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Metronomy – interview

Metronomy

I caught up with Metronomy’s brainchild, Joe Mount, after the band’s last sound check before their first UK tour date in Nottingham earlier this year, to talk about the traditional English seaside, the Pyramid Stage and t shirt lights…

Does the first date of this tour fill you with excitement or nervous apprehension?

I think it’s a bit of both really. The first date of a tour is always really exciting, and we’ve not been to Nottingham for ages. All the responses to this album so far have been to mention this sudden pressure we’re under to perform that I wasn’t aware of! So it’s fair to say there’s apprehension there, but mostly excitement.

The English Riviera coastline encompasses your home turf, Totnes, in Devon. Was the album something of a homage to where you grew up?

It kind of is and isn’t at the same time. I grew up there and I’ve got a lot of happy memories, but the album’s also me trying to re-invent it because it’s not the most stimulating of places from which to create music from – the way of life is quite laid back. So I’d say it’s both affectionate and a bit of a kick up the arse.

Your latest single, The Look, actually has that traditional seaside sound – I take it that was a purposeful move looking at the album title?

I was aware of playing that jaunty organ sound so I know people will connect the two, so it was a tip of the hat of sorts towards the idea. We travel to different countries and there’s an attitude that people have towards the seaside that’s very English, as they consider those towns to be quite depressing old resorts so I think I was trying to be a bit romantic about them.

The new album’s got a different sound to Nights Out, and definitely Pip Paine, which both feel like soundtracks to parties. Was the change purposeful or organic?

Half and half. Part of me knew that people were more expecting us to do something predictable but I think the fans who understood us knew that wouldn’t be the case. I also just wanted a change and for everything to feel fresh. It wasn’t a struggle though so I suppose in that sense it was quite organic.

You’ve also slowly made vocals more and more prominent within your material. Has storytelling become more important to you?

Not so much. But I felt I needed to do something more confident vocally than Nights Out, something more engaging. It’s all part of this thing where I can see myself moving around between new ideas, but I would like to go back to instrumental on the next album.

Was there pressure to match the critical acclaim of Nights Out?

There is an element of pressure, and not to sound bigheaded at all, but when you start making music you have this idea that you are going to improve over time. If you created a good album and thought that was as good as it was going to get that would be depressing. I had no ideas how this album would be received – I hoped people would respond well to the chances we took with the sound.

You’ve produced all three albums, along with mixing other artists’ work, so how do you think that’s helped you develop?

A lot of the remixes have definitely helped, especially as you learn more about how other people have arranged songs. Writing with other people has also had an influence on the way I’ve worked over time.

Your videos are always imaginative, the latest using backwards footage on She Wants and pigeons on The Look. Does the band play a big part in coming up with these concepts?

On the last album I was involved with the videos but for She Wants I said I didn’t really want to be in them as we were touring. The mad idea for the seagulls came from Lorenzo, the director.

Onto the summer festivals… You’ve been placed on the main stage line up for Glastonbury. Does that feel daunting or a natural step up?

Someone told me about the Pyramind Stage and I was like, “What?!” as I suppose I kind of thought we might be put further up the bill on other stages but to be there is crazy. Having said that in the past I’ve been the one walking past the Pyramid around the time we’ll be on and I’ve felt sorry for those bands as people are just lounging about in the sun and there’s not really a big crowd, so that’ll be us this time! We’ve just always been the kind of people that roll with the punches and enjoy ourselves whatever so this’ll be fun.

I’m sure you always get asked about your t-shirt lights you have on when you play live, but it’s always been a burning desire to know the answer to that question! Where did the idea for those come from?

It was about three days before me, Oscar and Gabriel (Stebbing, former band member) were due to do our first ever live gig. I thought we needed something to pep the show up a bit as we were focusing on the laptops, so I went into a pound shop, saw the covered lights and thought I’d stick them on a t shirt. It was really a spur of the minute idea that’s become quite a permanent feature.

You’re also a fan of the on-stage theatrics and dance moves, will the change in style curtail the antics?

I think we’ll always weave it in to our gigs as we’re the same band and we come from the same place, and I think to ditch it would be to turn our backs on where we’ve come from so we definitely won’t be losing the theatrics.

Reviewed for Gigwise

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Dog Is Dead – Interview

Dog Is Dead

A canny knack for five-part vocal harmony is an impressive feat by anyone’s standards. And it’s definitely an accomplishment that achieves a chunk of individuality for Nottingham’s Dog Is Dead.

Gigwise caught up with abashed bassist and vocalist, Rob Milton, to chat Glastonbury, sax and the band’s revolt against style over substance.

Rob introduces Dog Is Dead as five 19-year-olds from Nottingham, most who grew up together through school. They all sing in harmony sharing the vocal responsibilities, they have one bassist, two guitarists – one of those on keyboards too – a sax and a drummer. And that mix is reflected live, as Dog Is Dead have a mish-mash of influences that just seem to fall into place. The shouty lyrics, saxophone, beautiful vocal harmonies and glockenspiel are just part and parcel of their unit – nevermind fusion food, this is fusion music.

And it’s no accident that their voices wouldn’t sound out of place coming from choir robes, as Rob explains, “We’ve always been into choirs and gospel groups as the sound is so clean, so we wanted to do our own, modern take on it. The problem was we’re not natural singers so it’s taken a lot of practice to get them right.”

Then there’s that saxophone – synonymous with jazz, infamous for dodgy 80s power solos. Dog Is Dead flip the concept on its head, using the instrument to inject warmth and melancholy into their indie pop sound.

“To be honest the band set up just evolved out of the fact we were just good mates, and Trevor was a saxophone player so we just thought, ‘Right, we’ve got a saxophone player’”, Rob adds shruggedly, while taking time to vehemently confirm they are ‘definitely not a new jazz band’.

That carefree attitude to playing whatever they’re into is a refreshing contrast to the self-consciousness that a lot of their indie counterparts expose over their image.

Rob explains, “We’re not conscious of having an image or an image to uphold and I think our personalities come out in the type of music we play. It’s not like you have to take heroin to be memorable anymore in music – that feels quite old now – and I think that’s where bands go wrong when they put all their energies into their look.”

The five are also no strangers to festivals, having played their home town’s Dot to Dot Festival the last two years on the trot, as well as the Bristol and Manchester legs in 2010. Among the rest, playing the Glastonbury BBC Introducing Stage this year set the Dog Is Dead name alight, gaining them critical acclaim in the music press.

Rob admits, “Playing Glastonbury was pretty scary. We felt like small fish in a big pond but you have to take what you can from it. It’s hard to tell whether it’s been a catalyst for us yet, but the single sales are a giveaway. At the moment though, we still feel very much like a grass roots band.

“Having said that, when you get a band like Mumford & Sons who were playing small pubs in Nottingham not that long ago going on to headline stages at the big festivals, it is encouraging, so I think we all draw a lot of confidence from that.”

In June, the band released their first official single, ‘Glockenspiel Song’, after an initial EP in 2009 and have ‘Young’ out for release on 20 September. It’s testament to how far they’ve already come that they have a headline tour this autumn visiting cities including London, Cardiff and Manchester. And beyond?

He adds, “We’ve got the material for an album and although we’re hoping to have one ready next year, we just want to see how everything goes first so we’ve just got to keep our heads down, play it by ear and see what happens.”

Interviewed for Gigwise

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