A Conversation With The Rhythm Method – ‘The Story So Far’
I’d heard their songs before I went to see them but hadn’t read up about them. I expected for them to walk on stage, and it be your standard four-piece, but on walks one gentleman who I’d seen only minutes earlier milling around and talking to members of the audience. There’s what looks to be an ironing board, a laptop, and a keyboard resting atop it, with a guitar to the side. Rowan Martin begins to play an intro before Joey Bradbury bursts onto the stage with a towel around his neck, throwing shapes over his vocals. It was an experience, to say the least, but I left telling all of my friends to check them out.
“The best part about lockdown for us was watching everyone else come down to our level”, jests Rowan; “Haha yes, welcome to the club.” Joey laughs along. My first experience of speaking to London duo The Rhythm Method is as funny as I imagined it would be, and only reaffirmed that the witty nuances in their lyrics on 2019’s ‘How Would You Know I Was Lonely’come from a place of sheer authenticity.
The two halves of The Rhythm Method came together in 2013, after meeting on the indie circuit of the 2000’s and being initially apprehensive of one another, “we just tried to do bands or some other stuff to different levels of success, well, no success” says Rowan, “it wasn’t until we were living together that we started taking it a bit more seriously.” They had wound up living in a repurposed office building under the shadow of Tower Bridge, with Joey bringing random recordings to Rowan, who “had more of an ear for good music”, Joey explained. But it wasn’t until six years later that they released their debut album. During that time they wrote the content about their social and work experiences around where they were located. “That album was partly studio-recorded, and partly recorded across various bedrooms across London”, Joey tells me, “there are songs on there from as old as six years, and it spans our entire existence.”
Although It was a slow burn at first, they’ve gained production from Mike Skinner (The Streets) and even have a song, ‘Wandsworth Plain’, written with one of their favourites, Chris Difford (Squeeze). How do two ordinary blokes trying to make it end up with that sort of pedigree? “It came through support tours”, Rowan explains, “we were already in the London music scene, around bands like Spector, amongst others, and we manage to amass this strange fan base of people, and I think Mike and Chris probably picked up on us from that, the thing that probably surprised us most is how far word of mouth still goes, I think there’s an aspect with us where seeing us live really completes it.”
One of the charms of the Rhythm Method lies in their humour, they poke fun at the everyday, and speak the minds of everyone in a social situation, they’re two blokes trying to get somewhere and having fun whilst they do it, and the first album gets this across perfectly. Now however, they’re onto something new.
“The majority of the new album was written before the pandemic and we are very thankful for that, I couldn’t think of anything worse than releasing an album that is heavily about it all,” Joey explains, “We’ve been swimming in it for so long I think it’s opened the door for a bit of escapism in music”. I can’t see Joey speaking, (he’s decided that Zoom has a vendetta against his laptop), but I can tell his words are genuine; “We are living in a time where politics has permeated every corner of life, and it feels at times that you can’t move for somebody’s opinion on something, we know that nobody is waiting around with baited breath to hear what we have to say, so we’ve decided to stay away from the heavy messaging, and look into something more vague. The first album was very much about the here and now, and this one is a little bit more ambiguous, you know, we are here to have a good time and put the entertainment back into entertainment.”
“Yeah,” Rowan nods, “being entertaining might be the most rebellious stance you can take in such a political climate, you know we have ‘woke’ adverts from McCain’s Oven Chips at this point, fair play to them, but that’s just the aesthetic of our time, and our tendency is to try and break that and be different, so I guess we want to be the antidote rather than add to the pile.”
In order to change things up, the pair sought the help of Bill Ryder Jones (The Coral) on production. Rowan’s face lights up at the prospect of the scope of the new album; “The first album was very much about the small screen, and now we want to go cinematic with it, Bill is brilliant for that, where he’s based, The Wirral, there’s big skies, big beaches and he’s a big character, he’s kind of the embodiment of what we want to do. It’s like working with Scorcese.” The pair share stories of working with Bill, “it’s like having a third member”, Joey excites. The way they talk about it, you’d forget they are a pair of thirty-year old men, but rather 17-year-olds first making it big. “It feels like the first time we are actually making music I suppose,” Joey explains, “whilst the first album’s recording was an honest representation of where the music was coming from, it was still the product of effectively penny-less recording, it feels now like we’re going to be able to get a real cohesive sound and be able to push into some wider influences.” Rowan and Joey continue to throw influences around, names like Ennio Morricone, John Williams, and Danny Olfman; it’s been a long road to this point for The Rhythm Method, but they’re at a point to be proud of, and they’re ready to kick on.