Metz speak volumes

Toronto-based power trio discuss experimental follow-up to their acclaimed Sub Pop debut

By his own admission 2013 was the best year of Alex Edkins’ life. As the Metz frontman explains he’s had plenty of victories: On a personal level he got hitched last summer. In the fall his band’s self-titled Sub Pop debut celebrated its first anniversary and in that time transformed the noisy punk trio from Toronto’s best-kept secret into an internationally acclaimed powerhouse. In the 180-plus shows Metz played last year they landed in New Zealand Brazil and Europe. And they created countless memories — like for example the time when bassist Chris Slorach found himself onstage in Spain dressed up as the frog-like creature from Daniel Johnston’s beloved Hi How Are You? album .

“It was this weird dress-up party that started at 2 a.m. and went all night” says Edkins. “We’d just lost all of our gear on Air Berlin but we managed to wrangle up some costumes. We were construction workers and it looked like the Village People meets Devo. But halfway through the show someone threw up a costume that looked just like the Hi How Are You? character. We must have pictures somewhere.”

For all the band’s globe-trotting misadventures though they’ve played surprisingly little in Calgary. Edkins says they’ve only been here once — opening for post-hardcore outfit These Arms are Snakes at Broken City “before we’d really found our footing” — and thanks to last summer’s flood they missed Sled Island in 2013. Nonetheless in their limited experience in Calgary they’ve forged an unlikely connection to the city.

“We opened for Women in one of our first shows ever in Toronto” Edkins says. “We immediately became friends and fans of the band. The last time we were in Calgary we also hung out with them and stayed at their house.” And as it turns out the connection to the Flegels eventually led to the creation of their video for “Get Off” which was animated by local legend Chad VanGaalen.

“It all goes back to the Women connection; because of them over the years we’d ran into [VanGaalen] a bunch. We saw him at the Sub Pop Jubilee in Seattle and he told us he was making this huge animation project. Then we cold-called him and he whipped up this incredible video in two weeks.”

Despite their Calgary connections and their Toronto home Metz have a deeper connection with another city: Ottawa. Edkins and drummer Hayden Menzies originally hail from Bytown and the city’s unique punk scene — the one that worshipped Shotmaker and birthed Buried Inside — laid the foundations of Metz’s relentless work ethic their DIY approach to band administration and their love of feedback-drenched punk. That scene says Edkins has transplanted itself in cities across Canada: Bands like Toronto noise-bringers Mass rising harcore outfit Ancient Heads and Vancouver pop-punks Needles//Pins all have Ottawa roots.

“If I hadn’t grown up in that place at that time I wouldn’t be doing this [band]. There was a small and motivated group of people doing zines running distros — Ottawa’s where I got the bug where I learned this way of doing music. We haven’t been able to stop so far” he says. “And [that scene] shows itself in how we run the band. We don’t have a manager — we want to control everything.”

Everything including the band’s recording plans. While most bands would feel pressured to capitalize on a debut album’s success Metz is taking their time — as Edkins explains they’ve only demoed a few tracks for their next LP. And while he’s eager to share nuggets about his current playlist — Suuns Purling Hiss and Magic Markers in case you were wondering — he’s more cryptic about Metz’s sonic direction.

“We played a few new songs in Australia and New Zealand but they’re not going to live on the album” he says. “We want to make things more sonically interesting. The first album was intentionally a big kick in the face it was a dense 30-minute statement. But for this one we want to take more liberties and left turns stretch it out and experiment.

“For us there’s a certain amount of chemistry that’s natural. We’re going to block out everything else. We’re not thinking about what people are expecting or what we should stay away from.”