Hailing from Perth, Western Australia, Jake Webb grew up imbibed in the cassettes that he’d hear in his parent’s car – “Doo-wop, The Beatles, The Everly, Brothers, Del Shannon, The Beach Boys, Harry Nilsson,” he lists his favourites.
Taking a musical alias from his father’s work in fibre glass – made using methyl ethyl ketone peroxide, Webb changed ‘ethyl’ to ‘ethel’ “in order to create an identity, a personality with a name,” he explains. From there, Webb started writing, playing and recording music with the early Methyl Ethel bedroom recordings leading to two EPs Teeth and Guts, which were released in quick succession of each other in 2014. A standalone single “Rogues” won Pop Song of 2014 at the WAM (Western Australia Music) awards, likewise “Twilight Driving” in 2015, both of which were part of the debut Methyl Ethel album Oh Inhuman Spectacle.
Something of a workaholic – in a ritualistic fashion, Webb rises every day at 8am, and works away, writing and recording without outside assistance, conceiving and shaping every fibre of what makes Ethel so compelling. But Perth, the most isolated city on the planet, was never was never going to contain a driven soul like Webb, who admits, “it’s so easy to get pigeonholed as a ‘Perth artist.’ I wanted to break out… it’s that small-town thing.”
So Methyl Ethel became a touring band, a separate entity to the studio version, with bassist Thom Stewart and drummer Chris Wright. It was Wright, who also works as a sound engineer, who helped Webb get Oh Inhuman Spectacle across the finishing line; for the new album, Everything Is Forgotten, Webb called on producer and rhythm king James Ford. The new sound slips alongside other adventurous synth/dance alumni such as LCD Soundsystem, rather than the shoegaze-adjacent dream-pop guitars that defined the debut album. A fourth member, Hamish Rahn has been introduced on keys to replicate the band’s foreboding live sound and help deliver the complex audio palate of the new album.