Out of the class­room and into the spot­light

Lo­cal punk band finds mo­ti­va­tion and suc­cess by lov­ing what they do

The Kids Post - - Ask The Expert - By David Pater­son

Chem­istry and math and all the rest of that stuff are im­por­tant, but few high school stu­dents ever sit in the back of the class and day­dream about be­com­ing chem­i­cal en­gi­neers. No, when it comes to mak­ing a liv­ing, they fan­ta­size about some­thing cool. Like be­ing in a band.

Turn­ing that fan­tasy into a re­al­ity is, how­ever, kinda tricky. And un­less you get ridicu­lously lucky and pen a hit song on your first at­tempt, it re­quires ded­i­ca­tion. Plus the abil­ity to cram a ton of equip­ment into a tiny van.

The lat­ter is a skill that up-and-com­ing Toronto rock­ers METZ have down pat. The trio, which dropped its first, self-ti­tled al­bum last fall and has signed with the leg­endary Sub Pop Records, has toured all over On­tario and fur­ther afield and works on the prin­ci­ple that, if you can’t fit it in a van, you don’t need it at the gig.

“We like to keep things sim­ple,” says Alex Ed­kins, the band’s singer and gui­tar player. “There’s three of us, and we like to stick with the less-is-more mode of mak­ing mu­sic. I think that forces us to be­come bet­ter mu­si­cians as op­posed to just lay­er­ing on things.”

Af­ter the band cut its first al­bum, Ed­kins and his col­leagues Hay­den Men­zies and Chris Slo­rach quit their nine-to-five jobs to fo­cus on mu­sic.

“We’ve toured in­ces­santly since Septem­ber. It’s been un­real, an in­cred­i­ble year, but it’s been non-stop. I think we’ve done three Euro­pean tours and two Amer­i­can tours,” he says on the phone from his home in Toronto’s west end where he’s tak­ing a few days off be­tween tour­ing in Europe and get­ting mar­ried.

Work­ing on the band full-time has been a dream of Ed­kins’ since he first started METZ back in his na­tive Ot­tawa where he first met Men­zies. Seven years ago, they moved to Toronto and added Slo­rach to the ros­ter, and they have been work­ing on their sound since.

Play­ing to crowds at fes­ti­vals in Ger­many and the Nether­lands, Ed­kins has lit­er­ally come a long way since he first picked up his mother’s acous­tic gui­tar at the age of 12.

Though his school just out­side Ot­tawa of­fered gui­tar classes, Ed­kins wasn’t a fan of the struc­tured ap­proach to learn­ing mu­sic (he says it was more fun than math, “but only slightly”). In­stead, he pre­ferred to get some friends to­gether and see where it ended up.

“I think I wanted to see where I could go my­self, and then I met peo­ple my age who were do­ing the same thing, and I think you learn the most from your peers and your friends,” he says. “So I had some friends, and we’d go down into the base­ment and make a racket for hours and hours and hours. That’s when you learn the most, when you start mak­ing mu­sic with other peo­ple and col­lab­o­rat­ing and just jam­ming. I have fond mem­o­ries of that from a young age.”

Ed­kins says that the de­ci­sion last year to work on his band was a life changer. Op­er­at­ing the band as a busi­ness, Ed­kins found him­self thrust into the role of en­tre­pre­neur, jug­gling the kind of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties fa­mil­iar to any owner of a small start-up firm.

“You are a busi­ness owner and you need to run it as a busi­ness.” he says. “You need to take care of all the ins and outs of the busi­ness and it’s pretty wild. And that’s on top of be­ing cre­ative, per­form­ing and writ­ing mu­sic. It’s an ab­so­lute around-the­clock type of pro­fes­sion. We learned that quickly.”

But, eco­nomic re­al­i­ties aside, Ed­kins says the most im­por­tant thing for any as­pir­ing band is to have a love of the what they are do­ing.

“I think if you start mak­ing mu­sic for other peo­ple or to be­come pop­u­lar it’s not go­ing to last or you’re go­ing to end up hat­ing it. I think the most im­por­tant thing is to truly be­lieve in and love what you are do­ing. And as long as you are do­ing that, you can’t ever re­ally fail.”

He adds, “You may not find mass ap­peal, but I don’t re­ally think that’s what it’s all about. That’s never been our goal. Suc­cess is one of those things you can never pre­dict. It’s out of your con­trol in many ways, so just do it for the sheer love of it.”

METZ’s de­but al­bum has been short­listed for the pres­ti­gious Polaris Mu­sic Prize

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