North American indie rock stalwarts Metric may call Toronto home, but what’s in a home anyways?
The four-piece band, which is centered around songwriters Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw, has traversed the world stood the test of time. From the Meet Me In The Bathroom aughts to the Alt Nation 10s to the vast tundra formally known Spotify in the 2020s, Metric continues to prove its artistic worth, weaving through each alternative moment with poise and vigor.
The last two decades have seen nine proper Metric albums, and rarely a non-album single between, beginning with 2003’s razor sharp Old World, Underground… Where Are You Now?. The album, which turned 20 in September, set the table for a journey that’s led the group to today. This present chapter of Metric comes in the form of Formentera II, an aptly-titled sequel to 2022’s Formentera.
With a significant anniversary and new era in hand, what better way to celebrate than how they began – playing personifying rock sets in iconic indie clubs like Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom or West Hollywood’s The Roxy.
Connecting with die hard fans over cuts from exclusively Old World… and the Formenteras, the shows, which frontwoman Haines says served “zero commercial purpose,” but a more meaningful one instead, perhaps are most valuable as a way of taking stock for the band and fans alike; for every present day there’s an old world, and for every new world, there’s a present day.
C-Heads caught up with Haines and Shaw ahead of their sold out “evening with” at 888 Yonge in Toronto.
Words and interview by Andy Gorel
Press photos by Justin Broadbent, courtesy of Metric.
Andy: Let’s go back to the beginning of Metric. You guys got together in the Mid 90s, correct?
Emily: Yeah, Jimmy and I had met up in Toronto. Jimmy had just come back from New York. We met through mutual friends, and hatched a plan to start a band, call it “Metric,” and move to New York. From there we found ourselves pretty quickly getting a loft in Williamsburg, then making our way to London, and having some adventures there with record labels, then coming back, and that’s when we met Josh and Joules.
Andy: And this was all late 90s?
Emily: This was late 90s to 2001. Then after September 11th we came to Toronto for a little bit, and went out to LA. Old World, Underground… was made in LA.
Andy: It was?
Emily: Yeah, that’s how we were part of the Broken Social Scene thing. We were here right before that. Both records came out in 2003. There’s the history for ya.
Andy: So you signed a record deal first in London, and it didn’t work out?
Jimmy: Well we did like a publishing deal in London. We were brought there by these managers.
Andy: How’d they find you guys?
Emily: They heard our demos.
Jimmy: Yeah, they heard demos through friends, and we got this call from these two guys in London saying, “You gotta come here.” So we went, and they tried to run us through the London music industry mill of the late 90s that wasn’t based in being a band. It was more based in being recording artists. Whatever the attempt was didn’t really work.
Emily: We were lucky because when we came back to New York was that amazing Brooklyn thing.
Andy: The Meet Me In The Bathroom thing.
Emily: Exactly. So we were very fortunate. It was like, ‘Let’s do that instead.”
Andy: I did read that book, it’s quite good.
Emily: Yeah, Lizzie’s a great writer. I did her podcast.
Andy: Cool. So you’re based here in Toronto still?
Jimmy: (Hesitantly) Yes. Emily and I are based here sort of.
Emily: Yeah, we moved our studio outside the city.
Andy: And you’re from Toronto originally?
Jimmy: I was born in England. Emily was born in New Delhi, but raised in and around Toronto. And we both moved around a lot.
Emily: And Josh and Joules are both from Texas.
Andy: I feel that kind of speaks to the ethos of Canada today. There’s a lot of immigration. The Canadian dream.
Emily: It does. It was exactly that. Both our parents came here. My parents were American, coming from India, and got jobs as teachers. They were teaching in New Dehli, and then came here. Jimmy’s parents were coming from London. I have lots of friends who came in that window, the 70s and 80s.
Andy: So it was New York, from London. Then quickly out to LA.
Jimmy: Yes, basically.
Emily: Via Toronto, yeah. There are so many locations, it’s a bit confusing. It’s laid out really well in our bio.
“They tried to run us through the London music industry mill of the late 90s that wasn’t based in being a band. It was more based in being recording artists. Whatever the attempt was didn’t really work.”
