Methyl Ethel – Interview – 2017

Perth-based Methyl Ethel have long been a favourite of Brightonsfinest, releasing a spectacular debut album in Oh Inhuman Spectacle (2014), one of the sounds of our summer, as well as gracing Brighton for some stunning live shows in 2016. Dreamy pop and surf rock with Perth’s now legendary psych tinge sounds so organic and so natural, it is as if mastermind Jake Webb has brought Methyl Ethel’s sound to light from the depths of the musical vaults where it has been lying dormant for eternity. With album number two, Everything Is Forgotten, being released this week and a Brighton date at the Green Door Store on 7th March, we spoke to Jack to find out more about Methyl Ethel.

What kind of music were you brought up on?
The classics really that my folks listen to. My dad has old cassette tapes: old Neil Young, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Everly Brothers. A lot of classic 60s music.

Can you remember the first album you brought?
The first album that I bought for myself was the Batman Forever soundtrack. It’s a good one though, it was produced by RZA (Wu Tang Clang). It had some Method Man songs on it as well as that big U2 track and Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’, but also songs by the likes of The Flaming Lips. Though, admittedly, at the time I got the album because it was from the Batman Forever film.

When did you start making music as Methyl Ethyl?
I got a four track tape machine for $50 back at home and I started recording on that. I wanted to put out some music under a name but not put any story to it, just to release it into the ether and see what happens. I was testing the waters to see, if I released some music that I thought was good and proud of, if people would find and champion it. Or to see if a radio station would play it without necessarily playing the music game, if you know what I mean.

How did you meet the rest of the band?
I played in a couple of other bands with them in Perth. The nature of the city is that the music industry is kind of small, so you spend most of your weekends at shows with the same people.

How was the music scene there when you were growing up?
I didn’t really go to shows until I had finished school because there wasn’t really much music that came through Perth. I met people through playing shows and then I went to uni with a couple of people who ended up being in bands. The majority of the bands you might know from Perth were bands we were all seeing in the local pubs.

Did you have a conscious idea of the music you wanted to make as Methyl Ethel?
I definitely wanted to make pop songs. The challenge, as it remains to be, was the technical side of things. I had the four track recorder which is a challenge to work with in the first place, to bounce tracks. I had to really choose what was necessary for the song.

Tell us a bit about the Everything Is Forgotten?
It’s been a while between releases but it hasn’t really felt like too long as I’m always working on something new. I have got a new recording space back home but it isn’t really permanent. I finished this album here in London with James Ford in a studio space, and we kept it pretty rough.

How is it taking Everything Is Forgotten on the road?
We have added another member, Hamish Rahn, who is playing keys and extra guitar. We needed a fourth member to be able to play the new record. We benefit from a fourth member on the old tracks as well, as we kind of needed one but couldn’t really afford to tour with the four of us, that’s just the way it goes unfortunately. Now we can flesh everything out, which takes the songs to the next level.

What has been a musical eye-opener?
It was getting that tape machine, definitely. I had a close friend of mine who I played in a band with for a while and went to high school with. He got into music production pretty early, he would always be the one at the controls for our music. As soon as I got that tape machine, I put into use everything I learnt from when I was looking over his shoulder. From that day onwards I could hear back the music I had put together myself, and everything I did from then I was growing in confidence with. Being able to self-produce, that’s when everything changed. Because then all of a sudden, I am most interested in making the music I want to listen to.

Who would be in you perfect supergroup?
Too many cooks would spoil the broth. I don’t think the people I would like in a band would work well – Phil Spector, John Lennon, Philip Glass, Neil Young and Bjork, it’s already gone off the rails, Scott Walker, David Bowie. It’s like when you mix all the colours together and it comes out looking like shit.

What music are you listening to at the moment, any recommendations?
I’ve been getting back into listening to heaps of Prince and old Stevie Wonder cuts. I’ve mostly been listening more to my own new new music.

Do you get to go to many gigs? Any recently that have stood out?
I saw Warpaint the other day in Perth – they were really good. I don’t get to go to many gigs, but I’m sure I’ll see a few more this year. I’m looking forward to Field Day.

Check out what we thought of Everything Is Forgotten in our album review HERE