Almost a decade and a half after co-founding the band that would become Metric in a Williamsburg loft, the feisty frontwoman still doesn’t fit into the typical singer-songwriter box. This Saturday, Metric will play the ACC. We spoke to Haines about bikes, Beyoncé, and why peeing your pants on stage is actually pretty cool.
You were in N.Y.C. for Hurricane Sandy.
Oh, yeah. We’re actually escaping right now—driving to Philly so we can get on a plane.
Where were you when it happened?
In my apartment. We were fully sheltering from the storm. We lost power. It was a little sketchy at night, but overall we were very fortunate. We still had hot water. All the windows in the building across the street blew out, which was pretty crazy.
Is New York home now?
I spend a lot of time in New York, but Toronto will always be my headquarters. When I have time off the road and I’m not in the studio [in New York], that’s where I usually am. That will never change no matter where I go.
What do you love to do here that you can’t do in the Big Apple?
When I’m home I love to ride my bike as much as possible and connect with my inner 14-year-old. My place and our Toronto studio are in the Trinity Bellwoods area, and so are a lot of my friends.
I was reading about your childhood earlier—you were born in New Delhi, your dad was a poet, your brother owns a record store. Am I wrong in picturing your childhood like something out of a Wes Anderson movie?
Ha! That’s so kind of you to say. I just re-watched The Life Aquatic. My house was definitely an amazing place growing up. My parents put a lot of value on art and music, and I’m grateful for that. We actually lost my dad a few years ago, which was incredibly painful, but we’ve managed to get through the horrible period.
You have spoken a lot about a void when it comes to role models for women in contemporary music. Who were your music idols as a kid?
I guess the first thing is that I think there’s a common misconception—it’s actually something that my dad pointed out to me a long time ago, this idea that as a woman people only compare you to other women. It’s a trick and it makes people feel limited. For me it’s Lou Reed as much as it’s Laurie Anderson. If I ever have children, I want to convey that to them. The split down gender lines gets pretty dull.
While we’re on the topic, president Obama recently called Beyoncé the “perfect” role model for his daughters. Agree or disagree?
I don’t know—I have an issue with perfection and anyone claiming to have attained it. That said, I really do have respect for performers like Tina Turner who know what it is to make your way through the business. Beyoncé is an incredible dancer and an engaging singer and she seems to have stayed true to herself to become who she is, as much as anybody can judge from the outside.
What music personality would you say has the ideal level of fame?
If there’s anyone it would be Patti Smith. Her writing is just—“Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine” as an opening line? I mean, fuck! I remember hearing once that onstage she would always either piss her pants or have an orgasm.
Okay, let’s talk a bit about the new album, the overall theme of which seems to be real vs. fake. Why was this on your mind?
Instead of going away to write, I stayed in Toronto and found myself taking stock of what had happened in my life and the band’s life over the last several years and also the stuff going on around us—the way we communicate, what’s happened to the planet, what’s happening in politics.
As a female performer, is it a challenge to avoid becoming appearance obsessed while still embracing the whole “hot rock chick” thing?
I tend to think of my clothing and all that stuff as part of the performance, so it’s really fun and exciting and it’s not so much about me looking perfect. It’s nice to have that outlet and then when we’re in the writing stage it’ll just be me and the guys and it’s super-casual.
You mentioned that, style-wise, you are now in your “post-sequined” period.
Ha. Yeah, well your style has to evolve, so I did have to move past my sequin days. They got me through a lot, though. Now I’m back to my good old leather jacket.
I know Stars are opening for you guys at the ACC. Any chance some additional Broken Social Scene members will be making surprise appearances?
I don’t know, I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens.
Is BSS really broken up?
Oh, you know. It’s been like that forever. I mean, look at the band name. It’s variations on a theme. The one thing I can tell you is that the friendships are as strong or stronger than ever, and for me that’s always been what it’s about. I’m sure we’re going to hear
more music from that group, whether the name changes or not.
Over the years, there have been a lot of rumours about inter-band dating, but you guys have managed to keep that stuff mostly on the down-low. Is that intentional?
I will always remember what [Old World Underground producer Michael Andrews] told me, which is that if you sell your personal life, you can never buy it back. You can’t have it both ways. I have never capitalized on that or discussed that and, as a result, I have the distinct pleasure of riding my bike around Toronto without anybody giving a shit.
Favourite ice-cream flavour?
Motown or metal?
Bieber or Drake?
Rushmore or The Royal Tenenbaums?
Street meat or pizza?
Blue Jays or Leafs?
Word you most overuse?
Skill you wish you had?