On July 1st, Metronomy released their 5th studio album in 10 years, Summer 08, as an ode to their last summer of freedom. Now eight summers later, frontman Joseph Mount ironically states that his writing and recording processes for Summer 08 went back to his beginnings, but in this instance he had to prioritize his music around being a father and a boyfriend, rather than being a student and friend. mxdwn met up with witty frontman Joseph Mount, on a hot summer afternoon at a cafe in Silver Lake, Los Angeles to discuss the record, his summer of 2007, his life as a father, and his new goal: to be Tina Turner.
mxdwn: How did this idea come about and why did you feel that this was the time for it to be released?
Joseph: [laughs] Yeah, but I realized that it was actually the summer before that that we were free… so 2007. It was the time where we got our first proper record deal, so I was feeling support and I went off and toured the world for the first time, so it was like significant in a symbolic way. So, yes, it was the summer before 2008 that we had our last summer off.
mxdwn: What made you come up with the album idea and to record it at this point in time?
Joseph: It’s weird because immediately after we realized Nights Out I had this idea to do a record about the year that had just gone by, but for whatever reason I didn’t do it and it’s for the best because I was a lot younger and it would’ve ended up feeling sorry for myself record, I think. I still liked the idea, after a few years, and then having my feelings about that period of time changing and then you grow up and you realize, “you shouldn’t complain, it was wonderful!” So this record is revisiting the idea, but with a more chilled out attitude.
It’s kinda funny, you realize after a few years ‘Oh shit, a long period of time has gone past and I’m still doing the same thing,’ so you sort of being to realize that you can be a little self-referential on not the immediate parts… It was eight years ago, but it kind of feels like I’ve done a ton of stuff in eight years and it feels very far away.
mxdwn: I bet, even two years feels really far away! [laughs] The album is described as sort of sequel to the 2008 release of Nights Out, which incorporates sounds influenced by The Supremes and Sly & the Family Stone. How would you say this sound has evolved in those nearly 8 years?
Joseph: It’s supposed to have a similar attitude, I guess. Literally since the album, I did the subsequent two records and I did them in real studios, so I learned so much about recording and writing and I think even without consciously changing an approach, just by learning stuff, you lose bad habits. So, I think the attitude is the same, but it sounds much better [laughs], just because I actually know how to record now. [laughs]
mxdwn: And along with your musical development, your life has changed personally. In the time since the release of Nights Out, you’ve also entered a serious, long term relationship and had two children. How would you say this change in lifestyle has influenced the way you approach songwriting and your view of music as an outlet?
Joseph: Yeah, totally! Because I’ve got kids and stuff, the things you do for pleasure become even more sacred and you have even less time for them. Music has always been something I do for pleasure, so to not have instant access to it whenever you want, makes it even more incredible when you get the chance and you just kind of commit yourself in such a free, pleasurable way. In a way, I just reverted back to the way I was when I was a teenager. When I started, I was fitting music around trying to do homework and going to school, so it’s the same kind of attitude, good fun.
mxdwn: Now that your time is limited, I’ve read that you recorded this album in two weeks?
Joseph: It was a bit longer [laughs]
mxdwn: [laughs] when I was researching, I was like “was it really two weeks? That’s really impressive” [laughs]
Joseph: It sounds good doesn’t it? [laugh] It was more like 6 weeks, but the way that you can do stuff now, you can listen to things at home and think over things, so it’s kind of hard to quantify the time. But, the actual time spent in the studio was more like 6 weeks. But it’s a good thing to say ‘Yeah, it was two weeks’ [laughs]
mxdwn: [laughs] 6 weeks is still very impressive! Can you walk me through the writing and recording process?
Joseph: We were still touring “Love Letters”, the last album, and I was listening to things and getting ideas together. The first two weeks of recording, which is probably where the two weeks came from, were the most significant. Most of the stuff was done in those two weeks, but they were just kind of on the horizon. I was so excited about this block of time and I was just preparing for it and getting ready. I got myself to the point where once I was actually there, I already kind of knew what I was going to do, but I also was very excited for it, so there wasn’t a huge difference in writing, it’s just time restraints.. which is a boring thing to talk about, but the thing that changes you the most. I really just tried to go into it wanting to have a great time, which I did, and luckily I made a record as well. [laughs]
mxdwn: It’s great because you were able to relive your great memories through this record.
Joseph: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. I used it for me time.
mxdwn: I understand that the second single off the upcoming album, “Back Together” reflects on those good old “college years.” Does each song represent a different memory or different point in youth? If so, are there any others you can share with us?
Joseph: No, it was kind of funny because somebody wanted to tweet or post something about the song and they sent me the text and I was like ‘No.’ They said something like ‘this song is about reflecting on his time at University’ and I was like no… anyways, I think in that song in particular, I was thinking of something specific, people at University and that was the first time that I had met girls who were attracted to intelligence or actually, the first time I was aware of it. All my life I had been waiting for that moment! You know, like when you were younger and at school, you don’t really understand why girls are attracted to like older guys… well, I just never felt like I was on top and then I finally it was like ‘Intelligence, that’s something I can work with!’ [laughs] Anyway, on the record there are probably like a handful of songs that are kind of specific, but that one is probably the most about something in the past, and the rest are a bit of a mixture.
mxdwn: Yeah, I wasn’t sure because sometimes people have specific stories associated with songs, but sometimes it’s just free flowing. Like they don’t necessarily have to have a story tied to it.
