Silent Uproar: Overall, the response to Old World Underground seems to be really positive. Does this put added pressure on the band to live up to the “hype”?
Emily: : No, I think it’s the opposite. Actually it’s much harder to have no one hear what you’re doing. It is really impossible for bands to go play live and to explain to their families and their friends what the hell they are taking off for. So now it is really great to have the record out and have fans and to be able to tell your family, see this is what we are doing. We are getting to play live and to go tour and we are all really happy. It is nice to have the record and feel like it actually matters.
SU: So people actually acknowledge that it isn’t just playing around, that it is something serious at this point.
Emily: : Yeah, it’s great. My whole life has been about aspiring to not play in bars. So getting to play the El Rey theatre in Los Angeles and just places where it is really about the music and not just beer has been nice. Well it’s still a little about beer, but.
SU: What influenced the sound of this album? Were you going for a certain feel, or is it just how it came out.
Emily: : I know that we all were basically trying to make sure there was lots of energy in the music and definitely I think we were inspired by a lot of our peers and friends in bands. There is a lot of good live music happening. A lot of the sound of the record came from the guy who produced it with us. Michael Andrews, who did the Donnie Darko soundtrack, he had a real vision for it just sounding kind new age and was responsible for shaping it in that way. My keyboard sounds that I come up with are just the sounds that I like, but I think in general we all just want to be a good band and there are a handful of bands we look up to and draw from.
SU: What is the band's songwriting process like? The instrumental arrangements are surprisingly elaborate, and we were just wondering how some of that developed.
Emily: : For the most part I write songs on the piano and they are pretty slow. Then chord changes and melodies and lyrics I come up with the base ideas and I take it to James and together we kind of find ways to bring more life to it. Then the whole band gets together and makes it a Metric song.
SU: It is hard to ignore the underlying pop and catchiness to Old World Underground, is that a sound that has evolved naturally or is it something you keep in mind as you record?
Emily: : I don’t know. That’s what I do is write songs. I really love the process and I guess I have sort of a sweet tooth for things being sort of accessible. I think we just didn’t want it to be especially intelligent, like we didn’t want long introspective jams. Just trying to make it as concise and as strong as possible. I think pop isn’t my favorite word, but I understand what you are saying. That isn’t suppose to be what it is, we didn’t say let’s make pop music or lets make rock music, it is just suppose to be accessible and to give you am immediate little high. That is what we were trying to do.
SU: How do you feel about the press lumping Metric in with a "retro" movement in music (i.e. the Faint)?
Emily: : I don’t know. It doesn’t really bother me. I think it makes since to pay homage to what came before you. It’s referential anyways; we all want to hear music with things we recognize in it. I feel like you’re not an imitator you’re an innovator and I think when people pay homage to what came before, it’s great. I think that is why there was such a cultural void in the 90s because everyone was trying to do all this new stuff. I heard a great analogy for it the other day and that was that it was like yuppie bar soundtrack stuff.
We have tried having our music sort of produced in that way and it’s just not as interesting. I mean you wanna be yourself and be unique, but you are supposed to be carrying on a tradition I think. As long as it’s rock and roll, you know. We love the old world (laughs).
SU: Some of the lyrics seem to have a pretty political bent to them, what's your take on the current us political/electoral climate?
Emily: : That’s a pretty broad question. Um, I think generally I feel that for me and most of my friends, we are pretty freaked out by the way the world is going. We feel that we are really pretty helpless to do much about it. We are trying to stay sharp I guess and not be apathetic and try not to be lazy, but to try and stay awake I guess kind of in general. I think the whole info entertainment thing is kinda scary and everyone is feeling like their opinion doesn’t count.
SU: Is that something you want to push through your music or is it just more of a means of expression?
Emily: : I don’t know, I certainly don’t want to tell anyone else what to think, but you want to inspire people to at least be passionate and to give a shit about what is going on, to not be absolutely passive and stay in their own box. I don’t think any of us want to be too heavy handed, but definitely getting involved with Rock the Vote and things like that. It’s just like, why not participate.
SU: Well you are also in the position of having people’s attention ad their ears, so it is good to use that for something positive.
Emily: : Yeah it is pretty funny to be like on the campaign trail, like doing the same thing.
SU: You sing on some of the last Broken Social Scene album, what is it like working with more of a collective of people as opposed to a quote unquote band?
