Northern Transmissions talks to Alex from Metz about their intense live shows, Fitzcarraldo references and recording their upcoming full-length. Their self-titled album comes out October 8th on Sub Pop.
NT: I wanted to ask about your upcoming self titled release, which also happens to be your first full length for Sub Pop. You decided to self-produce, what was behind this a decision? Did you guys know right from the start, you wanted to do it this way?
AE: I think it’s because the three of us have been playing music in different capacities for so long. When it comes to the band, we have a real distinct idea of what we want to sound like and what the end product to be. The way we approached it is that, we would call in some help for the technical aspects, because non of us are proper engineers. I’ve dabbled with some other bands, but never recorded a full album. But when it came to the album, it was a no-brainer, we knew how we wanted it to sound.
NT: This is your first full-length release, how come it took so long?
AE: I think it was a combination of a couple of things. We really didn’t want to rush it, we wanted to make sure it was something we could live with. We knew when we put it out we would be playing it for a while, we’d be doing some substantial touring behind it. So we really didn’t wanna make something that we felt was rushed. The singles were more or less, a case of getting our sound together. Finding out what worked in the studio, what worked live. We actually kind of focused more on our live shows, than recording. The way we write is unusual compared to most bands, we go to the studio with almost nothing prepared. We get there and almost hash everything out from beginning to end. It’s actually a bit more painstaking then if one of us brought a half written song or a full song in to arrange, so were literally writing and arranging everything in studio. That’s definitely part of the reason it took so long. And finally we were really growing as a band and wanted to make something that we were really proud of.
NT: You guys really sound like you have a long term plan and are quite methodical compared to most bands.
AE: It’s kind of funny, because from day one we were in no rush. We all had busy lives and jobs which we had to prioritize. I mean the band was always a serious commitment for us and something we wanted to see go further. Up until now we weren’t able to focus on it one hundred percent. Now with the record coming out, it’s something that we are more or less dedicating all our time to. It’s something definitely exciting and new for us, because we’ve never been in this position before.
NT: You guys have done tons of show over the years, your music at times involves quite a bit of time changes and improv. Do you still surprise yourselves during gigs?
AE: It’s always exciting, we just got back from doing a few shows. We did a couple of gigs with Archers Of Loaf and in New York. I’d say by far the best show we ever played was in Brooklyn recently. It was so unhinged, since we’ve been playing together for what seems to be so long, we can just feed off each other. We do leave lots of space in the set for improve, I mean it doesn’t get jammy because the songs are arranged tightly, but there is that element of surprise that comes with every show. So yes, it makes it interesting every time.
NT: Is the live show as terrifying as the music (compliment) at times?
AE: No, I mean when we played the last show in Brooklyn, it was in a venue with about two hundred people packed into a sardine can with no air conditioning. It was absolutely sweaty and crazy, but despite the fact that the music is heavy and intense, It’s a happy vibe. There’s lots of smiling and joking, everyone is there to have a good time. We always make sure it’s like that. We do get our aggressions out at times and play loud and with intensity, but we definitely don’t want to scare anyone away.
NT: Tell us a bit about the Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) cover ‘Pig’.
AE: It turned out we had a couple of extra hours in the studio when we finished the album. We decided to put that down on tape, so that we could just have. Jeff from Sonic Boom Records approached us to release something for Record Store Day. So we had it already prepared. We are big fans of Sparklehorse and his production style and songwriting. It’s something we would always put on in the van. We thought, hey we can do an interesting version of that song. We’re pretty happy with the way it turned out.
NT: You compared you album to the film ‘Fitzcarraldo’, can you elaborate on that a bit?
AE: Well it was a joke, I always hate when people ask to try and explain our sound. What I kind or related it to was the way we work and because were very particular about our sound. Making music is a very daunting task, starting off with something completely blank, then presenting it to people. So I tried to compare it to pulling a steamboat up a mountain, the whole thing was definitely tongue-in cheek (lol).