For such a diligent multi-tasker, Joe Mount appears to be a remarkably settled individual. Having revisited the band’s halcyon early years for new album Summer 08, the Metronomy frontman gives the impression of a man thoroughly content with life and the music he’s currently making. With no plans to tour the new record, Joe is eager to jump back in the recording studio, but not before a quick chat with State, where he discusses his love of recording, life in Paris, and how his creative process has altered since becoming a father.
Congrats on the new album Summer 08. It sounds great but I also get the impression it was a lot of fun to make too?
Yeah, I guess when I was recording it for the most part I was stealing a couple of weeks away from being on “Dad duty” but yes it was a lot of fun. When you’ve not made music for quite a while it’s a very enjoyable thing to just go in and work.
How did it compare to how you worked on your more recent albums?
I think with the last two records, Love Letters and The English Riviera, I was trying to do something a bit more “weighty”, like I was trying prove something or do something a bit more thoughtful, and I guess this new one is a bit of an antidote to that. I’ve not really recorded like this for a number of years, since I was a teenager really.
Yes, because there’s been a lot of comparisons between this new album and your first two records Pip Paine and Nights Out. Was it something you wanted to reconnect with, feelings from a previous era in the band’s existence maybe?
It’s funny because I’ve never really lost a connection to that world, it’s more to do with the sound. The second album Nights Out was the last album I did on my computer at home and the next two records were produced quite differently. I mean I could’ve made them sound more like Nights Out if I’d just done them at home but I wanted to give them a different production. This record is like back to what I would do if I was left to my own devices, so I think it does have more in common with that period but only because I purposefully didn’t make the last two records like that.
Would it be fair to say that Summer 08 is the album you would have made if things had turned out differently back then?
Well I guess in a way it’s kind of impossible to imagine because the reason I do stuff is affected by other things happening in real time. But I think that in some kind of alternative universe I would’ve just carried on making the same type of records, like Nights Out but I just pushed myself a bit more than that. It’s also because I’m older now and I’ve learned to record in so many different ways, so I couldn’t really have done something like this back then.
It’s interesting you talk about methods of recording, because you can hear the advancement of production over time in this record if you compare it to your older stuff.
Exactly yeah, the quality of the recording of the other stuff wasn’t very good (laughs). The fidelity I mean.
In terms of the content, you’ve got a lot of variety on this record, you’ve even gone down the collaboration path working with Swedish pop star Robyn on the track ‘Hang Me Out To Dry’.
Well I guess it wasn’t really a proper collaboration, more like I just kind of asked Robyn to do what I wanted. It’s funny though because when you get other voices on your records it kind of opens it up. It goes from being just my world and my voice to having this whole, other voice in this world! It was a really fun thing to do. I’ve known her for a little while and I’m a big fan of her voice so to have it work, and have her feature on a Metronomy track, feels more genuine than just sticking someone on there.
Lyrically it’s interesting too as it invokes a lot of memories from youth, going out, parties, meeting new people, probably a bit different than what you’re used to at the moment being a settled family man?
Yeah I was trying to remember what it was like going out. Different people deal with it differently but that’s the problem with when people have children, it can kind of screw you over a bit. I guess creatively you can either end up absently just writing these songs about your children, how you love them, or about of the way it changes your life. So I kind of purposefully tried to remember living in London, what it was like going out all the time there, and I tried to create something new out of that.
Of course you live in Paris now. How does that compare to your previous life in London?
It’s nice. For the first couple of years I was there I was still going out, before I had kids when I was still doing stuff, and that felt really good. I mean it’s a busy city but the nice thing about it is that it’s a really sociable place, everything’s designed around having a nice time. It’s not quite the same as London which is quite a “full-on” kind of place where people don’t really relax much. So living somewhere where people value relaxing is quite cool.
Could you tell us a bit about the Paris music scene? There have been comparisons drawn with your work and French dance music over the years. Have you taken much influence from over there for your newer material?
Yeah, I think being there, and having a French girlfriend has meant that I’ve heard a lot more French music, which has quite a strong identity. I’m definitely into it and sometimes I feel that it filters through but I’m happy for it to be there, to have a taste of that in my music.
You’re in town to promote the new album obviously, but I don’t see any major gigs lined up at all. I take it you’re not planning to tour Summer 08 then?
No we’re not touring it. I guess the interesting thing for me is more recording and going back to the studio. We will tour again, probably next year, but I like the idea of having a break from the touring so I can not have a break from recording. Being on the road all the time can be a bit frustrating.
Anything new in the pipeline, other projects you’re working on in the mean time?
Well the short-term plan is to keep recording, but the short, short term plan is to have a rest (laughs).
Metronomy’s new album Summer 08 is out now.