Interview: METZ [April 2015]

By Ben Tipple

Having propelled themselves to the forefront of various alternative scenes with the release of their debut full-length, Canadian noise-punks METZ have been hard at work creating an equally dense and raucous follow-up. With ‘II’ scheduled to drop on the 4th May via Sub Pop Records, we spoke to Chris Slorach about the album’s creation, their sound, genre classification and touring.

How are you doing?

Things are great! Just getting ready to leave for tour. We are doing some dates with Lightning Bolt this week and then coming home and getting ready to release the record.

Just a short tour this time around.

Just four days. I feel like I’m cheating by calling it a tour.

Do you prefer the longer stints?

I have feelings about both of them. If you have a long tour, anything more than a week and a half, you kind of get into this rhythm. You get used to it. Four days is no big deal. It’s the two week ones where you just start to get into the rhythm of it and then you come home. You fall straight back out of it. I think I have mixed feelings about touring for any period of time. Every particular situation is a little bit different.

What’s life like on the road?

When we first started out there was a lot more crazy partying. In the last little while we’ve calmed down quite a lot. Our focus is now on being a good band and playing well every single night. We pick our battles. We’re not the most boring bunch, but we’re not the craziest bunch of guys. We’re all in our 30s and clearly focussed on being a good band rather than a bunch of maniacs.

Your live show is very energetic and intense. That must be really tiring. Where do you draw your energy from?

The music sort of dictates how we perform it. There isn’t really any other way to play our songs. It’s the reaction that it forces us to have. It is exhausting for sure. There are a lot of nights where you dry yourself off and you just want to go to sleep but there are other nights where you feel fired up. Everyone has a day at work when they go home and decide whether they want to go out for pints, or don’t want to go out for pints.

It’s rare to think about it like a job…

It’s the best job in the entire world. The last thing I ever even think about is this being a job, but I guess at the end of the day it is. It’s definitely not in our mentality to think of it as strenuous work. There’s a lot of love, a lot of passion and a lot of fun involved so we all feel very fortunate for being able to do it as much as we do. It’s a joyous occasion playing a show. Sometimes you feel completely ruined after it, and sometimes you feel completely alive after it – it just depends on the night.

People are allowed to enjoy their jobs.

Yeah, totally.

Looking back at the release of your debut, did the reaction take you by surprise?

Absolutely. We were expecting to, if we were lucky, sell a thousand records and do a little bit of touring then come back home and go back to work. We were lucky enough to find a home with Sub Pop that gave us a wider reach. It opened up a lot of doors for us. The extent that it went to, and the things we were able to do because of it, was a complete surprise. We were all completely blown away.

What do you think it is about your style of punk that means it is so broadly recognised and picked up by so many different groups of people?

I don’t know if that’s something we could even answer. It feels like that’s a question for somebody else – asking them what they like so much about this band or that band. We’re really proud of what we do, and that the songs that we are writing are getting better. Maybe at the time the record came out it was something that people needed.

We played a lot of festivals with a lot of different types of bands, and always tended to be the heaviest band on the bill. We would be playing with a lot of indie-rock groups and hip-hop acts. We love that kind of stuff, the variety. Half the time it’s the type of stuff we are listening to anyway. Maybe it just transcended the punk genre and delved into the indie area.

I think the songs had good hooks – that could be it. I don’t know what people like about it. I don’t know why anybody likes our band. [Laughs]

Has the writing process differed with the new record, ‘II’?

I think it took us a minute to write the way we are writing now. It took us a while to reflect on the way we did things before. We toured so much that there was no way we could keep jobs, so when we came back we went into the practice space five days a week. We worked on it full-time, being as productive as possible.

We ended up banging our heads against the walls. We were used to playing the ten songs from that record and a handful of other songs. It felt creatively we had kind of been drained. We took a week and a half away and when we came back Alex [Edkins] had a bunch of riffs and almost fully formed songs. He had recorded stuff on his iPhone or on Pro Tools at home, so we went in and fleshed them out in the practice space. We wrote pretty much the first half of the record in a month and went from there.

It’s been a really good thing. We found a really good way to stay productive and creative, to the point where we recorded more new music last week. This record isn’t even out yet and we have a bunch of new stuff recorded.

It was a really different process, but also learning how to go from a part-time band that worked evenings and weekends to a band that focusses on writing music full time. It was a big change for us.

Do you think that process has added anything to your sound?

The title ‘II’, as unoriginal as it is, is suitable. The record is a progression from the first record. There are a lot of similarities from the first record, but I do think it’s unique. It is its own thing. It’s a growth in the band’s sound.

We found a little bit more patience in our songs. We are more OK with riding things out a bit. We tried not to make a record that is perfectly played in every way. We focussed more on feeling. There are little things that might be a bit off, but that compliment the sound or feel of the song so we’d leave them in. That took a little bit of courage on our part because we’re all crazy obsessed with sound.

We would record ten tracks of feedback and play it back and look at Graham Walsh [producer] and ask him which feedback he thinks is the best. He’d say “they all sound the same to me… what are you guys doing?!”. We can all be a bit fussy so we tried to let go of that and become a band who has a little more feeling in the recording.

The first record is kind of cold. I’m still crazy proud of it, but I do find it a bit clinical. Everything is in its place. We focussed on not doing that a lot. I do think everything is in its place on the new one, but also that it’s got a bit more of an edge to it.

Both are quite claustrophobic…

We try and make as much noise as we possibly can with the three instruments we have. We play off of each other as much as we can. It’s kind of nice being limited to a three piece band. You can only do so much with three instruments, so we do as much as we possibly can.

What do you have in mind post-release?

We’re doing our record release shows in Toronto before heading across the states with FIDLAR. We’re back in London in June for a short European run which we will expand more upon in the Fall. Anywhere we miss, we’ll make sure we get over and hit eventually.

We’re going to be doing our best to be recording and writing as much as possible. We’re focussing on being a band that can be somewhat prolific. We want to put out as much music as we can. We feel like we sat on those first 10 songs for a very long time.

With some music already recorded, is the gap between albums going to be shorter?

I think we will know when album number three will be ready once it’s recorded, but yeah, I think we don’t want to have as big of a gap. It’s fun writing music and playing new songs. The more we can be creative and release stuff… we want to release a ton of music if we can, but it has to go through our whole process.

Well, thanks for your time.

Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me. Take care.

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