Metric delves into world of fantasy
Any thought ever conceived or object ever created started simply as a beautiful idea. It is this realization that formed the basis for Canadian new-wave band Metric’s fourth album Fantasies.
“I think it’s about dreaming, it’s about the symbolism of the lightbulb on the cover and the idea of lightness from within dark, an idea from within no idea,” explained guitarist James Shaw.
“It is crazy when you think about it because we talked about the word a lot and we liked how it had different meanings,” chimed in lead singer Emily Haines. “When you think about everything that exists, aside from the natural world, the chairs we are sitting in, to shoes, pianos, guitars, sunglasses, all of these things started as fantasies.
“If that’s true, and it is, then anything really is possible if it can be conceived and that is really a great stage and place for an artist to hang out in. You know, I want to hang out with the ideas.”
The Canadian foursome, known previously for their high energy beats and deep-thinking lyrics, took nearly four years to develop this new album, just enough time to find a certain degree of consistency with how each member of the group was feeling following the release of 2004’s Live It Out.
“I feel like it’s a more cohesive statement about who we are at the time we made it,” guitarist Jimmy Shaw explained when comparing Fantasies to the group’s previous work. “I feel like everything we have done in the past ended being a case of ‘well we don’t have the time or energy and we have got to make this record.’ With this we took our time and we had the energy to assess where everyone was at emotionally and musically and put it together in an album.”
Metric also spent a great deal of time meeting with various record labels to discuss their options in the uncertain future of the music industry. After becoming quite frustrated and learning a great deal about how to brace for the future on their own, the band chose to self-release Fantasies.
“We have a lot to bring to the table and in a conventional business we would be considered a really valuable partner but the old music model is based on, like to the point of criminal, exploitation of the musician,” Haines said. “We all like to look at examples like Rihanna being a multi-millionaire but for every Rihanna there are literally thousands and thousands of people who you have never heard their and they will never make another note of music because they stuck in contracts.”
The tedious process of both developing and self-releasing this latest record seems to have paid off as Fantasies sold more than 10,000 copies during its first week released in Canada, debuting at No. 8 on the domestic top 200 album sales chart. Despite this success, both Shaw and Haines remained quite subdued when talking about the prospects for Metric.
“I’m not really sure where the top is and what happens once you go over it,” Shaw said. “I am really happy with what’s going on right now, I’m a little tired but it’s for all the right reasons.”
Being tired is understandable, as Shaw and Haines have recently kept busy touring Canada on an acoustic tour featuring a number of songs from Fantasies.
“Part of what I love about live music is it just doesn’t make sense,”
— Emily Haines, Metric lead singer
“One of the main things we did when making this record is make sure all of songs pass this thing call the “campfire test,” which basically means that the song can be played on an acoustic guitar and if there’s a moment that doesn’t work it’s need reworking,” Shaw explained. At the end of the process we realized that we could play a great deal of this album acoustically and that was sort of a first for us and it was kind of exciting.
The duo first showcased this new facet of their music at Union Pool in New York, where they had just finished mastering Fantasies at Jimi Hendrix’s legendary Electric Lady sound studio.
“We thought it would be really cool for our fans in New York to preview the entire album acoustic. So, we said we would do it and then we got really nervous and really and wished we hadn’t,” Haines said. “We ended up doing two sets and it was really well received.”
The vocalist further explained that challenging herself to be spontaneous when developing new tracks and introducing a degree of the unexpected has played a major role in her evolution as a musician.
“I find, for whatever reason, so much of adult life is deprived of any sense that anything could ever change or ever happen, we are all just rolling along on some pre-ordained path,” Haines said. “And I find that with Metric shows it’s not so much about just the acoustic, but this feeling that anything could happen. I really like anything that allows chaos into our lives.”
Shaw added, “We have toured Canada a lot over these past few years and it has sort of always progressively gone one route: big rock show, bigger rock, even bigger rock show . . . we just sort of wanted try something different.”
To see photos and hear some of the acoustic show click here.
Tuesday’s acoustic show at the Grand Theatre in Calgary was reserved for only a few hundred lucky fans who won tickets on Metric’s website or through radio station X92.9. Haines explained that regardless of the size or style of music being played, Metric shows always turn into an amazing, transcendent experience.
To read a full review of Metric’s Calgary show click here.
“Part of what I love about live music is it just doesn’t make sense,” she said. “If you put 1,000 on a subway all stuck together they’re not going to put their arms around each other and jump up and down and go crowd-surfing through the subway.
“With music you really start to notice the similarities you have with people as opposed to the dfferences and it’s part of my completely childish utopian vision of people just enjoying life and getting along.”
Haines and Shaw will continue heading west with the acoustic tour, making stops in Vancouver and Victoria, before the band heads overseas to continue promoting Fantasies in Europe.
To visit Metric’s official website click here.