Music / Metric system


Arty indie rock from the great musical space that is Canada, Alison Lee talks to Metric.

JUST A FEW years ago, the only musicians emerging from the icy wastelands of Canada were mainstream crooners like Bryan Adams and Celine Dion. Thankfully today, this slightly cringeworthy selection of crumbling popstars has been replaced with a bevy of bands, each cooler than the last.

The majority of these are indie acts, with Metric being one of the first bands to start the trend. Emily Haines, the band’s frontwoman and synth-player explains how such a change evolved. “A whole generation of kids who had the benefit of growing up with music programmes in schools also had the benefit of interacting with record labels,” she says.

Suddenly talented musicians who didn’t do much “other than play weddings and bar mitzvahs” got their act together. The result? According to Haines, “All sorts of independent music started to come out of Canada.”

When it comes to songwriting, Metric draw inspiration from more diverse areas than most indie rock acts. “Our main influences are more coming from cinema and travel than from wanting to sound like another band,” Haines tells Otwo. It is indeed impossible to pin down who Metric ‘sound like’ – their music incorporates both orchestral and electronic elements but stays firmly grounded in pure rock.

They took an unusually laid-back approach to recording their latest album Fantasies, letting the music evolve over several years until they felt ready to record. But it’s hard to avoid “paying homage to the masters”, as Haines puts it. The limited edition of Fantasies features a cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Nobody Home’. “There isn’t a band alive that hasn’t been influenced by them,” she asserts.

“It’s important for us that everyone is able to keep doing what they love and bringing that energy back into the band”

The individual band members share an independent streak, with all of them being involved in various other projects. Haines explains “It’s important for us that everyone is able to keep doing what they love and bringing that energy back into the band.” She herself recorded a “cinematic piano album”, while guitarist Jimmy Shaw “needed a little time to build his studio in Toronto; he collects vintage gear.”

If you’re keen to get your hands on Fantasies, it’s available from the band’s website in a number of different ‘packages’, which include vinyl, postcards, posters, and autographs. “It’s available everywhere. In stores, on iTunes worldwide, and on our websites. We thought, instead of trying to control everything, let’s make it available to people in every form in every way they want”, says Haines enthusiastically.

Metric has no problem giving fans what they want at gigs either, always including well-known classics like ‘Monster Hospital’ and ‘Combat Baby’ on the setlist. “They’re the high point of the set, those moments we’ve already shared with our fans,” says Emily. But what about Metric’s Irish fans? Unfortunately there are no Irish venues on the bill for their summer tour but Haines has fond memories of their last Dublin gig. “We had a totally rocking time there, we’ve only played there once and it fucking ruled! We better get our asses over there.”

Fantasies packages are available now at