“There is no business like show business!” laughs Joey Bradbury as he reflects on The Rhythm Method’s constant desire to entertain and bring some old school razzamatazz back to the music scene with their long-awaited debut album, ‘How Would You Know I Was Lonely?’.
“We want to entertain people,” elaborates his musical partner Rowan Martin. “We want to create an album that people will want to sing along and dance to; it’s really that simple. It’s the same philosophy we have with our live show and every song we write. We’re bringing back entertainment.”
The Rhythm Method have always been as much a philosophy as a band. The past five years have seen them cultivate a real following, their own singular brand of Methodism picking up a wide range of supporters from The 1975’s Matty Healy and his mum Denise Welch, to Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell and rocket man Elton John.
Now their debut album is here, it feels like a culmination of the past five years of The Rhythm Method’s journey.
“The album tells the story of all of our lives,” explains Rowan. “It’s that cliche of the first album being the story so far. There’s a lot to pack into it. From an emotional point of view, it’s a difficult thing to pull together. So much material goes into it, not just musical material but all your life experiences.”
“We’re both very emotional men, so it’s difficult,” adds Joey as he describes the years of hardship and struggles to get to this point. “We have to work; we’re not a full-time band, and life gets in the way.”
The album is a perfect snapshot of the band in all their idiosyncratic glory. No one else sounds quite like The Rhythm Method in 2019 – maybe no one else wants to sound like The Rhythm Method in 2019 – but their unique blend of instantly relatable suburban ennui, pop hooks from the cool and hip to the weird and chintzy, coupled with a tender heart marks them out as one of our finest new pop bands.
“The album represents the philosophy the same way we always do,” says Rowan. “Through brutally honest lyrics and the relatable subjects we talk about. That’s how this philosophy has become so broad because the songs are so obvious. We don’t beat around the bush.”
You can hear all of that in previous singles like ‘Something For The Weekend’s’ bright bank holiday hedonism and ‘Cruel’s’ careworn ode to the futility of addiction, to newer tracks like ‘Sex and The Suburbs’ and the plaintive, poignant beauty of piano ballad ‘Magic Hour’.
The thing that perhaps stands out the most about The Rhythm Method is that they don’t take themselves too seriously. Make no mistake this is very important to them, but there’s a refreshing lack of earnestness that makes them so engaging.
“Self-deprecation is a very British thing,” says Joey. “We don’t have much self-confidence, and we don’t particularly like ourselves. Music is mostly populated by kids who grew up rich and a lot of those kids are taught self-confidence. They’re taught how to speak publicly and told that everything they do is good. Where we come from it’s self-criticising all the time.”
In a way, the band now cherish their outsider status whereas previously they used to yearn for massive success and instant acceptance.
“Being the outsider is our most potent weapon,” states Rowan. “We’re living in a very uncertain time for music, how people consume it, how people talk about it. No one’s sure how it’s happening anymore. We’re relishing the role of starting a word of mouth revolution. In our eyes, we’re taking it back to the stone age. We like the idea of taking it back to basics.”
“I relish being the outsider more now,” admits Joey. “I’ve made no secret in the past that I wanted to be an insider. I wanted to be a pop star. I wanted to make money and buy my parents a house. Now, it does feel like because we’ve been rejected and ignored quite a lot, the fans we do have feels like a cult and it only ever grows. It feels good now, and we feel confident in what we’re doing. We know exactly who we are.”
“We know there’s an audience now, so we want to grow that as organically as possible,” adds Rowan. “We don’t want to get hung up on getting on Radio 1. We want to be the captains of our own destiny and create a new way of doing things.”
The spread of The Rhythm Method’s influences goes from Rod Stewart and 80s synth pop to 90s dance, UK garage, pub rock and stand up comedy. They see their roles as musical magpie’s unconstrained by any boundaries.
“We’re like songwriting Wombles,” laughs Joey. “We’re walking along Wimbledon common picking up ideas from elsewhere and putting them together to make our own thing. It’s a mish-mash of all our influences that we grew up with.”
“Every genre we do we always sounds like us,” explains Rowan of their songwriting process. “The way we make it is like authentic fake. We believe in it, and we’re trying to make it good, but by virtue of the way we make it it will never be a perfect replication, and we don’t want it to be.”
“It’s like in Spanish markets where you have those fake football tops that actually still look quite cool,” laughs Joey.
The defining thing about The Rhythm Method is Joey’s lyricism. His considered and, at times, deeply hilarious vignettes about the ridiculous and sometimes heartbreaking reality of everyday life in the UK give The Rhythm Method’s songs their personality. You can hear it instantly from the first introductory monologue banger ‘Ode 2 Joey’ before culminating in his closing tender ode to his home city ‘Wandsworth Plain’ written with his lyrical hero Chris Difford of Squeeze.
“I guess over the last five years I’ve done some growing up in a way,” reflects Joey. “Not too much, obviously. I’m a lot less angry nowadays. I used to be a very angry young man. Not outwardly but very insular and angry with myself and the world. Just bitter about other things or other bands. I still get that sometimes, but that’s just down to jealousy I suppose. I’m always going to be envious of people doing better than us. My lyrics get funnier now, and they’re also getting a little weirder as I’m trying to write our second album. They’re a bit more poetic and going down a strange path.”
Already halfway along that strange path is an album track like ‘Salad Cream’, on the face of it a bizarre advertising jingle, Rowan instead describes it as a key song in illuminating The Rhythm Method and what they are.
“It’s everything the Rhythm Method is about,” he says confidently. “It goes beyond music. It’s like stand up. Joey plays a character like Ronnie Barker. It goes beyond the narrow confines of indie music which I’ve always thought we’re much better than. Someone described it as Stock, Aitken and Waterman doing a music hall song. The soul of the band is in ‘Salad Cream’.”
Taken from the July issue of Dork. The Rhythm Method’s debut album ‘How Would You Know I Was Lonely?’ is out now.
Words: Martyn Young