If second album Nights Out was a messy-yet-fun affair, then The English Riviera sees Metronomy deliver a slice of deliciously crisp electro-pop. More than ever, the English band actually sound like….well, a band. I met with Metronomy just moments before their sold-out live show in Berlin’s Lido earlier this week. We tried to get things clear about their state of mind and their new album. Founded as a one-man-show, for their third album Metronomy’s mastermind Joseph Mount has transformed the band into a stage-ready four-piece.
Hi Anna, Oscar and Joseph, nice to see you here in Berlin – where’s your new bassist Gbenga?
Joseph Mount: It’s cool to be here, we love Berlin… and Gbenga …he’s flipping around…
Your new album has been out for a month now, and it comes with a special cover. It’s just a logo which was made by an art director to brand the English south-coast as the English Riviera. Am I right?
JM: Well, they kind of coined the phrase of English Riviera in maybe the 30s, but the actual artwork from the album is done in the 1970s by graphic designer Jon Gorham. He did lots of film posters, stamps and things like that. What is good about his logo is that it is so simple.
Was that campaign successful?
JM: Yeah, people definitely go there from other parts in England. It’s a destination for the summer time, but during the cold month everything is kinda switched off.
Anna Prior: Yes, I think we used to go there every year. My dad packed us all in the car and there we’d go – right from the north of England.
But Metronomy not only seems to be connected with this riviera area and your home base London – there’s also a heavy connection to mainland Europe, to France?
JM: Well, my girlfriend is French…
Okay, that makes sense then – but your label is French, too.
JM: Yes, we’re with Because Music.
Which sounds a bit strange for an English band. Why a French label?
JM: Yeah I mean psychologically it helps you, because the English music industry is kind of an intense thing. It’s very much like “we love you” or “we hate you”. It’s very quick. But anyway we live here, so, yes we are a British band. But then for us it’s very cool to have a base in Europe. With our French record label it’s like having two homes, really.
Your album sounds like – a proper album! There’s an original, short opening track and I must say that it really felt like listening to the whole album at once. While listening I felt that your sound has changed, it’s more open towards a greater variety of sounds. There a jazz moments, guitars, a ballad. Why is that?
JM: (laughs) Sure, it got more guitars in it… but honestly, if you produce an album nowadays you have to make it something that people want to listen to as an album. There is no point in releasing just two or three cool tracks an adding seven shit ones and selling this to the people. For an album you should establish a theme and keep it interesting. And the sound, I don’t know. For us the sound and the development as a band just feels natural.
But do you feel settled now as musicians? This is your third album, you have a proper record deal, a rising crowd of fans.
JM: I don’t know. I have the feeling that we can keep doing stuff, which is perfect. And there’s no danger of getting less interesting. But yes, I guess we do feel settled now, especially because the album is doing okay pretty much everywhere. And this during a time where people and bands gets dropped, you know about someone who gets hyped and then the next week they disappear. This happens very quick these days…
But Metronomy is fully in charge: the new album was pretty well reviewed and you’re still a cool band…. what, by the way, makes a band cool?
JM: We never tried that hard to be cool. There were gigs in England were mothers and daughters coming to our show. And I think that they are the coolest people.
But when I take a look at your music videos…
JM: …I think finally it comes down to your taste. You as a band, you should be engaged with what is acceptable for you and your promotion. We do. And of course there are things which you think are definitely not cool.
Seems cool to travel the world and play music. You’ve got a tight touring schedule ahead.
JM: Yes, we tour forever or until someone collapses. We’re doing this tour in Europe now, followed by the festival season including the Melt! here in Berlin. Then there’s a trip to America, Japan and South-America and finally Europe again. We’re doing a lot.