Why Methyl Ethel Are The Hardest Working Chillers In Australian Music
by Sam Nichols
Life as a musician isn’t all colourful troll dolls. Although that bohemian lifestyle might seem like a dream for us stuck in an office nine hours a day, five days a week – keeping your artistic integrity becomes quite difficult once you make it.
However, this isn’t the case for Perth based band – Methyl Ethel. Forming just three years ago, the band has climbed the proverbial ladder and is set to play a world tour starting in December as well as performing at the country’s cultural summit of music and art festival; Sugar Mountain 2017. Despite this rapid succession, the band still maintains it’s honesty and integrity.
“We’re lucky for things to roll on and to present themselves like Sugar Mountain asking us to play, people in other countries asking us to play and just people buying our records is really lovely and a pleasurable thing.” Says frontman Jake Webb. “But I have my own personal objectives for this. My job is to get better.”
And that’s the best way to define the mantra of Methyl Ethel – “Getting Better”. Starting off in 2013, Methyl Ethel was originally a solo side project by Jake Webb to be a personal outlet. Playing a sound of dreamy, unconscious pop – Methyl Ethel soon grew to become the internationally acclaimed band we see today, but this climb to ascension isn’t distracting the band’s self defined purpose.
“It’s funny because it feels like there’s not enough time to reflect on the trajectory or to look back and think on what we’ve achieved just because there’s still so much to do. I just like to keep my head down. A lot of the time, at the end of the years I often look back and think.. Okay so should I just quit music now and go do something else?”
It’s that sense of purity, artistic integrity and almost innocence that presents Methyl Ethel as some positive anomaly in a world where it’s all based on who you know. After speaking with Jake, the only questions he really responded to were ones about his craft. When asked about Perth and his home – his response was:
“Perth has a good music scene but the reality is that it’s just smaller. Maybe it’s easier to find like minded people just because there’s less people. I haven’t lived in another city so I can’t compare.”
When asked about who his influences were as a band, the response was:
“I don’t really have main influences. I like avant garde pop music. Something like the beach boys but on a bad acid trip.”
It’s easy to see that despite the popularity of the band – the band is entirely for themselves. As impressive as it is to see a band break into mainstream popularity on a global level, it’s even more so to see that sense of defiance and refusal to “sell out” or even adapt their work. Their entire motivation as a band is to simply improve their work.
“I still want to make a perfect album. My motivation is to make things what I think is good and use myself and those around me, like us a band, to criticise our shows in our way. We have to work hard and it’s what we as a band make our focus. It’s amazing that you do this big stuff that at 16 we’re dreaming about but you can lose sight of it quickly. You need to focus on the work.”
Whether they’re playing in a pub or playing at a sold out arena, they will still remain the same band, only adapting when they want to adapt and only doing what they want to. It’s that backbone that defines them and is an inspiration. Catch them when they perform at Melbourne’s day-burning boutique festival, Sugar Mountain.