Sub Pop band crashes our record store along with 4 other artists… all sales are vinyl, dudes (and dudettes)!
By Fred Mills
It’s the gift that keeps on giving – we’re talking Record Store Day, and the fact that at indie shops across the country you can not only score cool wax but take in free performances from equally cool combos. To wit: this Saturday (April 20) on RSD we will be welcoming Sub Pop heaviosos Metz at our sister business, Schoolkids Records of Raleigh, NC, for a 3:30 blowout. Below, revisit longtime contributor Hal Bienstock’s 2012 interview with the band, and meanwhile, here’s the full lineup of artists we’ll be hosting. If you are in the neighborhood, please drop by and help us celebrate the beauty of record stores…
1 p.m.: Yep Roc artist Aoife O’Donovan (Crooked Still singer releases Fossils on June 11)
2 p.m.: Greg Humphreys (of Hobex and Dillon Fence)
3:30 p.m.: Metz (also at Local 506 in Chapel Hill Sat. night)
4:30 p.m.: Caroline Mamoulides (also at Amplified Art Sat. night)
5:30 p.m.: Laura Cortese (also at Amplified Art Sat. night)
WHY SO HEAVY? Metz
Because 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 METZ are 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.
BLURT: People 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.
What 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.
The 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.
And 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.
Are you 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.
What 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.
A lot of your fans would probably be surprised to hear that.
I know it’s not a cool answer, but it’s an honest answer. [Ed. note: No, it is a VERY cool answer! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise…] 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.
Is 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.
Originally, 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.
As much 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.
Do you 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.
What 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
Can you 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.
It 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.
An edited version of this story appears in the latest issue (#13) of BLURT.
[Photo Credit: Bobby Reis]