There’s a myth about the Toronto music scene: We only celebrate our artists after they’ve attained success elsewhere. METZ, on the other hand, have earned a rabid local following who’ve been preaching the band’s noisy gospel on the strength of just three seven-inch records and a trail of broken eardrums. And now that Seattle label Sub Pop is releasing the punk-inflected power trio’s debut album, our hometown pride continues to swell. We ventured into METZ’s jam space to talk about their ascent.
1. Originally based in Ottawa, drummer Hayden Menzies and singer/guitarist Alex Edkins relocated to Toronto in 2008, teaming up with bassist Chris Slorach (formerly of local faves Moneen) and started bashing out a groove-heavy, super-noisy brand of post-punk that quickly earned comparisons to bands like the Jesus Lizard and early Nirvana. “[We] only set out to please ourselves,” says Edkins. “We didn’t have any ambition further than making music that we love and that maybe some of our friends would like.”
2. In indie-rock circles, signing to Sub Pop is a pretty big deal. It’s fitting that a band of METZ’s sonic intensity would pick the label that launched Nirvana, Soundgarden, and pretty much the entire genre of grunge as their first choice to work with—and that Sub Pop liked what they heard enough to sign them to a three-album deal. “It was a bit of a childhood dream to be working with that label,” says Edkins, “so we got our catalogue number tattooed on us.”
3. Such is the band’s admiration for Sub Pop’s legacy that their album art includes a live photo that bears a striking resemblance to the famous image from Nirvana’s Bleach album (also released on Sub Pop) of Kurt Cobain sprawled over a trashed drum kit. “It was one of those things where it was almost too much—too good to be true. There’s the beer can, there’s the smashed gear, there are the Vans [sneakers],” says Edkins of the wreckage captured after a show at Parts and Labour. “It’s a bit tongue in cheek, but I think it also looks legitimately good.”
4. METZ share a practice space with Fucked Up, which probably makes it the most volume-bashed jam room in the city. The two bands don’t talk about business much, but both have been instrumental in repping Toronto in their travels, returning the support they’ve received. “The more we travel, the more we realize that Toronto, for real, is one of the hotspots in the world for music,” says Edkins. “I think there’s more music here that is the real deal than a lot of places we’ve been. And I think it’s just getting better and better. Every chance I get, I try to let people know, and I think a lot of Toronto bands have been doing that for a long time.”
5. While their jam space comes with the standard-issue strand of Christmas lights, the band’s live show features some well-placed backlighting that creates a stark and intimate visual experience. “It’s sort of like insurance,” says Menzies. “Wherever you go, as cheesy as the lights are on stage, [our backlighting is] a way to differentiate yourself from the other bands.” Slorach adds, “We don’t have to worry about some over-excited lighting guy. We’re control freaks.”
METZ play the Horseshoe Tavern on Oct. 12. Their debut album is out now on Sub Pop records.