The Rhythm Method and Bill Ryder-Jones on life, loss and how they’re most likely to kick the bucket
By Alex James Taylor | Music | 13 March 2024

In 2015, The Rhythm Method introduced themselves with their track, Local, Girl, an everyman ode to taking a date to your local – and then them calling it off. Rude. – that brilliantly cites Chas & Dave, ‘Spoons, and Jimmy White’s dead brother’s pub crawl. Five years later, following their 2019 debut, How Would You Know I Was Lonely?, The Rhythm Method – Joey Bradbury and Rowan Martin – return with their sophomore record: Peachy.

“We wanted to make a guitar-led album, so we went to Mr guitar over here…” Joey tells us, referring to Wirral legend and ex-Coral guitarist Bill Ryder-Jones, who produced Peachy at his West Kirby studio and sits in-conversation with Joey for this feature. Created during the on-again-off-again pandemic years, Peachy is the band’s vision of a “proper second album”, harnessing the signature quips and catchiness of their sound through a slicker sound that allows Joey and Rowan’s tales of agony and ecstasy, swinging from Western desert drives to back-room karaoke solos. Over Zoom, here, Joey and Bill have a heartfelt catch-up, tracing the (very) highs, lows and complicatedness in between.

Bill: Hey, Joey.
Joey: Hey! I associate video calls with getting sacked. Is it because Flea sacks Marty McFly in Back to the Future over video call?

Bill: Always with the 90s references, man.
Joey: That was the 80s, mate. 

Bill: Alright, well, it was off-brand for you, then. [both laugh] How are you, love, you alright?
Joey: I’m great. When one takes stock of life, everything is good.

Bill: Do you believe that? If that’s where you’re at, brother, I’m happy for you. [laugh]
Joey: As opposed to the day-to-day of just like complete dread and panic. When you take a moment to step back, it is actually alright.

Bill: I was saying to the girl I’m seeing, I was talking about these two versions of myself: the one in a day who’s completely sober and gets jobs done; and then the one who gets home and is like, “Fuck that, I need to have a drink and get stoned or whatever.” She was wondering why those two can’t meet and I was trying to explain. She’s French as well, so trying to communicate… obviously, my French is fucking magnificent. The sober one in the day is like, full of fear and hate and awful fucking thoughts, so you only get this stupid fucking divvy version. Anyway, should we start?

How did you guys first meet?

Joey: Well, we were sort of passing acquaintances, for a while, I suppose. I know exactly where we first met, at Fred McPherson’s birthday party. I came up to you and said I was a big fan and we ended up chatting for a little while, which I’d never really done before, to be honest.

Bill: That’s lovely. Local, Girl was the first time I think I was properly aware of yous as a group, because a mutual friend of ours who used to work at Domino [Records] played it and the word from him was, “Lawrence [Bell, co-founder] really likes this Local, Girl.” And he sent it to me.
Joey: Bizarrely, Lawrence lives around the corner from me and I’ve cut his hair a few times. The Domino offices are around the corner from where I grew up and where I currently live.

Bill: You still live there, yeah?
Joey: Yeah, and the cats. Here you are. [picks up cat]

Bill: Hello. Oh, man, you’re like a couple of deaths away from being a Bond villain, aren’t you? [both laugh]
Joey: So when I started the Rhythm Method by myself with just an iPad mucking about, I released about a dozen songs on SoundCloud, and they were all shit. Well, mostly shit. A couple of them survived. One of them was Ode to Joey and Lawrence had heard that. Funnily enough, I bumped into him and he started talking to me and told me how much… I think it was just before AM came out, the Arctic Monkeys album, a couple of years before Local, Girl came out. He told me that he liked it and to have a record company tell you that they like this song that you’ve just farted out on an iPad, like, not knowing what you’re doing at all, is quite sort of, I guess, reassuring.

Bill: It’s a really beautiful moment when you properly realise the feedback loop of doing something you care about and then getting gratified through other people. That’s a trip people can get lost in as well. It was Lawrence who did the same for me, and one other dude. It shakes your whole fucking being, doesn’t it?
Joey: Having someone tell you that you’re good at something, and then that person being who they are as well, it obviously gave me a confidence boost and a belief that I could actually make music.

Bill: I could imagine you would be quite fucking neurotic about whether it’s shit or not. I’m projecting, probably. Do you reckon that was like a kickstart? That was the big moment when you’re like, “Fuck, I’m actually going to go and do it.”
Joey: Yeah, it was within that year that I moved out of my parents’ house and moved in with my mates, including Rowan, and that’s when we started making music together.

