Around the World in 80 Days with Metz

Punk, noise, straight-up loud: some blunt adjectives have been put to work trying to peg down the genre Metz belongs to, but as long as the description is remotely on the ball when it comes to putting their sound into words, the Toronto quartet’s content. “If someone were to ask if we grew up listening to punk, the answer would be yes,” says Alex Edkins, hanging out at home in between tour dates. “If someone were to ask if we listen to noisy psychedelic or avant-garde music, the answer would be yes. Do we listen to ’60s pop music? Yes. I think our music comes from all those places, so I understand the comparisons and where people are coming from, but I don’t think as a group we identify with any one genre.”

Though their reverb-ridden din fits in just fine in the diverse, eclectic fabric of the Toronto music scene, Metz will be skipping town and playing just one more North American show—tonight, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg—before heading off on an extensive jaunt that laps Europe well into the spring. It’s their most ambitious trek to date behind their self-titled debut, and they’ll likely bring home a collection of multi-lingual modifiers—hell, maybe just “noise” in Hungarian/French/Swedish/Greek—as souvenirs.

HILARY HUGHES: What do you love about being a Toronto band? Do you think you’ll be homesick at all?

ALEX EDKINS: We love being on the road, but there’s nothing quite like getting coffee around the corner where you know people and stuff like that. Toronto’s music scene is awesome, and I think it’s awesome because it’s not just a group of people doing a similar thing—it’s a group of people doing their own thing, and I think that makes for a really rich scene, where you may be friends with someone but that doesn’t mean your bands sound the same. It makes for these eclectic bills where we’ll play with our buddies Dusted, who are doing more of a chilled-out, hazy kind of folk music, and then on the same bill will be Absolutely Free, a Krautrock kind of band, or we’ll play with Teen Anger, who sound sort of like The Stooges or something. It’s rich and different, and for us it’s been no issue fitting in because I don’t think anyone’s trying to fit in. That’s good. From day one, we’ve been welcomed to the city and supported. We feel at home here, for sure.

HUGHES: For sure. I’m looking at your 2013 tour itinerary right now, and the schedule is just nuts. You’ve got a full season of tour dates with barely any breathers here.

EDKINS: Totally. It seems like we’re hitting just about everywhere. It’s funny—the tour, it’s not a result of how things are going, really. It was booked before the record was out and we were planning to do it regardless. It’s funny and it’s good, and it’s good that the response has been so positive, because now touring is something that makes a lot of sense. We certainly don’t mind getting out there and supporting the album, that’s for sure!

HUGHES: Have you hit any of these places before?

EDKINS: I’ve been pretty limited when it comes to world travel, so we get to go to so many new spots. I’m really excited about is going to Croatia, Zagreb, things I definitely never thought I’d visit. The most exciting thing for the three of us is just being able to bring our music to all kinds of new people. That’s really amazing, to show up somewhere where you’ve never been and to have people there who know your music. It’s still something we’re getting used to. It’s new for us, and it’s awesome.

HUGHES: Are you practicing how to say “Hello!” in different languages?

EDKINS: [laughs] We haven’t gotten there yet.

HUGHES: All you really need to learn is “We are Metz!” in like, eight different foreign tongues.

EDKINS: We’ll see if that does anything! I think that’ll make them more confused, if anything.

HUGHES: Have you been able to check out any shows while you’re on the road? What are the chances you’ll try to hit a show in Athens or Rome while you’re there?

EDKINS: We’ve done it a couple of times, but usually we’re pretty burnt out. When we were in Chicago we saw Shellac when they were doing their anniversary shows, and that was great. Just at the end of this last trip in New York we saw A Place To Bury Strangers. Every now and again, we’ll try to hook up with friends or just go see some bands we’re into, but it’s kind of rare. When you’re in a bar or a club every night, the last thing you want to do is go back to a bar or a club when you have a night off.

HUGHES: So, what’re you listening to in between the bars and clubs and the band van? Which albums have you been wearing out on the road?

EDKINS: I’m really into the Beak record right now. I think it’s just called Beak 2? [Ed: Or BEAK>>] It’s amazing stuff. I’m also pretty heavily into that Chris Cohen record, Overgrown Path. The latest Red Cross, we’ve been jamming that in the van. Mostly, we listen to that podcast The Best Show. We listen to that for hours on end, and it kind of makes the drives bearable.

HUGHES: When it comes to the show itself, what’s become your favorite part of your live set?

EDKINS: We really enjoy playing, and it really truly is the highlight of our day. Everything kind of leads up to that. We just get up there and there’s this explosion. We get to let it all out, and it’s fun every time. The last tune, we usually play a song off the record called “Wet Blanket.” We kind of draw out the middle part and stretch it out and let it breathe a bit, which is the opposite of what we do with our songs—we usually just kind of bash them out super fast and super tight, but we get a little jammy there. For me, that’s the only highlight, because you never know what’s going to happen.

HUGHES: Moving forward onto Europe and into 2013, is there anything Metz will be changing up in the near future for live shows both international and domestic?

EDKINS: We’re working on new tunes. We’re always trying to move forward and be as productive as possible. We’re definitely hoping to get new music into the set. As far as our approach, we’re still going to be touring that first record and just putting everything out there for the folks who come to the show, playing as hard as we can, as well as we can… Hopefully in the new year, we’re going to improve as a band and improve as songwriters, and I think that’s the only way we’re hoping to change—to just keep getting better all the time.

HUGHES: What’s the most unpredictable moment you encountered this year?

EDKINS: There’s always fun stuff—stage divers running and jumping and pulling our power chords out and everything stops [laughs] or some overzealous moshers, stuff like that. I’ve been falling off Hayden’s kick drum a lot. I like to climb over his stuff and fall over. Sometimes it ends well; sometimes it ends in lots of broken gear, so it’s a crapshoot.

HUGHES: As long as it’s broken gear vs. broken bones, right?

EDKINS: Totally. We don’t want that. [laughs]