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Metric

Metric_One_LoMetric kick off their Australian tour this Saturday, December 7, at Metro City. ALEX GRIFFIN speaks with guitarist, Jimmy Shaw.

Guffawing down the phone from Montreal, Jimmy Shaw sounds like he’s in a good mood, and why the hell not?  He’s about to head to Australia with three friends and collaborators who have only seen their fortunes blossom for over a decade now of music together.

Since forming in 1998 in Toronto, Metric have released four albums, met the Queen and won more Juno Awards than you can shake a maple leaf at. Unfortunately, Shaw has no secret to the way Metric have gone about their business. “I think a lot of it is just chance! We just get along really well and so rarely have any issues with each other. The way the band operates is solidified in so many ways. We don’t fuck with it, and by doing that we’ve somehow managed to grow up in a really parallel way as people. We’re all open to the idea that we’re not gonna be the same people as we were and if we grow apart it’ll happen, but it hasn’t yet. It’s the thing you hope for, basically.”

Singer/lyricist Emily Haines occupies the spotlight, but Shaw keeps the engine ticking in the background, changing up the band’s production style in response to Haines’ lyrical preoccupations. For the anxious and internet-obsessed Synthetica, Shaw let loose with glistening disco rhythms, taut guitar and sinewy keyboards. It’s all kind of like having a panic attack in a glass elevator, and for Shaw, that’s the product of a long process.

“They have to be connected in some way; if they’re not then the listener won’t really end up understanding what’s being told to them, you won’t feel the motives for the song. A phrase I use a lot is ‘emotionally correct’- if a song is something really intense emotional/heartfelt, and yet the music and the playing is flippant then it takes on a meaning out of what’s being said. The music has to support the content, the lyric and the vocalist; those things have to be working in tandem with one another for a song to feel right.

“My role as producer is to make sure that what Emily is saying is clear, to help the listener understand what she’s saying, find an entry point to relate to it, understand and become connected. It’s like how a lot of writers who don’t have editors only say things in the way they see the world working, and it doesn’t translate. I have to make sure what she is saying gets heard right.”

Metric’s jaunt down under will bring 18 months of touring in support of Synthetica to a close, but despite the amount of time he’s had to spend with the music since finishing it Shaw has no regrets when he looks back at the record.

“I haven’t listened to it for a year, but I’m really proud for it. I’m not big on regret because it’s not a positive force, it’s a real waste of energy, you can learn from mistakes but regretting is way too much for you. It was really personal, because Synthetica was something I allowed myself to have the vision and the time to complete it exactly the way that felt the best and the most true to the concept. I stand by it the same way I stand by everything else we’ve done.”

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