The Road Life of METZ and Getting Back to Weeknight Punk Chaos at the Church

So wait, when did the Church start getting weeknight shows in the basement again?  Is this like a one-off thing?  Nevermind, I don’t wanna jinx it.  But next Tuesday...

So wait, when did the Church start getting weeknight shows in the basement again?  Is this like a one-off thing?  Nevermind, I don’t wanna jinx it.  But next Tuesday (after being under the impression that the venue would only operate on weekends) Philadelphia’ ultimate bastion of DIY, all-ages, youth-groupy punkness, The First Unitarian Church, is hosting another sure-to-be profoundly beautiful and profoundly chaotic night of noisiness… something they’ve established an exceptional reputation for over the past two decades…

Tuesday, January 12th, the Church will host likely the most solid lineup the city has seen since Perfect Pussy, Joanna Gruesome, and Potty Mouth hit up the same room a year and a half ago.  Headlining the evening is Toronto noise rock trio METZ, who have been touring behind their sophomore LP, II, for the better part of a year now.  The album, which dropped last May on Sub Pop, boasts a brand of post-hardcore that would seem to have (whether intentional or not) nods to the punk to come out of the likes of Max’s Kansas City and the 100 Club, in addition to the far more obvious influence of the kind of punk to come out of working-class basements and the original 9:30 Club.  And the album has garnered overwhelming critical acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone, Spin, and even Entertainment Weekly.

In addition to METZ’, the evening will also include supporting sets from punky Nashville alt rockers Bully; who ring of equal parts Hole, Kim Deal, and a hybrid-Liz-Phair-Kim-Gordon super heroine; and So Pitted, who would seem to blend grunge, post-punk, and garage with post-industrial, making them the sort of ultimately brilliant contemporary snotty brats of the ‘90s teen angst persuasion.

Over winter break I got a chance to chat with METZ vocalist/guitarist Alex Edkins, who told me about how the band has spent their time since releasing II and their upcoming dates that will actually take them to the Eastern part of the world shortly after wrapping a short batch of US dates.

Izzy Cihak: So II has been out for a while now.  What have been some of the highlights of the band since the album dropped?

Alex Edkins: We’ve been able to play all over the world and are just about to hit China, Japan, and Singapore for the first time. The overall response has been overwhelming. Just to have people at shows knowing the songs and telling us how they love it more than the first record has been really rewarding. To know that something you made is connecting with other people is pretty incredible.

Izzy: So this is kind of a personal question, but I really, really especially love “Wait in Line,” which just seems like the perfect combination of early punk and then the most abrasive kind of late ‘80s/early ‘90s alt rock that could be a star of 120 Minutes, but also rip the shit out of a dive bar or basement show.  How did that particular track come about?  It also seems like it would be an especially fun song to play live.

Alex: That tune came from a home demo. Like most of our songs, it’s a really simple tune and the melody and chords came right away. I showed the demo to the guys and we gradually worked out an arrangement together and added a middle eight part. It’s got a different feel compared to some of our more frantic songs so it usually is a cool change of pace for the live show.

Izzy: I also really love your music video for “The Swimmer,” which reminds me of some of the most beautifully subversive cinema of the ‘90s.  What is it that inspires the visual components of METZ?

Alex: We’ve been really lucky to work with a bunch of very talented directors on our videos. Scott Cudmore has done the majority of our videos, including “The Swimmer,” “Wet Blanket,” “Wasted,” and “Spit You Out” and really deserves the credit. He has a very distinct style and twisted aesthetic that we love and seems to really fit our music.

Izzy: You’ve spent a lot of time on the road since the album dropped, so I’m guessing you’ve spent a lot of time in transit listening to music, whether collectively or individually, so I’m curious what was in heavy rotation in 2015, whether contemporary or “classic”?

Alex: I thought the record Golem by Wand was really cool. We toured with Lightning Bolt so I was definitely going crazy on that Fantasy Empire record. Also, I saw The Jesus and Mary Chain a couple times this year playing Psycho Candy and it blew my mind and forced me to listen to most of their records. Other than that, just Zen Arcade and New Day Rising all the time.

Izzy: You’re about to embark on another batch of dates that take you to some really cool places.  Are there any cities you’re especially excited to visit or revisit or just bills that you’re really excited to be a part of?

Alex: This will be our first time in Japan and China. It’s exciting to visit new places and learn about the local music scene and culture. We are also heading back to Australia and New Zealand which should be really fun.

Izzy: What can be expected of the live experience this time around?

Alex: Three people playing music with instruments.

Izzy: And your US dates are going to be with Bully, who are just so amazing. How did that come about?  What are your thoughts on the Nashville band? Are you excited to be on the road with them?

Alex: We are excited! It’s always a plus to tour with bands you like! I think it will be a good fit.

Izzy: Finally, what are you hoping and planning for 2016, after these tour dates wrap?  Is it just going to be more time on the road, or do you have new music in the works, or possibly just a little bit of time off?

Alex: We’ve got a bunch of releases planned for 2016 and we are carving out some time to make new music and be at home in Toronto.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.