I inspected my body the morning after a night in the mosh pit of METZ’s Supercrawl gig, and I let out a groan. After flailing around like a madman for an hour, I couldn’t lift my arms past shoulder-height, I had a nasty bruise on my hip, and my jaw was throbbing from an unlucky collision with someone else’s elbow. But honestly, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The Toronto post-hardcore outfit that is Alex Edkins (vocals/guitar), Chris Slorach (bass) and Hayden Menzies (drums) are unabashedly loud. After becoming renowned for their notoriously rowdy shows, the trio bunkered down in a farmhouse turned studio with Graham Walsh and Alex Bonenfant of Holy Fuck on the boards. They churned out what is now their self-titled debut record out on the historic Sub-Pop label. After funding the entire venture out of their own pockets, Slorach said in a phone call on Thursday the 12th that, “When we made it, we assumed that we were probably going to put it out ourselves. Then we took a shot in the dark and sent it to Sub-Pop, and they really liked it so we signed with them.” It seems like a dream situation to be on a label that has lent its artists such creative freedom in the past, and Slorach reiterated the fact that both parties give each other room to breathe: “They’re a label that’s good at looking at records, and we’re a band that is supposed to be good at making music, so the relationship works really well that way; they don’t tell us what to do, and we don’t tell them what to do.”
Talking with the New Yorker in a recent interview, Edkins spoke of how they were driven by the anxiety that arises from dealing with “a modern way of life in a big city.” But to actualize their musical ideas, Slorach said it helped to escape Toronto and become fully immersed in the music. After a week at the barn, they returned to the heart of the provincial capital to flesh out the material they had. Praised for its incredibly raw feel, the eponymous record garnered rave reviews across the board. I was surprised to find that for the most part, the band wasn’t just jamming out when recording. “There were some things that we recorded together, but the majority of it was done separately. We wanted to capture the energy of our live show, but also to have a record that sounds really good,” he said.
At the time of our conversation, METZ had already been on tour for a year. When I prodded him about the possibility of a second record, he said they’d had little time to gather in a room and hash things out —their preferred writing method — but they’d been at work on new material the few days they’d been at home. Slorach said, “As of right now, it’s in the preliminary stages of the process, but we’re going to start demoing some stuff next week and it’s going really well.”
When asked about the strains that touring for long periods of time can put on the three of them, Slorach said that the maturity they’ve accrued through labouring as a band comes into play. “We all respect the fact that we’re grown men living in a van, which is odd, but we really made a conscious decision to make this thing a product of friendship. Our friendship is really important and if it were to suffer it’d be a pretty big tragedy for us.”
As if the rigours of replicating their deafening live show each night aren’t enough, the question as to if they’d even have the instruments necessary to carry it out remained up in the air, literally. Slorach recounted how their gear had been lost by Air Berlin with four shows left on their European tour. Although it showed up at his door in Toronto two and a half weeks after the fact, the airline offered no consolation. The only bright side for them was seeing how the concert promoters cobbled together equipment for them to finish off their shows.
Slorach was happier discussing the “amazing” Supercrawl lineup. For a bit of fun, I asked him what bands he’d have play the festival if he could curate it himself. “Sonic Youth, but Chelsea Light Moving [Thurston Moore’s new band] is already playing so we’re close. El-P and Killer Mike would be cool. Liars is one of the best bands I saw this year. Swans are always amazing. And Savages, who we’ve seen a lot of at festivals.”
When I asked about the effects of piracy on the band, Slorach took an optimistic stand in spite of a “crappy situation” and said, “At the end of the day, if people are enjoying the records maybe they’ll come out to the shows and support us that way”.
I would have gladly talked longer with the bassist, but class beckoned. When we next saw each other, I was in the throes of a cathartic mosh pit while he propelled a jubilant wave of sound at the crowd with his band-mates.