“When I started the Rhythm Method by myself with just an iPad mucking about…

Bill: Did you and Rowan get on well straight away? Neither of you are easy to get on with. [Joey laughs] You’re slightly easier than Rowan but, fuck me, you must have had to give a little bit there. [both laugh] I’m winding you up, man. I’m playing.
Joey:  I’ve become easier to get on with as I’ve got older. I think that happens to everyone, it comes with maturing. I was sixteen at the time, I suppose, when we were first going out drinking and stuff and involved in the music scene. I had my defences up immediately because I basically went through the first four years of secondary school not really having any mates. I’d have people I’d speak to at school, but not hang out with outside. Then I started meeting people when I was like fifteen and that’s when my friend group was built.

Bill: That’s a huge moment in your life.
Joey: Absolutely. They’re still my closest friends now.

Bill: That’s great. Lucky as well, because not a lot of people get that. When you actually meet people who you get on with and clearly care about you, it just fucking blows your head, doesn’t it – as a young lad?
Joey: It’s character-building, confidence-building. 

On social media…

Joey: My Twitter timeline isn’t really my personality at all, I don’t think.

Bill: You’re quite active on Twitter? It’s clearly an outlet of some kind, right?
Joey: It always has been. I’ll tell you something. Since the beginning of social media, it has always been an outlet for me to present a character. Just this moment, I’ve just remembered something from when I was a teenager that I did on MySpace. I had a MySpace music page where I put up a couple of covers – I think one of them was, When the Sun Goes Down as a character called Arthur fucking Daley. Which, I mean, I haven’t moved on from that at all.

Bill: I think that’s fucking ace, man. Like, in the story of you – of course. [laughs] That is proper just someone just trying to find a world for themself, and the first things we do are usually like really extreme and we sort of like take bits of them into our adult lives and go, “Oh, that was good you know.” Ten percent or twenty percent of Arthur Daley is in you right now. I love that. [laughs]
Joey: Absolutely. The whole idea behind it was, so I did When The Sun Goes Down, but I did it like, cockney-fied, sort of…

Bill: Oh no, that came across, mate. I fucking seen that one coming. [both laugh]
Joey: I’d forgotten about that, and that it’s so tied into The Rhythm Method, it’s ridiculous.

Bill: I’m obviously a fan of your writing and I get that The Rhythm Method lyrics are their own thing. In the best way possible, it’s like hip hop where you really should listen to every line and see how it relates to what came before. It’s very fucking clever songwriting, these stories have mini-stories and a hook that somehow fits in with these little mini-stories. That is something that I’m really interested in when it comes to writing. To know that the internet was like this sort of revelation [for you]… “I can present myself here and it lives out there a little bit.” It makes absolutely sense and the thread that runs from that and this cover that you were talking about into meeting Rowan and the Rhythm Method. It makes absolute sense and I like shit like that. I like a biography.
Joey: It’s a bit of a beautiful thing.

Bill: It is. I’m watching this documentary they’re making about The Coral right now and we’ve all been interviewed and all just saying a few things and just hearing everyone’s version of us at thirteen, discovering ourselves – it’s actually there on our tele. It’s the same thing that you’re talking about here, it’s a very important moment and it’s lovely to actually acknowledge it. Shall we talk about your record? I’ve only got one question written down… Where’s Rowan? [both laugh]
Joey: He’s in Spain.

Bill: Is he? Well, that was my question and thank you for answering it. I don’t need any more details than that. I can write that down, we’re done. Let’s talk about the record.
Joey: Well, we wanted to make a guitar-led album, so we went to Mr guitar over here…

Bill: Did you? Was that actually a conversation you had? Because I would question your fucking judgment there –if the proposition is we want to make a guitar lead album, and then you’re, “Let’s go to Bill.” You were fucking doomed man. [both laugh]
Joey: I mean, to some extent. The main thing was, I liked you and you’re like, sort of famous in the circles that we want to be famous in – wanted to be famous in. And we just wanted to use your name value. [laughs] But maybe you think it was a bad choice?

Bill: No, I’m only joking. I was being funny, but now I’m hoping that it was a bit more than that.
Joey: Yeah, I mean, it’s like, we wanted to make this guitar album and we wanted to do it in a studio because we’d only recorded maybe three songs in a little shoebox of a studio. Yours feels like a proper studio, even though it’s obviously very rough around the edges. It is fantastic, it’s a great vibe. It was it was like 2022.

Bill: What!?
Joey: We finished it in November 2022.

Bill: Oh, man. Fucking hell. Did that pandemic period not just cover about ten years for you?
Joey: It’s what’s fucked me as a person. I was fucked before, but it’s completely thrown me off.

