Metric | Interview

Metric 2015

[Releasing a new album] is like when you send the kids to school for the first time, and you don’t know if there are any bullies there.

There are times when the creative process can be so productive that, while you strive to produce an album, you actually find there is enough material for its follow-up as well. This is the happy state that Canadian synthpop outfit Metric find themselves in, and as they prepare to cross the Atlantic for a series of dates across Europe, founding member James Shaw is in an excitable mood ahead new release ‘Pagans in Vegas’.

After a musical alliance with Emily Haines some eighteen years ago, became Metric — named after a sound on James’ keyboard — they have a number of studio albums under their belts, but this doesn’t mean there’s not a little apprehension as to how it will be received.

“It’s a weird feeling,” admits James, “like when you send the kids to school for the first time and you don’t know if there are any bullies there. Always a lot of excitement though.”

The recording process can be an intense time and, whilst the band are in the moment, they are only focused on the sound that they’re creating. During all this, there was one detail that hadn’t been discussed. And when this question was asked, James had to make a pretty sharp decision.

“So many things are happening at same time.” said James, “Usually, with the recording process and the narrative of the record, once it is all done, you look back and it’ll be all a blur. So when they asked for the title of the album, we were a bit stumped. With fifteen minutes left before our deadline, we went for ‘Pagans in Vegas’.”

This title was not born out of any religious leaning, or even a feeling from the songs that they had recorded.
“Musically it had been done for quite a while,” James said, “we thought it was a good juxtaposition, pagans in Vegas. That’s it really.”

In a time when there is a sense of short-termism pervading in walks of life, where it’s instant success or the slide in to oblivion the only two destinations that are often open, it seems an anomaly when you find a band that has a long history.
Metric are one such band and James believes that they are still maturing and there is more that they can offer. “I have been together musically with Emily for 18 years and the relationship keeps developing. We are fortunate that we keep inspiring each other and Emily is still one of my favourite lyricists. It is great to be so in tune that we can finish each other’s musical sentences.”

Even when there is such telepathy between band members, there was still a time when Metric nearly imploded as they questioned the direction that they were moving. It is a moment that James keeps in mind as their renaissance continues to gather momentum.

“Eight years ago it would have been easy to grow apart, “but we consciously decided to not let that happen. We decided to make the effort and grow in similar ways and have a kindred family spirit become each other’s emotional strut.”
The rewards are there for everyone to hear with Pagans in Vegas being one of the band’s most commercial sounding albums and sure to win them a whole new following. It will be interesting how the next is received as the signs are that it has taken a different journey, despite it being very much part of the same recording sessions.

“We are probably three studio days from finishing a new album and will wrap it up soon.” James confirmed. “The two styles are incredibly different and as a producer we decided that one would have no live drums, guitars or bass, whilst the other had no synth and was completely acoustic apart from electronic piano and drums.

“A lot of times in the past we would have taken an upbeat number and made it sound organic but this time we decided to leave it alone.”

After eighteen years together, it is always warming to hear that a band is still finding experimentation and inspiration among its ranks and it doesn’t look there will be any slowing in Metric’s creative process.

Metric play O2 Academy Bristol on 7th Oct.

Check out lead single ‘The Shade’ below: