METZ means nothing

Drummer Hayden Menzies of the Toronto-based punk band reveals the story behind the group’s debut album cover and the name METZ.

by Joseph Kleinschmidt

What: METZ with No Joy and Buildings

Where: Coffman Union, Whole Music Club

When: 8:30 p.m., Friday

Cost: $5 for University students, $7 for the public

Age: 18+

To hear METZ live means to hear the pulsating rhythm of a unified organism. The Toronto-based punk rockers perform with a raucous energy most bands find difficult to relay to a concert setting.

Before the accolades from Pitchfork and The New Yorker, METZ honed this skillful, bleeding dedication to thrash-pop. The three-piece band practiced dutifully for five years before breaking out, releasing their debut in 2012.

“It just took that long because we didn’t feel like we wanted to rush anything. There was no point,” drummer Hayden Menzies said.

The eponymous album brings Sub Pop back to the Seattle days of the label’s foundation in the 1990s; the LP lies somewhere between a soiled couch cushion and a Nirvana record. Not that METZ brings to mind “Bleach” — the band brings vitality to grunge, where so many groups try to replicate.

The time in between the band’s formation in 2007 and the release of their LP allowed a chance for growth, where other bands flounder in the face of instant Internet-fueled success.

“We didn’t have a label breathing down our necks; we didn’t have anyone pressuring us to do it,” Menzies said of the period after co-founding METZ.

Turns out, the wait was worth it. The songs “Headache” and “Wet Blanket” bleed almost as much as an ear-splitting, liver-pounding live show. METZ only had to find a unified front in their punk barrage.

“We weren’t sure that it was all the caliber of material we could really put together as one unit, like one song we didn’t want it to seem like a hodgepodge of different styles,” Menzies said.

Together with the band’s cohesive aural attack, Alex Edkins’ claustrophobic lyrics give the band added poignancy on the record. Even if listening live means hearing Edkins shout his gruff outbursts, METZ screams against a universal ill — the depressing day-to-day of city life.

“You feel sort of down and out or you feel like you’re not quite a part of everything else that’s going around you, especially in a big metropolitan city like Toronto,” Menzies said.

METZ doesn’t lay the misery on thick, though. As indicated by the pop conventions or the enigmatic album cover, the band maintains a light, satiric glow to their urban disgust. Edkins picked the debut’s portrait of a young student facedown in a school binder.

“The album cover was photographed of Alex’s dad taken when he was in high school — so the ’60s or ’70s,” Menzies said.

From the glitch-heavy videos to the gut-wrenching, heavy-gauge strings, METZ packs a punch alongside sharp visuals. Menzies, the drummer, also illustrates the group’s merchandise.

Three Canadian guys making rock may not sound revolutionary, but METZ doesn’t aspire to change minds. As a whole package, Menzies just knows that band breeds nihilism. The name METZ fits a city in France, but the drummer admits to its empty definition, a fitting name for a band that just works.

“I don’t know how it came up,” Menzies said. “But it just seemed nonsensical enough that it would work.”