Random Facts With… Metronomy


Metronomy have released enough albums of wonky seaside pop to qualify for genuine National Treasure status. Their latest, 'Love Letters', was predictably great – as ever Joe Mount's trademark off-kilter melodies were the star, this time filtered through a classic soul aesthetic, as well as nodding to his usual electro pop palette. The next time you can catch the band showcasing their new material (and you should, they're ace live) is when they play Field Day –  but we decided not to ask them about that. In fact, we decided not to ask them about the new album, or about touring the States with Coldplay, or about any of their latest singles, or about anything that they may have been asked in any other recent interview at all.  Instead we asked Joe Mount about the future of money, left handed girlfriends, the relative size of Monaco's army, and why people around the world have different ear wax. Random facts: GO:

So, I don’t know if… Can you just speak to see if it’s picking you up?

[singing] Hello hello hello…

I don’t know if you were briefed on this but I’m sure you’ve done a million interviews about this album already so this is kind of a Top Trumps thing. Pull up a few random facts, there’s a few themes I wanted to do but we’ll have a fact Top Trumps if you like?

Yeah, sure.

I’ll start one off and we can see what road that takes us down. I’ve found it’s a bit nicer than, as I said you’ve probably spent loads of time talking about this album and you’re probably bored of talking about it so… Not bored, but you know.

It’s a great album, I can’t get bored of talking about it.

Alright then we’ll talk about the album as well then.


So I wanted to start with… only 8% of the world’s currency is physical money – the rest only exists on computers. You know that PAYM thing that’s just been introduced this week?


Basically we're moving into this money transaction that you can only have on your mobile phone. We’ve flogged off all our gold, all we have is virtual money now. Maybe this is a bit heavy… but it's a first random fact nonetheless.

[laughing] No, not at all!

I guess it’s the implications of this, money in England now. We’re moving away from a cash society now. We’re moving towards something where you can only pay via your phone and only if you have a contract, identification. That was my first… Maybe a little bit heavy to start with.

Well it’s not that heavy. The one thing that I think is pretty good about that stuff is that it makes it, for example, in the 90s if you were watching Comic Relief and you wanted to make a donation you’d have to do it some weird way and now you can just send a text which I think is quite good really if you look at it like that. It makes more people forget that they’re spending these excessive amounts of money.

It’s true! You had to pledge money then promise to actually send it in.

Send a cheque, yeah.

Whether people actually did that would be interesting.

I found myself pledging millions every year and then never managing to pay it, but you know…

Oh shit, hang on, I’ve got to pay my rent.

That half a meal is going to have to wait I’m afraid!

So…  your turn.

My kind of facts are more, well, I was trying to find some funny music facts…

Great, let’s do that!

Well it’s slightly better than talking about money because I saw something about Monaco. Monaco’s orchestra is bigger than the army. I thought that was quite a good fact. Then I was thinking, actually, Monaco’s bankers probably far outweigh the orchestra, the army and the other people.

I wonder what the population of Monaco is. I’m going to have to look that up quickly… 37,000. Wow!

37,000. They probably don’t even have an army do they, just some guys…

They must have some form of ring-fencing for all their money. The military of Monaco… It just says it is larger? 

Yeah, it’s a vague fact really. 

There are 255 soldiers…

That is pretty tiny.

I wonder what the percentages are, like with America compared to their population because that’s… I mean, 37,000. It’s 0.7%. 

Of the population IS the military?


Ok… So is that the same as America then? 

I’m actually quite interested to look this up, I can’t believe I’m geeking about the army now. Population of America… Army Size… God the internet! Here I am bemoaning the money and mobile phones but touch of a button… Active personnel: 1.369 million. That’s a lot. Population: 319 million. [Calculates] America’s is only 0.43% of the population. Their’s is half a percent lower. They’re actually pretty well equipped in Monaco.

They are! So does that mean… I wonder how many registered orchestra players there are. If America’s orchestras outnumber its army.

I’m actually going to Google it… Orchestras in America.

Maybe Monaco’s just like the perfect microcosm or whatever, it’s a manageable thing. 

It’s the scaleable model that all countries should work on.

And they all do perhaps. Probably if you delve into the facts about Monaco’s wealth, I think they also have the highest life expectancy. The oldest average life expectancy in the world.


Yep. I’m thinking about moving to Monaco… I’m doing quite a lot of research at the moment.