Emily: : It’s great, I went to music school with some of those people and it’s all just like a great group of friends. That’s how we hang out is just to play music, so it is a great other part of my life that I really treasure. It is a very different approach to the writing.
SU: I know they tour a lot with Stars and you guys, does that make it easier for the Broken Social Scene to stay focused as a collective? I guess meaning that if the band members were never together; it seems it would make it hard for the band to stay in-tact.
Emily: : Yeah, it isn’t easy and the last little run we did with Metric was great, but it isn’t always going to work that way. I think we are going to try and do a West Coast run together and James and I are going to try and join up with them in Minneapolis on the next tour, so we will definitely keep it alive. You’ll still never know what you are going to get from the Broken Social Scene, which is what they want.
SU: Did you do any work on their upcoming new album?
Emily: : Yeah, I have a song called “Backyard”.
SU: I know you have some history with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, do you think that band such as them who have broken into the indie mainstream are making it easier for bands like Metric to get noticed?
Emily: : I hope so, that would be great. We have total respect for those guys and I hope that’s true.
SU: Did being around that band and so much during the kinda formative stages of Metric influence your sound at all?
Emily: : It’s funny because it wasn’t really happening at the same time. I think the influence came from just being inspired by everyone’s musicianship in the band and just Karen’s amazing confidence, which is something I didn’t always have much of. She probably doesn’t know this, but it kind of set a good example of confidence. I think that is the main way it did influence me. I think we have a really different sound and I don’t think so much in the music, but more of in the spirit of the way we make the music.
SU: I know they are on Interscope and major record labels seem to be reaching out to less mainstream artists more and more these days. Is that something you see ever happening with Metric?
Emily: : I don’t know. The difference is the labels have come around, but what we are doing is working right now and I don’t really see what they could do for us. We have learned our lessons about getting a chunk of money or getting a loan from the bank you know. I am definitely open to seeing how they could help us go further while still working with the people we work with at Everloving. So we are sort of open to it, but it certainly isn’t a priority.
SU: So what prompted the move to LA? What did you feel it offered you that Toronto or NYC didn’t?
Emily: : It was just out of necessity really. We left New York and we sub-let our place so that band could live on that and what was left of the first record deal, so I think the band had like $5,000 left for all four of us. So we were in Toronto and our sub-lease ended, and it was like well we can go back to New York and all work in restaurants or not. So we decided to use what we had left and move to Los Angeles.
We got setup in an apartment and all got day jobs and worked and got out of our old record deal and started working on new stuff. It was just cheaper to live there, and it’s warmer and it’s easier to be poor there. Luckily we met some really great people that we ended up working with.
SU: I know the band has had a lot of changes in the last 2-3 years, how did you manage to stay focused and push through all the changes?
Emily: : I don’t know it’s weird, I was just thinking about that the other day. I used to get really freaked out that I was making the wrong decisions and that I was on the wrong road, but I just realized recently that I am just going to do it. I think no matter how it’s going to go down, it’s going to happen. We have all known our whole lives this is what we are going to do, we just didn’t know how. You just have to be ridiculously persistent and love it. You have to care about trying to really not make shitty decisions. It is really hard work, but I just love it.
SU: It seems the changes have definitely paid off, I love the new record and I think a lot of people are really feeling your sound, but is there anything you look back on and wish you had done differently?
Emily: : Yeah, when we first moved to New York and recorded our first songs, Warner Brothers was already coming around and we did a demo deal with them and kind of…
One thing I regret is there were record labels sniffing around from the very beginning and in some ways I wish we had the confidence to ignore them and not think they could hand us things or help us. I just had a really naive idea about A&R guys and I thought they really could be like a friend, but now I think that was really not right. I also just wish that earlier on we would have recognized that we should do this as a live band. I think the early recordings were good a exercise in learning how to sing and stuff though.
I’m trying to not have regrets because I used to have a problem with that, I’m trying to change my ways.
SU: What do you hope the future holds for Metric, what would define success to you?
Emily: : I guess to be able to tour and to play real venues and it would be wonderful to travel and play different parts of the world. Jus to keep making records I guess, I just don’t want to play in bars anymore! Just to get to make rock music and to get to put out records. Even that takes so much work to get to that point, just to keep doing it would be cool.