Q&A with Metronomy's Joe Mount
Metronomy's Joe Mount on early success, juggling parenthood and looming stardom and why he decided not to release the glossy uber-smash hit that everyone expected
Hello Joe. So, you've parted ways with the rest of the band right? In some recent 'group' pictures, it's just you.
Erm no, that's not the case. What happened was that some of the early shoots for this record were, for entirely logistical reasons, just me. But that's very misleading. Yes it's true I write the songs. Nonetheless, Metronomy is very much a band. You really see that dynamic with us on stage. So no, it isn't 'just me' – not by any means.
You had a baby boy recently. Has fatherhood impacted on you as a musician?
Well, you get less sleep! But it hasn't got in the way of my writing. In fact, putting out an album – with all that implies – has a bigger impact than parenthood. You've got tours, media obligations, all of that. That's a larger impediment than a child in some ways.
Still, you're going to be touring for a lot of the year. Will it be a wrench leaving your family?
What I do isn't a job. But, at a certain level, it sort of IS a job. You've got people to support, you have responsibilities. Of course, it's difficult being away from home. However, you have to go out there and earn a living and knowing that makes it easier in a way. It isn't as if you have a choice. But yeah, of course it's difficult.
Speaking of leaving home, that's the sort-of theme of your new LP isn't it – Love Letters being the dialogue you had with your significant other while you were touring the world?
It's about me being away from people and how I felt about it. I wouldn't say it was a 'concept' record. It's about distance – how you communicate with people who are a long way from you.
It's three years since your last LP, The English Riviera. Did you wonder whether anyone would still care about you?
For us, it doesn't feel we've been away. We toured that album for a long time, maybe 18 months. And we went into the studio not long afterwards. There wasn't a lot of time off. I guess the way things are in music today, three years seems like a major gap. But we certainly weren't taking it easy. We work very hard.
Given how well The English Riviera performed critically and commercially, it is fair to say that people have major expectations for your latest album. But it sounds very different.
I could have gone into the studio and spent a lot of money on a glossy follow-up. Perhaps worked with a big producer. I sort of went in the opposite direction to that. I wanted to do something that was more analogue – I was interested in challenging myself, taking a different tack.
It's a good deal less 'bleepy' than previous Metronomy releases ...
When you are writing on a computer in a way you're not required to make any decisions – you can keep re-arranging things. Analogue is different – it forces you to reach decisions as a songwriter. I was interested in exploring that. I enjoyed the experience of stripping things back, so that the songs could reveal more of themselves.
Was it a blow when U2 chose not to put out your remix of City of Blinding Lights in 2007?
I was really young, just 21 or 22. It was a great experience . But, you know what, I would have been astonished if U2 HAD put it out. You never expect something like that to happen, especially at that age.
So apparently you almost made a double album. Presumably friends stepped in to inform you that you were crazy?
It was my dad, actually. He said it was more impressive to make an 'expansive' record in a short space of time. But at the beginning of the process I was adamant it was going to be a double.
When I saw Metronomy at Electric Picnic in 2011 you were dancing about with LED lights around your necks – like Daft Punk on a budget.
At the start it was just us on stage playing instruments. We wanted to make it more visual. That's where the idea came from. People began to associate us with that element, which was strange and not what we expected.
- Love Letters is out now.
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