INTERVIEW

10 minutes with Canadian grunge punks METZ, as short and sharp as their vicious debut album.

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As I sit waiting for METZ to show up in a hotel bar located next to Primavera’s festival site, a quick scout around the shiny, primary colour-drenched room is like a comical conveyer belt, a strange and enticing mix of musical lineage moving along from table to table. A sour-faced William Reid sits gulping vodka cokes beneath his sunglasses, Bradford Cox wonders around in a tye-die Ramones T-shirt munching on a wrap, Bob Mould sits quietly tucking into a pizza. Just as I look around to catch a glimpse of Ben Gibbard, in walks METZ, and after a painfully awkward handshake that goes horribly awry with a seemingly endless back and forth around not quite figuring out if I’m going in for bassist Chris Slorach’s hand or drummer Hayden Menzies’, we grab a table and sit down.

It seems the opportunity for a group with only one album behind them to be playing a festival of this size and stature isn’t lost on the band. While they brim with excitement during our conversation, later on that night lead singer Alex Edkins goes as far to proclaim, “Best night of my life, seriously!”

Yet although METZ currently don’t have much to sell, other than their brutally riotous, screeching and genuinely excellent eponymous debut, released last year on Sub Pop, the group have been igniting punk spaces and shitholes since 2010. It’s a prolific sounding record, played lightning fast, but when I ask if the band share similar productive traits, Edkins responds smiling with teeth so white I can almost see my sunburn reflecting in them. “Not at all, actually.” Turns out the Canadian trio, despite their propensity for hurricane force music, like to take their time creating it. “For one, we’ve been so busy since the first album came out, but also we really like to take our time and work things out,” says Menzies.

We’re just really interested in stripping back, more and more,” says Edkins. “We just take what we have and skin it down until we have nothing left. We are definitely fans of less is more.”

So there’ll be no strings or orchestras to come on the next record then?

“Definitely not,” they all laugh. “If anything, I want to make it simpler and faster,” says Edkins, not that they have any plans to write a second album yet.

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There’s something of an irony to be extracted here, as any time spent in the company of, say, album track ‘Rats’ (a song so seething, cantankerous, scratchy and vicious, it doesn’t sound like a ‘Bleach’-era Nirvana rip-off, as much as it does something Nirvana would have loved to have written for their debut album) will no doubt realise their often uncanny ability to make one instrument sound like two or more. If anything you’d think their aim was to sound greater than the sum of their parts. “There were minor overdubs on the album,” Edkins concedes, “but we always have in mind what we are able to play live.”

Slorach interjects: “People are always astounded at how shitty our effects boards are. People come and take pictures of them after the show and you can just see the crushing look of disappointment on their face,” he laughs. Alex mimics someone looking at a board and pointing “25 bucks, 25 bucks, broken, 25 bucks… in fact I only really use two and they’re both distortion pedals,” he says.

That said, it didn’t stop Alexander Hacke of legendary noise experimenters Einstürzende Neubauten to ask Slorach how he managed to get the tone he had on his bass after one show. “It was so surreal,” he says, still a little wide-eyed and with a beaming grin.

“You could see a little tear run down his eye.”

“Yeah, I got it tattooed in its place but it washed away with more tears.”

Most of our brief time together is just as jovial, often digressing into gushes of who we’re excited to see on this, the first night of the festival. METZ are in demand to an extent that exceeds their one record, too, with a heap of other interviews planned before their show in a couple of hours. Thankfully, what they are unable to convey aboard The Princess Hotel conveyor belt, they more than make up for as they take to the Pitchfork stage. They’re pitted against the massive draw of a sun-going-down Tame Impala set, which was by all accounts un-missable, yet METZ make it a lot easier to sneak away from. They still draw a healthy and appreciative crowd and play with the force and might of six members. At one stage Slorach’s head bounces so relentlessly and fervently that I envisage it popping right off and rolling into the crowd, still bouncing like a defunct bowling ball as his decapitated body plays furiously on with blood gushing like a fountain from his neck.

Ending on ‘Wet Blanket’ acts as something of a reminder: revisiting the surge and gush of ‘METZ’ is as truly exhilarating as hearing it for the first time and only serves to reiterate its stature not only as one of my favourite guitar records of 2012, but also of recent years.

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