We find a lot of beauty in the noise we’re making.
With some music, there is simply no need for showing-off – especially not, if the music acts as a statement in itself. Last year’s impressive debut by canadian Noise/Grunge-storm METZ is the perfect example for this: an embodiment of pure energy and passion with a liquor-stained atmosphere in its youthful rawness. Which is why the three-piece simply titled their debut-record: METZ. These songs are this band and this band is this moment – it is rarely witnessed that the live-energy of a band is captured that perfectly as it is in METZ‘ eleven songs.
Vocalist Alex Edkins, bass-player Chris Slorach and drummer Hayden Menzies bark themselves through songs that rarely hit the three-minute-mark and if there’s anything capable of stopping them, it might be the final blackout. As it comes to playing live, one can be assured that these lads keep up with the ultimate task of building up the intensity of an outrageous storm and present it in an impressive catchy way. But nevertheless: good punk music might be the hardest to write. So I sat down with these lovely guys before they entered the stage in a lovely little venue in Leipzig to chat about why there’s much more to their music than just random noise.
Hey guys, how’s the tour going so far – you satisfied?
Alex: More than satisfied, it’s been really amazing. More than we could have expected…
Hayden: I’d be in a different mood if not. It’s 6 weeks now since we’ve started, so, I wouldn’t be here, I’ll be over there (points at the bar in the back).
You got 6 dates in a row here in Germany – no day off. Isn’t that a bit tiring?
Chris: Only if you think about it.
Alex: We’re used to that kind of schedule now – 6,7 shows in row and then, hopefully, having a day off. We definitely prefer to play than to not play. Plus: usually, if we get a day off, we don’t exactly know what to do with ourselves.
Chris: You either wind up really late, getting drunk or you end up in bed really early. One way or the other.
I read that you really appreciate the kind of DIY-attitude and scene in Toronto, where all of you are living now. So, with this background, how does it feel for you, to be called Best New Music by the opinion leaders from Pitchfork? Does it bother you, do you even care?
Alex: It’s nice. I mean, I’d like to say that we don’t care but it’s definitely a nice surprise. We were always making music just for the sake of making music. That’s the only reason. We’ve been doing this for a long time in different bands and together but the only reason that we continue is: we really enjoy it. And if we didn’t, there’d be no point. It’s a matter of making something that we think is good, that we’re proud of and can stand behind. But it’s never been the intention, to make music that’s gonna be critically acclaimed or popular with many other people. It doesn’t come onto our radar. But if, by chance, people like it as well, it’s something we really love. It’s one of those things that sometimes by fluke happen, so we’re definitely glad about that pitchfork thing, cause it allows us to play places like this, whereas we might not have had that opportunity without it.
METZ: “We’ve always been big fans of hooks and melody”
The cover of your debut-record really recalls me of how I spent my time in school – what were you guys like back then?
Hayden: Pretty similar. I did okay in school if I had to, but I hated being there. I guess that goes with the majority of teenagers.
Chris: I was like the quiet academic. I didn’t talk much, didn’t have a lot of friends, I just did my thing with the few people I knew and got good grades – that’s it.
Alex: Yeah, the story of that picture goes like this: while we were making the record, we noticed that it’s mostly the lyrics that tied it all together and this photo is a one my father took when he was in highschool, so, I had seen it for years. I always kept it in my head and kept coming back to it, when we were making the record. It’s just a picture that, to me, shows someone who’s fed up, can’t take it anymore and that was the line that was sown through all of the songs. I’ve heard some people say it’s somebody asleep and they said that doesn’t make sense, cause the music is very loud. But for me, he’s not asleep, he’s just fed up; doesn’t know where to go next; feeling trapped a little bit.
The name of your band often is mentioned among others like JAPANDROIDS, CLOUD NOTHINGS or FUCKED UP – even though I would rather see you alongside MALE BONDING, f.e. Do you see similarities to those acts yourself?
Alex: That’s something the press makes up, to be honest. Those are bands playing distorted guitars as well – at the same time as us.
Chris: I think, every time there’s a band doing something else, they’ll be put alongside others – depending on what the month is. I mean, it’s not that bad to be put alongside bands that might actually connect with some other audiences. I don’t think it ever really hurts us.
These bands kind of stand for a “new” scene of loud and dirty, that seemed to be gaining a lot of critical respect as well as success recently. You got any idea why that is?