Joseph: Yeah! [laughs] Quite often you do interviews and someone has found some meaning in a song and they kind of ask you about it and then you are just like ‘I wasn’t really thinking, when I did that’ and they become kind of embarrassed. [laughs] For me, the most kind of pleasurable thing about making music is the point at which you kind of give it to people and at that point it doesn’t matter how much time it took to make it or what it’s about. It’s just up to everyone else and what they think.
mxdwn: Going back to your younger years a bit, you’ve said that you kind of equate and gauge the success of an album on whether or not the young people are into it. With that said, and this might be an outlandish question, but how do you think your younger self would react to this album? Would it differ from the way you perceive it now?
Joseph: [laughs] I think I would be kind of impressed. [laughs] I think that with this record, it was the first time I was really relaxed about singing and for the younger me, I was much more uptight about it. In terms of how cool it is…I think some songs I’d be like ‘This is cool’ and other songs I’d be like ‘nah.’ [laughs] It’s kind of interesting because I think I can imagine it. And I think the first single, ‘Old School’ the younger me would be like ‘Wow this is really cool’ [laughs]. It would work on me, but I don’t think I would be a good gauge. The younger me still existed into the late 90s and the idea of cool has changed since then, so I’d rather ask a real young person. Metronomy has had such great success over the years and is always mixing it up, both literally and conceptually.
mxdwn: How do you keep things fresh and cool throughout these years?
Joseph: I think the part of it is the awareness that people can get bored . I feel like to have this job, I’m very lucky and there are things that I want to do to interest myself, but I’m aware that if I lose people’s interest, I’m gonna lose my job. So, you kind of consciously use that to push yourself a little bit further. It’s a good thing, it’s not a cynical thing at all. I just try to keep myself interested and other people as well.
mxdwn: I feel like you’ve been able to switch up your sound and still be able to keep your audience and some people can’t.
Joseph: Yeah… I know it’s crazy lucky! Maybe I’ll push them too far one day…[laughs]
mxdwn: Your music is a good switch up! Sometimes artists are completely different from one album to the next. Like they start off with slow music and then go really hard at some point, and there’s a huge disconnect. Here it seems to flow naturally…
Joseph: Yeah… I’m gonna start rapping and that will be the point where you disconnect [laughs].
mxdwn: Hey, you never know, maybe that will be the “thing” at the time and everyone will love it!
mxdwn: And so at this point, are you working on any new music?
Joseph: I’m trying to, but not yet. That’s part of the reason for not touring, to do that and I will, but at the moment I’m just doing press and building up the record. But, that will be the next thing I do!
mxdwn: I know you do a bunch of remixing also, besides your own album. Is there any song out right now that you would like to do your own remix for? Or is that not how you do it?
Joseph: I don’t do it like that, I guess. People usually just leave me a comment and ask if I want to do it . I think I’m going to do a Cassius one next, but that’s not because I want to, that’s because I did a swap with them and I’m obliged to. [laughs] No, I do want to do it!
mxdwn: Are there times that you hear a song and you think “this could be better?”
Joseph: Yeah! Yeah, I think so, but it’s only ever down to my taste. And if I think about it, those songs are probably doing like way better than any of my songs. [laughs] So, what I would do is probably like take it down the charts. [laughs]
mxdwn: No…[laughs] I’ve read that you maybe want to do something with Rihanna… or is that not true?
Joseph: [Laughs] no, I don’t think so… oh… people sometimes ask me if I have any desire to write songs for any people and I think I jokingly said Rihanna and that my future would be writing songs for her, but no…
mxdwn: [laughs] so nothing serious..
Joseph: No, I think she’s alright, but… one day I was watching Rihanna on the TV and I was thinking ‘Oh my god, she’s Tina Turner.’ I was trying to match up Rihanna and Beyoncé to older artists and I realized that Rihanna is this slightly wild singer, like Tina Turner, and then I thought ‘Oh no, she’s not as good as Tina Turner’ [laughs] maybe one day it will be right.. some of it. It’s a good thing to aim for! Like Beyoncé you can see her trying to be Tina Turner in the way she walks… anyways… I’m gonna try to be Tina Turner, as well! [laughs]
mxdwn: In general, what’s next for Metronomy or what’s next for Joseph Mount?
Joseph: No.. it’s kind of unusual because I have the opportunity this year to do that kind of stuff, but all of this build up for this record is kinda excitingly time consuming. My next project is probably to give my girlfriend a break from taking care of our children… that’s my new project.
mxdwn: I bet she would love that project, I’m sure!
Joseph: She would! [laughs]
mxdwn: Yeah it’s probably best to focus on this album and your family before taking on too much more. Since you aren’t touring at the moment, is there anything the fans can look forward to in terms of experiencing the album in different ways?
Joseph: We’re doing music videos and we are going to tour again, maybe next year? For now, it’s probably a good idea because we just really want to enjoy the record and then see how we kind of butcher it live next year. [laughs]
mxdwn: That’ll be good because by then people will really know all the songs…
Joseph: That’s the plan. It’s either that or that they’ve forgotten [laughs]
mxdwn: Just as a wrap up, what is a typical show like? I hear it’s a lot of dance routines and light shows?
Joseph: Yeah, that’s kind of how we started, but dance routines implies a level of professionalism, I think we were just kind of coordinated movements. The idea to put on a show, and a lot has changed, but the desire to put on a really exciting kind of show, because today people spend quite a lot of money to come to shows and if you are just kind of up there as a bunch of dudes wearing jeans, you might be like ‘ahhh.’ We just try to make it work people’s while and I think our shows are really good fun, not stupid fun, you know, it’s not embarrassing for us. Like for the last one we tried to have the same spirit as some of those soul bands like The Temptations, wearing nice suits and being professional.
mxdwn: Yeah, I saw some pictures and those really were nice suits..
Joseph: Yeah, I went to a wedding and I should have worn one of my stage suits..
mxdwn: Next wedding!