12 Songs, 43 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

While Toronto art-punk power trio METZ introduced themselves to the world at large with their self-titled 2012 debut for Sub Pop, they’d actually been sparking circle pits in their hometown for a good half-decade by that point. As they were learning to channel that feral Drive Like Jesus Lizard attack, they committed their first recordings to a handful of small-run seven-inches. “If you didn’t live in Toronto, or weren’t in a city on our first East Coast tour that no one attended, you probably don’t have them,” singer/guitarist Alex Edkins tells Apple Music. The limited vinyl would eventually sell for astronomical prices online, so the band decided to make the music more widely available. That modest reissue plan inspired a deep dive into the vaults. Its result: Automat—a back-alley course through METZ's career, chronologically surveying early non-album singles, alternate takes, B-sides, and rarities that capture their evolution from bulldozing noise-punk bruisers to artfully dissonant indie rockers with an insidious melodic streak. “It’s kind of made us take stock of where we’re at and look back for once,” Edkins says. "We’ve been going fast and furious for a long time, so this is a chance to get a little bit sentimental—almost!” Edkins does his best to hold back the tears as he shares the stories behind Automat’s unearthed treasures.

“Soft Whiteout” (2009 single)
"This is probably the first song that passed our litmus test. Of course, we were still learning the art of making records, and this is very much an example of 'What were we thinking?!' There were a couple of eyebrow raises from me when I listened to this one recently. It was a big part of our live set at the time, but it’s also a great example of me trying to figure out what the hell I should be singing about."

“Lump Sums” (2009 B-side)
"I think contrast is probably the key word here—we didn’t want to make our first single two of a kind, so we were happy to have a dirge like this come next. At this point, we were very much weekend warriors—meeting up after work and drinking beer was more important than making music. You can absolutely hear that here: We were not precious about things. I like the looseness of this one. It meanders in a cool way, where we’re not in any rush to get anywhere."

“Dry Up” and “Ripped on the Fence” (2009 single)
"We’re working on a new record now, and in a weird way, some of these songs are inspirations for where we can go, in that song structures can veer left and right and up and down. For a while there [on our proper albums], we had super tight compositions—we wanted to hit it and get out of there. I like this single because it shows all rules were off, and we were just going for it—like, 'Let’s do this little dreamy thing at the end for three minutes.'”

“Negative Space” (2010 seven-inch version)
"This was a big breakthrough moment—we all went ‘huzzah!' And obviously, we liked it enough to put it on our first record. It ended up dictating where we went. It was really sharp and punchy and fast, and that’s what we started to get into at that time. That’s a perfect example of how things started one way and started to evolve—or devolve, depending on who you ask.”

“Automat” (2010 B-side)
"When I hear this song, I think of it coming to fruition in our little closet of a practice space in the dark on our terrible recording setup—just crummy mics, crummy preamps, and a computer."

“Wet Blanket” (demo)
"This is one of those demos where, when I listen back, it still sounds good. The song was fully formed in the early stages; I think we only added one or two little things to the version that wound up on our first record. But you can never get that initial feel back after a demo, and I almost think the feel of that demo is better than the one that’s on the LP. That can haunt a lot of people. I have friends who are like, 'Never record with the intention of making a demo, because you’ll never get that feeling back!’"

“Dirty Shirt” and “Leave Me Out” (2012 B-sides)
"We had our first record done for a while, and we were planning to put it out ourselves, because we hadn’t heard anything from anybody. But then one day we get an email from Sub Pop saying they want to put it out, and my mind was blown that a label like Sub Pop would want to touch our band in any way. We had already been working on new stuff, so we recorded these quickly, specifically because the label wanted some bonus material. But they shouldn’t be considered throwaways. That’s one thing that can be said about our band across the years: Nothing is released unless we are really feeling it at that moment."

“Can’t Understand” (2013 single)
"The first record got all this attention, which came out of nowhere. It took us around the world, and it gave us all these opportunities—one of them being this singles series where Adult Swim asked a bunch of bands to do a brand-new song, so that’s what this is. It was probably done in between insane amounts of touring—like, ‘We haven’t been home in a year—okay, we have a day off, let’s go record a song!' It was certainly not labored over so much. But it was a cool opportunity that came out of being, at that moment, pretty hyped up, which is a blessing—it’s not something every band gets, so we rode that wave as much as we could."

“Pure Auto” and “Eraser” (2015 single)
"This came about from us being fanboys of the Three One G label for our whole punk and hardcore lives. We heard that JP, who runs the label, was into us, so I think [bassist] Chris [Slorach] just reached out and said, ‘We love your label—would you put out a single?' We’ve been playing ‘Eraser' since it came out, because it’s a good one to do live, and we just brought 'Pure Auto' into the set. These songs are dear to us. And it all just came out of being fans of music and fans of what other people are doing—there’s nothing cooler than when the feeling’s mutual.”