Is this true?

No no no!

And the Daily Mail comes up as the first thing when you type in ‘life expectancy Monaco’. That’s interesting.

Oh really?

‘How long will you expect to live and why you should move to Monaco’. Right… The highest life expectancy is Monaco with an average of 89.68 years. Interesting.

That’s not bad going.

America is 78. Wow…

I think that surely if everything was scaleable on the basis of the army and orchestra then life expectancy in America should be more like 100 and something.

For some reason, all the variables, they didn’t adhere to the Monaco rule and all the variables have come into play. I’ve got to get off the Daily Mail website quickly… Well that was interesting! According to the journal of nervous and mental disease, the brains of left-handers process emotions differently to those of right-handers and are more susceptible to negative emotions such as anger. I can’t believe that that’s true.

Oh… Well… They certainly have trouble and get angry when they’re trying to use vegetable peelers.

That’s a good point actually. My girlfriend is left-handed.

My girlfriend is left-handed too!

Oh really?

Yeah and she’s desperately trying to convince our very young son that he’s left-handed and I’m pretty sure he’s right-handed. She’s just trying to encourage left-handedness.

I guess that might be true, yeah. I was just trying to cover myself because my girlfriend might be next door…

I think probably a lot of girlfriends I’ve ever had were left-handed actually.

I think mine too, that’s strange. We’ll have to drill down, maybe we need to go back to the Monaco model…

Oh yes! One of them was a Monaco model, I’d love to go back to her! I saw something, another fact, slightly relevant about brains: our brain sees people who annoy us as moving slower than they actually are.

Really? I guess if you think about it, that person you’re analysing their actions more aren’t you?

If they’re annoying you yeah, that’s probably true. It’s as if you think you’re about to fight them maybe. You’re going to have to take them down…

In your head you’re fighting them! That makes sense I think. That is interesting, obviously not in real life but the perception is. In professional shooting, alcohol is considered to be a performance enhancing drug because shooters can drink it to relax themselves and slow their heart rate to give them an edge.

Ooooooh! Well that’s interesting… I guess they’re talking about a glass of wine or something.

Not like 15 pints!

That’s quite interesting. I was reading something about, it was one of those horrible internet things, tiredness and how tiredness, if you’re sleep deprived for a few hours for a few days every day it’s the equivalent of being 0.1%…What’s that scale? You know when you get breathalysers, same as having like 0.1% alcohol content in your body or something. One of these things that says ‘Employers: you wouldn’t be patting your workers on the back if they were drunk but you do if they work late and blah blah blah’. But anyway, I guess if you’re a professional shooter when you’re tired, although your heart-rate might be slower, you’d probably jump slump over…

That’s interesting about sleep. Sleep patterns as well are really interesting. Let’s just say hypothetically if we were younger, if one had stayed out for a late night, if you get the 3/4/5‘o’clock in the morning you’re very tired but if you get to 9 or whenever it is you get up, your alertness becomes… You’re back in your cycle almost. The day time is fine again. Sleep is a funny thing.

You’ve got a kid you said?


It must be a strange thing having a few hours sleep again.

I’ve got a theory… Our child sleeps and has slept really well from the beginning and so neither of us really have suffered any sleep deprivation. I was trying to convince my girlfriend that maybe people who are more relaxed about sleeping and enjoy sleep more are able to produce babies that enjoy sleeping too. I can’t prove it at all but it’s an idea I had.

I think it’s a very valid point. People do take on particular characteristics of their parents. And if you’re calm during the pregnancy I think…

Who knows!

It’s good that you’re sleeping, all my friends with kids are just moaning about a lack of sleep.

I’m sure they love sleep too! Maybe it’s a fact fall-down. We’ve just been touring and you stay up, we’ve been playing at 9pm every night and not getting to bed until about 1 or 2am then waking up at 9am… Anyway, we’re maybe not getting as much sleep as we would in our normal lives and we’ve been having to do these in-store signing. We’ve all been complaining about how they’re getting in the way of nap-time and we feel a bit tired. Disrupted our sleep pattern…

Signing has disrupted my sleep pattern, not the actual gigs or whatever.

I was trying to say to the guy on our crew who very much lives in the world of the internet and says like ‘first world problems’ but I think an in-store signing getting in the way of nap-time is indeed a first world problem.

