Q&A: Alex Edkins Of METZ On Signing With Sub Pop, Sharing A Practice Space With Fucked Up, And Bowling With Mudhoney's Mark Arm
Sub Pop's raucous misfit cred has been kept afloat by the white-trash, noise-oozing pranksters in Pissed Jeans, the garage surf-rockers Obits, and the grungester royalty Mudhoney. But new young blood is joining the legendary Seattle label, and it emerges from a town where the Maple Leafs are still chasing the Stanley Cup that has eluded them since 1967 and where hardcore experimentalists Fucked Up reign.
Noise-rock rascals METZ not only have played an integral part in spearheading Toronto's DIY scene (the trio share a practice pad with Fucked Up); with their debut face-smasher (out in October), the thirty-something punkers are keeping Sub Pop's original underground rock vision and sense of community alive and kicking. METZ's pummel borders on Melvins-grade heaviosity, its repetitious noise-bathed guitar licks steeped in Nirvana-wicked catchiness. The Black Francis-y blood-curdling yelps are gloriously anthemic, too; the kids will go nuts to this chaos.
Sound of the City caught Alex Edkins in the van (driving with his METZ mates Hayden Menzies and Chris Slorach) to talk the Toronto music scene, their anti-hockey stance and their new album.
The record hasn't even come out yet, right? Are you testing out the tunes from the METZ album on this tour?
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Exactly. It comes out early October. We're playing mostly all stuff from the record; a couple of new ones. The songs on the record are not all that new to us, I guess, because we've been working on this record for a little bit now. But there's definitely stuff from the record [we'll be playing live] and we're anxious to get that thing out, for sure. The thing has been done for a while; it's just been kind of in limbo and to know it's finally coming out is a good feeling.
I think it was finished a good five months ago. We're really happy with how it's turned out so we have no problem with touring the heck out of it and playing those songs because we're into it. We did the record with two guys--one guy is named Graham Walsh and he's known for his work in Holy Fuck, which is a band from Toronto and another guy named Alex Bonenfant, who runs a studio and he's done work with Crystal Castles and stuff. We're still anxious but it's been a long time comin.'
How did you hook up with Sub Pop?
Honestly, we sent them demos from the record when we started getting songs together and then Chris at the label was like "I like what I'm hearing. Why don't you send it to us when it's finished?" So we did. And that's kind of how it happened. That's the short story. We did a bunch of shows with Obits and a bunch of shows with Mudhoney and we know the dudes from the Constantines(http://www.subpop.com/artists/constantines) from Toronto. But I really don't know if that had any kind of affect on anything [of getting signed].
So you guys scored a deal with Sub Pop by sending in some demos in and they were into it? That seems like a rare occurrence.
Yeah! It's basically how it went. I think Steve from the Cons gave us, you know, a direct number! It's not like we mailed it [the demos] blindly. But it was basically us sending out tunes and them responding to that.
It must have been rad playing shows with Mudhoney and Obits. I assume you guys are way into those bands.
Definitely. Oh, yeah. It was a real pleasure [laughs]. Just meeting those guys and getting to play with them because we're fans, obviously. We like Drive Like Jehu, too, so meeting Rick [Froberg] was cool. They came out last time we were in town so we got to see them and hang out. Nice. We all came up listening and being involved in DIY punk rock and we were definitely into the early Sup Pop releases were influential. We were definite [Sub Pop] fans.
How about Mudhoney? Those guys seem superfun to hang with.
Yeah, they're awesome. It was only a couple of shows but when we were in Seattle, Mark [Arm] came to our show and we went bowling with everybody. It was cool.
You been compared to Bleach-era Nirvana...
... which is crazy. I don't think it sounds anything like that, personally. But I'll take it. The sound we make is whatever... we get in the room and we turn the amps on and that's what comes out. There's no premeditation involved but I think it's probably just kind of a combination of the three of our collective tastes. There's a bunch of weird punk, and like you said, some of that early grunge stuff is cool. It's all over the place, really.
Yeah, it's all over the place, right? Pissed Jeans are awesome. I think we're actually gonna play with them at CMJ.
What's the Toronto music scene like?
It's really cool. I think right now is a really good time for Toronto music of all variaties. It's kind of across the board; it's not all just one thing happening. There's a whole bunch of things happening that I think are pretty wicked.
METZ has been around since 2008?
Yeah. Hayden and I started playing under the name METZ in Ottawa and then moved to Toronto and met Chris and that's kinda when it really started--as it when it started to sound like this band. So it's been a couple of years for sure.
Fucked Up seem like they put Toronto on the map as far as hardcore and punk goes.
Yeah. We actually share a practice space with those guys. I would name three other Toronto bands who are doing really cool stuff. One is The Soupcans, who have a record comin' out real soon and they are kind of spastic, really out there punk. There's a Toronto label called Telephone Explosion and they're doing the Soupcans record and it's run by the guys in a band called Teenanger. Teenanger is another band that are wicked and doing cool stuff. They are kinda garagey punk--maybe Stooges-influenced or something like that. We did a couple of shows with Teenanger in the States. We went to play Death by Audio a couple months ago.
Did METZ start up around the same period as Fucked Up?
They were doing it for quite a bit longer. They were more of a straight-up hardcore band for a long time and then kind of morphed into what they're doing now. They've definitely been around a lot long than us.
Well, we thought about after the fact but it really came down to us being big fans. We just threw that one down. Really big fans of his stuff and his production style.
Where does METZ with all caps come from?
Totally aesthetic. It's short and snappy and looks good on paper [laughs]. There's no rhyme or reason to it other than that.
Being from Toronto and Ottawa, are you into hockey big time?
Ya know what, it's kinda sacrilegious to say but we're not. We're not really sporty.
METZ aren't jocks?
No. Coming from Ottawa, it's almost like in birth that you have to play hockey and I never did [laughing]. So it's kind of like this contentious thing. My brothers were born in the States and they were basketball players so I never got into hockey.
So being from Canada and you don't play hockey... that's the epitome of rebellion.
It's the ultimate rebellion! You can't be any more heavy than that.
METZ play Pianos tonight and Death by Audio tomorrow.
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