It's unsurprising to learn that Joseph Coward puts pen to paper before assembling his hectic sonic maelstrom. His 2014 debut album, The World Famous Joseph Coward, was a cinematic opus of shudderingly dark literature and unsettling wordplay, punctuated with wry self-aware wit.

Coward moved to London at the tender age of seventeen, desperate to exist within an environment synchronous with art, having been brought up in the bleak commuter town of Brentwood, Essex. Quickly striking a chord with members of The Voyeurs and engulfing himself in London's art scene, he co-founded the independent label Stiffy Byng with then-Voyeurs drummer Samir Eskanda in 2014, synonymous with the release of his first record. Announcing his return with the earth-shattering tumult of one Thurston Moore behind him, Joseph Coward is the suitably morbid antidote to London's claustrophobic collective of turtleneck-clad, wah pedal-tapping idealists.

It's pretty hard not to start with the fact that your new single, Weight, features a certain Thurston Moore on guitar. Could you tell us a little bit about what working with him was like, and how it came about?

Thurston and I had known each other as acquaintances for a couple of years, having met due to our mutual contribution to the Blank Editions label, and we both lived in Stoke Newington so would cross paths quite frequently. One day we passed each other in the street when I was on my way to a record fair, carrying an armload of vinyl, including copies of my first LP. I handed him a copy, which he listened to that day, and he told me that he liked it. I said 'do you want to be on the next one', he said 'yeah'. And so a few months down the line, his schedule permitting, he came into the studio at London Fields. Even though Thurston's long been a musical hero of mine, I was never starstruck by him because he's such a level-headed and humble person, but to listen to this legendary guy, with such enormous talent, riff on a track that I'd written was completely out of this world.

I read a while back that your interest in music began when a relative's counsellor suggested that they get rid of their record collection, as it was affecting their mental health, and the music found its way to you. That sense of darkness seems to have manifested itself pretty heavily in your own music, I mean, some of the lyrics from The World Famous... are pretty nightmarish. Do you think that particular introduction influenced your songwriting?

Yeah, that was my cousin and she gave me Nirvana's entire discography on CD when I was about 9 or 10. I don't think the act of her giving me those records or that set of circumstances affected my songwriting, but there's definitely a connection between she and I inasmuch as my family has a long history of mental illness. And that definitely plays a part in my songwriting.

You tend to talk a lot more about literature than has influenced you than music. Do you tend to labour over lyrics more than recording?

I find that lyrics just tend to appear on the page without me knowing quite how they got there, so writing them doesn't feel laborious at all. But they do carry the message of every song, so I take care with them. And yes, literature has always been my primary inspiration, I often feel much more like a writer than a singer or a performer.

What lyric do you wish you'd written?

"I know my luck too well, and I'll prob'ly never see you again."

You're surrounding by a (seemingly) fairly close-knit artistic community in London, with the likes of The Voyeurs, JC Flowers and Telegram all operating in similar circles. Do you think that existing in such a rich environment for good music is a good thing for you creatively?

The thing about those guys is that the bands are what change, and the people stay the same. I've known some of JC Flowers and The Voyeurs for 7 or 8 years now, Charlie was one of the first people I met when I moved to London. I like that so many of my friends make cool music, and I like going to their shows and seeing them succeed. But creatively I'm totally on my own, none of those guys influence anything I write.

Is London a good place to live right now?

Not really. Maybe if you're rich it is. Any pub or music hall that isn't prepared to prostitute itself to corporate sponsors in order to stay afloat is promptly sunk. That, and the rent is sky­high due to "gentrification". The funny thing is, everything changes and then nothing does at the same time. Hackney, my old stamping ground, is supposed to be "up and coming" and is having all these God-awful flats built all over it for millionaires, but if you walk the pavements all the same homeless people, dealers, users and people who've hung out there for years are still there. Papering over the cracks like big businesses are trying to do never works, you can't change the intrinsic identity of anywhere just like that.

You're involved with the BDS Movement, and there are probably still a few people who know you as the guy who ran on stage during Ride's Field Day set last year with a Palestinian flag. Could you speak a little bit about why it's important that bands avoid playing in Israel?

In short, because the Palestinians have asked we the artistic community not to do so. They are a people living under an illegal occupation, and playing in Israel is giving tacit support to a state practising Apartheid. Nobody would have played Sun City in the '70s and '80s, and this is the same thing. Anyone who plays in Israel "to see for themselves" thinking that "music transcends division" (or whatever) is just acting as a mouthpiece for Israel which, by the way, pumps masses of money into music promotion companies, because exorbitant live fees are one of the few ways artists can be browbeaten into playing over there.

You co­founded the label Stiffy Byng with Samir Eskanda (Starving Dogs, Ex-The Voyeurs), and it took me by surprise that you managed to get vinyl pressed for LP1 on such a small budget, you clearly value physical music. Do you think being able to present an album on vinyl gives added opportunity to establish it as a piece of art?

I got a distribution deal with PIAS, so they took care of all the pressing and getting copies on shelves. Didn't cost me anything. But yeah, if I couldn't have a physical release then I probably wouldn't bother calling it an album, to me a record is something you play on a record player.

Would it be wrong to assume that there's more new Joseph Coward material to come in the not too distant future?

Not wrong at all. I'm hoping to release more new material this year and I'll be out on the road in the spring.