Analogue Music | Metz


By Matt Conner

Far too much is made about the death of rock and roll these days.

For anyone paying proper attention, Strange Peace, the third album from Metz, was a rock and roll revelation. Released last fall, Metz's latest was a compelling blend of the accessible and experimental, an amalgam of the trio's tastes with no concern for external forces, labels or expectations. 

Alex Edkins says this third album stems from an internal pendulum at rest, having swung from the innocence of the band's self-titled debut to the overanalyzed process of II. In the tension between the two, the band (which also includes drummer Hayden Menzies and bassist Chris Slorach) has found a confident place to stand—and, of course, to rock out. 

Analogue: I saw that you worked with Steve Albini on Strange Peace, but this was the first time that you've invited someone in from the outside? Was that hard to give at all to give up some of that control?

Alex Edkins: I think it was exciting more than anything. It was also a pretty perfect fit. We're pretty hands-on and hold it pretty close to the chest. All three of us are self-declared control freaks, so working with Steve was great. He wants nothing to do with the artistic side of a record. He has no interest in changing your songs. He'll never say, "Oh, I think a verse should go here." 

That's what [Albini] despises in a producer role. We knew that going into it, so we knew it would all work for us. We'd done that legwork already. We'd put in the time. We were happy with where the songs were at, so he was perfect in that way and we'd anticipated that and knew that his approach would be new. It forced us to more or less make a record that we hadn't made before. 

Analogue: When you say you ended up with a record you hadn't made before, is that because you had a vision for exactly that or is it because the songs just come out that way?

Alex: Yeah, I honestly think it was more of the latter. It was being comfortable enough to let it happen and then going, "Wow, that's what came out so that's where we're going right now." I think this was the first time that we've either just thrown caution to the wind or just felt confident enough that we let that happen. Sometimes you want to steer it too much, but this time we really let it go.

I used to think music was life and death. [Laughs] It's still something I love and take very seriously, yet at the same time, it's all pointless.

Analogue: Have you had moments in the past where you've been able to do that?

Alex: I'd say the self-titled just happened for sure. Everyone's first record is just a natural thing. We didn't even know if that record would see the light of day, if anyone besides our friends would even hear that. That was made with zero forethought. Then II was the complete opposite of that. You have this record that gets way too much attention and then you're overthinking every little thing. [Laughs] You can't possibly do something in a natural way because your mind has been rearranged. Everything is now under a microscope. So where our heads were at could not have been any more different. 

When we did Strange Peace, it was this peaceful, contented spot. There was no pressure in what we were feeling, yet we were also more confident in what we were doing than ever before. We just let it happen that way. 

Analogue: As you've made albums with complete innocence and then under the pressure where you said you're overthinking everything, have you learned some specific lessons about how to deal with those pressures? 

Alex: Definitely. I've just started to realize... I used to think music was life and death. [Laughs] It's still something I love and take very seriously, yet at the same time, it's all pointless. It's a self-absorbed activity. I try to remind myself that none of it really matters so I don't let any outside influence get involved anymore—or at least I try not to let it. It's all just noise, you know? The other things you're hearing, that's what they are. This started off as three people in a room making music and that's how it should stay. I really believe that. I think that's where the heart of it is.

Analogue: When is that hardest to remember?

Alex: For everyone it's different, but you can just start overanalyzing things. As someone who is making something and putting it out into the world, you're opening yourself up to outsider critique and all of that. You have to just grow a thick skin. It doesn't matter as long as you feel a certain way about what you're doing and you're getting what you need from what you're doing. For me, that's the end game.

Analogue: Musically, Strange Peace is a departure as I listen to tracks like "Cellophane" and I feel like you maybe opened some new doors for people to grab onto Metz. Do you feel that way? 

Alex: Well, that's cool. I love to hear that. I think it was not a matter of attempting to open doors but rather just getting honest with ourselves and going in all of the directions that we enjoy. I think it's the strangest record at times that we've made and also the most melodic, or accessible, if you will. It goes to both of those counter-intuitive places.

That's just who we are as a band, I think. There are so many things that we love musically and they're starting to find their way into our music in surprising ways. We're not fighting against that anymore. I think we had more of a defined image or idea of ourselves before, and that's starting to morph and evolve into something more diverse. 

Analogue: I think you can definitely hear that, and I also think it elevates the whole thing. If I think about creating with that mindset, I'm assuming I'd be surprised by what comes out. True?

Alex: I don't know if "surprise" is the right word. There are definitely happy accidents within the creative process where you stumble upon something that you end up loving. There is a certain amount of chance involved, I guess, when you put three people together. Sometimes I'll have a song and think, "I can't wait to bring this to the guys." I can hear it in my mind or I'll even demo the whole thing out. Then it will morph or change or become something totally different, and that can be surprising when you see what other people's brains can bring to it. On the other hand, the thing can totally self-destruct and not work at all. [Laughs] So yeah, I guess I'll backtrack and say I can be surprised by where these things end up. From the first idea to the end can be pretty extreme.