Metronomy: Feels Good in the Bay
PUBLISHED: 01:16 22 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:35 20 February 2013
Torbay is the inspiration for the band Metronomy's current album. Front man Joseph Mount talks to Harriet Mellor about success, roots and music
Torbay is the inspiration for the band Metronomys current album. Front man Joseph Mount talks to Harriet Mellor about success, roots and music.
As a county we can proudly lay claim to fame to some impressive musical exports Chris Martin of Coldplay, the band Muse and Joss Stone are massive around the globe. But none have paid such an affectionate homage to their Devonian roots as Metromonys front man Joseph Mount.
Torbay is the inspiration for Metronomys current album The English Riviera, and their newest single release, The Bay, was penned by Joseph as a sort of a triumphant song, an anthem for the people. The electro-funk pop tune and album both have rave reviews and are sure to be blaring along the South Devon coast all through summer and beyond.
If you havent heard of Metronomy here, thats because the four-piece band, which also consists of keyboard player Oscar Cash, bassist Gbenga Adelekan and drummer Anna Prior, are in big demand elsewhere. They are in the midst of a mammoth tour thats covered Europe, the best of festival circuit, where they were watched by over 40,000 people on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, followed by England for the autumn, America, Australia for New Year with a TBC in the diary for South America. Joseph says the success is great, but exhausting.
Wherever anyone grows up, the geography is going to shape them a bit. Im lucky that where I grew up was so lovely
Two nights in Torquay during the middle of our tour felt almost like a holiday. This year is gone, but its a sign that things are good career-wise, although it makes it difficult to see girlfriends, friends and family.
Joseph also manages to squeeze in studio time songwriting and co-producing for other big artists. Nicola Roberts, the red-haired one from Girls Aloud, has just gone solo and I, in collaboration with Joseph, is regarded as the best song on the album.
Back on the topic of The Bay, the words in the song and retro-glamour of the video may not fit everyones image of the town. But Joseph, aged 28, who actually grew up in nearby Totnes, is combining a tongue-in-cheek interpretation of his youth with a backlash to the many artists whose music is an edgier nod to life in a dead-end town or urban jungle.
Its a slightly ironic idea. You dont get that sort of pride in England or bands singing about their background in a positive way.
When I was growing up, Torquay was always part of life. When I was really young, wed go as a family for walks in the evening by the sea, and then as a teenager, when everyone in Totnes starts getting their driving licences, thats the destination they go cruising to.
I had an active imagination. Id turn what was around me into what I wanted it to be, for me it was somewhere glamorous.
Joseph is not just bringing our own Riveria to the global masses, but also the rest of the band. What did they feel about devoting a tour and an album to the area he was brought up?
Oscar is my cousin and spent all his summers in Devon. Hes fine. Anna used to holiday in Torquay, which leaves only Gbenga (originally from Lagos) whod never been but is now bit of a convert. He laughs. Its a worthy cause!
If Torbay fuelled his imagination, then Totnes, and home on the Dartington Hall Estate, were a channel for Josephs creativity. Dad Kevin is a book designer and mum Kate is a photographer, persuaded by Devon Life to take the pictures for this shoot partly to give her a rare excuse to see Joseph!
Dad worked for Dartington Hall Trust and was the reason we ended up there. My mum was always photographing arts activities on the estate. They were always dragged me along. I was lucky, and growing up around students makes you a bit aspirational.
Even in his very early teens, making it in music was always on Josephs ambition agenda. Pre-Metronomy, he and fellow KEVICC (King Edward Community College) pupil Gabriel Stebbing, who now fronts Your Twenties, formed a few local bands including The Upsides. Metronomys roots grew organically as Joseph mucked about, composing electronic music on a computer in a disused room on the estate.
Its strange because growing up there had one effect, it was a really laid-back lifestyle hanging out, going to parties in forests and on beaches, seeing lots of exciting stuff. But then the other effect was I got to the point where I needed to escape. I felt like Devon hasnt got any big cities that harbour a collective music scene.
With the latter as a drive, and like most local offspring, Joseph left Totnes to spread his wings, first to university in Brighton, followed by London, and now, when he is not on the road, home is with his French girlfriend in Paris. But with wanderlust satiated he turns his attention back to Devon. As a verse from The Bay goes:
Because this isnt Paris
And it isnt London
And its not Berlin
And its not Hong Kong
If you want to go
Ill take you back one day
It feels so good in the bay
Which leaves him in a place to creatively conclude: Wherever anyone grows up the geography is going to shape them a bit. Im lucky that where I grew up was so lovely.
On location in Torbay
Metronomy flew in from their European tour in Vienna to join the crew for filming on Princess Pier
Models in bathing costumes perched beside the Imperial Hotel pool, recreating past iconic English Riviera posters
Meadfoot Sea Road was closed for filming the band cruising in an open-top car
The bowling lawn in Abbey gardens was the setting for playback shots
Lydia Stone from The English Riviera Tourism Company provided location supervision
The crew stayed at Beverley Holiday Park in Paignton
The band stayed at the Grand Hotel. Catering was by the Imperial Hotel and the Grand Hotel and Pier Point.
See the bands video at: englishriviera.co.uk/site/events-and-entertainment/metronomy-the-english-riviera
Photos: Kate Mount
Click here to watch the video of Metronomy's new single: http://devon.greatbritishlife.co.uk/community/blogs/detail/music-video-by-metronomy-set-on-torquay-seafront/id/5187/