"Have I ever really helped anybody but myself,
Metric is a Canadian
indie band founded in 1998 in Toronto
, consisting of vocalist Emily Haines
(who also plays the synthesizer and guitar), guitarist James Shaw (who also plays the synthesizer and theremin), bassist Josh Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key.
The band (originally comprised of Haines, the daughter of British poet Paul Haines, and Shaw, a Julliard-trained guitarist who she met in Toronto) formed in 1998 under the name Mainstream, and released an EP that was electronica-based. In the fall of that year, Haines and Shaw moved to New York
to work on new material, renaming the group Metric as a result. During this time, they also released their first official LP, Grow Up And Blow Away
in 2001. Later that year, the group brought on Scott-Key (a native of Flint, Michigan who was studying at the University of Texas) and his friend Winstead, who both performed music and met the duo during a trip to New York. With the new lineup, Metric released their first full-length album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?
, in 2003 and earned a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Their follow-up CD, Live It Out
, was released in 2005 and was nominated for the 2006 Polaris Music Prize for the Canadian Album of The Year and the Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Their next album, Fantasies
, was nominated for the 2009 Polaris Music Prize for Canadian Album of the Year, and won Alternative Album of the Year at the 2010 Juno Awards.
The band is known for a heavy mix of fast-paced New Wave
/electropop music, which became their signature sound. In addition to her work with the band, Haines has performed with various indie bands, including Broken Social Scene
(with Shaw), Stars, KC Accidental and The Stills, and has also recorded two solo albums (under Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton), Knives Don't Have Your Back
and What Is Free to a Good Home?
The other band members have also branched into side projects.
- Mainstream (EP) (1998)
- Static Anonymity (EP) (2001)
- Grow Up And Blow Away (EP) (2001, re-released in 2007)
- Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? (2003)
- Live It Out (2005)
- Plug In Plug Out (EP) (2009)
- Fantasies (2009)
- Synthetica (2012)
They have also contributed music to the following films:
- Album Title Drop: The opening of "I.O.U.", which directly references the album title of the same name - "Old world underground, where are you now?"
- Breakup Song: "Wet Blanket".
- The Cameo: Haines briefly appears in K-Os' "Man I Used To Be", The Stills' "Love And Death" and Julian Plenti's "Games For Days" music videos.
- Canon Discontinuity: Although the band acknowledges they were originally called Mainstream, the EP of the same name has never been re-released, and none of the songs appeared on either of the EP's released three years later.
- Dress Rehearsal Video: "Gimme Sympathy" has Haines walking to a band rehearsal and (along with the band) suddenly changing outfits and seating placements as the camera continually spins around 360 degrees.
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- The "Mainstream" EP had little to none of the signature sound the group would codify on "Static Anonymity" and "Old World Underground", was much more downtempo and electronica-based, and didn't have supporting bandmates Joules Scott-Key and Joshua Winstead (they hadn't joined the band yet).
- Even for recent fans, it can come off very jarring to watch the music video for "I.O.U." and see a band performing in something that looks like it had a budget of $20, Haines (who has very short brunette hair, as opposed to her later blonde hairstyle) sitting at her piano for most of the video, and her dancing coming off like someone who's having a seizure.
- Gratuitous Panning: "Ending Start".
- Lyrical Dissonance: "I.O.U." features a rocking piano/guitar combo, starts out with some interesting lyrics about living life to the fullest...then transitions into a rant about child soldiers wishing falling bombs were shooting stars, all while the same kickass beat drives the song.
- Messy Hair
- Ms. Fanservice: Interestingly inverted. When the band first came to prominence, Haines was known for wearing skinny short skirts and frantic, hip-shaking dancing (which was a staple of their early music videos). As time progressed, however, she dropped the dancing and settled on more conventional attire.
- New Sound Album: Live It Out dialed back the synthesizers and focused on heavy bass and guitar work, partially splintering the group's fanbase. Fantasies returned to the fusion of synthesizer-guitar that was prevalent on Old World Underground.
- Obligatory Bondage Song: "Torture Me". The video for "Poster of a Girl" also invokes bondage imagery, with Haines wrapping her hands in white strips of fabric and simulating being tied up.
- Obsession Song: "Poster of a Girl", which depending on your interpretation, is either Haines obsessing over random sexual encounters or her reaction to someone who's infatuated with her.
- Performance Video: A staple of the band's work, most videos just have the band performing in front of various backgrounds, or (in the case of "The List") the events leading up to a live performance.
- Precision F-Strike: "Artificial Nocturne" from Synthetica and "Satellite Mind" from Fantasies are each the only song from their respective albums to contain profanity. The former is especially notable since it's the opening track on the album and the first of the two F-words is in the opening line.
- Protest Song: "Succexy" is a veiled call to arms against the glamorization of the U.S. War on Terror.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? is one long rant at the U.S. government's occupation of Iraq in 2002-2003. Several of the music videos (Combat Baby, Succexy) invoke anti-war imagery, and several of the songs (I.O.U. and others) reference child soldiers and anti-war sentiments.
- Sanity Slippage Song: "Monster Hospital" and the accompanying music video.
- Shout-Out: "The List" features the lyric "Broken accidental stars," a reference to Broken Social Scene, KC Accidental and Stars (three Canadian indie bands Haines has performed with).
- "Twilight Galaxy" has a possible shout out to IAMX in the line 'There's no glitter in the gutter/there's no twilight galaxy', as "There's glitter in the gutter" is one of the lines in IAMX's song "Skin Vision".
- Song Of Song Titles: "Gimme Sympathy" invokes The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" and "Sympathy For The Devil", and the lyrics reference "Here Comes The Sun" by The Beatles.
- Spiritual Successor: Some have recently compared Emily Haines to Garbage's Shirley Manson
- Surreal Music Video: "Dead Disco" has the band playing in a studio with psychedelic imagery overlaid in the background - and Haines' gyrating hips.
- The Lad-ette: Haines, who has made no secret of the fact that she can be just as bad as her male band members, and has cheerfully admitted to sleeping on mattresses in dirty motels (even when the band was big) and drinking like a fish.
- The Oner: The music video for "Gimme Sympathy".
- Trenchcoat Brigade: Worn by Haines in several of the band's videos.