I’m a fan of car­boot sales” Metronomy’s Guide to Mod­ern Living

Having relocated from Paris to the countryside in Kent, Joe Mount shares his tips for rural living and domestic bliss.

I scrapped half the album in Sep­tem­ber last year,” Joe Mount is sit­ting in his home record­ing stu­dio telling me how his recent move from France back to the UK impact­ed Metronomy’s forth­com­ing album, the wry­ly titled Metron­o­my For­ev­er. 18 months ago he decamped, along with his part­ner and two chil­dren, from inner-city Paris to a tiny vil­lage in the rolling Kent coun­try­side. I did the new parts here, so I think it feels more here than Paris.” The stu­dio is what you’d expect from the founder and front­man of Metron­o­my: antique key­boards stacked in the cor­ner, an organ against one wall, gui­tars, mid-mod couch­es and a 60s-vibe shag­gy rug. “[The first ver­sion of the album] didn’t reflect the change of mov­ing here. Cold, is how I’d describe it.” 

He found­ed the band from his bed­room in 1999 and their first album was released in 2006; from then until now, they’ve been mak­ing music with the kind of con­sis­tent, slow-burn­ing suc­cess that’s seen them through the fall of many music trends, includ­ing indie-elec­tro which sleuced-off many of their old contemporaries. 

Mount’s move to the coun­try was prompt­ed by the need for more space. We had a two bed flat in Paris and we’ve got kids so it was just get­ting a bit much.” But giv­en that he con­sid­ers the album more coun­try than city (“about 55 – 45,” he says), it does make me won­der how liv­ing in the coun­try­side has affect­ed the sound. Cities make you a bit more rough,” he says. By con­trast, I always think about, like, Bris­tol groups that were nev­er real­ly touched by the Lon­don cyn­i­cism. Peo­ple like Por­tishead. They always sound very rur­al, in a real­ly good way. I think if you’re mak­ing music in the coun­try, the land­scape influ­ences what you do; in a city it’s more about that hard, com­pet­i­tive edge. It’s a dif­fer­ent feeling.” 

Either way, this coun­try life seems to suit him: I love it. It’s fun. We’ve got a veg patch, we’ve plant­ed stuff. It’s a cool place to be.” The fam­i­ly live in a Scan­di-style house (clean lines, blonde wood and lots of light) with an amaz­ing view. And it’s nice to be a part of a com­mu­ni­ty,” he says. Oscar Cash, Mount’s cousin and a mem­ber of Metronomy’s band, drops in while we wan­der around. With Cash now based in the US, Mount’s new home has been a pleas­ant set­ting for them to catch up.

Joe Mount’s tra­jec­to­ry has seen him ditch cig­a­rettes for cour­gettes, and clubs for car boot sales – and yet Metron­o­my are still mak­ing indie-dance bangers. In order to gain some of his wis­dom, here is Joe Mount’s Guide To Mod­ern Living.

Grow your own

It was my girl­friend who plant­ed every­thing but I do help with main­te­nance,” explains Mount, from his veg patch. We’ve got loads of cour­gettes – too many, if any­thing. We don’t know what to do with them. But also gar­den peas, toma­toes, chick­peas, corn… it’s a good lit­tle plot.” 

Still, he doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly see veg as the trick to longevi­ty. In those news sto­ries about the old­est woman in the world or what­ev­er, the inter­view­er is always like what’s your secret?’ The way I see it, at that point, you can just pick any­thing. Oh, my secret is fags.’ Or I used to drink three glass­es of wine a day.’ You’ve made it so you can say any old shit. 

But of course there is no mag­ic trick. There is a point at which you should make some kind of effort. I stopped smok­ing ages ago.” Plus, unlike many rock stars he nev­er got into drugs. I’ve been around a lot of drugs but I was always quite scared of them. I did mag­ic mush­rooms a cou­ple of times and that was quite fun. In fact, I thought I found some in our field recent­ly but I didn’t try them. If I knew for def­i­nite that they were mag­ic, I’d try them — but I guess, it’s trick­i­er when you have kids. I’d have to put a real­ly long film on [laughs].”

Get to know your neighbours

I think this is just as impor­tant in the city as it is in the coun­try,” says Mount. Some­where as rur­al as this, though, you become quite reliant on your neigh­bours. They’re your eyes and ears. My neigh­bour Paul, for instance, could turn up at any minute. We once looked out the win­dow and he was just mow­ing our lawn. We didn’t even ask him to — so that was nice of him, it must have need­ed doing. He’s also act­ed as a bit of a secu­ri­ty guard in the past. And then you do favours back, like once I had to run round to a neigh­bour to point out that his chim­ney was on fire — so there’s lots of rec­i­p­ro­cal stuff that goes on.

