Interview: Metronomy

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One of our favorite bands of all time Metronomy are playing live tomorrow @ Columbiahalle, Berlin. Here’s the interview Joseph Mount gave us before the big night. Interesting topics come up: his views on piracy in music, the band’s relationship with fashion and his procedure of writing a good song.

LSD: All of your albums sound very different from each other. However they have one important similarity: Your old- school trust in melody as a trademark. Are there any rules you always try to apply in order to write a “good” song? And is the different sound something that just happens naturally as the time goes by or something more planned and you reinventing yourselves?

To be honest, it is a real mixture. Sometimes I think that rules are an enemy of creativity, other times I think they are wonderful things. In the end, I realise that there is no formula. I’ve always been quite an impulsive and instinctive person and making music is still as much a hobby as it is a job. So, I follow my nose. That can do a lot to explain how the albums develop and change I think.

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LSD: More and more do I realise the following difference between classical composers and pop/rock composers. Most of the times the first seem to mature with age and the second seem to just age and lose their ability to write genuinely. Do you agree? Is pop music indeed for young spirits? How do you manage to stay fresh?

I think you are probably correct. But, classical musicians probably use their age to inspire them. I think many pop/rock musicians themselves don’t want to believe they are getting old. Perhaps if they did they would mature and develop, but the problem is they can’t accept that they have become what they once rallied against. Robert Plant seems to have matured with dignity as does Leonard Cohen, but I suppose they were already unusual when they were young.

LSD: Do you listen to music everyday? How often? Could you tell us what music you have in your portable device right now?

I don’t actively listen to music everyday, but I expect I do more or less. I like the new Baxter Dury album, I’ve also been listening to more fun time dance music than is usual, things like prince.

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LSD: Do you download music from the internet? What do you think about streaming services?

Yes I do. Streaming services are the future whether musicians like it or not. I hope that the traditional album format will always have a place, but time will tell. I often compare the music world with the world of cinema. Films are albums, DVD’s are CD’s etc.

Now I think we can all agree that DVD’s are annoying. But, physical copies of films can make a physical statement about your tastes etc and sometimes it’s nice show your interest or love for something physically. I know many people that have a copy of 2001 or The Sacred Mountain on their shelves for that reason. People will always love going to the cinema, watching a band play live is not the equivalent though, a beautifully recorded album is the equivalent.

So, we just need to make sure that people understand the value of recorded music. If people are happy to pay 8-10€(?) to go to the cinema they should happily pay the same for an album. If streaming is to become the future then we need to make sure that musicians are paid correctly.

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LSD: First time I heard “the most immaculate haircut” from Love Letters I was in the Suburban train in Berlin. A burst of old-fashioned romance filled me as I looked through the window. When I came home I called the boy I loved and invited him to come over the soonest possible. When he arrived I asked him to hug me and dance with me on my favorite new metronomy song. I will never forget “this feeling in my bones sometimes it’s like my legs might fall away”. If you had to choose one song to dance with your lover what would that be?

That’s a nice story. The song Ram On by Paul McCartney holds a special place for me and my other half. In fact, there are many songs that make me think about ‘her’, but that one is most poignant.

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LSD: Is there a song you love but you are embarrassed to admit? Could you name it please?

I don’t get embarrassed by that kind of thing any more. But I suppose people might not expect me to love Shake It Off by Taylor Swift.

LSD: I totally love your exuberant videos. What’s the general rule? Do you have an idea yourselves and then look for a director or what’s the procedure?

It’s a mixture of things. But, in the first place we’re lucky to have built a reputation for good videos so when directors work with us they always seem to try something a little special.

In most cases we know the type of video we want; for love letters we wanted a performance video, for I’m aquarius we wanted a video set in space etc. That’s the kind of information we go to directors with. From there they can take the brief where they want. I suppose most of our input ends up coming from the selection of a director, once you find the right person you are happy to let them take charge.

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LSD: Style plays an important role in your band’s image. Who is behind the entire concept?

I suppose it’s probably me in terms of the suits and Oscar in terms of the stage. Though we work closely with a Taylor (beggars run) and our lighting man Ed Warren. I think style is as important for bands as music is. The fashion sense of musicians can inspire whole sub-cultures so you have to be very careful what you wear! Obviously we are at this point we are being as influenced by old movements more than we are trying to start our own. But still, you must be very careful what you wear!

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LSD: You have mentioned before that in the future you can see yourself producing and stop doing what you are.  Is playing concerts and touring still fun? Do you enjoy playing at festivals or prefer smaller concerts? Do you have plans concerning the next step of your band? And what is your next goal?

I still have many plans and things that I want to do. It is inevitable that one day I will want to stop touring. I have a family that I miss and life is too short to spend too much time away from them.

But, if people stop buying music then I will have no other way to make money. So, it’s up to you in a way. You probably want me to continue touring, but please don’t run me into the ground. Think about the people who aren’t as lucky as Robert Plant or Leonard Cohen, people like Kylie Minogue and Morissey. Don’t make me like them

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Watch the videos for Love Letters, The Upsetter, Love Letters, I’m Aquarius and She Wants.

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Grab the It’s A Fine Line remix for free:

Mogwai remix of The Upsetter:

The Look out of their album English Riviera:

Interview by Sissi Rada, Kikitty & Vamparela

Photos by Vamparela at Columbiahalle

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