Interview: Methyl Ethel

Interviewed by: Laurent Shervington

Who are Methyl Ethel and what kind of music do you make?

Chris: Well before it became a full band it was just Jake (Guitar/Vocals).

Jake: Yeah, but now we’ve got Chris (Drums) and Tom (Bass). We really just make music we’d like to listen to, it’s not very genre specific to be honest. I don’t set out to make a certain style of music; it’s just a reflection of everything we listen to, from classical to turnt up electronic music.

So where did the name come from? Are any of you chemistry majors?

Jake: *laughs* Unfortunately not, could we have been, in a past life?

Chris: I always struggled with chemistry, I don’t think I have any residual chemistry skill from my past life *laughs*

Jake: Well I just started watching Breaking Bad, so maybe that could have got me into chemistry.

Chris: I feel like chemistry was a bit of dirty word in high school.

Like Physics and Maths?

Jake: Yeah, exactly! I sometimes do some fiberglass work with my dad, so the name came from the catalyst (methyl ethyl peroxide) that we use a lot in that work. We also dropped the y in Ethyl to give it a bit more of an onomatopoeic as well. It’s also a bit of a piss take on band names, like you gotta have a band name that doesn’t suck completely, but it also doesn’t really matter. Like some of the best bands ever have some pretty dumb names, like the Beatles.

The Jam?

Jake: Yeah, and Led Zeppelin.

Jake (to Chris): What are some recent band names that have been pretty cool?

Chris: The Methamphetaqueens is great.

Have you heard the story of that Japanese band that went to a Modest Mouse show and got the guitarist to name their band? The guy was super drunk and they ended up being called Ogre You Asshole.

Jake: Nice! See that’s good because it’s got a story behind it.

What have guys been listening to lately? Any local bands you’re particularly digging at the moment?

Jake: Ben Witt last solo set was really great, ended up listening to a bunch of African music after I saw him.

Chris: Yeah Ben Witt, he’s about to drop a new album soon I think.

Jake: There’s too many! I feel like I would have to shout out all the guys we’ve borrowed stuff off.

Have you been following the Big Splash competition?

Chris: Yeah I actually do some sound tech stuff at the Bird, so I saw the heat there last week with The Methamphetaqueens and Shit Narnia.

What do you think about the nature of the music scene is Perth at the moment? From an outsider perspective its seems there are a few “cliques” going on with groups of bands.

Jake: Yeah I know what you mean, people could take that as a bit of a bitter pill to swallow if they’re on the periphery of a group of mates. But really it’s not really like that, its just people who know each other through music.

Chris: Yeah like you’d think they would only play with each other because they’re mates, but I find a lot its because they enjoy each other’s music. It’s not really like people are just trying to help their friend.

Do you think the clique attitude is good or bad for the overall scene?

Chris: I think it’s a good thing; it’s an honest thing and its reflection of the scene at the moment. It reflects the very fluid nature of it all in that no one is too precious about certain projects. Some do well and some don’t and that’s fine. It’s really nice to different sides of people’s musical personality.

Jake: I think it’s not the networks, but just people playing good music. That’s what people should be focussing on. Forget the “inner sanctum of Perth music” , the focus should always be to release quality music.

And people will come to it?

Jake: Exactly! Like Aborted Tortoise came out of nowhere and got welcomed in very nicely and that sort of stuff happens all the time which is great.

Any bands in general you guys are digging at the moment?

Chris: I think the three of us all have pretty different music tastes in general. We all draw from different ranges. A few of us have been on a classical binge lately, that sort of stuff. Like Phillip Glass *laughs*

Do you guys have a favourite Perth venue?

Jake: For me it’s the Bird, because I don’t have to work there *laughs*.

Chris: Yeah if I didn’t have to work their that would be mine too, some of the best gigs I’ve played were at the Bakery so that was my favourite.

Jake: Freo Arts Centre is also pretty great.

Chris: Any bigger venues are great, because we play a lot of smaller shows. We love it because we have more space so we can actually move around on stage.

You guys released “Oh Inhuman Spectacle” last month and its been getting some pretty rave reviews, where you expecting this kind of response?

Jake: No way, I thought people were going to hate it. I thought people would get it or hate it. I was secretly waiting for a review to just rip it to shreds.

Chris: I think the more time you spend with it, the more you lead to that side.

Jake: You get surprised that it even gets played on the radio now.
Chris: There was also about a 6 month waiting period from when we finished it all to when it was released, so especially for that period you become so unsure if people will like it or not. It’s been such a nice response as well.

Jake: Chris and I mixed over a period of around 4 months and by the time we were finished with it we were itching to move on to new stuff.

Did you do anything differently in the process of making that album? How does it stand differently from your other work?

Chris: This one was the first one that it wasn’t just Jake doing all the recording and mixing, previously he’d done everything by himself in his bedroom and occasionally in the studio.

Jake: We’d played a couple of the songs live before we had recorded them, so that’s something different. This record started out as a more electronic, Fender Rhodes kind of stuff. It was the first time I’d workshopped songs with a band in mind, like making them into band/guitar-based songs. I was drawing a lot of influence from Youth Lagoon and Fender Rhodes players, with electronic beats. At the end of recording that the textures and sound just didn’t seem honest to me, didn’t feel like me really. I almost felt like I was doing covers.

The sole physical format you’ve released the album on is vinyl; can you tell me about why you’ve chosen to do this?

Jake: It’s just a cool way I think *laughs*

Chris: The three of us don’t really buy CDs anymore so we decided on vinyl

Do you think the “vinyl revival” will be a trend that is here to stay?

Jake: Well it’s stayed around this long so I think so.

Chris: I think its great, it’s a really good equilibrium we’ve reached in terms of digital and streaming going on and for everything that’s lacking in tangibility and physicality, we’ve got records. It’s a really nice thing to have at home, that can’t be torrented, it’s a good place to end up with it all.

Jake (To Chris) : Do you think it’s the same sort of thing as books? People always have books, but people they’ll have the same book on their tablet or kindle.

Chris: Yeah I think it’s very much a time and a place sort of thing, whatever suits them. I think they both serve a purpose for the same people.

Be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming gigs featuring Methyl Ethyl. Check out their track Twilight Driving below: