PV Q&A: METZ's Alex Edkins Compares Live Show to Blackouts— "Sometimes I Don't Really Remember What's Going On"

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Interview by Jonah Bayer

In an increasingly gimmick-fueled music world, METZ's self-titled full-length is a welcome blast of feedback-fueled frenzy that evokes pioneering punk acts such as the Jesus Lizard, Black Flag, Nation Of Ulysses, Mudhoney and more. Considering everything from the album art to the live shows, it’s clear that nothing about the group is contrived.

We caught up with the Canadian trio’s guitarist/vocalist Alex Edkins to talk about the group's unique sound, what it's like to be unfairly categorized and how they've been able to apply what they've learned over the years to their experience in METZ.

PureVolume: METZ's sound is rooted in the past but it's so different from most of what's happening in music right now. Were you trying to fill a void or did it just turn out that way?
Alex Edkins: More the second part. Our only goal has always been to make the music we want to hear and try as much as possible not to think about what's going on. We all are listening to new music and we don't have our heads buried in the sand, but as far as what music we make and how we go about writing, it's very much "let's make sure the three of us dig it" and other than that, nothing else really matters.
PV: You are clearly influenced by pioneering punk labels like Amphetamine Reptile and Sub Pop. How does it feel to be a part of the Sub Pop family?
AE: It's awesome, but it's also sort of funny because this record was finished before we even talked to them, so it could have come out on any label. That said, I understand what people are thinking when they equate the album to the label— and I definitely wouldn't deny that all three of us grew up listening to stuff on AmRep, Sub Pop, Touch & Go and Dischord because that's the stuff we still love. It's interesting to think that we actually are on that label and people are reminiscing about the good old days.
PV: If I was in your band, I would probably think, "Sub Pop is going to think we're too Sub Poppy to be on their label."
AE: Well, that's totally it. We just made a record kind of hoping that someone would want to put it out. But at the end of the day, you never really know, so we sent it to them first and we never got to hear back from other people. We were all prepared to put it out ourselves if that was something we needed to do.
PV: Regardless of the influences, to me, the music sounds really modern and relevant. Is it ever frustrating to be deemed a "nostalgia" act?
AE: Yeah, I mean I understand it, but I think it's lazy and not quite on the ball. There's bass and guitar and it's loud and distorted but I'm really glad that you think it's modern-sounding music because that's what we're trying to do.

It's a sum of all of our influences and it's certainly not a throwback or retro thing in any way. It's what we love and naturally what we play. Like I said before, I get it, but I think the three of us wouldn't mind if they would just see it for what it is instead of trying to make these easy connections to bands and labelmates because it doesn't get the listener anywhere and it doesn't get the writer anywhere. But what are you going to do?

PV: This is your first full-length after releasing a handful of singles. Was it important for you not to rush the process?
AE: Definitely, but more so I think it was just not getting overly anxious and us kind of living our normal lives in the meantime. The band was truly something we all loved to do, but it was something we really only had time to do at night and on the weekends.

I think we're old enough to know there's no point in rushing out something we aren't proud of and we won't love a couple of months down the road, so we all agreed the smartest thing to do was record some singles and mostly play shows. And then when we really thought we were onto something, that will make a cohesive record then we would record an album. That's basically what we did.
PV: A lot of bands say they capture the live sound in their albums but you really did with the full-length. Was that really important to you?
AE: Yeah, totally—and maybe not for the usual reasons. We write the songs collectively in a way that there's a certain energy there and if that energy doesn't translate the songs sound really awful. [Laughs.]

We wanted to make a good-sounding record, but our main motivation for capturing that sound was that if it didn't have the right tempo or spark to it for some reason, the songs sound really bad. We didn't want it to sound bad.

PV: Another standout aspect about METZ is the live show. How would you describe it to someone who has never seen you before?
AE: I talk about it almost like a blackout because sometimes I don't really remember what's going on.

I think the three of us really enjoy playing. When you're on tour, you drive and then you wait around all day, and then you finally get your chance to play and that's the whole reason you're there.

So we just try to have a really good time and hope the crowd does, too. Hopefully, we can get everyone pumped up because we genuinely feel good playing the songs and I think that's really what comes across when people talk about our live shows. There's no premeditation and there's no planning, it truly is the way we sound when the three of us get in a room together.

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