Full disclosure: the only bumper sticker that I’ve ever had on one of my cars, was a Sub Pop sticker that Mark Arm affixed to my car after a 1991 show in Detroit. My affinity for Sub Pop has traveled and matured through their evolution. But when I heard that Sub Pop had signed the Toronto trio, METZ, my heart grew three sizes larger. Their brand of loud, raucous noise, reminds me of those early days when Sub Pop, Touch and Go and even some British bands like Loop, used to grind the eardrums of the indie youth. Guitarist and vocalist Alex Edkins and I discussed lofty expectations and the process of a finely crafted wall of dirge.
TDOA: I discern a slight change in direction, when you released Negative Space. Can you describe how/why you songwriting style changed a bit, with that song?
AE: It’s been a natural progression. Our songs have gradually become more concise and to the point. Our first three 7 inches were much more elaborate and psychedelic. On this record we focused on only keeping what was really necessary in each song and trashing the rest.
TDOA: In the beginning, you were classified as a “punk” band. Do you dislike genre classifications?
AE: I think genre classifications in general are pretty pointless. Music is so subjective that everyone is going to hear something else anyway.
TDOA: What is “punk” in your mind, at this point in music history? It’s changed a bit from the days of the Sex Pistols, eh?
AE: It’s obviously a loaded term and at this point it basically means nothing. To me it represents an uncompromising approach to making music.
We’ve never catered to any trend or scene or even other people’s expectations. It’s always been about doing what we want and making sure we are satisfied.
TDOA: Can you talk about working with Graham Walsh (Holy Fuck) and Alex Bonenfant (Crystaal Castles producer)? How were they different in their approach and how did that affect the sound of the record?
AE: Both Graham and Alex were great to work with. They have great instincts and aren’t afraid to think outside the box. We experimented with all kinds of microphones and mic placements until we got the right sound. We had a very clear idea of what the record should sound like going into the studio, so Graham and Alex were invaluable in helping us get the sounds we heard in our heads, on to tape.
TDOA: Obviously your sound is a bit different than what I think of with their bands. Did they really embrace your sound or did they make suggestions that reflected the style of music that they’re generally associated with?
AE: Both guys were really excited about doing something different. It was cool because their experience in electronic music offered a bunch of recording/mixing techniques that we never would’ve thought to try. We had no interest in making a traditional sounding rock record so it worked out for everyone.
TDOA: What is the songwriting process for you guys? Does one of you come in with a “riff” and then the other guys build on it or do you do most of your songwriting together during practice?
AE: The majority of our writing is done collectively. Everything is done in the same room at the same time. There is a cohesion and energy that you can’t get unless you are in a room together with the amps cranked up.
TDOA: Were all of the songs on the album written before you went into the studio? Did Graham or Alex contribute to songwriting or arrangement, or was their contribution purely sonic?
AE: All of the songs except for Wasted were finished before going into the studio. We were in the process of mixing the record when we wrote Wasted. We thought it fit the rest of the songs so we recorded it in a couple of hours and added it to the record.
TDOA: I’ve heard that you are leary of the Nirvana-era Bleach comparisons. What’s a comparison that makes you more comfortable?
AE: First off, its really flattering that anyone would compare us to Nirvana. I just think its unfair to Nirvana. Its like dragging their legacy through the mud.
TDOA: Lets talk equipment! Amps, guitars, pedals?
AE: We aren’t really gear-heads or anything. I use a 62′ Jazzmaster and Chris plays a Gibson RD Artist. Hayden uses big drums and plays really hard so we use big amps and crank them up. That’s our recipe!
TDOA: A Sasha Frere-Jones write-up in the New Yorker?! How does the over-whelming initial response to the new record make you feel?
AE: The response so far has been really overwhelming. We’ve always made music for ourselves, so it feels great that other people are into it.
Listen to the new album here!
Download the first three 7″ singles by METZ here!