money now is touring, and that’s part of the problem with people not buying music – it’s kind of forcing people into a life on the road. When you’re out on the road you can’t release records. I think we’ll release the next record and not tour it, because I feel like that’s what I want to do – instead of two or three years of solid touring, I’d rather have two or three years of releasing music.
In that first issue you also said that it was difficult for you to write without having in mind how your music would be received by the press. Do you still subscribe to that thinking?
I might not have been the most articulate, not that I’m being the most articulate now! But yeah, I think it is impossible really. It’s impossible to record something and not at some point think, ‘Oooh, I wonder what The Guardian are going to think of this’ - or anyone else for that matter. I’ve never let it change what I do, but I think it’s kinda healthy. If you know that part of the process is getting reviews, and people comparing it to what came before, and what they anticipated, you can use that to push yourself a bit more, and try and do things which are a little bit of a curveball. I mean, I guess the things that I find exciting in music are when people do stuff that’s slightly unexpected.
"Touring and playing live should always be part of what bands do, but my point has always been - should it be the most important thing?"
— Joe Mount
Do you think new bands need to do anything differently in order to get noticed now, compared to when you started out?
I wouldn’t say so, but you probably can do. I think the old ways still work, because I think there are still large amounts of people in the music industry that still enjoy the old way of doing stuff; enjoy listening to demos, enjoy going to gigs. I think there’s this myth that you have to go out there and force yourself to be discovered, and I think it’s not necessarily true. At the same time there are record labels that are desperate to find music. I’ve known people in bands that have had this idea that they were trying really hard to get a deal, but the truth is that I’m sure people came and checked them out without them knowing, and decided that they weren’t that good. I think just keep playing, that’s the only way I know. If you’re good you’ll end up getting a record deal if that’s what you want.
You’ve stepped up to headline the likes of Field Day and No.6. Do bookers need to take more risks in order for a new crop of headliners to emerge?
With festivals, it feels as if everything happens as you’d expect and nobody’s really taken any massive punts. I mean you’ve got Foals headlining Reading and Leeds, and I think that’s probably a good example [of bookers taking risks]. But then, it’s them and Disclosure, isn’t it? That’s probably a bit of a damp squib. It’s a shame that they have to have a co-headliner and that it’s not one or the other that can prop it up, because I’m sure that they could. But having said that, fair enough, Foals are headlining Reading & Leeds and that’s normally the preserve of Radiohead and Muse, so it’s pretty cool. But that’s the only festival of that level that I can think of where there are people taking a few chances.
In one sentence, tell us what we can we expect from a new Metronomy album?
The best one yet.
Taken from the April 2016 issue of DIY, out now. Subscribe to DIY below.