After eight solid years of radio play in Canada, Metric is finally playing their first real Canadian arena tour. They’ve got 12 dates booked to play from Victoria to Toronto in the span of just 15 days in November — nice work for a musician if you can get it and they’ve got it. It’s taken the band more than a decade of hard work to become a poster of success for Canadian indie rock. With just a moment of time stolen out of her busy schedule of catching planes and playing concerts for Metric’s Synthetica tour, I got the chance to catch up with Canada’s darling on the mic, Emily Haines.
I knew that I just needed to be candid and ask the question that had been weighing on my mind: why on earth was “Youth Without Youth” released as the first single of Synthetica? After I first heard the album, then listened to it over and over again to write up my review, I never even once imagined the song as something of a lead single. After broaching the question with my best attempt not to belie the air of incredulity that I felt, Haines replies with enthusiasm. “It felt natural. Everyone was thinking that it should be the first single, so it just came as a natural progression… as a musician you do what feels right and follow through.”
I also took the chance to get some details on “Lost Kitten,” a true gem of a track. When I bring up its unique lo-fi feel and place in the band’s catalogue, Haines responds with whimsy, “Yeah, it’s kind of like Combat Baby.
“It’s a textbook example of a magic song. Anytime you hear something lighter like that, you should know that you need to listen to the lyrics. The music is balanced by darker observations. Something that’s heavier will have lyrics that are uplifting. That’s music. It’s about finding and providing that balance of dark and light.” I ask if that’s where she feels that Metric is at right now as a band because Grow Up and Blow Away is a perfect example of where to find some music that just has a darker tone. Haines’ response is quick: “You see people disappear all the time. We’ve been together for five records and so we’ve got that catalogue. You can’t just apply a certain logic to everyone. What I’m trying to convey is it’s music, it’s hard to predict and that’s why I love it.”
The conversation works its way around to their upcoming Canadian tour, a milestone in their career. “It’s so exciting to be doing our first real arena tour of Canada.” Metric are unfazed by the increased scale and the suggestion that they might lose some of their intimacy. “We give everything we possibly can to the stage. You can always go back to smaller venues but the true testament of a musician, or a true goal, is to play to the rafters. Look at Neil Young: sure he can play a little club, but I just saw him at Austin City Limits and he had everyone going in a crowd of such magnitude. He had that guy way out at the very back of the show. I think you actually get more with a bigger crowd, as ultimately the point of music is that it isn’t just a small thing for a handful of people. Songs that matter unify everyone. That’s the whole point and I think people will have a total fucking blast on this tour. It becomes an exponential thing, a feedback loop of the band.”
With our brief time coming to a close, I inquire about any plans for the future and Haines’ professes to not look that far beyond the here and now. “We’re just focused on this album. The next seven months of my life are mapped out for me. At the moment, it’s just touring. I’m fully committed to the now.” With that being said, Haines’ warmth of character and affable tone said a last goodbye and went off to catch a plane.
Catch Metric at the Stampede Corral (Calgary) on November 14 and at Rexall Place (Edmonton) on November 15.
By Andrew R Mott
Photo: Justin Broadbent