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Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Friday 19th October, 2012 11:42AM

Metz are a straight-up punk band from Toronto who just released their debut self-titled album on Sub Pop Records (we highly recommend you read the label's bio of the band over here - hilarious). UTR caught up with Alex Edkins to discuss what their debut album is all about, what it's like being a band in Canada right now and why they chose a photograph of a really depressed kid for the cover of their album.

Hey Alex, what are you guys up to at the moment?

We are sitting in traffic about to go play tonight in Hamilton.

Are you on tour?

Not really. We’re going to be driving home to Toronto after the show tonight because they’re pretty close to us. We’re definitely playing a lot around here.

Is it nice to be performing now that the album's out?

Absolutely we’re super stoked, it’s been a long time coming so to have the record finally out is really nice. We’re in good spirits for sure.

From the beginning then, how did Metz start?

OK, well Hayden (the drummer) and I both grew up in Ottawa, the capital city of Canada going to punk rock shows and playing in bands – not together but being in the same social circle. About five years ago we started playing together in Ottawa but it never really started to take shape until we moved to Toronto and met Chris who plays bass – that’s when the three of us started to work under the title Metz and for the sound on the record to start forming. So it was about five years ago but really with Chris it’s only been about four years.

Tell us about the Metz sound: did you have a clear direction about what you wanted to do achieve when you started out?Ah I don’t think there were any specific bands that we could call direct inspiration, but what’s so great about it for us is that when the three of us get in the same room and plug in it kind of just naturally happens. There’s not much discussion or pre-meditation, it’s kind of just what comes out because of all of our backgrounds in similar styles of music. That’s what feels natural to us and it’s what close to our hearts. We certainly can’t play unplugged or anything like that, that would be horrible.

Tell us about writing and recording your debut album.

We’ve been working on the songs for about a year, getting them to where we were happy with them. At the time we didn’t have a label in mind or anyone interested really so we just set out to make something that the three of us would be satisfied with and we would be able to stand behind and go play gigs and not get sick of the material or anything.
So like I mentioned before our writing process is a little bit odd: we don’t work independently and we usually don’t write stuff at home and then bring it into the jam space - we just put our heads together and go from there. Sometimes it can take a lot longer than if there was one songwriter in the band and things were written like that so that’s part of the reason why it took about a year to get enough material for the LP. Once we had it we started messing around and doing some demos and making sure we were able to get the sounds we had in mind – that we could translate the sound we had in our heads onto tape. It wasn’t always that easy – sometimes it took a lot of trial and error.

Now that the record’s out and you can reflect on it as a whole, how would you describe it?

Yeah when I look back on it now I’m surprised that - while it’s not a theme record or anything - with our style of music there’s a certain lyrical theme that tends to come with the music because I write the lyrics after we have the song. It’s tough to write a love song or something happy-go-lucky over this kind of music so it’s kind of a ‘big city record’: there's a lot about the fast-paced lifestyle that we all live in and that we can all kind of relate to but it can kind of drive you a little bit crazy after a while if you don’t get out of the city. A lot of the themes on the album are that – being pushed by the constant noise and information you're forced to take in, in a bit city.

And you've explored those things visually too. The album cover has this photograph of an incredibly frustrated person and the latest video featured a girl who looks bored in her surroundings. Tell us a little bit about the aesthetic accompaniment to the music.

We’re usually really involved with every aspect of our band – the artwork, the mixing, the producing. But with the latest video we happened to have a really good friend who we trust who is a videographer so we said to him “you can have full control, we’ll step away”. So Scott Cudmore took it and ran with it and that was completely his idea and his work. So we weren’t involved with it but we do like the end product and you’re right, it does kind of mix in with some of the touchstones in the other art, particulary that guy on the cover. It’s all part of that scene of dispondant youth I guess.

Tell us a about forming the band in Toronto and Ottawa: are there strong punk scenes over there?

Ever since we started playing in Toronto the scene has been very supportive. It’s a huge city and it’s got a great music community but we were pretty surprised right off the bat that people were coming out to the shows and we were making friends with a lot of talented people: you go to their shows they come to your shows and you keep it like a family. I also think now in Toronto more than ever I think there’s incredible music coming out and it’s nice to be a part of it and it’s getting better and better all the time.

And is there an obvious sound or is it more diverse?

I think it’s more diverse and I’m into that, you know. What makes it so great is that there are so many different styles and people doing their own thing and it’s not just stuck in one style. I’ve always thought we really stuck out and I think maybe that's a good thing because there weren’t many people doing what we’re doing. There's a really rich thing happening over here right now and I think you’ll be hearing a lot more from Toronto because the quality of the music coming out of here is top notch.


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