Go read this article about Metric's new album
Read the biography about Metric here on thesixtyone - there are some really interesting insights into the process behind the creation of the new album, Fantasies.
When I was still a student journalist Metric was just getting started - and I the only reason I didn't try and set up an interview for my newspaper was because it just didn't seem right for some stupid reason to use that as a cheap excuse to meet the band - but I love the interview clips here, regardless of whether the site author got them from an actual interview or just from a press kit put out by the band. I've inserted some choice quotes with my commentary here:
When you hand over your money for a concert ticket, what are you really
paying for: some idea of the performer you've gleaned from gazing
longingly at album covers and compulsively clicking YouTube videos, or
the performer as they choose to express themselves on that given day?
Is the consumer entitled to a certain expectation of the performance —
a satisfaction-guaranteed procession of "the hits"— or should the
artist interpret the fan's investment as a vote of confidence, that the
fan is willing to follow their every whim? In other words, is the
customer really king, relegating the artist to the role of a court
jester whose sole purpose is to entertain on demand? Or does the
artist, elevated up on the stage and paid for the privilege, still
dictate the terms of the contract?
For Metric frontwoman Emily
Haines, all these questions came to a head on the evening of March 30,
2008 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. She was all set to
perform the sombre piano-based ballads that comprised the two releases
from her solo venture, The Soft Skeleton: Knives Don't Have Your Back
and What Is Free To a Good Home? — much of which were written following
a time of great sadness and personal loss. But having performed those
songs so many times since Knives' September 2006 release, Haines had an
epiphany during that Phoenix show — she didn't want to be sad anymore.
And she didn't want to play those songs. So, about 40 minutes into the
show, she stopped "Dr. Blind" mid-verse and said just that: "I don't
want to play these songs anymore." Instead, she spent the next half
hour talking to her fans, encouraging them to join her at the piano on
stage and, for the grand finale, pulling a kid from the audience for an
impromptu duet on Metric's "Live It Out." She was up for anything —
except playing those songs. Some disappointed Soft Skeleton fans in the
crowd probably thought the show was a trainwreck. But for Haines
herself, it was about getting her mind back on track — to the business
of completing Metric's long-awaited fourth album, Fantasies.
I think I'm one of those people who would've been thrilled had I seen this show. Oh well - I couldn't make it to that performance, but such is life. As much as I try to be everywhere at once, that doesn't always work out.
for me comes from a process of trying to piece things together," says
Haines. "The function of music in my life is to help me understand what
the hell is happening. This new record was about ending the
fragmentation of my existence. Everything in the world right now — all
the technology, the way we listen to music or watch films — everything
has changed so much in my lifetime. People are allowed to have multiple
identities — you're somebody online, you're somebody else in public —
in multiple dimensions, scattered across the world… I wanted to bring
all that into one place, one band, one record… I want to be one person."
One of the many things I like about Metric is how intelligent the music sounds - you want to crank it loud not just because it's good, but to hear the gentle nuance in the songs.
in order to come together, Metric first had to drift apart. After
touring non-stop between 2003's breakthrough release Old World
Underground, Where Are You Now? and 2005's frenzied follow-up Live It
Out, the four members of Metric sought sanctuary in sideline pursuits —
Haines threw herself into the Soft Skeleton and took a soul-cleansing
sojourn to Argentina; guitarist/co-founder Jimmy Shaw built a
neighborhood recording facility, Giant Studio, on Toronto's burgeoning
Ossington Avenue strip with his neighbor Sebastian Grainger; while the
Oakland, California-based rhythm section of bassist Joshua Winstead and
drummer Joules Scott-Key toured their own garage-rock offshoot, Bang
Ironically I saw Sebastian Grainger's live show last Friday. It was LOUD and fun.
"We didn't have a moment where we stopped," says Haines.
"When I look back at the touring, it really was like 300 days a year
for those three years [between 2003 and 2006]. After that, I thought if
we went straight into recording the next album right away we would end
up just writing about being in a band on the road because that's all we
had experienced. We had to reconnect with our humanity first."
If you ever complain about a band not putting out anything new - this is most valid reason why they should take their time doing exactly what Emily describes. The next couple of paragraphs are a very fun insight into the writing process.
Formed in Toronto but, at various times, based in Montreal, London, New
York and L.A., Metric boasts the sort of history that requires one of
those connect-the-dots redlined maps you see in an Indiana Jones movie
— and the story of Fantasies is no different. First stop: Bear Creek,
located outside Seattle, Washington.
"The four us went out into
the woods as a band with no expectations and did whatever we wanted"
Haines recalls. "We were coming from London so it was a serious
contrast - it felt like we had left civilization and all that mattered
was music again. We wrote a lot of songs there including 'Gimme
Sympathy', 'Collect Call'… and 'Black Sheep', which isn't on the album
'cause it has a life of its own. When I listen to the finished record,
I feel like all its warmth comes from that place in the woods."
That was good - the description of Stadium Love is even better.
And no song better encapsulates the utter surreality of dreaming — that
peculiar combination of bliss and terror — than Fantasies' massive
glam-rockin' closer "Stadium Love," a song meant to be heard in the
building it's named after, but whose candy-coated "ooh-ooh-ie-ooh"
chorus just might distract you from all the crazy *** happening during
the verses in between.
Haines explains: "I had just gotten back
from Coachella, and I walked into the studio and noticed on the
bulletin board that Joules had written 'spider vs bat,' i think he had
been obsessively watching all these National Geographic
animals-fighting-each-other-videos in his hotel room. For me, that
phrase triggered an entire narrative that was about a gladiator-style
enormo-dome where everything turns in on itself, with every form of
aggression on display for spectators: monster trucks ramming into each
other, bull fighting, sweaty men wrestling.
She goes on to describe swans against elephants, pigs versus tigers, and other madness which you'll miss unless you listen to the song carefully - which will prompt leave you feeling five kinds of delighted. The ending to the article waxes poetic on this - the last sentence is a bit cliched but that's ok, the rest of it was a fun read.
And so an album that began its life as an acoustic jam session in the
bucolic woods outside Seattle ends in a cartoon orgy of bloodshed in
some mythical arena that exists in the darkest recesses of Emily
Haines' mind. Each extreme represents a fantasy in their own right: the
ideal of hermetic artistic purity versus the spectacle of excess and
decadence. Being yourself versus being what they want you to be. Emily
Haines stared down these very polarities on her own that night at the
Phoenix, but with Fantasies, Metric are now free to define their
reality on their own terms. So when, amid the daydream electro of
"Gimme Sympathy," Haines invokes that age-old existential dilemma —
"Who would you rather be: The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?" — it's
only because she already knows the answer: neither
Go check out the full article!