Photo by Xan Thorrhoea

An Interview With Methyl Ethel’s Jake Webb

Jake Webb is one of the most intriguing characters in the Aussie music scene today.

Recognised by most as Methyl Ethel’s brains trust, the musical polymath has spent the past year of cancelled tours and forced downtime cooking up fresh music; the first sign of which is nu-rave meets Talking Heads sonic trip, ‘Neon Cheap’. Signalling (we hope) a new album on the way, ‘Neon Cheap’ is everything we’ve come to know and love from a Methyl Ethel earworm: insanely catchy hooks, introspective lyrics and eccentric sampling that reveals Webb’s motley crew of musical influences. If the incoming body of work sounds anything like their latest track, we’re most definitely in for a treat. Before the band head off on a long-awaited Australian tour playing co-headline shows with fellow Western Australians Pond, followed by an East Coast headline run, we caught up with Webb to try squeeze some info from him about the new album.

‘Neon Cheap’ was written when the tour for Hurts to Laugh was cancelled. What was your mindset while writing it? 

I was just having a really good time working in my studio alone.

The song alludes to a kind of escapism. Do you have another kind of escapism outside of music? 

Hmmm… I don’t really identify with escapism. If I am being imprisoned by any aspect of my life, it is by choice, and I am suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

‘Neon Cheap’ features a sample of an old Italian folk song. Where are some favourite places you go digging for new sounds and tracks to inspire your music? 

I watch a lot of old cinema and get loads of ideas from really long, drawn-out films. Often my ideas for samples and sound design are linked thematically to the idea in the song. I was working on a song about the fashion industry with rhythmic elements taken from a video of a textiles factory in India. Pretty obvious, but it’s that kinda thing.

Everyone seems to have picked up a new hobby or learnt something during this year-long downtime. Was there anything you got really into? 

I played a lot of clarinet, read tonnes of books, played some bugle, restored some old furniture, recorded an album, started mixing an album and read more books.

There are some very strong haircuts in the Methyl Ethel ensemble. Who’s got the finest mane, in your opinion? 

There are some incoming and some outgoing lids. The revolving door of Methyl Ethel swing round once more, you’ll have to come to a show and judge for yourself!

Seems like there’s an album on the way… you probably can’t say much, but can we have some keywords about what the new record is going to bring into the world? 

Seances, creaky houses, REM (sleep), percussion, concussion, confession, dissonance, harmony, subtlety and nuance.

When the world opens up again, where’s the first place you want to go and play?

The park.

Tour dates

Friday 30 April – Magnet House, Perth, WA – with Pond
Saturday 1 May – Magnet House, Perth, WA – with Pond
Thursday 22 July – Melbourne, VIC @ The Night Cat (headline show)
Friday 23 July – Sydney, NSW @ The Roundhouse (headline show)

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