Don’t Miss Metric’s Intimate KCRW Apogee Session Tomorrow Morning! The Broadcast Will Go Live And Stream On KCRW's Morning Become's Eclectic March 21st!
LOS ANGELES, CA- Canadian rock band Metric have been bringing their shimmery synth-pop approach to the indie rock scene for over 20 years now, which is no easy feat, but Metric have somehow managed to stay relevant. Currently touring in support of their latest album, “Art of Doubt”, the quartet made an appearance this past Friday night at Apogee Studios in Santa Monica, for an intimate performance for KCRW’s Apogee Sessions.
Apogee Studio is well known producer/mixer Bob Clearmountain’s private studio and all sessions are recorded and mixed by the legend himself. Being a huge fan of Metric for years now, I was super excited for this special event. I had just caught their show at The Hollywood Palladium a few nights before but this was a totally different experience, as the studio only holds about 180 people versus the 4,000 or so at the Palladium. The studio itself is beautiful and before the event began, light snacks and cocktails were provided, making the evening feel almost like a house party where your favorite band just happens to be playing.
The event was hosted by KCRW music director and DJ, Jason Bentley, who seemed just as eager to take in the performance as the rest of the crowd. Metric band members, Emily Haines (vocals, synths), Jimmy Shaw (guitar), Joshua Winstead (bass) and Joules Scott-Key (drums) took the stage to a warm welcome. They opened the ten song set with two new songs “Dressed to Suppress” followed by “Risk” before diving into an older track, “Breathing Underwater” from the 2012 album Synthetica. During a break in the song, Haines spoke to the crowd about the song’s meaning. It could either be interpreted as a super power, euphoric type of feeling …or more along the lines of the actual feeling of drowning and thinking ’how the hell am I surviving,’ which she joked around saying the latter is how she feels every time she is singing on stage. She then asked the crowd to sing along with her for a softer version of the chorus. The space was so intimate, it seemed the crowd was afraid to really let loose and sing along, as they might drown out Haines’ angelic vocals, still they obliged, but quietly.
The band finished the first half of the set with two more new songs. “No Lights on the Horizon,” is a slower paced song that Haines told the audience is about ’owning it all.’ This song, to me, was reminiscent of the 80’s song “If You Were Here” by the Thompson Twins. The last song of the set was title track “Art of Doubt”, which is a song that really shows off the incredibly impressive vocal range of Haines.
After the first set, Haines and Shaw came out to do a quick interview with Bentley, who congratulated them on their new album and told them he was a big fan of their work.
Haines was charmingly a bit shy and fidgeted on her stool, stating that she didn’t know how to sit ‘attractively’ like Bentley did. “I sing better than I sit,” she joked. Once she got comfortable, they continued to talk about the new album, their song writing process, and the beginning of their career. They talked about the early years, going to New York in 1998 and forming the band and friendships with other musicians that would remain lifelong colleagues and friends. They described it as a great time where everyone would hang out, drink a beer and play music at the same time. They compared those early years with musician friends, such as Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew, to the Harlem Globetrotters, where everyone takes turns rotating their talents in and out- while wearing fuzzy sweaters.
Bentley brought up the topic that many people are saying “Art of Doubt,” the bands seventh album, is much more guitar driven and rock n roll than any of their past albums, even though the synths are still very prevalent on the tracks. Shaw explained that the past albums were all produced by Shaw himself so often times he would focus so much on the producing aspect that he wouldn’t put as much attention on his own guitar tracks. For Art of Doubt they brought in producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, which gave Shaw the ability to focus more on his guitar work than before. It wasn’t a deliberate move to have more guitars, it just turned out that way given the situation. Regardless, more guitars, less synths or not- the album is very much a Metric album and stays true to their style.
“Is this Dystopia?” is a lyric from the song “Die Happy” and also the words that are written, with duct tape, on the bass drum- which Haines proudly takes credit for, telling the audience, “I can do anything with duct tape.” Bentley asked Haines to elaborate on the prevailing theme to which she answered, ‘It’s a weird time” and says she debated on not using a question mark at the end of the lyric, but ultimately, the statement is simply a question in these confusing times.
International Women’s Day had just passed so Bentley asked Haines which female iconic rockstars have inspired her. Haines named American jazz composer Carla Bley, saying her father introduced Bley to her in her younger years and that she has remained one of her biggest influences. “She produced, sang, played, arranged and even translated my dad’s music, she did it all,” Haines explained.
Following the interview the band quickly returned to the stage for the second half of their set, opening with another new track, “Seven Rules.” They livened things up with the old school jam “Dead Disco” from the 2003 album “Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?,” which got the crowd nodding their heads and bouncing along. The blissful “Gimme Sympathy” from 2009’s “Fantasies” album was a familiar tune that may have been the best received song of the night and definitely had everyone moving. They ended the night with two more new songs. “Dark Saturday” (which in my opinion, stands alongside their best tunes) and “Now or Never Now.” It was incredible to see Metric perform up close and personal in such a gorgeous setting, and to experience a show where no one took out their cell phones the entire time- priceless.
KCRW’s Apogee Sessions with Metric will broadcast and stream on Morning Becomes Eclectic March 21st. 2019. You can watch the session at https://www.kcrw.com/music/apogeestudio. You don’t want to miss it.