there’s “something missing from a lot of music nowadays, that physical
reaction,” that’s why. The Canadian combo wants to feel it – and you will, too.
BY HAL BIENSTOCK
These days, when someone says a band is ‘80s influenced, you
can already see the asymmetrical haircuts and hear the robotic voices and Human
League synthesizers. That’s not the ‘80s the members of Toronto’s
interested in. The hard-driving yet melodic punk of their self-titled debut
(Sub Pop) looks back to Nation of Ulysses, Public Image Ltd. and Bleach-era Nirvana. Or you could just
describe it in one word: loud. We talked with singer Alex Edkins about how they
got their eardrum-busting sound, their raucous live shows and what other punk
bands simply don’t get.
talk about you as saviors of punk. Can you live up to that?
EDKINS: I feel like that’s a little bit pushing it. Toronto has a long history
of punk and great music in general. We’re a continuation of that. We’re happy
about anything positive that anybody says about us, but we’re not trying to
live up to anyone’s crazy expectations, just our own.
are your expectations?
Our expectations are to keep doing what we’ve always done:
make music in an uncompromising fashion. We don’t set out to please anyone. We
just set out to please the three of us. If we can stand behind the music,
that’s all that matters. It’s a bonus if other people like it too.
first thing everyone notices about METZ
is how loud the band is. Why so heavy?
I’m not totally sure. It’s not something that was
premeditated; it just happens that way when we get in the same room together.
All of us came from a punk rock place. Growing up, that’s what we were
listening to and the shows we went to. There’s a certain amount of that in all
of us. If we’re going to get technical, some of it comes from the fact that
Hayden (Menzies), our drummer, plays in a fashion that is one volume. It’s
necessary for us to crank the amps up or we’ll be drowned out. That’s the
boring answer. The better answer is that it’s all we know how to do, all we
want to do, and it serves the songs. They can’t be turned down or the point of
it is lost.
that point is..?
There isn’t really any bigger point than three guys making
music for the love of it. We’re not trying to prove anything. We’re doing what
feels natural to us. We love to do it. The volume and energy of the live show
is just us having a good time.
the kind of kid who grew up banging on everything you saw?
I think so. There are pictures of me at four or five, and
I’d be sitting on the couch with my dad’s record player with headphones on. I
was a bit of a record nerd my whole life. To this day, I tap on things like any
musician. I’m banging on things constantly.
were you listening to on Dad’s hi-fi?
Mostly the Beatles. If I had to pick a band that’s my
favorite, that’d probably be it.
of your fans would probably be surprised to hear that.
I know it’s not a cool answer, but it’s an honest answer.
Through my whole life, that’s the band I got the most enjoyment from. I can’t
say I listen to them as much now, but I did a lot when I was younger.
playing loud and fast a good way to cope with Canadian winters?
I think so. I grew up in Ottawa. It’s a government city. It’s a little
sleepy at night. There’s not much nightlife so a lot of people decided to make
music to keep themselves occupied. I lived in the suburbs. Me and my friends
would be in the basement all day playing just to have something to do.
METZ had a
bigger sound. What made you decide to strip it down?
It just naturally happened. We used to have more complicated
song structures. We were messing around with electronics and samplers. It felt
more natural to strip it back. It was more fun to play live as well. We decided
to work with just our three instruments and see how far we could push those
instead of making it overly complicated.
you’re known for being loud, there’s also a lot of melody in your songs. What
songwriters do you admire?
I don’t think I could even pick. We’re just big music fans
in general. Our record collections go anywhere. We’re really into good
songwriting and hooks. With this album, we started to focus on having a happy
medium between the noise and the feedback and good song structures and
songcraft. We’re equally as interested in that as we are in creating a racket.
think other punk bands don’t understand that?
Sometimes in heavy music it’s more about the riff than the
song. Nowadays, the three of us don’t listen to much heavy music. It’s more
about good songwriting. There’s not too much of that in punk or heavy music.
It’s out there, but it’s rare.
was it like playing with bands like Mission of Burma,
Mudhoney and Archers of Loaf? Was there anything you learned from them?
We feel really lucky to have had the chance to do that. We
would have been in the crowd regardless, but it’s nice when you get to share
the stage and meet them. All I can take away is that these guys are genuinely
nice people doing exactly what they want to be doing. They have a certain
approach to music and a certain realness you can’t fake and can recognize right
away. We want to model our band after guys like that who are doing this for so
many years and haven’t wavered in their commitment or the quality of their
put the live METZ
experience into words?
It’s loud, in your face and fun. Hopefully there’s a lot of
movement in the crowd. We want people to move around and have a good time. The
songs seem to call for a certain aggression that comes out when you play. If
you don’t play them that way, it doesn’t sound right to us. It’s not a
theatrical show. We just rip through the songs and play the shit out of them.
seems as much physical as musical.
Absolutely. That’s something missing from a lot of music
nowadays, that physical reaction. I want to feel it. There’s nothing better.
edited version of this story appears in the latest issue (#13) of BLURT.
[Photo Credit: Bobby Reis]