By Matty Hume, January 12 2018 —
On Jan. 19, Toronto-based noise punk trio Metz will bring their new album, Strange Peace, to Calgary’s Big Winter Classic music festival before a four-month tour across Western Europe. Metz is headlining one of many stacked shows at the festival, joined by LASHES, The Corey Hotline and Sellout.
In 2012, Metz boasted a spot on the Polaris Prize shortlist with their self-titled debut album. A true-north hardcore mainstay ever since, the release of Strange Peace has been met with praise worldwide. Guitarist and vocalist Alex Edkins is proud of the band’s progress accumulating in Strange Peace.
“It was our intention, not something that we sort of discussed or anything, but between the three of us we all wanted to move forward and do something new and exciting to us,” Edkins says. “We feel that [with] this record.”
Moving forward and doing something new meant changing up the pace and creative process, something Edkins says helped shape the new sound.
“Some of the ways we did that was just trying to get out of our comfort zone,” he says. “We worked with new people in a new way, which was a very sort of quick and more live process when recording.”
Those new people include the likes of producer Steve Albini, known for producing countless albums with bands including Pixies, Nirvana, Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Cloud Nothings. Edkins says many of the tracks on Strange Peace were almost complete before production in Chicago with Albini, but his studio expertise and production style gave Metz a new way of working and recording.
“It was a thrill. He was a class act. It was great working with [Albini]. Like us, he’s pretty much all business so we didn’t waste much time, we just got right to it. It was a really good fit right away,” Edkins says. “He led us in a way of working that we had never done — just moving forward at a rapid pace and not overthinking or retreading your steps. We like to do everything every single way until we know we get the way we think it should be. That’s very time-consuming and we end up beating our head against the wall, but this time it was going with your initial instinct.”
Metz was already known for loud, face-melting live shows well before the release of Strange Peace. The new album is more varied in pace and sound, with grinding licks, jarring speed and slower tempos at just the right moments. Edkins says the new variation and the live-off-the-floor recording style of Strange Peace make their shows better.
“It’s a more varied album with ups and downs in a way we hadn’t really explored before,” he says. “That brings a whole new dynamic to our live show. It makes the heavy heavier and [it’s] a far more enjoyable hour of music to play. I think it will be substantially more palatable to others if they’re not into just banging their heads for an hour straight.”
At the Big Winter Classic, Metz are playing the Community Stage at Last Best. The more intimate setting is welcomed by Edkins, who says a tight room is one of the best ways to enjoy their music.
“We came up doing basements and small places,” Edkins says. “It’s great to feel the energy of a lot of people, but there’s something that just can’t be replicated when you’re in an intimate packed show in a small room.”
Being only a few weeks into the new year, it was only fitting to ask Edkins about his favourite albums of 2017.
“I’m never ready for that question,” he says with a laugh.
“I don’t even know if I can list off new records but I can tell you what’s on my turntable right now. The Microphones’ record Don’t Wake Me Up — I’m starting to go deep on his stuff. My father-in-law got me [Neil Young’s] Harvest Moon reissue so that’s been fantastic,” Edkins says. “I splurged and got the Hüsker Dü Numero Group box set. I had to do it, I’m a bit of a superfan.”
See Metz on Jan. 19 at Last Best during the Big Winter Classic in Calgary. For day passes, full festival passes, full lineup and schedule, check out bigwinterclassic.com. Listen to “Drained Lake” off of Strange Peace below and check out the full album on Bandcamp, Spotify and Apple Music.