EDITORS’ NOTES

While Toronto art-punk power trio METZ introduced themselves to the world at large with their self-titled 2012 debut for Sub Pop, they’d actually been sparking circle pits in their hometown for a good half-decade by that point. As they were learning to channel that feral Drive Like Jesus Lizard attack, they committed their first recordings to a handful of small-run seven-inches. “If you didn’t live in Toronto, or weren’t in a city on our first East Coast tour that no one attended, you probably don’t have them,” singer/guitarist Alex Edkins tells Apple Music. The limited vinyl would eventually sell for astronomical prices online, so the band decided to make the music more widely available. That modest reissue plan inspired a deep dive into the vaults. Its result: Automat—a back-alley course through METZ's career, chronologically surveying early non-album singles, alternate takes, B-sides, and rarities that capture their evolution from bulldozing noise-punk bruisers to artfully dissonant indie rockers with an insidious melodic streak. “It’s kind of made us take stock of where we’re at and look back for once,” Edkins says. "We’ve been going fast and furious for a long time, so this is a chance to get a little bit sentimental—almost!” Edkins does his best to hold back the tears as he shares the stories behind Automat’s unearthed treasures.

“Soft Whiteout” (2009 single)
"This is probably the first song that passed our litmus test. Of course, we were still learning the art of making records, and this is very much an example of 'What were we thinking?!' There were a couple of eyebrow raises from me when I listened to this one recently. It was a big part of our live set at the time, but it’s also a great example of me trying to figure out what the hell I should be singing about."

“Lump Sums” (2009 B-side)
"I think contrast is probably the key word here—we didn’t want to make our first single two of a kind, so we were happy to have a dirge like this come next. At this point, we were very much weekend warriors—meeting up after work and drinking beer was more important than making music. You can absolutely hear that here: We were not precious about things. I like the looseness of this one. It meanders in a cool way, where we’re not in any rush to get anywhere."

“Dry Up” and “Ripped on the Fence” (2009 single)
"We’re working on a new record now, and in a weird way, some of these songs are inspirations for where we can go, in that song structures can veer left and right and up and down. For a while there [on our proper albums], we had super tight compositions—we wanted to hit it and get out of there. I like this single because it shows all rules were off, and we were just going for it—like, 'Let’s do this little dreamy thing at the end for three minutes.'”

“Negative Space” (2010 seven-inch version)
"This was a big breakthrough moment—we all went ‘huzzah!' And obviously, we liked it enough to put it on our first record. It ended up dictating where we went. It was really sharp and punchy and fast, and that’s what we started to get into at that time. That’s a perfect example of how things started one way and started to evolve—or devolve, depending on who you ask.”

“Automat” (2010 B-side)
"When I hear this song, I think of it coming to fruition in our little closet of a practice space in the dark on our terrible recording setup—just crummy mics, crummy preamps, and a computer."

“Wet Blanket” (demo)
"This is one of those demos where, when I listen back, it still sounds good. The song was fully formed in the early stages; I think we only added one or two little things to the version that wound up on our first record. But you can never get that initial feel back after a demo, and I almost think the feel of that demo is better than the one that’s on the LP. That can haunt a lot of people. I have friends who are like, 'Never record with the intention of making a demo, because you’ll never get that feeling back!’"

“Dirty Shirt” and “Leave Me Out” (2012 B-sides)
"We had our first record done for a while, and we were planning to put it out ourselves, because we hadn’t heard anything from anybody. But then one day we get an email from Sub Pop saying they want to put it out, and my mind was blown that a label like Sub Pop would want to touch our band in any way. We had already been working on new stuff, so we recorded these quickly, specifically because the label wanted some bonus material. But they shouldn’t be considered throwaways. That’s one thing that can be said about our band across the years: Nothing is released unless we are really feeling it at that moment."

“Can’t Understand” (2013 single)
"The first record got all this attention, which came out of nowhere. It took us around the world, and it gave us all these opportunities—one of them being this singles series where Adult Swim asked a bunch of bands to do a brand-new song, so that’s what this is. It was probably done in between insane amounts of touring—like, ‘We haven’t been home in a year—okay, we have a day off, let’s go record a song!' It was certainly not labored over so much. But it was a cool opportunity that came out of being, at that moment, pretty hyped up, which is a blessing—it’s not something every band gets, so we rode that wave as much as we could."

“Pure Auto” and “Eraser” (2015 single)
"This came about from us being fanboys of the Three One G label for our whole punk and hardcore lives. We heard that JP, who runs the label, was into us, so I think [bassist] Chris [Slorach] just reached out and said, ‘We love your label—would you put out a single?' We’ve been playing ‘Eraser' since it came out, because it’s a good one to do live, and we just brought 'Pure Auto' into the set. These songs are dear to us. And it all just came out of being fans of music and fans of what other people are doing—there’s nothing cooler than when the feeling’s mutual.”

TITLE TIME

More By METZ