Andy: Grow Up and Blow Away. How ready were you to release that as the debut album?
Jimmy: We weren’t. And the record got shelved.
Andy: By the label?
Jimmy: Yeah, it was called Restless. They got bought by somebody else, and we had this meeting with the president. He was like “Sorry we can’t put your record out,” and blah blah blah, and that’s when we kind of got Josh and Joules involved. We had met them a little bit before then, like Joules only plays on on song on Grow Up and Blow Away, Josh doesn’t play at all.
Andy: So it was made, but it wasn’t gonna happen.
Jimmy: No, and once we sort of got the band going, it didn’t feel relevant to us anymore. But years later, the guy who started Last Gang, which we were then signed to in Canada for Old World…, made it a mission upon himself to get the rights and put it out later. Which, to be honest, we were relatively indifferent to. We had already totally moved on as a different band.
Emily: We had to move on. We put so much into it and just let it go.
Andy: Personally, I love it. I’m glad you guys put it out.
Jimmy: Aw, that’s cool.
Emily: (Laughs) Thanks. It’s cool that it’s there as a testament.
Andy: It reminds me of acts like The Cardigans or Garbage.
Emily: Sure, and like bedroom electronica stuff.
Andy: And I think now, in a weird way, it’s actually aged well. I think the way music is made now…
Emily: Yeah, it’s similar. We were definitely experimenting with it when we were recording stuff.
Andy: Like that 90s, not-band sound is kinda in now.
Emily: Yeah, that’s true.
Jimmy: Totally. It’s like a laptop record before there were laptops.
Emily: It just adds though, to the forward-backward of the timeline. Because that’s our third album.
Andy: Yeah. It’s like a minus-1 album. Or a ground-zero album.
Jimmy: Yeah, a ground floor. Like a European ground floor, where the second floor is called the first floor.
Andy: A big part of the reason we’re here today is for your debut record, Old World, Underground… Where Are You Now? My personal assessment of the album is it’s grappling with a lot of things from its time – that Y2K era… modernity, technology becoming a big thing, backwashes of late-stage capitalism. First off, do these themes sound accurate? And secondly, as someone who was 6 when that album came out, give me your context of the time.
Emily: Sure. Broadly, those are the themes. It’s pretty astonishing to see now how September 11th just goes by as a day. But at the time it was not a small thing. We were in New York. It was a massive change. The political sphere, the way people felt about the invasion obviously, of Afghanistan and Iraq, it was a very heightened time. That was for sure part of the energy and urgency of Old World….
Andy: The first line of the album is the thesis statement: “Old World, Underground… Where Are You Now?” What did that mean? In the early 2000s, what was the “Old World, Underground?”
Emily: That’s what’s so funny. Now, the time that we were there is the time everyone looks at nostalgically as being the underground. But to me, it would definitely be connected back to Lou Reed and The Velvet Underground, and the 70s that we romanticized, perhaps the way someone your age might romanticize 2003. Further, just connected to my parents. They lived there in the early 60s, they had a loft in SoHo. That’s where they met, and had my brother. They had a cold water loft, as they always liked to say. They were part of a scene that was very much like Greenwich Village, poets, jazz musicians…
Andy: You spoke of a heightened time. That was also a heightened time in New York, like the punk scene, and activism through music.
Emily: Sure, but I would say those are two very separate things because the punk scene was the 70s. The time my parents were there was the 50s. It was earlier, and a very different climate. It’s when New York was kind of like Detroit, culturally. People didn’t wanna go there. It was bankrupt, and they went as artists. They met – their love story, their origin story – they met all these other artists. My father was a poet. He was part of a very important album called Escalator Over The Hill by Carla Bley, this very ambitious album that had all these musicians from across the spectrum. I was romanticizing both in layers I suppose. And when we were there, walking around, to me I saw the direction things were going. But it is funny to sing that line now, and be like “Oh my God, I was walking around in 2003,” or I guess I wrote it in 2002. It wasn’t in the 90s, so 2002 or 2003 – and already, I felt like it was gone. You know? And now everyone is like, “No, that was it,” (laughs). So funny.
