the sunshine and happiness in the music of methyl ethyl
Meet the alt-pop band whose formation story involves members of Genesis and characters from the Bible.
Methyl Ethel is an Australian three-piece making increasingly larger waves on the alt-pop music scene. Recently signed to the legendary British record label 4AD their perfectly melodic, guitar-laden pop songs always leave you wanting more. The brainchild of the band is lead vocalist and guitarist, Jake Webb with the full live lineup also including Chris Wright on drums and Thom Stewart on bass. Formed in 2013, the story of how the band came to be is somewhat ironic. "The genesis of the band was over a conversation about Genesis the band," explains Webb. "We were allegorically comparing Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel to Adam and Eve. The temptation, we concluded, was a solo career, yet somehow this is how our band began."
Despite being inspired by a story about breakups, the band is still very much together and have been working tirelessly to hone their sound through mostly at-home recordings over the past three years. Their first EP—delivered in two parts titled Guts and Teeth—introduced listeners to their dreamily trippy sound, and last year's breakout single Rouges from the 12-track album, Oh Inhuman Spectacle won the 2015 WAM Pop Song of the Year.
Fed a steady childhood diet of The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and '90s girl group En Vogue, Webb's protestation that he writes songs "sung with gritted teeth, played with sweaty palms, and recorded on broken tape machines" downplays the amount of actual sunshine and happiness that can be felt through the majority of the band's tracks. However, the singer couldn't be more on point in his description that listening to Methyl Ethel songs is a bit like having a rare strand of pleasant tinnitus that makes music take on a kind of wavy, dizzy feeling reminiscent of listening to instruments underwater or the head rush that comes with standing up too quickly after a hot bath.
Although questions about how Webb creates this unique kind of ear-play are strictly off limits, he will share that his creative process, past and present, involves some kind of compass and a good amount Nag Champa incense—a scent that the band will inevitably be smelling a lot more as Webb gets to work to finishing their, as of yet, unnamed upcoming album. Other plans for the trio in 2016 include a group effort to arrive to all of their shows on time (perhaps even early), and the next phase of an increasingly hectic touring schedule, which has already seen them share a stage with the likes of Courtney Barnett and San Cisco. Webb also adds that he hopes to get a new haircut, cover Teenage Wildlife by David Bowie, and learn to play an ancient Armenian flute called the dukduk. Why you might ask? Because "seriously," says Webb.
Text Elsa de Berker
Photography Britt McCamey