Metronomy interview

Apr 27, 2012

For the first few shows of the North American tour, Coldplay are being joined by terrific UK electronic popsters Metronomy. We gave the band’s bassist, Gbenga Adelekan (standing, below), a shout to find out a bit more about them.

Hello Gbenga, how are you?
Very well, thanks for asking. Sat in the dressing room with my friend Oscar Cash (keyboards) listening to Frank Ocean.

Where are you right now?
The Seattle Key Arena. Last night we were at the Rose Garden in Portland. As a basketball fan, getting to sit in these locker rooms and imagine some of the greats that walked the corridors is exciting for me.

So, how have the first few dates of the tour with Coldplay been?
Well, our run with Coldplay comes at the end of a US/Canada tour of our own where we were playing clubs and theatres, so this is a change of speed to say the least. It’s the biggest tour we’ve ever been involved with, so it’s interesting to get something of an insider’s view on how the whole thing works.

Do you guys approach support slots differently to headline shows?
We do, yes. With these shows, we’re aware that the vast majority of the audience members don’t know who we are. So although we want to put our best foot forward, we also feel free to pick whatever songs we like for the setlist as opposed to having certain ‘bangers’ that would always have to be in a headline set. Plus, there’s a lot less time for a support slot (obviously). So less talking!

Have the Coldplay crowds been good listeners so far?
They have. In Portland there were even quite a lot of people who got up and danced.

For any Coldplay fans who aren’t familiar with Metronomy’s music, please could you tell us a bit more about the band?
Metronomy began in Devon in the bedroom of Joseph Mount. The first Metronomy album was an electronic, laptop-composed affair. As his remixes and songs got more popular, gig offers started coming in and this led to him putting together a band. Right now we are Joe (keyboards/guitars/vocals), Oscar (keys/sax/guitar), Anna (drums) and myself (bass). We all pitch in on backing vocals and Anna occasionally sings lead. Joe still writes and produces all the music and this is a really important part of the sound. Our current album The English Riviera is the first one recorded in a studio and was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. I guess you could call it breezy electronic pop.

How did you guys come to be on the Coldplay tour?
We’ve heard differing accounts and still have yet to home in on the definitive answer. Suffice to say, someone within the Coldplay camp became aware of us because of how well things have gone in Europe and I guess they put in a few good words.

What do you hope to get from it?
I don’t think any of us are under any illusions about how much work is involved with building an audience in North America. Touring with Coldplay has already put us on the radars of a whole new audience and the hope is that some proportion of the audience checks out our music after they leave the show.

Obviously the band is doing really well in the UK, but have you played in America much before? How are you doing there?
We’ve been over quite a few times, but The English Riviera (our third album) is the first one that’s been released in North America, so in many ways it still feels like the beginning for us here even though this last tour was completely sold out. We’re very happy for things to build gradually – we’ve never been a band that’s been hyped and splashed on a load of front covers as can sometimes be the case with British bands coming over to the US.

Are you a fan of Coldplay?
For people of our generation (we were all finishing school when Parachutes came out), I think those first two albums are just part of the musical landscape, same as Urban Hymns or certain Oasis albums. The others in the band haven’t kept up as much with Coldplay since then, but I was a fan from the Safety EP and bought Mylo Xyloto the day it came out… so I’ve been on the whole journey.

Had you seen them live before?
I saw the most recent Glastonbury set and was also at the O2 Arena in London back in December. It’s weird, though – listening to LeftRightLeftRightLeft, I kind of felt like I’d been to a show already.

Have you been enjoying their shows on this tour?
Chris Martin has said in interviews that he thinks it takes about 100 shows on a tour before they really start taking off and now I can see what he means. Day 1 of the tour was good, but last night was really good. Plus, they’ve added ‘Don’t Let It Break Your Heart’ to the set, and I heard them soundchecking ‘Glass of Water’, both songs I love and wasn’t sure they’d play.  

Have you had chance to hang out with the band yet?
We met Chris and Will briefly – they knocked on our dressing room door a few minutes before they were due onstage in Calgary. As for hanging out… none of that just yet! I’m also hoping I work out who Roadie #42 is by the end of the tour…

The Pierces are on this leg of the tour too. Have you checked out their show yet?
We have indeed. Those ladies can sing! Reminds us of the Mamas & Papas in places.

Has there been any time for any sightseeing? If so, what’s the best thing you’ve done so far?
Because we were back and forth from a festival called Coachella at the start of this Coldplay tour, we’ve not had a chance for much sightseeing, no. We’ve been to some great bars, though (ha).

Are you travelling around on a tour bus? There must have been some pretty big journeys already?
We are in a tour bus – our first time on a bus in North America. The scale of the whole place really gets – ahem – driven home when you’re staring down the barrel of a 28 hour drive between shows!

Previous support acts have spoken highly of Coldplay’s on-the-road catering – what do you think? Have there been any highlights?
Firstly, it’s lovely to see a Scotswoman in charge. Secondly, yesterday’s Cajun chicken and dirty rice was incredible. The desserts have been totally next-level too.

What have Metronomy got planned for the rest of 2012?
Well, by the last Hollywood Bowl show, we’ll have been in North America for nearly six weeks. So we have a few weeks off when we get back and then we’re into European festivals. Our last show at the Berlin Festival at the start of September will cap nearly 18 months of touring.

Finally, what’s your favourite Coldplay song, and why?
I really couldn’t pick just one. ‘Postcards From Far Away’ and ‘Chinese Sleep Chant’ often come up when I’m asked this question. Right now it’s ‘Up With The Birds’.

For more information on Metronomy, head to