METZ return with their fierce and intense third full length ‘Strange Peace’ this September. We caught up with frontman Alex Edkins ahead of their dates at The Fleece in Bristol and Doug Fir Lounge in Portland.
How does it feel to be back in the driving seat again with METZ?
Good. It’s always a weird time because you’ve been working your ass off for something pretty much around the clock and then it’s time to share it with people. You let it go and it’s a time for celebration but also a strange feeling you know? Overall we’re pumped and we want to go play the new songs for people.
How did ‘Strange Peace’ come together? The record feels more varied this time…
No doubt. Everything about is is different for us. It was a very natural thing. That’s where our heads were at musically and it felt right to do. We’ve always just trusted our guts and we wanted to break tradition and any kind of habit that people or we were starting to see. We wanted to just wash the slate clean and it felt fantastic. The end product is definitely something that is new for us and that is sort of the point. It’s way different.
After three albums it must be natural to want to shake things up…
Yeah I think it’s natural, its what all people in that situation would at least want to do but I think it actually takes a little bit of bravery to do. We wanted to put out our necks a little bit and it was actually really easy for us to do.
How do you go about capturing that intense sound in the studio?
It’s always been there for us. This time around we did it differently, we just straight out hit record and played live in a way that we’ve never done before. The writing process is obviously different to the recording process and recording it can be quite tedious sometimes but this time around it wasn’t. It was smooth and fluid. We walked in there in the morning, hit record and played the songs until it felt right and that was it. To work with Steve obviously was exciting. It’s a really good fit because he’s a no bullshit guy and that’s what we wanted. We wanted to just do it and not over think things to document our band.
How did you approach the album lyrically? The album title seems slightly ironic…
The title was not meant to be ironic. It is sort of a confusing thing for even me to wrap my head around. In a way it’s the notion of trying to make sense of my spot or our spot in the world on a day to day level and then the bigger picture as well. It’s trying to find that peace of mind in this insane planet we live on. It’s got a psychiatrist couch kind of vibe with trying to remind myself or coach myself through things that at the time I was finding super heavy. The title is a reflection of the end goal I’m hoping to find. I guess the ‘strange’ part could be taken as ironic because is it even possible to find what you’re looking for in this world and if so the idea of peace in the world is almost laughable. It’s a weird juxtaposition but that’s the gist of it.
Do you write on the road?
Most of the time on the road I’m not doing much other than trying to get through it. We don’t soundcheck too long and we usually don’t do much writing. I mean I do a lot of reading and listening to music which is always a big part of pushing you one way or another for me but in terms of putting pen to paper and writing music it doesn’t happen on the road.
What sort of stuff do you read?
A favourite one of mine recently that a friend of mine Iain Reid wrote is ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’ which I definitely recommend. I think you should check it out. It’s sort of an eery thriller but it’s psychological too. It’s cool and it’s a page turner. Other than that kind of stuff I like short stories like Raymond Carver and also I rip through musician’s biographies, it’s a really fun thing to do while you’re travelling to peak into other people’s lives. I just polished off Chrissie Hynde’s book, her story is really cool.
You guys have a pretty intense tour schedule…
We’re trying to cut it back a little. I mean I’ve got a kid now and so does Chris. We’re slowing that down a little bit but we love it all. It never stops to amaze me that I get to do what I do. Every time I’m in a new city it’s a surreal experience, it never becomes normal. There’s the obvious things that can bring you down on tour like no sleep but you can really start to cherish that too.
Are you excited to bring the new record to Europe?
Totally. In general other than the States it’s been where we’ve been received the best and I feel like we’re understood on a more basic level than in Canada. I love it man, I think we’ve been so lucky to get the support we have from Europe and a lot of other places too. Travelling the States and Canada is cool but for me Europe is the one I look forward to the most. It’s just a part of the world I find fascinating.
Do you see a progression across your three albums?
Oh for sure. I mean, I’d say on album number two it was kind of a fifty fifty split. I think a lot of people though we didn’t change but to us there was an obvious progression in the songwriting. I think what made people think of them as bookends or as living together was the similar production and their overall feel. If I look at them now I can see them now as like living together while ‘Strange Peace’ is like it’s own entity but at the same time part of this evolution. It feels good. All of those three albums have shown growth in the right spots.
How was it putting out album number three with Sub Pop?
They are super supportive of what we’re doing. It’s been cool to know that we’ve got them in our corner and they’re just good at what they do and work their arses off to help us. They’re totally responsible right off the bat for getting our music heard.
We love the last song off the album ‘Raw Materials’. What was the motivation behind it?
It’s one of those songs where we wanted to just push further what is considered to be a METZ song and break new ground. We approached it like two different songs in a way and I think we’re all really proud of that one. It was just a matter of showing lesser known sides of our band. The fact that people are saying they weren’t expecting that makes us feel good.
Check out ‘Mess of Wires’ off their new album ‘Strange Peace’ here: