The power of a trio probably comes from its simplicity. Probably (at least that’s my take, and I’m sticking with it). It’s been proven again, and again and again – Rush, The Minutemen, Nirvana, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, ZZ Top, the Police – even Triumph (ferchrissakes) – all innovators, all brilliant (well – I’ll leave Triumph in the list regardless). Add METZ to the mix, too. Toronto’s best musical export to date, METZ more than earn their name’s all-caps each and every night. Slinging heavy, thick and chunky guitar noises, bass that sounds like a herd of bulldozers crushing through concrete and insanely loud drumming, these three gents make noise and powerpop mix in glorious ways – and they may be the hardest working band in the business right now (they’ve been touring non stop for close to a year – not even any time to record a new record).
They’re playing the Hi-Dive in Denver Tuesday night, May 7th, and you’d better be there – or have to deal with all the noise you’ll hear about it from those of us that are.
Each and every one of those days and nights, crammed in small stages or spread out across the gargantuan festival ones, they bring a strange sense of order to their dissonance – their sound smells of The Jesus Lizard, A Place To Bury Strangers, Big Black, Black Flag – all the noisy ones – but METZ has some uncanny way of making their sound constantly fresh, brisk, clean – even amidst all the punishment.
We got a chance to speak to METZ vocalist/guitarist Alex Edkins a few days ago, and have to say that the sound onstage and on record does not match the friendly, assured conversational tone that Edkins uses. Like all Canadians, he’s polite as fuck – but you can tell he’s focused, and knows exactly what he and his two bandmates (bassist Chris Slorach and drummer Hayden Menzies) are doing. You can also tell they’re loving every minute of it.
Read on to see for yourself – and then check out the treats at the end.
DenverThread: Where are you all now?
Alex Edkins: Were in atlanta – it’s really nice here. just played last night & we’re heading to Birmingham, AL.
DT: Awesome! I used to live in Montgomery, AL – went to a couple shows in Birmingham in my high school days.
DT: First question: Big Black or Black Flag?
AE: I would say – and the band would agree – Black Flag.
DT: I swear I thought you’d say Big Black! Both are obviously legitimate, but likewise, Black Flag kind of runs thick in my blood.
AE: Yeah – no totally – that’s where we come from as far as what got us into punk music and y’know, grabbed us when we were young. That kind of early hardcore, Minor Threat & all that kind of stuff – that’s near and dear to us for sure.
DT: You’re aware of the two competing versions of Black Flag touring right now – any chance METZ will cross paths with either of them?
EA: You know what – I think we’re actually going to be playing a festival with FLAG – and I have no bloody idea who’s in that band! ‘Cos there’s Flag, and then Black Flag and it’s very confusing, and I don’t know who’s playing in which group!
DT: Well – just to clarify – I read on Spin.com just this morning that Flag had a secret show in the Moose Lodge – where the original Black Flag played their first gig. From that article I know that Flag is the Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, Chuck Dukowski and Bill Stevenson (with – at least for this show – some Greg Ginn guitar-slinging by Decendents’ Stephen Edgerton) – all early members – and the other one’s the Greg GInn joint. I’m not sure which one I’m more excited to see.
AE: Oh my god – it’s terrible! I wanna see both – but at the same time I don’t want to see either of them, y’know? I mean – you can’t have Black Flag without Greg Ginn!
DT: Amen to that – it doesn’t seem right! But I also kinda hope – in my own weird fantasy – that they’ll meet up playing in some sort of “right across the street” venue situation and that they’ll end up meeting out in the street and having a knife fight – sort of a la “Beat It.”
AE: Oh my god – we can dream! Yeah – that would be insane.
DT: So you’re touring a while with No Joy – playing here in Denver with them. The reason I found out about METZ is because of No Joy – because I’ve followed Laura Lloyd on Twitter for a long time, and she mentioned how great you guys are – maybe a year ago? I take her recommendations seriously ‘cos No Joy is such a great band. Anyway – METZ, No Joy, Fucked Up – all are from Canada – and all of you are great. In fact, some of the best music not only to come out of Canada lately, but from anywhere. Who are some of your favorites from the Great White North right now, and what do you think of this sort of “Canadian Invasion?”