Alex: Yeah, well, I used to think about it like this: Our whole lives we listened to this kind of music, it’s always been made and played. It’s always there. But it’s not always popular, it’s going in and out of vogue. So, it’s not like there are all these bands out of nowhere, it’s more like, they’re getting more attention. I think punkrock has never died. And these bands you named, they’ve been doing their things for a long time as well, but somehow and somewhen gained more attention than others.
Although you got a very coherent and strict sound-concept, one could get the impression that there are far more influences in your music than just late hardcore and punk. I hear the messy-melody idea of good ol’ indie-rock as well…
Chris: That’s good. It’s generally very nice to sit down for an interview and hear this kind of things. Cause that’s the way we always felt about it. We took our influences from a lot of different spaces, a lot of different styles of music. We three together we don’t have something like a collective interest in a certain kind of music, we have a history in music together. We like different things but they all kind of melt together in what we do – for us, we’ve always been big fans of hooks and melody. We actually spent a lot of time in making the record to find some melodies we could mix within the noise. We find a lot of beauty in the noise we’re making.
Something that fits into that is the SPARKLEHORSE-Cover you did and posted lately. I really liked that. Would you say that it is essential to have both: a wide range of musical interests but at the same time: a clear concept of your own music?
Alex: Definitely. We’re just music lovers. Period. It could be any kind of sound as long as it’s got somekind of value, we’re gonna hold it dear. The SPARKLEHORSE-cover might surprise some people but to us it’s perfectly natural to love that kind of music and production-style. We don’t want to pigeon-hole ourselves, just make music and see where it goes.
Chris: Linkous was a modern-day genius. We all appreciate what he did, so with that cover, we just paid our respect.
METZ: “We’re very lucky that people give a shit about what we’re doing”
For you are a band that’s gained much respect for their live-shows before putting an album out – how did you manage to transfer the experience of a METZ-concert on record? I can imagine it’s kind of a burden, isn’t it?
Alex: It is. But we tried to do both: make a record that really sounds like a record and also translate some of the live energy into the album. So that there’s nothing like a stale-sounding thing certain albums have. It was a combination of two aspects: 1. when we’re writing, a song doesn’t really get past us, unless it’s got a certain amount of energy that’s gonna translate onto the stage and also onto the record, it’s just one of our criteria: it has to have this certain spark. 2. the songs that we make demand to play them a certain way. If you’re to play these songs without any energy or conviction, they’d sound awful. So, when we record our songs, we play them like we would be playing them live, and hope that it somehow gets through the microphones onto the album. That is why we experiment a lot as well to make it sound right.
Chris: Yes. It’s about watching the engineers cringe as we red-line their entire board.
With Sub Pop you guys found a legendary label for your record – how did that come into being and how is it like to be working with them?
Alex: The story is quite boring actually. We just sent a demo. They said: “We like it but we wanna hear the album.” Of course we weren’t even close to have an album finished, so we said: okay, let’s just make the album we like to make and not think about anything else. And so we did, sent it to Sub Pop and, I think 2 month passed…
Chris: Enough time passed that we said: Okay, we’re not gonna hear back.
Alex: …right. We already were at the point where we said: okay, we’ll put it ourselves with some friends or something like that. But then we heard back and they said: “Now we love it, let’s make a couple of records.” And of course we’re very happy with that, for it was our first choice. Since we were young we got a connection to that label, so, to be part of that family is a special feeling. We’re not sentimental guys at all but the connection we have to Sub Pop really is kind of sentimental. We connect some of our favourite albums to those two words. Now that we have that sticker on our album it’s very cool and so are the people working there, all music lovers for sure. We can’t be happier.
Any plans already for the time after touring – will you instantly get back rehearsing?
Alex: Yes, we’re gonna try getting to work on the next one.
Hayden: I think about it nonstop. We’re playing the same songs for almost two months now. So, I guess when we’re coming home we’ll probably have a completely creative flood or we’re gonna have a completely creative drought. Let’s see. What I know: I think we’re all really ready to try something new.
Alex: We are. Unless we will be touring until August, but…after that, we’ll be writing. (laughs)
Last but not least: as we are NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION – what do these terms mean to you: hope and passion?
Hayden: Hope means: I hope that we can keep doing this as long as we can, cause we all really enjoy doing it. We’re very lucky that people give a shit about what we’re doing and as long as it lasts, we’ll keep working hard on it.
Chris: (laughs) Yeah: we HOPE that people come to our show and we play with a shit full of PASSION. We ARE the ultimate product of Hope and Passion.