Jimmy: When we were living in New York, sort of before and after London, we were living in Williamsburg and had this huge loft. There were lots of musicians that lived in this loft. But it had already become this thing that was like, if you’re an artist, you’re not living in Manhattan anymore. It’s not happening.
Emily: Yeah, nobody could afford it.
“It is funny to sing that line now, and be like ‘Oh my God, I was walking around in 2003…’ and already, I felt like it was gone. You know? And now everyone is like, ‘No, that was it.'”
Andy: There are finance people now who can barely afford it.
Jimmy: I’m not sure that “gentrification” is the right word. It’s just that it was becoming prohibitively expensive, for everyone.
Emily: Whereas when my parents were there, with the artists in the 70s, they could be in Manhattan. And we couldn’t even get on the island except to work. And then try to get a cab back to Williamsburg. They wouldn’t drive you.
Emily: Yeah (laughs).
Jimmy: So it was kind of like a romanticizing of a time when New York, and the arts scene was inclusive. Where you could actually do it. It just felt like we were now in the middle of a bubble where it was becoming more and more difficult to just be an artist, and live somewhere that was artist-friendly. Which is wild to say now, because it’s just gotten exponentially crazier.
(A board mix of “IOU” begins to play from the house floor above)
Andy: There it is, on cue with my next question. “IOU,” where’s the title of the song from?
Emily: It’s an IOU to the previous music and scenes of the past.
Andy: That’s great…
(“Every ten-year-old enemy soldier thinks fallen bombs are shooting stars sometimes, but she doesn’t make wishes on them.”)
Andy: …that line, that we just listened to… They are really looking out for me up there.
(Emily and Jimmy laugh)
Andy: It has to feel relevant with this week’s events (October 7, Israel-Gaza conflict), talking about instability in the Middle East.
Emily: Oh my God, I know.
Andy: There’s that line that follows – and I even see shades of this sentiment in the provincial regions of Eastern Europe, where I live – “Less ways to wish for, more ways to work toward it.”
Emily: Yeah… agency is really lacking for a lot of people in the world.
Andy: I wanna dig into the song “Succexy,” if you don’t mind me picking apart a few lyrics here.
Emily: No, this is fun. This is cool.
Andy: “War as we knew it was obsolete…”
Emily: Well, in the context of September 11th, no one was expecting to be having boots-on-the-ground war. No one thought they were going to war. That’s for sure. And we were. The headline in the newspaper said, “It’s War.” And then it was.
Andy: You feel like it can’t happen, and then it happens.
Emily: There was the first Gulf War, which was relevant to me as a kid in high school, and then this. It was shocking, and very upsetting. Everyone we knew felt very strongly that it was the wrong reaction. So there are echoes of what’s happening right now for sure.
Andy: If you look at statistics from Gallup, and Pew, and some of these places, on American public opinion regarding the war on terror. Public opinion was hugely favorable of the war at its onset, the weapons of mass destruction, and so on. Then if you look at it just a few years later it had completely flipped and most people were disapproving.
Emily: Yeah, it was that passionate… vengeance.
Emily: Yeah, and there were other people like us, and people we know who were more analytical, and considering what the reasons might be – just trying to understand what had happened as opposed to the sense all of a sudden that it was a war.
Andy: You talk about the media in that song, “patterns, hemlines, headlines.” Do you feel media has shifted? Do you think we’re living in a similar time?
Emily: No. Not at all. I feel it’s a totally different world.
“In the context of September 11th, no one was expecting to be having boots-on-the-ground war. No one thought they were going to war. That’s for sure. And we were. The headline in the newspaper said, ‘It’s War.’ And then it was.”
Andy: You guys are an Atlantic band…
Emily: Atlantic. What does that mean?
Jimmy: Yeah, like East Coast.
Andy: When I think of Atlantic, I think of the UK, America, Canada.
Emily: Makes total sense. As opposed to Pacific. Yeah!
Andy: Like I actually was going to go to your show in Berlin… Even all of America… like within the Atlanticist sphere.
Jimmy: I’ve never heard it said that way.