The cur­ren­cy of the coun­try­side is favours,” he explains. There’s always an under­cur­rent of you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’. It’s nice to have com­pa­ny and to socialise, but ulti­mate­ly it comes back to favours. My girl­friend goes round with a bas­ket of cour­gettes that we’ve grown; we get to bor­row eggs when we need them. If you want to get to know more peo­ple in your area, I think you can def­i­nite­ly apply that to city liv­ing too. Like, I remem­ber when I was liv­ing in Lon­don that some peo­ple were on such good terms with their local cor­ner shops that they’d be able to get stuff on cred­it. I nev­er had that. I’d be sur­prised if the peo­ple at my local min­i­mar­ket even recog­nised me. How­ev­er, I wasn’t using them for prop­er gro­cery shop­ping. Now I see, I should have sup­port­ed them more. But if I’d known about the cur­ren­cy of favours thing back then, it could have been different.”

Sell shit

I think nowa­days, we need to be enter­pris­ing,” he explains. We need to recy­cle and reuse old stuff, and to sell on what we won’t use. It’s bet­ter than it end­ing up in a land­fill. I sold a bunch of crap on eBay when I first moved here. For instance, there was a weird amount of gates. Like, old met­al gates, lying around here and there. And I thought, right, I’m going to put them on eBay’ — and some­one bought them. It was a Lon­don prop house who need­ed gates. You just nev­er know. 

I also had stacks and stacks of breeze­blocks. They were just left over, sur­plus from the old own­ers. Sold those on eBay too. A few weeks lat­er, I was dig­ging in the gar­den and found an old Mor­ris Minor Engine. Sold it on eBay. It’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly a good way to make mon­ey. I sold the engine for like 90p but it felt like a vic­to­ry because some­one else has to come and deal with it. And they felt like they’d won because it was only 90p.” 

Stay relevant in your field

A band who’ve been con­sis­tent­ly releas­ing albums for more than ten years prob­a­bly have a right to call their next one Metron­o­my For­ev­er, although, as Mount explains, it’s meant as a joke. In the music indus­try it’s all about build­ing your own mythol­o­gy; the Queen biopic, the Elton John one, the NWA one… they’re cre­at­ing these mytholo­gies and try­ing to go on for­ev­er, but I don’t think it’s possible.”

You can, how­ev­er, try and stay rel­e­vant. Every­thing moves very fast nowa­days, what­ev­er indus­try you’re in so it pays to keep your ear to the ground and at least try to have some com­pre­hen­sion of what peo­ple younger than you are say­ing or lis­ten­ing to. I would love to think that with every one of our albums, new peo­ple come aboard – that’s the objec­tive. If you don’t think about that then you’ve no real chance of stay­ing rel­e­vant. There’s peo­ple who were lis­ten­ing to us 10 years ago; they’re 27 now and that’s kin­da cool. It’d be nice to grab some more 17-year-olds, though. To feel like you’re rel­e­vant to young peo­ple still. I lis­ten to the radio and I look at social; Insta­gram is still a good way of quick­ly work­ing out where some­thing sits in the spec­trum of cool. But I’m aware it won’t be like that for­ev­er – once your par­ents start using it, it’s time is coming.”

Enjoy the downtime

If I had a free Sun­day morn­ing, I’d just stay in bed,” says Mount. I’m often away – like, my most used app is The Train­line because I’m always going to Gatwick or Heathrow or some­thing. Being in the coun­try, though, has taught me the val­ue of down­time. When I was younger, Lon­don specif­i­cal­ly was amaz­ing – you’re always doing some­thing, there’s always some­one you have to keep-up with. It’s that com­pet­i­tive thing. Now, I don’t need that. Although, I am a fan of car­boot sales. I found a real­ly amaz­ing antique key­board at Chiswick Car­boot Sale, recent­ly. Although, it’s quite a pon­cey boot sale. 

I don’t have any par­tic­u­lar tac­tics because when you see those peo­ple who’re like look­ing in the backs of cars and stuff it all gets a bit intense. It’s hor­ri­ble, real­ly. They’re like ganets. Like I said, I enjoy it as a nice, chilled activ­i­ty. I’m also a bit fatal­is­tic about car­boot sales. If you’re going to find some­thing, you’re going to find some­thing. You can’t cre­ate the luck.” 

Metron­o­my For­ev­er is released 13 Sep­tem­ber via Because Music

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