Bill: It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Joey: I was in my twenties before it and somehow I’m in my mid-30s all of a sudden and no time has gone by.

“The main reason we’re not playing any gigs at the moment is down to my issues with coming back to real life. I’m working on that.

Bill: Mate, I completely understand. It fucking broke me. It’s weird because I went over to Paris and Brussels and Germany to promote Iechyd Da, I must have done like 30 interviews and at some point everyone would say, “How did the pandemic affect you?” It was amazing because I found myself saying, “Well, you know what? We literally don’t even talk about it at home.” It’s not something that my social circle or any social circle… I feel like people aren’t even still thinking about it. But in Europe I had people going, “The pandemic must have really fucking affected you.” And I was like, “Yeah, it fucking did. Thank you.” But here it feels like we’re in this mad world.
Joey: As ever, the British repressed sweep it under the carpet.

Bill: But is it though – is that not just like a dead easy out? Even grassroots with your mates and that?
Joey: What the pandemic did was, if you’re a person prone to spending a lot of time in isolation, it gave you an excuse to do it without guilt. I’m working my way back still. To the public, to the people who asked us about gigs, the main reason we’re not playing any gigs at the moment is down to my issues with coming back to real life. I’m working on that.

Bill: That was a fucking great thing to say, man, and power to you, lad. But if that’s something that you want to say and you’re thinking, “I’ll put it in this piece with HERO,” and it’s that much on your mind, just go on your social media and say honestly, “The gigs aren’t happening because of this.” People are really accepting. And then tell them that you’ve got a fucking masterpiece album they should buy.
Joey: I’ve got something to show you. [holds up the new Rhythm Method record]

Bill: Oh look at this, man. That’s a dream come true that is. I’ll say this, Peachy has got everything I want from a record. There’s a little bit of inter-band politics going on, but everyone’s trying to express themselves and they’re trying to bring it into one record. There’s very fucking heartfelt writing, which is what I’m fucking into. You know when someone is going, “I’ve got no one else to tell this to so I’ll tell it to you, I’ll write it down.” That’s what songwriting is. Please Don’t Die [a track on the record], to tell that story is absolutely what I’m fucking right into. Dealing with shit like that in song, in music, it’s like walking up a steep mountain, get it slightly wrong… you know what I mean?
Joey: For someone who lacks a lot of self-confidence. I do agree this album’s very, very good, basically. And with Please Don’t Die, I am very proud of that song. The specific lyric about suicide and joking about suicide: Suicide is nothing to joke about/But oh, didn’t we have a laugh at A Weekend at Bernie’s/And then he took his life/All the way to London Bridge.

Bill: It’s fucking wonderful writing. It’s everything that a song should be, it’s personal, there’s a reference. It brings you even deeper into this relationship. It’s stunning – I’m right into all that.
Joey: It’s the lyric I’m most proud of, maybe ever. It’s the the layers to it, I suppose, acknowledging that you shouldn’t joke about suicide, but then going on to joke about suicide in the same line. My thinking behind it is… no one has the right to tell you how to deal with suicide, and in this specific example, it was me and my friend talking about our friend who took his life, and he had a particularly sick sense of humour. So we joked about doing a Weekend at Bernie’s with his corpse. That’s what friends do, they make sick jokes. That’s how we choose to deal with it. There’s a reason comedy is hugely important right now, it’s comforting and accepting. It’s maintaining a tone that we had with the friend we lost. It’s a joke we would make if his ghost was sitting with us.

Bill: Yeah, totally.
Joey: You’ve got to keep the comedy alive. I want to die like Tommy Cooper. I want to die laughing on stage.

Bill: I mean, you’ll have to get on stage first, sweetheart. [both laugh]
Joey: To be honest, in my current sort of health, I probably would. I’m not quite in shape.

Bill: Well, mate, if you want to die like that, go and fucking book a fucking show. I play this game with a lot of other lonely men in the pub. It’s not really a game, I just say to them, “This is how I think you’re going to die.” [Joey laughs] I’m just thinking about you, Joey. For some reason, I don’t know where it’s coming from, but I’m thinking a Hollywood starlet in the 50s. Lipstick on. Gloria something. I don’t know how it happens but that’s the end game, I think.
Joey: Translucent satin sheets waving in the breeze. Black and White.

Bill: Beautiful lipstick on, but slightly ethereal. Yes. I’d love to know what happens between now and that death that I’ve just prophesied for you – but wow, what a journey. [laughs]
Joey: It will be when I’m doing my Vegas residency. Somewhere between Elvis and Tommy Cooper.

The Rhythm Method’s new record Peachy is out now via Moshi Moshi.
Bill Ryder-Jones Iechyd Da is out now via Domino.


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