Having recently headed out to Canadian festival Pop Montreal, we were quick to include Toronto noise-mongers METZ in our top ten list of bands caught at the event. We’ve been following them with interest over the last few years, since we first came across them at NXNE a few years back. With their forthcoming self-titled debut album full of chainsaw-like guitars, twisted melodies and pummeling drums and an upcoming UK tour, we thought it was about time that we caught up with bass player Chris Slorach to talk about just how METZ came into being. We spoke to Chris shortly after the band had returned from a handful of dates in the US with Archers of Loaf, and ahead of the Pop Montreal show with Hot Snakes.
It’s been a long road to this point, so the first question takes us back to how the band originally started. “The band formed initially four years ago, before I was in the band. Hayden and Alex played in a band in Ottawa together and they wrote a couple of songs with this other guy. They moved to Toronto and the next thing you know we are playing music together. I don’t feel like the band officially formed until about three years ago, when we kind of figured out what we wanted to sound like. Some of the stuff sitting on our Bandcamp is from the growth of METZ from what we were – this angular, post punk band – to what we are now, more straightforward, more focused on songs rather than creating noise…”
“WAAW AAA WAA WAA WAAA” a huge bird lets out a shriek behind the table Chris is sitting at, like a lie detector siren going off. Make no mistake, it says, this is a loud and noisy band. But it isn’t just noise for the sake of it, rather a honed, melodic noise packed with a frantic energy and melody.
After the laughter at this absurd outburst subsides, Slorach is at pains to point out that the writing process is very much collective – worked out on the floor of practice rooms over the years as the band continued to hold down day jobs. While all three members grew up as part of thriving punk and DIY scenes, which continue to inform the spirit of the band, the songwriting is informed from different places. “The three of us are all massive record nerds. We all really love music, and feed off each other- someone could be listening to bubblegum pop, another Unsane and someone else something completely different. So really our influences are just music, y’know? If I said we were just influenced by heavy music I’d be lying. At the very basis of all this, we are trying to be good songwriters.”
This diverse range of listening sources continued into the making of the album itself. Rather than working within the louder scene, they hooked up with Leon Taheny (Dusted/ Final Fantasy/ Bruce Peninsula). “Sometimes its hard to just step away from what you are working on. We demoed a bunch of songs with Leon so we could get our heads round the melodies and maybe look at doing things differently. While we were there Graham [Walsh] of Holy Fuck offered to take us up to this barn in the middle of nowhere to record it. We knew it wasn’t conventional, or that people wouldn’t think of that combination, given the two different styles, but he really bought a fresh perspective on heavy music. With his work on electronic, dancey and folky things he was able to bring out the musical side of the record. Plus he speaks rock ‘n roll, so we could talk to him and be like “we want the bass to sound like a dinosaur tearing apart a deer” and it would make no sense, but he would understand what we wanted and then do it. We also did some work with Alex who worked on the last couple of Crystal Castles records. We feel really fortunate to have been able to work with all of these people.”
The album has been two years in the making, during which time METZ have built up a large word of mouth following and a reputation for sweat drenched, visceral live shows. Was capturing that live feeling important to the band? “It is one of the reasons that it took so long to make the record. We wanted it to be a representation of our live show to a certain degree. We were trying, and we captured a mixture of the energy of the live show with enough of the weird stuff we get access to in the studio to make a really good representation of what our band is, and what we would like to be. Our debut record is a perfect intro of how we want to be seen. Are you wondering about this band? Then just listen to the record,” Chris states, laughing.
To be able to say that about a debut recording is a fantastic position to be in I suggest, particularly as it has been such a long process to get to the release date. “I can’t begin to explain how good it feels to have the record out there, particularly on a label [Sub Pop] that we’ve spent so much time listening to their records. As a kid I had their 1-800 number memorized and used to call and order anything and everything on my Dad’s credit card without him knowing. And now years down the line, here I am. If he hadn’t have left that card lying around… who knows.”
With the album release imminent, the band are already looking to what comes next. Pre-orders were shipped with a 7” of new recordings that move things on a step from the debut. With many of the songs on the album over two years old, new material is starting to take shape. “I shouldn’t think it will be as long until the next record comes out. We have a lot more time now to keep working and writing so we have options for what happens next. Those two new songs give an idea of where things are going. We had such a great experience on this one. I don’t think we will take any of the traditional roads to get where we are going, and I’m sure we would want the record to sound a little different, but it’s very preliminary to be talking about a second record before this one is even out.”
21 Oct - Leeds, The Library
22 Oct – Glasgow, The Art School
23 Oct – Manchester, Kraak Gallery
24 Oct – London, Old Blue Last (Presented by The Quietus)
25 Oct – Paris, Nouveau Casino