But it’s not an internet time though is it? Even The Stones have probably moaned about it, we should ask them.

That’s true! I expect that to The Stones, nap-time is probably one of the most important times of their day.

In-store signing is the only gripe about being on tour basically?

Yeah… It’s more missing nap-time really.

Don’t worry, that’s not going to be the lead headline on this! ‘I hate in-store signings!’ Twist the words… Let’s move on! It’s your turn.

I’ve got a good one. Not everyone’s earwax is the same, there are two different types; wet and dry. Genetically, Asians and American Indians have dry, flaky earwax while Caucasians and Africans are more likely to have moist, brown wax. Earwax has been useful for anthropologists to document mankind’s early migratory patterns.

Is that maybe a climate thing?

I guess it probably is although American Indians and Asians, although I suppose now everyone is mixed together so if we still got different earwax it could be lifestyle maybe. Lifestyle choices.

"Lifestyle choices made my earwax soft"

I’m pretty sure I’ve found dry and moist earwax in my ears, it just depends how long it has been there.

What is the purpose of earwax?

I think it’s your ears crying for help. If I ever find any it’s always because something’s going wrong.

I have very bad earwax but you don’t need to know about that…

I think if you listen to loud music it does it to protect, it’s always a protective thing isn’t it?

Yeah, sure.

I can look at that now… What’s… earwax for… Apart from eating obviously!


I’m on NHS… Lubricates and protects the lining of the ear by trapping dirt and repelling water.

So it is a protectant.

You don’t want to leave it in there or it’ll get blocked.

But you can’t use the old cotton buds because that compacts it all. Anyway, we could go on forever…

The old saying is how you shouldn’t put anything in your ear that’s smaller than your elbow. Now bands have these in-ear monitors to listen to what’s going on on stage, they mould them so that they’re perfect for your ears. Basically this woman came to a rehearsal and did our ears and it’s recommended that you get your ears professionally cleaned before it happens. Me and Oscar didn’t have time so we bought home-brew ear cleaning kits and spent a long time panicking and worrying that our ears wouldn’t be clean enough. The woman said they were perfect before saying you should never put anything bigger than an elbow in your ear, no, smaller than an elbow!

Bigger than an elbow?

Woops! My girlfriend reminded me that that’s what my mum had said, never put anything bigger than an elbow in your ear – which is true as well!

So earphones?

They’re basically headphones but moulded like a hearing aid so it goes right into your ear.

Like the professional ear plugs? My brother is a sound engineer and he wears them everywhere. But you can transmit music into them? Wow! Technology… I sound like my mum! A Norwegian boy escaped from wolves in 2011 by playing a heavy metal song by Megadeth on his cell phone. The wolves were scared away by the noise. 

Fair enough.

That’s just a news article, it’s not a fact is it?

That’s kind of… Probably indicative of the modern age isn’t it? A boy is confronted by wolves and he looks at his phone. ‘What am I going to do?’ Quickly looking online to see if there are any recommendations on how to scare off wolves. That’s quite ingenious really. I once, my girlfriend has family in the Pyrenees and we go there occasionally and she was saying there are bears that they’re trying to reintroduce. They’re not like grizzly bears, just little ones that look a bit like teddy bears but they’re bears all the same. I was saying to my girlfriend ‘What would you do if you were suddenly 1-on-1 with a bear?’ and she said that she would make herself sick and hope that the bear would eat the sick. I thought it was strangely ingenious, a kind of warm meal.

Mmm, that looks much more exciting than ripping somebody to shreds.

If someone asked me I would be like ‘I would not look at them in the eye…’

Run away?

Yeah, run! To have the wherewithal to make yourself sick. That alone might scare it off, you retching might be quite a shock!

That brings this to a well-rounded end – coming back to mobile phones again and money.

Oh yeah, money! I’d pay off the bear.

One final one I’ve just found, energy cannot be destroyed or created, only transformed.

Oooooooh! Spiritual!

Are you touring up until Field Day then?

Yeah, we’re off to America on Thursday I think and we’re there until, I think Primavera is before Field Day. So it’s America, back for Primavera, then America again and then back to Field Day.

Then a whole summer of festivals?

Oh yeah!

All going well though?

Yeah, fantastic thank you! High spirits!

Great stuff… I’ll see you at Field Day!

Metronomy headline this year's Field Day. Full tickets and info here.