In Australia, between the places where the Swan River meets the suburbs and sandy beaches meet the shoreline, lays Perth. A cultural centre and the sweeping city that is the capital of Western Australia. Perth is not only home to the state ballet, opera companies, theatre, art galleries and museums. It is also home to ‘Methyl Ethel’, an exciting and emergent new group who are developing a strong following around the globe.
The band comprises Jake Webb (Vocals, Guitar), Thom Stewart (Bass Guitar, Vocals) and Chris Wright (Drums) and together, much like their name suggests, the members of the group make for a creative chemical compound. When asked how the band came together, Jake explained that it was more as a response to, rather than the result of, the face value ‘scene’ in Perth. A scene the frontman refers to as a “musical melange” which “sucked, hopelessly and “exists as a side effect to the collective ennui felt by most of us here”. As with anywhere in the world I suppose, it is in searching deeper, beneath the surface, where one uncovers the resonance of the resident rhizome, discovering the zeitgeist of any scene worthy of note. Methyl Ethel’s avant-garde rise is clear in the content and popularity of their first tracks for Remote Control Recordings and 4AD. Yet remains far from any pretentious position. “Our musical tastes are many and varied, however there is a definite thread. We’re not reinventing the wheel with our approach to pop music but we do like to bend the rules a bit”. Perhaps considering the bands heritage and pedigree it should not come as a surprise then that such first releases, like ‘Rogues’ and the anthemic, cinematographic ‘Twilight Driving’, have found the band a cult following and status.
Touring and recording together for just over three years now Methyl Ethel have developed a sound which is an expansive sonic synthesis. It is one of a depth that tacitly signals an innumerable array of musical, artistic and cultural influences. Jake’s skilfully mastered lyrics convey a love of and passionate engagement with a wide and diverse range of poetry and literature. The captivating, evocative, often playful, sometimes political prose interwoven with the bands musicality, creates a contemporary and comprehensive form that folds art and music “It’s a tried and true combo. The musicians I’ve loved over the years have, for the most part, existed in both worlds”.
Methyl Ethel’s debut LP in its title, content and titles of songs like ‘Idée Fixe’, ‘Also Gesellschaft’ and ‘Oh, Inhuman Spectacle’ confirmed the band as keen observers of and commentators upon of the human condition.
The new LP proves to be the same and on current events in the US, Jake stated with suitable integrity and an attitude of originality that, “It’s all well and good for people to be mobilising now. But there are voices who’ve been active for a long time, pressing the same issues. Why should we only be paying attention now, to the voices of the privileged, dressed in furs and preaching to the choir”. When asked of the bands thoughts on recent global trends and sweeping social change Jake said “As long as people build values based on pure faith and reject reason, what can we do? We’re living in absurd meta-modern times. How is it that while there are people making exceptional breakthroughs in science there are others regressing toward the barbaric dark-ages? I don’t know, there’s nothing new or insightful I could say that great social scientists haven’t”.
It is due to this amalgam of the bands background, experience and knowledge informing their sound, style, outlook and sense of humility, that the emotions and attentions of a growing fan base have been captured. When asked how the events of the last couple of years of extensive touring, experiences and increased recognition by both audiences and industry may if at all have influenced the bands creative direction, Jake again answers with that now familiar sense of humility and subtle, dry humour “It would be too nuanced for me to put into words. Perhaps we feel a little less like imposters. That’s not to say we’re confident. We’re pretty good at coiling cables and doing crosswords”.
Having entertained audiences worldwide throughout 2016 touring 2015’s debut album ‘Oh, Inhuman Spectacle’, Methyl Ethel’s capacity for creativity has since only increased. Earlier in the year the band announced completion of new LP ‘Everything is Forgotten’ and over the last couple of months the band have treated us to three new releases from that forthcoming album. The first of which, ‘No.28’ confirmed in its balletic videography and lyrical imagery that the band not only continue to pursue the pioneering pathway fans love, but also that the group had developed too. The video for second new track ‘Ubu’ is both funny and gorgeous and though differing in its minimalism does remind me of the cyclical choreography and metronomic mirth of works by Blanca Li (Paul McCartney/Berlin Ballet) and Michel Gondry (Daft Punk/Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
Third new track ‘L’Heure des Sorcières’ is an outstanding witches brew of contemporary philosophy, modern art and music. A ‘progged’ up macabre sizzling synth circus, again invoking themes of otherness and resistance to the norm found in tracks from their debut LP. ‘L’Heure des Sorcières’ perhaps references the eponymously titled Paris exhibition curated by Anna Colin or novels by Anna Rice?
One thing is for sure, as with their debut, the gorgeous artwork by Holly Fewson on the new albums cover indicates adequately the creative delights contained therein. “Everything is Forgotten” is released this Friday March 3rd on limited ‘Indies Only’ magenta vinyl, black vinyl and CD formats and you can catch the band on tour right now in the UK, EU and across the world this summer.
Find out more via Methyl Ethel’s social media here: