It’s been four years since we heard a full-length album from Metric, but as you’ll read below, they weren’t exactly just sitting around doing nothing. Solo albums, books, studios being built, touring, etc, and an escape to Buenos Aires were all that occupied their time and added up to the four years, but alas the wait is over and the new album, Fantasies, was released on April. The album, Fantasies, has received great reviews, some did state there were a few flaws (including our own Mona Alice), but what project doesn’t have these, personally this album sits in my top 10 list of 2009 so far. In this Q&A with Metric front woman, Emily Haines, she touches on why the four year wait, the current tour, and possibly an upcoming metal album and collaboration with Tiesto…Yeah, that wasn’t a typo, you read that correctly.
Killahbeez: Hi Emily, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Congrats on the latest album, Fantasies. You guys are currently on tour supporting the album, how has that been going?
Emily Haines: So far so good! We just finished a sold out Euro/UK run, got a few days off and then starting up on the US tour on June 4th in Seattle. Live music really is such an incredible medium, you know? You’ve got this massive crowd of people who would be elbowing each other and scowling if they were on public transit together, but because the room is full of music all that crap melts away. Transcendent. We have found our dream sound man, this kid named Trevor Coppen, he has such an imaginative way of mixing, I love looking out at the audience and knowing he is taking them on a trip.
KB: Any crazy stories or favourite cities that you would to visit again once touring is complete?
EH: Ahh, well crazy stories that’s a loaded question. You have to make a real effort on tour to remind yourself that in addition to running a rock and roll marathon you are also traveling…to the best cities in the world! The schedule is grueling and often with press and everything else you only have an hour to yourself…I try to get myself across town to look at a fucking statue or walk through a park, anything that gets me out of the grind. I would love to go back to Sao Paulo, when we were there I had these four huge security guards with me everywhere I went, it was a drag. I tried to sneak away but they caught me, I felt like Britney (Spears). Man that has got to suck, never getting to just walk down the street without having some jock shout your name? There’s not a musician alive that doesn’t have fantasies about blinding fame, but I gotta tell you, I really like riding my bike around and wandering in my neighborhood in Toronto or NYC. I hope I never have to trade that in.
KB: There was about a 4 year gap between this release and Live It Out, was there a particular reason why the band chose to take that length of time between albums or were there roadblocks that prevented the band to move forward?
EH: That four years felt like no time at all, so much happened. We toured Live it Out for two and a half years, I released and toured my solo album Knives Don’t Have Your Back and the follow up EP What is Free to a Good Home?, published a book of my late father Paul Haines’ poems called Secret Carnival Workers. Josh and Joules released and toured their Bang Lime record, we released a live DVD called “Live at Metropolis”, we put out a previously unreleased domestic electronica album from 1999 called Grow Up and Blow Away, bought a building in Toronto where Jimmy built his recording studio called Giant, and hung out with lawyers for months on end constructing our own worldwide record label to release Fantasies. Somewhere in there I went to Argentina for a few months, wrote music and filmed a documentary, Barack Obama won the election, and the next thing I knew I was back on a tour bus.
KB: In one of your video pieces, “Help I’m Alive” Interview, on ILoveMetric.com, you mentioned that at one point you had had given up on writing because you felt “gridlocked” and in a state of “paralysis”. But Buenos Aires had lifted you out of that. What about that city re-inspired you?
EH: Yeah, it’s a common feeling among musicians. You’re still so disoriented from all the touring and the first thing you’re meant to do when you get home is get “inspired” and start writing your next record. For me, inspiration isn’t something I sit around at Starbucks with my laptop waiting for, you know? For as long as I can remember, I have written songs because I wanted to, because I was experiencing something that couldn’t be described except through a sound. God help me if that ever changes! It does mean I have to trick myself into thinking I don’t care if I ever write another song again and embark on questionable endeavors, like fucking off to Buenos Aires and not knowing a single person or having any idea what I was doing or what was going to happen. Until the day we die, our lives are unwritten, which is sometimes a terrifying thought. For me, not as terrifying as feeling like everything is static though.
KB: On that same video you’re seen playing “Help I’m Alive” on the piano and it kinda gave me goosebumps, any chance we’ll hear an acoustic or just a piano version of that song?
EH: Aw, thanks! Yeah there is an acoustic version of the song that Jimmy and I play, it’s a free download at ILoveMetric.com. I think in the documentary video I was just improvising some other melody too, I should go back and listen to it and maybe incorporate that the next time Jimmy and I do one of our secret acoustic tours.
KB: So for the album Fantasies, what was the writing process?
EH: Our first writing session was in a farmhouse studio north of Seattle called Bear Creek, we wrote the beginnings of “Gimme Sympathy” and “Collect Call” there. Then we did a few sessions at Giant where the four of us just played around with ideas and that’s how “Stadium Love” and “Twilight Galaxy” came to be. “Satellite Mind” and “Gold Guns Girls” are tracks that Jimmy wrote and sent to me, I wrote lyrics and melodies to those on a road trip across Argentina. “Blindness”, Jimmy and I wrote on an old organ I found in the garbage and dragged back to the studio. “Help I’m Allive”, “Sick Muse” and “Front Row” I wrote in London and Buenos Aires. We took our time writing and building the studio, but once we had all the song, the process was fast. We mixed at Electric Lady in NYC with John O’Mahony and ended up adding and changing lots of key elements at the eleventh hour. We had a film crew following us around making the “Rawside” documentary, it was full on (and) intensely fun.
KB: What were some of musical or non-musical inspirations that lead to the finished collection?
EH: Films mostly, David Lynchs Inland Empire, Michael Hanekes The Seventh Continent, Brian De Palmas Scarface, Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey, Kaneto Shindos Onibaba, dated episodes of Entourage and lots of hockey!
KB: What are some bands or albums that you’re listening to now?
EH: The Happiness Project on Arts & Crafts! It defies description. Tropic Appetites by Carla Bley. Lee Hazelwood. Flash Lightin.
KB: Seems early, but have you already started collecting or noting ideas for the next album?
EH: Well we’ve been suggesting that our next album will be a metal record but all reports are unconfirmed.
KB: In terms of a solo album, will there be another release sometime down the road?
EH: Yeah, happily there are lots of songs and ideas floating around right now. It’s just a matter of making everything fit and not feeling fractured. Timing is everything.
KB: We recently interviewed friend and fellow Canadian K-OS. He mentioned you two and Murray Lightburn all worked together on a track and he had nothing but positives to say about that experience. How did that opportunity come about? Was it something that was discussed previously or a spur of the moment?
EH: It was totally spur of the moment, I was in NYC and he sent me the track in the middle of the night with a dawn deadline. It’s just a little cameo appearance but I am a big fan of both K-OS and Murray so of course I said yes.
KB: Do you have any other collaborations coming up that fans can look forward to?
EH: I got it into my head that I would make an excellent dance floor diva so I did a track with Tiesto. Metric has a song called “Black Sheep: (aka Freddy Mercury) on the soundtrack for the new Edgar Wright film, it comes out in 2010 and the soundtrack was put together by Nigel Godrich. They’re shooting in Toronto and he did some work at our studio for the movie. Good times!
KB: Will you be working with or will you be on the road with Broken Social Scene?
EH: Who knows! They asked me to play some shows this Summer and there are whispers of a new album in the works…Jimmy and I are both going to try and make it.
KB: Thanks again for taking the time to answer these questions. For first time listeners and / or for the current fans what sort of experience do you want them to take away from Fantasies?
EH: A sense of possibility.