Imagine the marketing pitch – “It’s a concept album that tries to make Torquay sound as glamorous as Saint Tropez”. Not the sort of thing that spells mainstream success, but here Metronomy are world tours and 150,000 copies later. It’s only fitting then that frontman Joe Mount should talk to State from “the motherland” of Devon, where he dreamed up third album The English Riviera. Ahead of the quartet’s appearance at the Electric Picnic next month, Joe discusses tents, late night tales and the only way to play bass:
You’ve spent the last 18 months touring on the back of a brilliant album, so tell us what’s your mental and physical state as of August 2012?
I think it’s actually okay. There was probably a period where I was at a very low ebb, but that was back in January. I’m normal now!
You feel revitalized?
Yeah, well the thing is, doing festivals; they’re at the weekend so it’s kind of like having a Saturday job. Plus the end is in sight, we finish on the seventh of September in Berlin, just after the Electric Picnic.
You’re a seasoned festival performer by this stage, tell us your best and worst experiences…
There’s been a few in Europe that have been crazy. French festivals where everyone was very excited to see us. In terms of worst, I remember being at Glastonbury one year and just before I went to bed I saw these two scallies run along and pick someone’s tent up and leg it. Then about two hours later I heard this girl crying in the night.
At least you weren’t the victim…
Yeah but I didn’t do anything did I? I could have shouted at them, but I was scared to confront them. I’ll always have that regret!
Coming back to music, what do you think you’ve learned from the success of The English Riviera?
I guess you learn the virtue of patience. Not that we were desperate to have success, but it made me realise if you stick to what you’re doing and don’t try to compromise, people come round to liking you. Hopefully it will last.
An intriguing element of that album was its idealized notion of Devon and England – singing those songs around the world do you get homesick?
Well a song like ‘The Look’, if we sing it any city people seem to relate to it in some way. I know that’s a bit hippy dippy, but it’s nice and I suppose it makes you not specifically miss Devon, but family and friends.
Any plans for a follow up record?
The thing is, for the last year I’ve been thinking about the next album. I’ve been doing demos and trying to get ideas together. Now we’re coming near the end of touring, I’m able to get a lot more excited about the next thing. We’re going to start recording bits in November. I hope for all the new fans we’ve got from the English Riviera, it’ll get them excited again. I’ve enough ideas to excite myself so if I can take a few people along that’s a good thing.
With the last album you talked about embracing obvious influences, not being ashamed of liking big bands like Blur or Nirvana. Is there anyone you can say is influencing the current demos?
Yeah, when I record music it’s as much to do with the techniques of recording as the music itself. I’ve been listening to a lot of 60s and 70s psychedelic pop records, funk stuff – Parliament, Sly & The Family Stone, so that’s an indicator of where things are going.
So more slap bass is what you’re saying?
As far as I’m concerned there’s only one way to play bass and that’s with the thumb! (laughs) I think it’s always going to be that way.
You released a LateNightTales compilation earlier this year, how did that come about?
Well originally I was planning a compilation for K7, they do a tape series, but a lot of the songs I picked were from major labels, which are difficult to get permission to use. After a while LateNightTales got in touch, which was really fortuitous. They’ve got a quite a big reputation so it was nice to be asked.
How were the songs settled upon, is this just what’s on in the Metronomy tour bus?
I guess it’s very easy for these things to be too ‘clever-clever’, or put across the image of yourself with your finger on the pulse, but all I tried to do was pick stuff that genuinely influenced me or is very close to my heart. Everything’s that’s on there, I can talk about in a context that’s not just to do with music, they remind me of various times in my life.
In terms of being a gun for hire, songwriting for other people (in the past Mount has written songs for Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud), is there anything else planned?
Not at the moment. With the recent success, I’m trying to make hay while sun shines (laughs). I don’t mean that in a commercial sense, but while people are interested, and people seem to like us, which is quite rare, I’ll focus on this. Maybe I’ll retire into gun for hire songwriting.
Fantasy festival time – three bands/artists alive or dead, from any era, who would you have?
Who would I resurrect? Well when I went to Reading Festival in 98 I saw Les Rhythmes Digitales, which was Stuart Price’s old moniker. So they’d be there because that was a properly amazing gig for me. I missed Blur when they played at Glastonbury in their hey day. I wouldn’t mind seeing them in that context. And then of course, the Beatles.
Anything else you’d like to add to your Irish audience?
I feel incredibly annoyed that we never have the chance to properly come and tour in Ireland. So every time I come over I’m very excited and I hope people don’t feel like we’ve shunned them. Everytime we’ve cancelled it’s because someone has told us we have to, so I’d like to say please don’t forget about us and we’re very excited to play for you this summer.
Metronomy play the Electric Picnic on Friday 31st August