The Daily Swarm Q+A: Alex Edkins of METZ on Tour Angst, New S**t, and the Physical Communion of Live Performance...
When METZ recently played the most recent edition of the Pitchfork Festival – resulting in one of the weekend’s most satisfying and hailed sets – it was a fittingly epic climax to the band’s incredible rise over the past year. Since the release of METZ’s eponymous debut album in 2012 on Sub Pop, the group – guitarist/singer Alex Edkins, drummer Hayden Menzies, and Chris Slorach on bass – went from a relatively unknown punk/post-punk trio from Toronto, Canada to one of current indie music’s most ascendant entities – making Pitchfork’s _Top 50 albums of last year, and recently being named to the shortlist for Canada’s prestigious Polaris Music Prize
As the band has made its way through those milestones, METZ has revived a kind of sonic and ethical integrity to heavier music that recalls the heyday of, say, Touch and Go Records and Amphetamine Reptile – angular, individual, and uncompromised; along the way, METZ has honed one of the most intense, vivid live shows around. We spoke to Alex Edkins about METZ’s journey from here to now, as well as where the band might end up next…
The Daily Swarm: Metz has had a crazy year of album releases, world touring, and more. What do you make of all of it, hindsight?
Alex Edkins: It has been crazy, and we feel really fortunate to do it all. We’ve been on the road straight since October of last year; this summer is going to be all festivals, so it’s a bit less taxing. But it’s been a rewarding year for us. and we’ve been really happy with how the record has been received.
The Daily Swarm: What inspired your self-titled album?
Alex Edkins: I guess it’s just like any band. You’ve put together enough work, and if you think it can make a cohesive thing, there comes a time to put it out to the world with no real ambition other than to wrap that chapter up and document it. We also love recording, so we went about it, took our time, and that was the record that came out of it.
The Daily Swarm: Would you say your style reflects any part of the Toronto scene you came out of?
Alex Edkins: I think it’s more just the combination of the three of us and our musical tastes. Toronto has got a lot going on: there’s some punk rock, indie-rock, hip-hop, and avant-garde stuff all over the map. So I can’t say that what we’re doing reflects Toronto, but we like that because everyone’s doing their own thing and we stick out like a sore thumb. But Toronto is an absolutely great place to be making music, and there is a supportive community there.
The Daily Swarm: How did the members of Metz come together?
Alex Edkins: Hayden and I grew up in Ottawa, where we ended up being introduced by friends in the same kind of punk/hardcore scene. We started METZ there, where we’d lived most of our lives, and just wanted to try something new. We wanted to change scenes and still continue, so we moved to Toronto, where we met Chris pretty quickly.
The Daily Swarm: Will you continue to release with Sub Pop?
Alex Edkins: Yeah, we love them: Sub Pop been nothing but supportive to us, and we hope to continue putting out records with them. We sent them our demos the old-fashioned way. From our first meeting, we really felt a kinship and bond with them. They all really love music, and do what they do because of it.
The Daily Swarm: Does METZ have something new in the works?
Alex Edkins: We’ve got time booked off to write new stuff. This fall, we will be recording the new record.
The Daily Swarm: Have there been any challenges along the way?
Alex Edkins: Since we’re not young guys, just being away from home. We’re in our early thirties, and leaving home behind is tough. Chris and I are also both getting married soon, so we’re lucky to have people who support of what we’re doing.
The Daily Swarm: METZ has become as famed for its live experience as it has the band’s recorded music. Is there something you want fans to take away from your shows?
Alex Edkins: Going to my first punk shows, I remember that physical aspect of it where you just feel your whole body shake. You never forget that, really, and I think that it’s one of those aspects of live music. It’s not just an audio thing; it’s also physical, where there’s some kind of communal feeling with all of the people you’re there with. For us, we just want people to sweat, dance, and walk away just feeling amped. That’s what we get from it.