Methyl Ethel’s third album Triage is out now. While an album release is certainly cause for celebration, for writer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Jake Webb, it’s also permission to head straight back into the studio and start on something fresh.
Triage is the third album in the triptych Jake Webb began with Oh Inhuman Spectacle (2015) and followed with Everything is Forgotten (2017).
You can find out more about the album and the details on their upcoming national tour here. In the meantime, we caught up with Jake, who shed some light on the lessons he’s learned, frustrations he’s overcome and new sources of inspiration.
Music Feeds: In the personal statement you released with this album you mentioned you were hoping to find closure, with Triage being the final chapter of the creative journey you began with your previous records. Now that it has been released, have you managed to find a sense of that?
Jake Webb: That whole idea is just beginning. I think for at least the next year, I’ll just think about how it sits with me, and how I feel about everything moving forward.
MF: When it came to creating Triage, did you set out to try anything different this time around?
JW: Not really, I was obviously drawing from the same processes and ideas when it comes to actually producing the record. I think the big difference, as opposed to the last record, was that I had a good chunk of time to be at home working on it rather than just working on it in bits and pieces in between tours.
MF: Were you able to take away any personal lessons from this record?
JW: I think so, but it’s hard to put into words. If I knew what the lessons were, I’d have already moved on, and be ready to look back at it. But the record has literally just come out, even though I’ve had about six to eight months to sit with it, I think I’m still trying to figure it all out.
MF: Your lyrics are often quite ambiguous; does it frustrate you when people try and pin down a meaning to a song or have you gotten used to having to explain yourself?
JW: Yeah it only frustrates me because, I obviously have my own thoughts about what it is, but I don’t know if it’s necessarily my job to write the lyric and provide the fucking SparkNotes on it as well. Sometimes I feel like if people just took the time to actually read them and listen to it and think about it then these sorts of questions would be answered themselves. I know that everyone wants to ready the Wikipedia page before they even watch the film these days. But sometimes a little bit of extra work, or listening a bit harder will help you find answers. And it’s fine if people think that it’s bullshit, or they don’t find anything in it – that’s also fine!
MF: You’ve talked about wanting to shift the focus for any future work away from being so retrospective and personal. Are you looking forward to seeking inspiration elsewhere? Where do you think that might come from?
JW: I’m looking forward to drawing on some bigger themes. I have felt in the past, that I’ve had to write in order to be honest. I haven’t really felt enough confidence to speak about things that weren’t deeply personal. I think that I’m growing more confident in that regard.
MF: Where does a new song begin for you? Is there a method? Or is it different every time?
JW: It’s a good question because the beauty of this time for me that it’s the beginning of allowing myself to work on something fresh. So that exact question is poignant, because it is everything – sometimes a word, sometimes a sound. Obviously, when I’m sitting down to write music, it would start with the composition of it. But I could be drawing inspiration from a lot of different things. When I’m in the mood to be grabbing at things, it can come from anywhere. That sounds a little weird, “in the mood for grabbing at things” but I mean that in a metaphorical sense!
MF: Is your inspiration often affected by moods, do you ever get struck with writer’s block?
JW: It’s not necessarily a writer’s block, more just like a, “woe is me” depressive episode that will stop me from feeling things like that. Which is natural, sometimes you can’t help but think, “What am I doing with my life?”
MF: Traditionally, working on music has been a very individual experience for you. Can you see yourself collaborating with others more in the future?
JW: I can. I think that’s also something that I’m holding myself accountable to by saying it more often. Even just to help other people with music and work with other people. Not necessarily in the Hollywood way of a big feature collaboration, but certainly working with more people in the earlier stages.
MF: You’ve described mixing the album with engineer Marta Salogni in London as a really positive experience, can you tell us a bit more about what that was like?
JW: You’re thrust into quite a strange situation when you think about meeting someone for the first time and then spending every day together with them working on something that’s so close to you. When personalities match in that realm, it works out really well and this one was case in point.
MF: What’s your favourite way to procrastinate when you need to get away from work for a while?
JW: I’m thinking of trying to ban myself from browsing things on YouTube. That’s great for procrastination. I’m always telling myself that the things I’m looking up have relevance, but it doesn’t take long to get off topic…
MF: You’ve got the tour coming up this year, are you excited to take this show on the road?
JW: Yeah, we’ve got a really good group together at the moment and everyone is really positive about it. It’s going to be good fun. It’s nice to start off fresh.
MF: You’ve played some pretty incredible live shows over the years, have you had one big “pinch yourself” moment?
JW: Splendour in the Grass last year. It was our first gig together as this new band and we’d only been together in the same room a fortnight prior to that, so it was probably the most high-pressure show I think I’ve ever played. And they recorded it live. When it was all coming together, about half way through the set, I had that moment when I felt that the hard work had paid off. That was the main thing.
MF: So, what’s next? Any plans to take a break from writing to enjoy the tour?
JW: God no! Why would I do that? I find it to be so fun. As a matter of fact, I think this week I might try to get back in there and see what happens. At any moment, you’ve got to remember, there’s somebody somewhere making something incredible so it’s just about trying to keep up.
Methyl Ethel will head on a Triage national tour this June. Head here for dates.
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