by Sam Thompson
Toronto noise rock trio METZ has been busy. Their self-titled 2012 debut on iconic Seattle label Sub Pop received overwhelming critical acclaim — including a spot on the shortlist for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize — and they’ve been destroying the eardrums of live audiences around the world ever since. With a follow-up LP in the bag and getting prepped for a spring release, METZ is hitting the road back home in Canada, including two late-January dates here in Winnipeg. Stylus talked to guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins by phone.
Stylus: I think the last time you were in town was for last year’s Big Fun festival. Has Winnipeg been a place you’ve played frequently over the years?
Alex Edkins: In the early days, we would tour Canada quite a bit, but ever since the album came out — our first LP — we ended up touring more of America and overseas, so we’re definitely glad to be getting back to Winnipeg.
Stylus: I know you don’t really like to label yourselves, genre-wise, but noise rock comes up a lot when people are describing you. Do you think there’s been a growth in popularity for noise-influenced stuff lately? You guys have been pretty successful, and on a local basis, we have bands like KEN mode who have done big things playing noise rock. Do you see any major resurgence in that style or bands influenced by that style?
AE: For one, KENmode are awesome guys and a wicked band and we’re friends with them, but it kind of goes to my next point, which is that we know those guys from playing this music for the last 15 years in different bands and being connected through Canadian punk rock, basically, so I think the music’s always been there. I think maybe now some of the media outlets are starting to pay more attention to it which I think is very cool. It can only be a good thing. I’m a believer that punk rock and underground music will never die — it’s always been there but you just need to seek it out.
Stylus: Who do you think is your audience? Is there a specific type of person who comes to your shows?
AE: It’s pretty varied and it’s kind of cool that way. We’ll get teenagers and then we’ll get 50-year-olds, because it reminds them of what they used to listen to… or still listen to. Hopefully we can connect with a wide range of people. Definitely it’s fun to have younger kids there to dance around. I think in a lot of waysI think that’s what our music is good at — getting that physical response from people that only live and really loud music can do.
Stylus: Is that live atmosphere something you try to take to your recordings as well? The first album – and I don’t know how you recorded it – definitely sounds like everything is happening right there. Is that something you try to emulate on record?
AE: We really enjoy playing live and I think there’s a certain energy that happens that you try to reproduce on the album, but it can be difficult at times. Just playing live together is something that has a very different feeling than tracking one instrument at a time.
Stylus: With your new record, do you have a release date or is that still in the works?
AE: It’s gonna be in the spring. That’s all I know. It’s all done, it’s mastered. We’re working on the artwork now, so it’s totally in the can.
Stylus: And that’s coming out on Sub Pop again? I imagine you probably listened to a lot of bands that put out records on that label when you were growing up. It definitely has a recognition factor – if people see the logo or hear the name, it conjures up something. Was that exciting for you guys?
AE: That was part of the reason why we initially got in touch with them… and then for them to reciprocate was amazing. They’ve been fantastic to us ever since. Great people and they work their butts off and they know what they’re doing so it’s really been a good relationship.
Stylus: Is there anything on the new record that has changed since the last one that people might not expect?
AE: I think it’s just as heavy. A little bit more gritty, recording-wise and we’ve just tried to improve our songwriting and improve our playing. We certainly didn’t do anything drastic like change the overall aesthetic of the band or anything. We’re not playing a lot of keyboards or drum machines or anything. Personally, it sounds different to me because the songs are all different… we tried to stretch things out a bit and experiment as much as possible.
Stylus: Your show in Winnipeg looks like it’s a fundraiser for Winnipeg Harvest, and all of the shows on this tour seem to be raising money for different organizations.
AE: Yeah, it’s something that we feel strongly about and we want to do that as much as we possibly can. I think we’re going to be doing more of that down the road too. It’s just a very little, little way to do SOMETHING, you know?
Stylus: Did you pick the charities?
AE: This time around it wasn’t us. It’s gonna be us in the future. Doing it annually would be great, but also just on a cross country kind of thing …if we could do it for a tour I think would be very cool.
METZ will be performing in Winnipeg on Jan. 27 at the Garrick Centre with Death From Above 1979 and on Jan. 28 at The Good Will Social Club.