Emily: Yeah! I’m gonna use that in some interviews (laughs).
Andy: I wanna talk about freedom of expression within the music industry today, and how you feel it may or may not have shifted since 2003 when Old World… came out. Do you think a budding artist today, on a major label, could put out something similar?
Emily: I think they could put out that record. But I don’t think they could ever have the kind of shows that we had.
Jimmy: That’s the real difference.
Emily: That’s what changed. I think you can actually say more now than then, although it’s hard to quantify.
Andy: What do you mean by the shows you had?
Emily: Well, imagine a world… imagine a world! Where… you have a concert and… imagine a world where you’re us. You’re super stubborn, and built your own thing. It’s you and your fans, and they found you because you personally mailed them CDRs with your music on it. Right? A really strong connection to begin with. And then, the venues themselves, starting out as clubs and getting bigger and bigger… We would always say this thing. I would say it on stage and be like, “This is our night.” It’s our night for those three hours we have the venue. We would say all kinds of things from stage, and people would say things back. We had like 30 minutes of “Dead Disco” where I would talk…
Andy: Like provocative things?
Emily: Yeah, for sure! It was like a town hall. What’s happening, work it out, say stuff. Totally free.
Andy: It feels like that’s dead.
Emily: It’s completely dead!
Jimmy: It’s dead because the minute someone can just… (raises phone as to mimic taking a video).
Emily: There’s no way I’m doing that.
Jimmy: …then you can’t do it anymore.
Emily: I mean you can. To me, I saw that I can still do it, but the consequences just weren’t worth it. Because you lose all context, and I was going to end up spending my entire life defending and explaining things I’d said that were taken out of context. But I’m telling you, it was a chilling moment, the first time I came off stage and got to the dressing room to see a text from someone about what I was wearing at the show. And if you can imagine it, that had never happened before. Like, how could someone know what I was wearing at the show? It was the beginning of the erosion of the sanctity of “This is our show. Everyone who is here chooses to be here. If you bought a ticket, you’re here for this, and we can say and do,” within reason of course, “whatever we want.” Just like discussing things. I was like, “This is gonna ruin my life,” and pretty much just stopped.
Andy: I write opinion sometimes for outlets like The Independent, Newsweek, etc. And I’ve had those discussions with editors before about defending what you say. Like, “You’re right, but…” leading into that dialogue of the effort that can go into defending your own views.
Emily: Yeah, I just wanted to play music. But the conversation was a part of it, you know?
Andy: “Combat Baby,” what kind of hit was that for you guys? Was it a cult favorite? Was it on radio?
Jimmy: Yeah, it kind of started the whole thing. Actually, the show that we just did at The Roxy was introduced by a guy named Nic Harcourt who was the DJ on Morning Becomes Eclectic.
Emily: On KCRW. It was a really important show. I think it still is.
Jimmy: He found that song, and played it on that station for the very first time we got radio play anywhere. It totally changed our band.
Emily: He actually introduced us at the show in LA. I just did his podcast so he came on stage and introduced us, which was cool.
Andy: And then you went to radio with it?
Emily: I don’t think it charted or anything.
Jimmy: No, it definitely didn’t chart. But it was the first time that anything of ours had been played on any radio station, anywhere.
Emily: It’s a sort of lightning rod for people, that song.
Jimmy: Just by nature of it being on that show, it caught other people’s attention in other fields, and probably got us in Rolling Stone, and SPIN. The trickle effect was not necessarily straight up that radio ladder. Although it probably set the stage for that, for later songs. But it was an important moment and song for us, for sure.
“It was a chilling moment, the first time I came off stage and got to the dressing room to see a text from someone about what I was wearing at the show… how could someone know what I was wearing at the show? It was the beginning of the erosion of the sanctity of ‘This is our show. Everyone who is here chooses to be here. If you bought a ticket, you’re here for this, and we can say and do,’ within reason of course, ‘whatever we want.'”
Andy: Let’s talk about “Calculation Theme,” how does that song hit you guys today?
