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April 2020

Metronomy are celebrating ten years since hitting the big leagues with a reissue and new music: "I'm finishing off a new record..."

Joe Mount is looking to the future while celebrating the past.
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Published: 3:00 pm, February 07, 2019Words: Josh Williams.
Metronomy are celebrating ten years since hitting the big leagues with a reissue and new music: "I'm finishing off a new record..."

Ten years ago, near enough, Joseph Mount and Metronomy released their breakthrough album ‘Nights Out' and to celebrate the band are reissuing the record backed with a load of demos and b-sides. The one question is, why is it coming out in 2019?

"I'm always thinking ahead, and the label said to me like two weeks before the anniversary of the album, ‘It's the tenth anniversary of 'Nights Out' in two weeks, we should do something!' So just because no one quite realised that it had arrived, it crept up on us all a little bit," Joe explains.

Recently, he's been putting the finishing touches to the forthcoming as yet untitled sixth Metronomy album but has been getting nostalgic and thinking about the record that put Metronomy on the map.

"I feel like a kind of mixture of things cos ten years has gone quickly, and I feel like I've done so much in that period. When I listen to the record, it feels like a time capsule of that period in my life. I feel very proud of it as a record, and it feels like it had some kind of impact on a number of people which is quite something."

Joe believes that the record is "much more rough around the edges" than the albums that have come since, but thinks "that's kind of what you need. The thing is, it's interesting because my perception of what you're supposed to do as an artist, is you're supposed to be professional. I love the way 'Nights Out' sounds, and I realise now, since making my new record, that that sound was as much of a decision as much as it was an aspect of the financial constraints when recording an album."

Apparently "it was a bit embarrassing" delving into the archives, but Joe explains: "If you think about the Beatles when they did the Anthology, and they released ‘Free as a Bird' - it's not very good! I can see why they didn't release it. There's this thing when you're looking into your past, and of course, it was always there, but it wasn't released cos it didn't make sense at the time. It didn't fit into the theme of the record.

"I guess with a bit of time passing you listen to it as a slightly different kind of person. It's music I would have made in between [debut album] 'Pip Payne [(Pay the £5000 You Owe)]' and 'Nights Out', but I was working out where I was going, so it's kind of interesting."

The most obscure thing Joe found was a French version of 'Heartbreaker'. "It's kind of a mystery why it had never been released. I remember recording it and taking a day to do that, and I don't know why it never surfaced.

"We had this thing where 'Nights Out' was the first proper release in a way, it was the first record that got us somewhere in France, and then we had this strange connection with the French. They're very big fans of Metronomy; we have a level peg in England and France, we have a similar audience.

"It's this French version of 'Heartbreaker' which was done when I didn't speak French. I sang it phonetically, reading the lyrics phonetically. I had no idea what I was singing, and now I speak French so I can hear that it's quite incorrect, but charming nonetheless!"

Despite it being the done thing at the moment as well for bands to trudge off on tour playing albums in full, Joe insists there are no plans for Metronomy to do so.

"I'm too busy thinking about the future! I'm making new music, which is really good. The thought hadn't even crossed my mind, and then my manager was saying, ‘Maybe you could do a little one-off playing it in full?' I was like, honestly it would take so long for us to learn how to play the whole album, it's such a waste of time when I'm literally trying to finish a new album. Maybe for 15 years?"

Speaking of live shows, Joe insisted following the release of ‘Summer 08' in 2016, that the band wouldn't be touring anymore. When challenged, he explains: "The album came out, and we didn't tour for a year. Originally, my plan was the record would come out, we would be sunbathing and then we'd start touring again, and that tour would coincide with new music.

"Basically I kept my side of the bargain with making new music, but it didn't quite work out with that. In the end, we kind of were touring it but at quite an odd time to tour it. I mean, I didn't lie!"

The album's cover shows Joe in front of an anonymous English city in front of a Honda Insight. Why?

"I know how I wanted it to look, like I knew I was stood in front of a car on the hill in the front of this kind of amalgamation of English cities. I was thinking about how there are not really many recognisable cityscapes in England, apart from London. I had this idea of being on a hill looking out over a city, and the next question was, what car I should be stood in front of?

"I thought of lots of cars. The only other car that came close was a Peugeot 306 because it felt like a future classic to me in the world of quite mundane cars. Then I think we were touring, and I just used to look out the window when we were travelling along the motorway, and I was looking at cars which could be that car, and then I saw this Honda Insight.

"That felt like it was a nice expression of optimism. That's kind of someone's idea of what cars in the future would be like, you know? It seemed quite suitable for the theme."

Joe struggles to pick out a favourite memory from that album explaining: "There are literally hundreds because everything happened for the first time at that time. We did lots of ridiculous support tours, and we travelled to places like Mexico and America for the first time. We did everything!

"There was a feeling of being part of the music industry, of being wanted in interviews, and like you were kind of let into this world of festivals. I remember feeling so excited by it, and going to events because you'd see people from bands. In a very lame rock'n'roll story, we were doing a festival not so long ago in Chile, and The Killers were headlining. We've got to know them over the years; the drummer [Ronnie Vannucci Jr], we know him quite well. Anyway, I was chatting to Brandon Flowers, and I was telling him ‘I was at the NME Awards 2008 and I was at the urinals next to you, and I told you I really loved your band!'

"When I told him he just looked at me kind of weirdly, and I was thinking, ‘You don't understand how exciting that it all was - speaking at the urinal with you and to now be able to tell you the story'. That's how I would sum up everything!"

“I'm finishing off a new record, so hopefully that will be out in 2019”
Joe Mount 

More recently, Joe's been busy collaborating with pop icon, Robyn.

"A long time ago she got in touch, and we started a dialogue. Then we started hanging out a bit, and she was talking about her new album. About how she wanted to maybe do some stuff. We wrote together and worked together on that. That was four years ago!

"For quite a long time, I didn't really know how I'd be involved, how much I'd be involved and then basically for the last few years I've been very involved. She's somebody that has to have a relationship with the person she's working with; she can't just work with you without understanding you or being friends with you.

"We spent a lot of time demoing things, and talking, and hanging out. We just became very good friends to the point where I've ended up being heavily involved in her record, which I'm super proud of."

When pressed for information on the new Metronomy record, Joe reveals: "I'm finishing off a new record, so hopefully that will be out in 2019. If not, God I'll be depressed. It's not very top secret; I'm just trying to finish it. Just trying to put it all into somewhere where I can talk about it concisely, and at the moment it's a little sprawling, so I'm trying to reign it in a bit."

Looking back, however, Joe believes he wouldn't say anything if he could go back in time to speak to himself before 'Nights Out' was released.

"I'd just give myself a kiss! I think that would kind of ruin it in a way. I feel like part of what makes it nice is that it's quite naive in certain ways. When I made it, I genuinely did have these huge dreamlike scenarios that I imagined for it, but at the same time there's something about the age I was when I made it that I kind of hear, and I really like it."

Taken from the February issue of Dork. Metronomy’s tenth-anniversary edition of ‘Nights Out’ is out 8th February.

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