Emily Haines Of Metric On Organically Growing The Band
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, you’ve probably heard of the captivating and thrilling sounds of Toronto’s premiere indie-rock band Metric. Whether it’s from their early 2005 deep and mysterious mellow-pop album Live it Out or the famed single “Black Sheep” featured in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World or even their latest album Formentera and its chilling, genre-defying sounds. Regardless of how you know them, the point is that you should know them. With eight albums and counting, it’s clear to see that Metric has no intention of slowing down; in fact, this is only the beginning of a long, musically mind-bending legacy.
“That’s all we ever wanted to do. Our whole operation is just making music and connecting with people.”
Metric’s eighth and most recent album Formentera, is a weighty and grim lamentation of the past couple of years. Emily Haines, vocalist of the band, lyrically sheds any sense of sugar-coated veneer in her unabashed truths of our dystopian, modern-day world. Opening with a transcendent 10-and-a-half-minute electronica nocturne, accurately named “Doomscroller,” it gives way to sonically summating what we all felt (at least once) in 2020: “Was it an act of God or an accident?” Haines also layers interludes of uncovered, deeper societal controversies: “Salt of the earth underpaid to serve you / Scum of the earth overpaid to rob you.”
It’s clear to see that, for the members of Metric, creating music has always been their goal, immersed in a sonic world there seems little else that matters most. “That’s all we ever wanted to do. Our whole operation is just making music and connecting with people,” says Haines. Even while on tour confined to a bus for 10–12 hours, the cogs of Metric are constantly turning, creating and producing. “It’s actually always pretty engaged: every day… we show up in a new town [where] there are people to meet and things to do. From trying new arrangements, to bringing on a new song, or exploring any place we can,” says Haines. For these leading performers, there is always something more to give or work towards. “There’s not a lot of time to think, like ‘Hey, what should I do with myself,’ truthfully, I feel that way more when I’m off the road,” adds Haines.
Organically created, Metric’s small beginnings have led to greatness, thanks to all their hard work. Owning their own record label and recording studio allow Metric to call their own shots. “There was never a massive marketing machine to sell us to anyone, you know? The music speaks for itself, sure, it’s a different, longer path than having the machinery of a big global company behind you. But, it’s led to a really beautiful thing that we really value,” says Haines. This approach allow Metric to adapt, change or bend their musical style in whichever way they want, without the overruling hand of record labels.
“There was never a massive marketing machine to sell us to anyone, you know?”
However, it’s not just their beginnings that give Metric their organic growth but their relationships too. From opening for the Rollings Stones for two nights at Madison Square to embarking with Smashing Pumpkins on their “Oh So Shiny and Bright” tour and also bringing on openers like Spoon and Interpol, “It’s a thrill to bring out and open for people that we really love and admire,” says Haines. Metric keeps an open mind when it comes to opening and openers, recognizing musicians supporting other musicians. Haines adds, “I love the camaraderie of when you play other bands.”
From Metric’s small beginnings in 2001 playing venues big enough for 50 people, through the extensive amount of growth the band has seen over the years, one thing has remained constant—their undenying love and passion for creating and sharing their music with anyone who wants to listen. You can catch them this Friday, Oct 14th at The Depot, and you can hear their latest album, Formentera, with its lush harmonies and poignant lyrics.