Metric’s music shows a large measure of liberal thought

Ben Breier

Learn about Metric’s system of unique sounds Saturday night at the Grog Shop.

Credit: Ben Breier

There’s much more to Metric than kilograms, meters and addictive Canadian indie pop.

With the release of Live It Out, the band’s second full-length record, Metric has been touring restlessly in order to expose its unique brand of socially relevant pop music. On the new record, the band maintains political intensity while seemingly switching up the style from heavy synthesizers to increased amounts of heavy guitar.

“Knowing how both records are made, I’m not so sure there’s less synth on the new record,” guitarist James Shaw said in a phone interview. “We did make a really conscious effort to crank the guitars. I’ve become a hell of a lot better at playing guitar.”

When Shaw isn’t busy rocking out with Metric, he can be found switching things up with the successful Canadian pop compadres of Broken Social Scene.

“Metric comes very natural for me, but when I can find some time to sink into (Broken) Social Scene, I find it challenging because there’s so many people and so much going on,” Shaw said. “It’s a challenge to play music that isn’t inherently in my nature.”

Live it Out is a very intense album – its length is akin to that of an indie rock version of Weezer with a politically dogmatic zeal that many bands try to execute, but oftentimes fail in doing so.

“We’re very political people, so we always attempt to know what’s going on and why; we talk about politics all the time,” Shaw said. “In the inception of making this record, we felt that attacking Bush was too easy and passe at this point.”

To say that Shaw and company possess a certain amount of disdain for the president is an understatement.

“We all know what an idiot he is, and it’s not a big mystery to anybody,” Shaw said. “He’s completely mismanaging his position in world politics.”

In “Monster Hospital,” the band’s first single off of Live it Out, Metric borrows a chunk of the chorus to the Clash’s “I Fought the Law” and adds a political twist to it. When lead singer Emily Haines screams, “I fought the war, and the war won,” it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which war she’s referencing.

“Iraq isn’t the greatest idea, it’s not going over well, and kids are needlessly dying,” Shaw said.

Haines also painted some diabolical imagery on the band’s debut full-length, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? In the song “Succexy,” Haines sings, “all we do is talk, static split screens / as the homeland plans enemies,” in relation to the war and the turmoil involved within it.

Outside of the war, Shaw said he believes that the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina are a travesty.

“From everything I’ve read, the federal government didn’t show up early enough and gave the wrong message to people. You can’t tell a 3-year-old to get out on time, and you can’t tell someone who makes nine-grand with six kids to get out, and then stick you on the front page for stealing diapers,” Shaw said. “All we keep seeing is photographs of looters – what exactly is looting in this situation? The store is flooded and the owner is long gone.”

When asked about what music the band is currently listening to, Shaw said, “Death From Above 1979 gets turned up, while the Arcade Fire gets turned down.”

But fans of Metric should turn it up and Live it Out when the band plays at the Grog Shop alongside The Most Serene Republic this Saturday. Just make sure to check any conservative ideals you might have at the door.

Contact ALL correspondent Ben Breier at [email protected].