METZ on sharing F*cked Up's practice space and life in Toronto
METZ opening for Archers of Loaf at 400 Bar earlier this year.
Photo by Erik Hess
The result of punk eating itself, getting horrible heartburn, and trying to remove the offending article by cutting open its chest with a chainsaw is METZ. The Toronto trio of Alex Edkins, Hayden Menzies and Chris Slorach recently unfurled a brilliant, blistering self-titled album via Sub Pop, and things have been chugging along nicely this fall.
They were a "can't-miss" act at the CMJ Music Marathon in New York, and a band of influential critics and indie news sources are screaming along to Edkins tortured vocals and fist-balling rage riffs in tracks like "Wet Blanket" and "Knife in the Water." It's Albini-level riotous, but a lot of fun if Edkins is probed to elaborate. Gimme Noise caught him recently, and he assured us that he's not actually that depressed.
Gimme Noise: Having played METZ for several friends, I've been impressed at how many who normally don't embrace the abrasive are interested. How do you feel about hatching upon a formula of hard music that is widely palatable?
Alex Edkins: That means that they're taking away more than just the certain heaviness of it. I think it's cool that it appeals to people who don't usually get into punk or metal or whatever. That being said, it's always been something that the three of us have made to make us happy. In a lot of ways, we don't listen to all that much heavy music. We all grew up in punk scenes, goin' to shows and stuff, so that's near and dear to our hearts. But as far as the influences on this record, I wouldn't say they're all coming from that place, there's a wide variety of influences. So I'm really actually excited to hear that people can relate to the tunes, that's awesome.
I got that feeling once I heard your cover of Sparklehorse's "Pig," actually.
Yeah, we're just digging into bands just like everyone else, you go buy good music, and that's what we like, really. I mean, I don't care what it is, hip-hop, or electronic or folk or country. If it's good, it's good and we can get into it.
So where does the dark subject matter you put into METZ lyrics come from?
Largely it comes from the music, because we do the music first. And then I kind of sit with the music, and whatever comes out comes out, so it really is the fact that the music has a certain energy and it's got a bit of a dark side to it. I can't ever bring myself to write a love song or something like that over this music. It just wouldn't make sense to me, so what come out usually is just a product of listening to the music and the feeling that it gives me.
Looking back on the record, I do feel like it's a bit of a Toronto record. A lot of the lyrics are about feeling the overwhelming pressure of living in a big metropolitan city. There's no rest, there's constant noise and no peace of mind, sometimes people can get weighed down under it and start to lose it a little bit. "Sad Pricks" is basically about the flow of information, and hearing about every little thing every second of the day, and it's about, just for one day, "Can I not hear about all the bad stuff that's going on in our world, I just wanna kind of be oblivious to it for one day" or something like that.
Ah, the pressures of city living.
I don't think I'm a depressed person or anything like that. But I think on any given day, most people living in similar conditions can relate and just feel helpless in it. I mean, I love Toronto. I think it's a great city for a lot of reasons, but some days it's the worst and you want to get the hell out. But other days it's great! I do try to write lyrics in a way that's not too specific. So it can hopefully relate to other people's lives in a way that's like, the little things. Not the big, world problems, but the little issues that I think most people go through.
How did the trippy .GIF-like "Wet Blanket" video come to be?
Honestly, we had almost zero impact on that video, and that's exactly the way we wanted it to be. Scott Cudmore, the director, is a good friend of ours. So when it came time to do a video, there wasn't much of a decision to be made, we kind of just said, "Hey, can you do this?" and he took it away. As far as the band goes, we're usually very hands-on in every aspect as far artwork, producing, recording, all that stuff, so we kinda decided to take a step back because we were burning out, and we trust Scott.
How long does it take to create a METZ song?
Some of them are really quick. Some of them we go into the practice room, and it'll be done by the time we leave. Others may take a couple of kicks of the can, we may have a skeleton of one for a while, and then we'll trash it and keep one part and work from there. It really can be from an hour to ten hours. I hope we're speedy enough because it has been a pretty labor-intensive thing up until now. With three people having to all agree 100 percent on every little part, sometimes it can take a lot of tweaking.
So what's this practice room like?
It's totally gross. That might affect the music that we make too. It's just this warehouse in Toronto. The room's a tiny room with carpet on the walls. We actually share the space with another Toronto band, Fucked Up. We share a room with them, but I swear, it's a dirty, decrepit place, so it's not all that inspirational. Or maybe it inspired us to write a certain way, I'm not sure.
What's it like crossing paths with Fucked Up so frequently?
For a while we kept having to interrupt their practices to get our gear out, we're going to a show and knocking on the door and it's like "Yep, sorry guys, we need to get our stuff." So we're always crossing paths with them. Mind you, they tour a hell of a lot, so a lot of the time they're not around. Their work ethic is something you've never seen. The rate at which they put out music and play shows is really quite amazing.
Who else do you like out of Toronto right now?
Honestly, there's so many. Right now Toronto is full of great bands. I think people are starting to find out about them, I mean, every day there's something new. Young Mother is a cool band happening right now. We've done some shows with Teen Anger before, they're a cool punk band. Absolutely Free, they're members of DD/MM/YY, doing really cool stuff. It just goes on and on and on.
With everything you're doing, how often do you still get to see shows?
We're always out at shows. Toronto's a really big city, but the music community is quite small. Most of these people are our friends, and we like to go out and support. They do the same for us, it's a pretty cool little community thing happening. At least a couple of times a week we're out, if it's not one of our shows it's one of our friends show and we're into what they're doing, so it's cool.
How has all of the positive critical support affected METZ?
I do find it amazing that three guys who make pretty strange music and are pretty uncompromising with our approach to making music got this. We're not trying to fit in to any scene or trend, we're not pandering to any demographic, really we're not even trying to sell records. I mean, we made this record before Sub Pop had any interest in us, it was already done. We did it all with true intentions of doing something that we liked. So the fact that Sub Pop liked it and wanted to put it out, and now other people seem to be reacting positively to it is just icing on the cake. It's just completely surprising -- we did not expect that.
METZ with Buildings and UBT. 18+, $10, 8 p.m. Monday, October 29 at 7th St. Entry. Click here.
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