By Trevor Morelli
CALGARY – Over the last few years, Toronto-based noise rock trio METZ has earned themselves an enviable position in the Canadian music scene. They’re headlining indie festivals and topping indie critic’s year-end lists. But most importantly, they’ve developed a strong relationship with their label, Sub Pop, where they’re free to create the music they want to without much interference.
“We feel pretty untethered. We love working with them. They’ve been nothing but supportive,” comments lead singer/guitarist Alex Edkins. “Our relationship is more or less we make the records we want to make and then we send it to them. And they put it out. From a musician’s point of view, that’s sort of like the ideal scenario. No one is questioning what you’re doing or pressuring you to make a commercial record to sell more, or anything like that. Yeah, they’re really hands off when it comes to the music and I think that kinda just makes us feel like they’ve got our back.”
Although METZ’s meteoric rise seems to have happened overnight, it took them many years to build an audience slowly and steadily, starting in their original hometown Ottawa and then in Toronto.
“It’s funny because before that first record we had been playing for many, many years together and so it was a very slow build in Toronto,” Edkins recalls. “It was a matter of playing local gigs and seeing that grow really slowly. When the first LP came out we had the help of Sub Pop and it did kind of explode a bit. It’s all flukey how that stuff happens, it’s all pretty much random but it was good timing for our record.”
For their latest album Strange Peace, METZ worked with legendary producer Steve Albini (The Pixies, Nirvana). At first, the idea of collaborating with Albini seemed too obvious to the band but there was one particular moment when they realized it needed to happen.
“When it came to this record there was a moment when we heard a certain song on my iPod, it came on random, and it was a Mclusky song. Steve had done that record, and the drum sound was just so perfect. We felt like it was so close to what we were envisioning in our minds for this new batch of songs that we had more or less finished around that time. So it was kind of a no-brainer.”
Edkins says there are a few tracks on Strange Peace that he’s particularly proud of.
“I like the ones that we’ve gone in different directions with. I think ‘Raw Materials’ is something that expands sort of the METZ sound in a lot of ways that get us really excited. Also things like ‘Sink’ and ‘Caterpillar’ that are really kind of brand new angles for us. At the end of the day, that’s sort of the main goal: to make music that sort of gets us excited and to feel that we’re growing and evolving as a band and as musicians.”
Still climbing mountains, Edkins believes METZ progression is what continues to drive the band. “We’ve never really been explicit with our goals. It’s always been this thing of constant growth. For us, it’s been quite gradual and slow. It’s almost one of those things that it’s so slow, you don’t notice it.”
METZ will be performing Jan. 18 as part of the Big Winter Classic festival (Calgary)Big Winter Classic festival, METZ, Steve, Strange Peace, Sup Pop