by Ryan Haughey
Rip to it. Trash to it. Bite and tear off a morsel of METZ, because there’s more than enough of them to go around as they tour North America and beyond. After biding their time, pent up and barred from getting on stage these last 20 odd months, METZ is ready to get back in front of a crowd of animalistic headbangers. They’ll be doing just that on November 29 in Winnipeg.
Travel back in time to October of last year, and METZ are releasing their fourth full-length album. Atlas Vending is the slow burn of the fuse on a stick of dynamite. This patient calculation is a relatively new approach diverging from the direction METZ usually takes in their recordings. Alex Edkins (vocals, guitar) says that this evolution is the result of the band’s goal to make Atlas Vending something that their audience can listen to again and again.
“We’ve certainly checked the box of making records that are like a slap in the face, and you need a break after it,” Alex says. “The first record was kind of like that, and that was the goal – it was kind of like, ‘hello world!’. At this point we’ve done that, and with Atlas we’re definitely trying to have more ups and downs, touches and go’s.”
According to Alex, Atlas Vending is METZ’s best sounding record, from the music, to the lyrics, to the production. Produced by Ben Greenberg, mixed by Seth Manchester, and mastered by Matt Colton, METZ’s latest record is musical and methodical. The record strategically breaks down the walls of hardcore expectations and creates unique, individual moments with each track.
“I think that’s why we still do this: there’s room for us to grow, and it’s happening with every record. The band is moving forward and that’s a good sign. That’s kind of what we hang our hat on. At the heart of it, we’re all just wanting to be better players, better musicians, and a better band. I think if you just go ‘1, 2, 3, bang!’ there’s nowhere to go, so it’s certainly the idea of making something that people can live in more. It’s fun for us and I think it’s more rewarding for the listener.”
“And in a live setting, it’s way better.”
Well, if you want proof of that statement, look no further. In August of 2021, during a peak of lockdown in Toronto, METZ released Live at the Opera House. This live set is a retelling of Atlas Vending plus a couple of classic hits off their 2012 self-titled debut record.
“We prepared for it like we were going on tour,” Alex says. “We just wanted it to be as close to our live show as possible. Obviously, the elephant in the room is the fact that there was no one in the room. I think it was a survival mechanism for us; we were so proud of the record and we were heartbroken that we couldn’t go share it with people and get that reciprocal energy going.”
Alex says that recording Live at the Opera House was a weird experience. “Musicians and many industries suffered a lot (during the pandemic) and were forced to expand what it is that they do. Here we are, basically shooting a movie on a live concert set.” Alex says METZ is always down for a challenge, even though this project was never something they imagined themselves doing. “Maybe a live record for sure, but we wanted to actually be in front of people.”
“So, we resorted to recording the live album and I’m really happy we did it – we’re really proud of how it turned out. I’m even more excited to be hitting the road in a couple of days and playing that record for people.”
You’re not going to want to miss METZ in Winnipeg at the Park Theatre.
When asked what it’s finally going to be like being back on stage, Alex says that the feeling is inexplicable. “Compared to recording the album, the energy is tenfold, a hundredfold. Live music has that ability to bring people together, and you can have that ‘WOW’ moment. I know I have. That’s why I got hooked. It’s this feeling of super loud, physical music in a live setting, I just love it.”
“We’re able to lose ourselves and get into the songs, but when there’s people there listening and they’re feeling it too, it’s great. It’s hard to explain without sounding a little bit like Bono or something.”
Though METZ have created a new path for themselves to follow during their live shows, there is no loss of the spirit that occurs throughout their entire discography. Stylistically, METZ is METZ. And that’s never going to change.
“We’re always going to be METZ because we invented that. That’s just us, there’s always going to be something connecting us with those early records,” Alex says. “We ground each other, the three of us. We don’t let anyone lose sight of how special it is, what we have together. I think we’re really aware of that and we feel really fortunate to be friends and love what we’re doing. And also, just feel privileged to tour around the world and play.”
“Genuinely, I think that the way we actually play our instruments is singular. We have a style that is ours, and that’s a source of pride. It’s something we believe is true and that’s what’s tying us together. It’s our way of playing together, it’s our way of interacting as three musicians – the songwriting as well. I think each one of us has a very definitive style.”
After touring North America, METZ will be touring Europe.
“We’ve already started writing new stuff. There’ll be a record coming out eventually, but we’re not rushing into the studio,” Alex says. “We didn’t want Atlas to be lost. We wanted to give it its due because we’re really proud of it. We’re going to tour Atlas Vending for a while before focusing on new stuff.”
METZ are playing the Park Theatre in Winnipeg with Preoccupations on November 29. “We’re excited to be out there and I hope people mask up and come out – and just have a good time,” Alex says. “Be safe and all that. We couldn’t be more excited to get back to Winnipeg.”