Jake Webb jams to the sound of solitude. The frontman and founder of Perth-based alt rock group Methyl Ethel, Webb and his bandmates Thom Steward and Chris Wright, turned their hallucinatory vision into a no-less-hallucinatory reality with their first LP Oh Inhuman Spectacle.
Methyl Ethel is currently on their first major US tour. Their trek kicked off at New York’s CMJ festival, continued through South by Southwest, backtrack a bit for their upcoming shows at Pitchfork Festival in Chicago and Northside Music Showcase in Brooklyn, then finally end in LA. Convicts was lucky enough to catch up with the trio and get the lowdown on Insta-famous dogs, friendship, and the importance of punctuality.
CONVICTS: How goes it boys? To start, can you introduce yourselves?
METHYL ETHEL: We’re Methyl Ethel and we’re here at Baby’s Allright in Brooklyn, New York.
CONVICTS: Right on. What’s been best about the city so far?
METHYL ETHEL: I reckon just looking out the window. There’s so much shit to see all the time, always stuff to think about that triggers thoughts. Deep thoughts.
CONVICTS: Tell us about your first experience playing in New York. We hear it was a bit unusual.
METHYL ETHEL: We played a book launch party for a dog, a party for just a little dog and even that was pretty busy. Probably one of our better shows. It’s good here ’cause a crowd always comes.
CONVICTS: Are you guys as famous as the dog you serenaded?
METHYL ETHEL: The dog’s got 1.2 million followers on Instagram so I hope we can get as many people as the dog.
I reckon just looking out the window. There’s so much shit to see all the time, always stuff to think about that triggers thoughts. Deep thoughts.
CONVICTS: I’m sure the dog is very charming What about the book, did you keep it?
METHYL ETHEL: Fuck, no. We left it in the Air bnb.
CONVICTS: Sounds about right. Tell us about playing at CMJ How did the crowd compare to the dog party?
METHYL ETHEL: It was a CMJ crowd so I don’t know if it was a good indicator of a New York crowd. People with up-and-coming blogs are coming in from all over the world for CMJ so it’s not necessarily a New York Crowd.
CONVICTS: Did CMJ live up to your expectations?
METHYL ETHEL: You can’t expect anything from a show but to get through it. So if we had expectations, they would’ve been low expectations. Not that the shows would be bad-obviously you wanna play a good show-just that everything would be a hustle. Our main focus was more technical, to arrive on time and get setup quickly as possible.
CONVICTS: Are logistics a common hang up for Methyl Ethel?
METHYL ETHEL: The best feedback we ever got was when some blog reviewed our gig and they said we were really punctual.
CONVICTS: Understandable, although you boys have been getting heaps of press in the States. Did playing back in Australia prepare you for the scene here?
METHYL ETHEL: Any music conference-Big Sound in Australia and Wham festival in Perth-they’re all kinda similar vibe so having done those puts us in a position where we’re not green, where we know how to hustle, so we can go in there and have fun.
CONVICTS: How does playing live differ from producing in the studio?
METHYL ETHEL: If you think about a record, you’ve got forty minutes and things have a dynamic flow. You have to think about a set in a similar way-you don’t want to be bangers the whole way through. You want it to peak and drop.
You can’t expect anything from a show but to get through it.
CONVICTS: Where’s Methyl Ethel headed from here?
METHYL ETHEL: We’re headed to South by Southwest, then we’re gonna chuck another couple shows in while we’re here. We’re in nyc right now and we go to Chicago tomorrow. We’re slowly making our way west, through Idaho, and finishing in Los Angeles. City of Angels.
CONVICTS: Flying out or road tripping?
METHYL ETHEL: Road trip. We’re pretty keen to get over to the west coast while we’re on our US tour. Last time we were here, we were just in New York for a month so it’s gonna be cool to see America.
CONVICTS: So if cars run on gasoline, and sailboats run on wind, then one could say Methyl Ethel runs on…
METHYL ETHEL: Friendship. A bit of that, not too much.
CONVICTS: Sounds good boys. Thanks, and best of luck out west.