A five-piece band with Jake Webb in the middle, Methyl Ethel are known for making music that is both alien and familiar, intimate yet unknown. Amidst all the uncertainty we’re experiencing, we can be certain of one thing: that their new EP, Hurts to Laugh, will explore feeling and emotion in a way that intertwines music and art. With this in mind, we had a chat with Jake.
Hey Jake, how are you going?
I’m good thanks, you?
I’m good too. What are you up to?
I’m on route to my place of work, which is my studio, which I work at alone, in a sanitised, isolated environment. That should cover all the governmental restrictions, and that should be okay to print without me getting a $5000 fine.
I’ll take note of that. Speaking of – how are you feeling about the pandemic?
Well, I’d disengaged with most media outlets, before the pandemic happened anyway. So, I’ve just been keeping up with what the government website says to do. I’m in Perth, not on tour, that’s how it’s affected me, I would’ve been in the States right now. It is what it is.
The States, that’s exciting. Which cities would that have been covering?
LA, California, San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, Philadelphia, we were supporting Peter, Bjorn & John. We were due to fly out a couple of weeks after it all started to escalate, so, perhaps we were lucky timing-wise that we were able to postpone it before we ended up going over there.
So, when will you be going on tour, now?
Hopefully, if things go to plan, around September, October. I’ll be doing a little solo tour of Australia as well, visiting Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane.
Excited to see your fans?
I am, they’re nice. I’m appreciative of the fact I have fans. There’s a group of girls who make memes, I’ve met them at a couple of shows over in the states. They make Methyl Ethel memes, it’s pretty funny really, the stuff they come up with, it’s hilarious.
I’ll have to check that out. So, on route to your studio, what are you working on at the moment?
New music. It’s a very enjoyable, isolated environment to be in.
Very smart wording. And you’re releasing your Hurts to Laugh EP on Friday, is that correct?
Correct. I’m really looking forward to people being able to hear all those songs. To me, they all have their own personalities. It feels like graduation day for my small class.
Tell us more – what inspired the name?
Well, I heard somebody say it and I wrote it down. I’m always keeping a tally of things that I find multi-faceted, provocative, in a range of ways. I keep a notepad with me so I can write it down with a pen.
And for the individual tracks?
It’s a constant work in progress. I have a lot of unfinished songs, sometimes I go through all of those and see if I can pick out an idea. I’m also studying composition, whether I’m tuning a guitar differently or learning new chords. The playing of the instrument sometimes helps me to come up with ideas – and studying other people’s music.
I listen to a lot of internet radio, the radio station called NDS, it’s a stream of good well-selected music, I like classical music, classic albums. It’s a healthy spread.
Did one of them inspire you to pursue music as a career?
I never thought of it as a career… I’m still waiting to make a record that I feel is The One, then I can just quit doing it.
Would you like to quit doing it, though?
I do enjoy the process, a lot… Maybe calling it a career is a scary concept.
What would you call it?
I don’t really call it anything – I just do it.
Growing up, is music what you wanted to do?
From memory, when asked that question, I wrote that I either wanted to be the lead guitarist in a band, or study at Oxford – and I guess neither of those dreams came true!
You still have time to do both – do you play the guitar?
Yes, I got my first guitar when I was twelve, so, for ten years now.
Do you play other instruments as well?
I play all the instruments on the records, so, piano, the drums, bass, all the other stuff. I know when one has its place, if you feel what I mean.
For sure. It’ll be great seeing you play at Melbourne – you guys killed it at the Zoo Twilights. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.
My pleasure – thank you.
Hurts to Laugh is available now, via Dot Dash/Remote Control. For more about Methyl Ethel, visit www.methylethel.com.
Photo supplied by Remote Control.