Jimmy: We’ve been playing it in a different way, sort of. We do different versions of songs sometimes, that when we do, the lyrics kinda hit differently. For me, I know in the last little while the lyrics have hit me in a different way than they did originally. I don’t know, in a more sort of heartened way. But it’s a beautiful song.
Andy: I scrolled through your Instagram a bit, and this was a song that it appeared people were excited to see return, “Hustle Rose.” Tell me about the character of Hustle Rose.
Emily: It was based on a short story that I wrote called Sardine Nightclub. It’s this nightlife tale…
Andy: So you wrote this when? Before the record came out obviously. Was it for a journal?
Emily: I just write.
Andy: Like you were just writing one night?
Emily: Well no, I write. I wrote it. It wasn’t like one night. It was a story. I can’t remember what compelled me to want to adapt it. (Looks to Jimmy). Maybe you remember more about the process.
Jimmy: Honestly, I don’t remember it at all.
Emily: For me, playing it again has been really cool because it’s sort of remembering that time when you’re in your early 20s. You’re in your early 20s, right?
Andy: I’m 26.
Emily: Yeah, okay so that’s about the age we were… pretty much on the nose actually. That time where you’re kind of seeing what adult life is going to be. Things I’m describing, like standing in line. Just the idea of having money to buy drinks. I spent my 20s working and jogging, being like “I’m going to make it as a musician.” I was very serious. I didn’t party. I was very driven. So I think something about that was the beginning of taking a seed from that story… You know that feeling when you’re seeing the snaking line, and you’re like, “Am I getting in this line? What’s happening?” And then you do (laughs). It’s what you’re doing. You’re going out I guess, cause you have some money.
Andy: And that was the premise of the story? Following this character Hustle Rose through that?
Emily: Sort of. Like feeling the loneliness and emptiness of that.
Jimmy: For us, it was also probably the first attempt at a multi-song song. Like four songs in one song, which we’ve done many times since.
Emily: Including on this new record, like “Doomscroller.”
Jimmy: Even with “Empty.” Like we’ve done it all along. This was the first one.
Andy: The new record, I listen to it and I’m like, “Is this a pre-chorus? Is this a verse… or a chorus? No wait it’s another song actually.
Emily: Totally (laughs). So “Hustle Rose,” I think it’s cool. And “IOU,” I think, in a way, playing them again, they both give you that feeling that they were the seeds of what we’re doing now, in that first record.
Andy: And “Hustle Rose” has the coolest drum groove of all time.
Jimmy: It does.
Emily: I know, right? So good.
Andy: You guys haven’t played a lot of this record at shows in recent years, which is normal when you get distance from it as time goes on.
Emily: Yeah. We did “IOU” before Art Of Doubt, in 2018. There was a little run there where we opened the show with it.
Jimmy: That was probably 2017-18. Something like that. But that’s probably it.
Emily: And “Dead Disco” from time to time.
Jimmy: Yeah, and “Dead Disco.” That’s about it.
Andy: Is it a matter of demographic? Or just a lot of hits to fit in?
Emily: I think it’s a matter of how long your set is, and how many albums you’ve made (laughs). There’s only so much time. We’ve had people ask us to play “Hustle Rose” forever. But we just have to do Synthetica and Fantasies, know what I mean?
Jimmy: And also, you feel like you’ve kinda moved on. Josh and I were talking about this the other day. We were trying to figure out when it was that we didn’t play “Dead Disco” for the first time.
Emily: Right, that’s true! By contrast, at the beginning, you only have so many songs, so you have to play them because it’s the only eight songs you have! (Laughs).
“’Hustle Rose”… and ‘IOU,’ I think, in a way, playing them again, they both give you that feeling that they were the seeds of what we’re doing now, in that first record.”
Jimmy: And by the time you have two records, you have a little bit of choice, because you’re probably not going to play a 20-song setlist. With three records you’ve got quite a bit more choice, but you still kinda gotta play the hits.
Emily: So true.
Jimmy: We probably didn’t play “Dead Disco” for the first time in like 2011. Know what I mean?
Andy: First time ever?
Emily: Yeah, like we had enough other material.
