Weird Nightmare

Weird Nightmare

Weird Nightmare

When the pandemic forced METZ off the road in early 2020, frontman Alex Edkins began spending his days at home in lockdown, looking after his three-year-old son. But at night, he’d escape to the band’s Toronto rehearsal space on his own, to work on music that METZ normally wouldn’t—pop songs. “I just leaned into what I love most,” he tells Apple Music of what became his first solo offering, a clear response to the uncertainty of the moment. “Where METZ is always focusing on breaking the rules or dissonance and velocity and heavyocity, I was stacking harmonies and playing acoustic guitars, using a very direct and almost traditional way of writing rock songs. It was like medicine more than anything. It scratched an itch that I didn’t really think I had.” But Weird Nightmare—a name inspired by the feeling of being completely alone in a former factory usually abuzz with the sound of other practicing bands—is still plenty dissonant. Playing (and engineering) nearly everything himself, Edkins has wrapped every vocal and melody in warm sheets of fuzz and distortion. His goal was simple: have fun, avoid overthinking. “The songs were coming fast, and there was no struggle to it,” he says. “I like sounds that aren’t maybe considered good or beautiful. I like things to be rough around the edges and notes out of tune. I was learning as I went and certainly doing things wrong, but I wasn’t going for perfection—I was just going for a feeling.” Here, Edkins takes us inside every song on the record. “Searching for You” “It’s just a bit of a fun rocker. You can hear the sort of 12-bar blues kind of riff, and that’s how the song was written, except much slower. And one day, after I’d finished it and all the parts were there, I was just like, ‘I’m going to try to speed way up.’ And it just clicked. It felt like me, and that felt like the way I should be singing it. I like putting a record on and it kind of grabbing you right away, so that seemed like an obvious good start.” “Nibs” “That’s about as simple a song as you can do: It’s got two parts, and it just feels good. I wanted to do something that was super doomy almost, but it obviously gets a bit of a pop-chord structure. I took a baritone guitar in the space, and I just downtuned that and used that to try to do this super-sludgy thing. METZ has never done anything like that, so I just wanted to try that. And the name ‘Nibs’ is a working title that just never got changed. It’s referring to Scout Niblett, who I love and who, to me, always has these sort of Sabbath-y riffs and big beats in her music.” “Lusitania” “I have a full playlist of music that really inspired this album that is very much in the jangle world and the ’60s world. Big Star, Guided By Voices, even the first Bee Gees record, 1st, when they were trying to rip off The Beatles’ Revolver era. It’s just so good, and it’s so inspiring to me. The beginning of ‘Lusitania,’ with the stacked harmony and the vocals, is much like that first Bee Gees record, at least in my head.” “Wrecked” (feat. Bully) “We had done some touring with Bully, and I just always marveled at how distinct [Alicia Bognanno’s] voice was. That song felt like something was missing, and I thought maybe it needs someone else’s voice. She was stoked to do it, and I was just tickled that she would take the time. With all the collaborations, it was a matter of, obviously, sending files—we never got together, unfortunately. But when she sent me back those vocals, I think it took the song from here to way up there.” “Sunday Driver” “It’s one of my favorites. There were many moments on this record where it’s like, ‘I can’t believe I’m going to do this. I’m going to do a midtempo rocker.’ It’s just so out of my comfort zone, but I really love it. I think it’s writing with open chords and with the intent of making things very poppy and very hooky. I always allow the music in METZ to kind of focus what I’m singing about, and that was very much the same thing here. There was a lot of relationship stuff, from past and present, and I don’t know why that is, but I think it’s just the sound and the chords just kind of pushed the lyrics that way.” “Darkroom” “It’s just about bad habits, and while it seems like it was written during the pandemic, it’s one of the old songs—those are feelings I was having even 10 years before the pandemic. It’s like, quit wasting your time or quit going out too much and do something worth doing. It’s this idea that life is short, and you have one chance to make it meaningful, so remember that.” “Dream” “It’s pretty indebted to shoegaze. METZ had just played a festival in Texas called Levitation, and they gave all the bands reverb fuzz pedals, from EarthQuaker Devices. I got home and plugged it right in, and I very quickly did this song and ‘Holding Out.’ Those riffs kind of just came out of the pedal, and I just went with it. There’s just this kind of swirling, whammy bar-abuse happening in that one, but at the heart of it, it’s a pretty basic pop song.” “Zebra Dance” “It’s very much just intended to be a breather for the listener, a palate cleanser. I wanted to get an acoustic guitar on the album, and I wanted to get my son on it, too—he was three years old at the time and he just always sings very loudly, all day. That’s a voice memo of him, and then me playing on the couch, and then some weird samples from one of his kids’ instruments, this thing called a Blipblox, which is just insane and fun.” “Oh No” (feat. Chad VanGaalen) “This was the closest thing on this record to a METZ song. The drum machine, bass, and direct guitar were all just first-take demo—the whole thing was just mapped out, and then I added on top of it. It’s kind of the MO of this record: I was trying to work with what was there and not overhaul it or necessarily rerecord it. Chad and I had had some hangouts, and I thought he’d dig this because it’s kind of out there. Most people, I think, would’ve played a guitar or synth in a section like that, but Chad played a Chinese mouth organ and a bunch of other things that just made it super strange and weird and fun.” “Holding Out” “It does definitely have that kind of end-credits feel to it for me, which I always love in an album. It’s a hard close, but it’s also open-ended in my mind, just the way you could kind of keep on going indefinitely. It’s a love song, I suppose. Getting to my age, you’re like, ‘I think I’m getting wiser,’ where you realize the only things that matter at all, like at all, are the people in your life and your family and stuff like that. And so, that’s just one of those testimonials: ‘I will do everything in my power to be there for you when you need me.’ Sometimes it feels good to say those things out loud.”

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