Just when the world seemed in dire need of a great noise rock band, Metz came along. Actually, the Ottawa-based trio have been around for a while, relentlessly touring, recording, and creating chaos. Their amped-up, fuzzed-out sludge pop won them a dedicated following, as well as comparisons to Big Black, The Jesus Lizard and Mudhoney. However, they defy genre, effortlessly blending noise, punk, post-rock and grunge. They refer to it simply as “Metz music.”
In 2012, the band signed to Sub Pop and released their self-titled debut. The record uncannily captures their live sound, which the band referred to as “dealing with the modern way of life—the anxiety, the hysteria, and speed.”
Metz are currently touring and will stop by the Tri-State Area for shows in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Philly. I recently caught up with frontman Alex Edkins over email to discuss punk rock, their debut album, and an upcoming release.
What initially sparked your interest in punk rock?
For me, punk music represents an uninhibited outlet for self-expression. It always appealed to me because it represented a style of music or subculture that made its own rules. As a teenager, it was very liberating to find this treasure trove of music, zines, and movies that spoke directly to me.
Can you describe the formation of the band? How was your music received at first?
Hayden [Menzies, drummer] and I grew up in Ottawa, ON. We went to the same punk shows and played in bands. We were introduced through mutual friends and I knew immediately that we should be making music together. I have a lot of love and respect for the way Hayden approaches his music. After a couple jams and experiments to see if it would work, we started making music together as Metz. After about a year, we moved to Toronto and met Chris [Slorach, bassist]. The rest is history.
What bands would you cite as your main influences?
There are too many to mention. We are all just huge music fans and try to consume as much music as possible. I think we all bonded over bands like Mission Of Burma, Sonic Youth, and The Wipers.
Your shows are pretty explosive and energetic. What goes through your mind when you are performing?
Nothing goes through my mind. It’s the best part about playing live; you get to turn off your brain for an hour and just forget about everything.
Your sound has been described as punk, post-rock, and noise rock. Which of these genres do you identify most with?
We really aren’t big fans of classifying styles of music. We want to make something we can call our own. We make Metz music.
Does the cover of your record mirror or sum up your music in any way?
I definitely think the image on the LP cover represents a lot of the lyrical content on the album. My dad took that picture when he was in high school and that image has always stuck with me. When it was time to choose album artwork, I immediately thought of that photo. To me it represents someone who is at the end of their rope, someone who is forced to cope with the crazy world they live in and feeling some of that pressure that comes with it.
What did the recording process look like for your debut album?
We took a week off from our jobs and recorded the bed tracks. The rest of the tracking was done in the evenings and weekends or whenever we had time. We wanted to make a short and concise slab of music. We considered the first album to be our mission statement or manifesto. We had a very clear idea of how it should sound, so we didn’t work with a producer. Instead we worked with two amazing engineers, Graham Walsh and Alex Bonenfant, to help us get the sounds right. We tried to make an extreme record that still sounded good.
Is there a new album in progress? If so, could you talk a little about it?
We are constantly working on new music. Whenever we’re not on the road, we are at home writing for the new record.
How do you expect your sound will evolve in the coming years?
I think our goal is to continue to progress as a band: write better songs, push the production side of things. I think we are going to go with the flow and see what comes out naturally.
I hear distinct Big Black/Shellac influences in your music. Was your guitar work influenced in any way by Steve Albini?
We all like Steve Albini’s production style, but I’ve never really listened to very much Shellac or Big Black. I’ve definitely seen them a couple of times, but I rarely put their albums on the turntable.
You’ve mentioned sharing a practice space with Fucked Up. What is your relationship like with the band?
They are wonderful people. They work their butts off and set a great example for us and all other Toronto bands.
Metz will play at Brooklyn’s Shea Stadium April 16, Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom April 17, and Philly’s First Unitarian Church April 19. For more information, go to metzztem.com.