Andy: Also, a lot of you’re newer stuff is a lot longer, so when you’re writing a setlist, take “Doomscroller.” It’s cool that you don’t cheese out and only play half of it, you do the full thing. So that’s 10 minutes of your set.
Jimmy: Right (laughs).
Andy: What made you feel you should honor this album this fall?
Emily: It’s the 20-year anniversary.
Andy: I understand that. Sometimes artists will just let an anniversary pass.
Emily: I think it’s cause it was the debut album. And it was the 20th anniversary.
Jimmy: Personally, I had a little bit of an issue with it when it was proposed.
Emily: Yeah, I remember that.
Jimmy: I’m not a huge fan of looking backward.
Andy: I apologize for making you do so much of it.
Jimmy: No no, it was our decision. But it’s kind of like – it’s not that often that you want to take giant stock of everything that’s ever happened to you. It can be a little bit weighty and over-emotional. But I think it’s been kind of rewarding, and really cool that we’re doing it. And somehow – once Emily showed me the poster for these three runs – like Old World… imagery with the Formentera II release thing.
Andy: It looked really cool. Like it fits well.
Jimmy: Then we started playing songs from Old World… right next to songs from Formentera II, and that’s been an interesting sort of musical thing to latch onto. It’s the same band. You sort of compartmentalize like it’s a different part of your life, like there’s no way you could play them together. Then you play them together and are like, “We’re the same band. It’s the same thing,” which is cool.
Andy: So Formentera II came out yesterday. It’s your ninth studio record. I’m sure you guys are stoked.
“We started playing songs from Old World… right next to songs from Formentera II, and that’s been an interesting sort of musical thing to latch onto. It’s the same band. You sort of compartmentalize like it’s a different part of your life, like there’s no way you could play them together. Then you play them together and are like, ‘We’re the same band. It’s the same thing,’ which is cool.”
Andy: Is this a sequel to Formentera? Or is it a separate faction of Formentera?
Emily: So when we made the whole 18-song thing, it was all in one period of time, which coincided with the global pandemic.
Andy: So the same sessions?
Emily: Yeah, I can tell you. We bought this church outside Toronto and built a whole studio there. Very much Jimmy’s world, but I was there in support. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get Josh and Joules into the country for a year, because of the pandemic. The whole time was very fraught. But we had our heads down and were just going to try to make a beautiful work of art. So when we completed that, we were like, “Let’s come up for air, what do we have?” We edited a lot and got rid of a lot of things. We were like, “We have 18 songs. We know this is a double album. How should we put this out?”
How we made these sequences is a complete mystery to me. It was not linear at all. Formentera was the first one, and then we announced one year later to the day, on the anniversary of that record, “Hey, guess what, there’s a second half.” So it’s one piece, that’s why it’s Formentera I and II, but “Days Of Oblivion” from Formentera II is the first song we wrote for the whole thing.
The forward-backward thing that’s represented in the two records is kinda cool because time was really weird in that period of time. Everyone glazes over a bit when you say “2021.” It’s like, “What came first?” you know? So I feel it makes sense I guess?
Jimmy: It’s funny, what came first? 2020 or 2021?
Emily: Yeah. Even remember how – I feel we’ll look back, but none of us want to look back yet, at all – but remember how they like kept the Olympics called by the same year, even though it was the next year?
Andy: Yes! All that shit.
Jimmy: The 2020 Olympics happened in 2021!
Emily: But they still called it the 2020 Olympics. It’s like –
Andy: They had all that merch to sell – licensing, branding!
Emily: Yes! Exactly! (Laughing) Oh my god, so crazy!
Jimmy: Honestly, even the fact that it was called COVID-19 was pretty fucking confusing.
Emily: So I feel like, in a way, the fact that it’s Formentera I and II – it’s just that it’s separated for you into a sequel. And I do think the flow really works, starting with “Doomscroller” and ending with “Go Ahead And Cry,” you have this arc.
Jimmy: Yeah, so we knew the whole time, that that was the plan.
Emily: Yeah, and we finished the last couple songs in Paris at Motorbase, which was really cool. Because those Air albums, and Sébastien Tellier’s, had really inspired us.