AE: First, we’re really pumped to be playing with those guys. We’ve played a few times with No Joy in the past, and we’re really pumped to be doing it again – Jasamine and Laura are just awesome. We always have a great time with them – and to be able to just play a bunch of shows with them is perfect. I can’t wait to hear their new record – I think it came out today, even! I’m gonna bug them about getting a copy.
AE: Anyway – Toronto right now has got some really cool stuff going on. We played in New York recently with a few of our favorite bands out of Toronto – Soupcans and Odonis odonis, who are on tour with us right now. And um – yeah – they’re a few examples of really killer stuff coming out of Toronto. Another favorite would be Teenanger, who we’ve toured with in the past. But yeah, I think there’s certainly no shortage of cool music coming out of Toronto,and out of Canada right now.
DT: I agree – it just seems fresh. I mean – you guys are a perfect example. METZ a great, strong sound, and you seem to have a way of expressing it and controlling it in ways that I don’t see too much – it’s really fresh (and I’m not alone in saying that). Your sound owes a little to Big Black and hardcore – Black Flag and such – but you seem to somehow be able to control it in ways that many other bands considered in the same light just can’t. I mean, I love A Place to Bury Strangers, their sound is extreme, pretty unique. But where Oliver tends to lose sight – or control of the sound – METZ doesn’t. You keep it fresh, new – but it’s still extreme.
AE: Thank you – that’s really cool to hear. We try to make something that we can call our own, but there’s no doubt that some of our influences are y’know, on our sleeve. And we don’t have a problem with that, but you just, y’know, put everything into a pot and mix it around and you end up getting METZ music out.
DT: And we’re all the better for it – thanks for that.
DT: So – you three seem to have been on tour, literally, forever. You just came back from Europe, and were everywhere else before that for months – it’s like you’re the hardest working noise band in the business. Have you had any time off recently?
AE: We have had some time off – not very much though. We just went to Europe, then went to Austin for South by. After that we had about three weeks at home – but we ended up going into the studio.
DT: And that was exactly what I was going to follow up with – was there time in the studio for a new record?
AE: No – not yet – it’s more of a new single or something like that, maybe. We haven’t really had time to get in there and start working on the next LP. That’ll come after this stint.
DT: So after his stint meaning – I think there are a few more weeks after Denver – and then there’s nothing else scheduled. Are you all going to get some time after that to record then?
AE: Well – actually, we’re doing this American leg, and then we go over to the UK and we’re touring with Fucked Up, then we do Primavera [in Spain], then some shows with Mudhoney and the Meat Puppets for a week in the UK as well, and then we’re booked up almsost every weekend until the end of the summer. So – it’s not like we’re going to have any time to go home and really, y’know get into the studio to actually record. And we just can’t write it on the road the way we do it – it’s kinda tough.
DT: I can imagine. Even so, it really sounds – as busy as it is – like you guys are living a dream. I mean, you say you’re touring with Fucked Up (again, one of my favorites right now) and then the Meat Puppets and Mudhoney in the same sentence. I mean – holy crap. You must be waking up grinning from ear to ear every morning.
AE: Well it’s true – I mean, those shows are like – we’re like “are you KIDDING me? Of course we would love to play with those bands!” So it’s definitely a treat when you get to play with bands you look up to.
DT: My last question – from my daughter (a budding music journalist) – what’s your favorite song today?
AE: (Pauses) Wow! That’s tough. I would say something I was just listening to – but I don’t think I’ve heard anything today, honestly.
DT: Yeah – it’s a tough question, it puts you in the moment, and I think that’s interesting our readers.
AE: Yeah it does – um… Let’s say off the new Redd Kross record – there’s a tune, the second tune on the record, called “Stay Away from Downtown,” which is just a superb powerpop song, I have to say that one. I’s such a glorious pop song from one of my favorite bands.
Here’s a video of Edkins’ favorite song from that morning – and maybe a clue to his headspace. Check out the video below that for a taste of METZ, too – and catch them at the Hi-Dive Tuesday, May 7th, too.
Redd Kross: “Stay Away from Downtown”