Joseph Mount: soundtrack of my life

The Metronomy singer on his early obsession with drums, the soundtrack to his sexual awakening, and the influence of Joni Mitchell's The Jungle Line

Joseph Mount – the 31-year-old singer with English four-piece Metronomy, whose peppy, sun-drenched third album, The English Riviera, went gold in 2011 – musically owes a debt of gratitude to his elder sister, Alice. In choosing six of the songs that have shaped his life so far, Mount admits that as they grew up in Totnes, Devon, it was often Alice who would pass on her knowledge of music both cool and… well, not so cool. But the creative exchange wasn't completely one-sided. "I think I got her into some pretty good stuff too," Mount says. Love Letters, Metronomy's fourth album, is out on 10 March.


The Loco-Motion by Kylie Minogue (1987)

Every Christmas, my parents would buy Alice and me a 7-inch record or two. At that time, if you were a boy, you liked Michael Jackson and if you were a girl you liked Kylie Minogue. So I guess this single was actually Alice's present, but she must have been allowed to play hers more than I was, as it's this song that's stuck in my memory. Stock, Aitken and Waterman [who produced the record] are a bit odd – Waterman's obsessed with steam engines, isn't he? But now I can see how they were trying to make their own Motown hit factory. They did it quite well, really, but in a particularly English way.


Down by the Water by PJ Harvey (1995)

There was a period when I started getting my musical tastes from Top of the Pops 2: there was always a music video at the end of the programme and it was often quite clever. That's where I first saw the video to this song. I remember it looking all watery, and PJ Harvey singing in a red dress, but it was the drums that really struck me. At this age – I was 12 or 13 – I was becoming obsessed with drums. So I took all my pocket money into a music shop in Exeter and bought the cheapest PJ Harvey album I could find. It was called 4-Track Demos. I took it home, put it in the stereo and waited for the drums to come in. But they never did. There are no drums on that record at all.


El Scorcho by Weezer (1996)

Weezer's second record, Pinkerton, coincided happily with my fancying people for the first time. El Scorcho is definitely not the coolest track on the album, but I remember thinking it was. I'd listen to it with my friend and talk about girls. Singer Rivers Cuomo later took a vow of celibacy, so I guess the association looks quite weird now. Pinkerton wasn't much of a critical success, but it seems to be thought more significant today than it was at the time, perhaps because it was the soundtrack to so many boys' and girls' sexual awakenings.


Blue Flowers by Dr Octagon (1996)

At 15, I started hanging around with a skateboarding crew down Safeway car park in Totnes. Most of the guys were art students in their 20s; they'd bring along their boombox and terrorise all the old ladies. Through them, I heard a lot of music I probably shouldn't have, like this song, which was my first introduction to anything rappy and leftfield. It seemed to fit into the whole idea of being a skateboarder, getting high, looking cool. I've seen pictures recently, though, and I definitely didn't look cool: I just seem to be wearing the trousers of a much bigger man.


Needles and Pins by Ramones (1978)

When I left home and went to university in Brighton, I stole a load of records from my parents. Among them were albums by Devo, Blondie and Ramones. It was only when people started coming round to my room and looking through my record collection that I realised my parents had pretty good taste: until then, those songs had just reminded me of being at home with my family. I didn't know that having a Ramones record put you in this camp of cool people. So I gave up my niche electronica nights and started going to indie discos, where all the attractive girls went.


The Jungle Line by Joni Mitchell (1975)

I've been listening recently to a lot of records from the 1970s, the ones where you can tell it's the first time the artist has had a synthesiser in the studio. My sister got me into Joni Mitchell. I love the fact that on her album The Hissing of Summer Lawns you can almost hear the producer saying: "Hey, Joni, you want to try using this synthesiser?" The Jungle Line is a very odd track, but in a good way. In a way, it reflects our approach to the new album: we recorded it at the analogue Toe Rag studios, trying to use electronic stuff as one instrument among many, rather than making it the sound that defines the record.


Interview by Laura Barnett

The GuardianTramp

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