Andy: Do you have any perception of how the songs are in two camps? To me, Formentera II felt a little heavier subject matter-wise.
Emily: I have no idea, no. There are so many ways to evaluate it. How we made the decisions was just what flowed.
Andy: Let’s talk about the song “Suckers.” Disorientation with media, social media, what was the genesis of that?
Emily: I can speak lyrically to it. That’s one that I wrote in 2019. There are a few songs on Formentera II that I wrote in 2019 that were sort of eerie. That was sort of February 2019. That whole “wall of the world” thing. I was just like, “This is weird. Music’s weird.” Ultimately though, what’s being said lyrically is an acknowledgment of what’s fucked up. But you can’t spend your entire life in an active height of crisis-level distress. You have to find some way to act upon what you’re experiencing. So that’s the sort of end section.
“It’s one piece, that’s why it’s Formentera I and II, but “Days Of Oblivion” from Formentera II is the first song we wrote for the whole thing. The forward-backward thing that’s represented in the two records is kinda cool because time was really weird in that period of time. Everyone glazes over a bit when you say ‘2021.’”
Andy: “Go Ahead And Cry” caught me also. It sounds like it’s about climate change perhaps? Or betraying the world?
Emily: I mean, “about” is a big word. But if you listen to the verse, it’s very much describing the lockdown experience, ultimately the insignificance of human beings, in the grand scheme of things.
Andy: It reminds me of a song by a Canadian band called The Zolas. “Energy Czar.”
Emily: Oh, interesting, I haven’t heard of them actually.
Andy: He describes it as, If we disrespect her enough, “she’s just gonna run a fever for a bit, let us die off,” and she’ll be ok.
Emily: Oh that’s so good! Totally.
Andy: What’s it been like unrolling these songs on this mini world tour?
Emily: Honestly, it’s just amazing. It’s such a unique, special thing.
Andy: Old and new.
Emily: Yeah, but with nothing in between, as Jimmy was describing. It’s been a lot of work, but the response has been great. It’s just fun. We did Colbert on Monday. Going back to Bowery Ballroom, these are small clubs for us to play.
Andy: Bowery Ballroom.
Emily: So good, right? It’s like big-small. It’s fun.
Andy: It feels intimate, but also big time. Like you’re on top of the crowd.
Emily: Exactly. Everyone wants to be there. So that, and obviously The Roxy as we said, and wrapping it up tonight. Then we get on a plane tomorrow, so it’s been really good.
Andy: Are these specially-themed mini tours something you think you may do more of in the future?
Emily: I actually think it could be. I like the idea of –
Andy: You definitely stoked the die-hards. Like I said, I’m a big fan, and this is the kind of show that excites me. Like I might not catch you every tour but with something like this, I make a point to.
Emily: Exactly! I feel the key is that it’s genuine. It has a musical sort of purpose. This has zero commercial purpose (laughing). But a meaningful purpose, exactly to your point, for die-hards reinterpreting the work in a different way. I like it, other than just playing the hits, you know? That’s also fun though. We’re gonna go do that in Latin America in November. We do Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Brazil. We end in São Paulo.
Andy: Passionate fans.
Emily: Yeah! Actually, the radio guy in Santiago was like, “You’re killing me. I’ve been playing ‘Help I’m Alive’ on the radio for 15 years.” (Laughs).
Andy: Have you played there yet?
Emily: No, we’ve never played there!
Andy: That’s exciting.
Emily: So we’ll be bringing back those shows as well.
Andy: To end where we began, talking about the world tour. Metric’s home – where is Metric’s home?
Emily: That’s what’s amazing. When it comes to the four of us, our home is the tour bus. It’s where the four of us are. When we get on a tour bus together, it’s like our apartment. It’s so nice. But Josh lives with his family in Austin now. Joules is in Atlanta. Jimmy and I are lucky enough to both have houses here in Ontario, up by the studio. We’re definitely more here, but travel all the time. Metric, the four of us, and the feeling of it, definitely floats in space.
Andy: You’re a North American band.
Emily: We’re Atlantic! (Laughs).
This interview has been edited for the sake of clarity.