It’s been a whirlwind couple of months for modern rock band Metric’s Emily Haines, whose recent schedule has included the recent release of “Pagans in Vegas,” the band’s sixth studio album followed by tour dates in Europe, Mexico and the U.S.
“I always pride myself on stamina and ability to overcome,” said the veteran musician and vocalist, whose shows in Mexico come at a perfect time to squeeze in a little R&R. Haines took time in between tour dates with WhereTraveler to discuss Metric’s latest album, the band's favorite stops on the road, and its upcoming Texas shows in Dallas at the Bomb Factory, San Antonio (for Untapped Festival) and at Houston Whatever Fest.
Since you’ll be performing at Untapped in San Antonio, and it’s a beer and music festival, what’s your drink or beer of choice? It’s actually kind of like my attitude about music: I really appreciate a simple pilsner when it comes to beer. I don’t go “deep craft,” although after spending a lot of time in Germany, you realize there’s a total art to it … it’s just so delicious and refreshing!
What are a few of your favorite cities? Of course, Paris is totally fabulous, and we have a wonderful time in London, but we all know those cities are great—we’re drawn to the ones that aren’t A-list cities. Hamburg really surprised me—it’s in the northern part of the country, which I’d never really experienced. The food isn’t heavy like schnitzel or Bavarian food, but has a nautical feel—like going out to sea.
We’ve also had some amazing times in Kansas City—like, amazing. I think to the rest of the world, [KC residents] feel like, “Go ahead and think you want you want, you have no idea what we’ve got!” So I’ve always got my eyes peeled. It will be cool to come through San Antonio—I’ve never seen the architecture.
Do you have time to explore when you’re on the road? Between sound check and the show, it’s good to try to absorb some part of culture or something larger than yourself. Coming off the road is such a conflicting business because you have to be so self-absorbed when you are the show and you have to make yourself the show, and as a culture we tend to idolize the more vain, bold and confident. When I come back from tour, there is no sweater or pair of wool socks that are huge enough for me!
With the new “Pagans in Vegas” album and tour, what’s new production-wise that fans can look forward to? With every album we make, there’s always a preliminary gasp of fear that something is going to be lost in the spirit and heart of our band. To me, it’s my life accomplishment that those are still so intact between the four of us after all these years.
“Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?” was more Blondie and new wave and “Live It Out” was rock; “Fantasies” was much more accessible—more synthetic, grand conceptual rock. “Pagans” became this synth-love-craft-work-throwdown… To fans, I’ll say, never fear: Everything you love is all still there and then some.
The new music has been such an amazing process to bring into our repertoire, and other sonics in other songs add to this body of work. The only place it really exists is the show—how we approach it when you see us and getting the full spectrum of all of it. We’ve gotten a lot of love since getting up and running, and when we tested it out on the Europeans (laughs). One thing our fans can depend on is to not be boring, and that’s something you have to push for to evolve.
What can audiences expect from shorter performances, particularly festival sets at Houston Whatever Fest and Untapped Festival in San Antonio? No matter how long [the set] is, we’re always going to take you on a ride…That’s the whole point of the show, to take you to a different place emotionally. We’ll play a bang-‘em-up set but also find a way to take down the bigger show we’ve developed, like giving a little trailer but making sure we rock your faces off!
Describe a few of the musical influences found in the latest album. With “Pagans,” Depeche Mode [“I love ‘Personal Jesus’”], The Cure and Joy Division kind of popped up. It’s about being honest in the sonics: You get certain feelings from certain songs because you use that pedal with this synth. So when that started happening when we played and recorded the instruments to tape in the studio for “Pagans,” we decided to go with those sounds and pay homage.
What types of music to you listen to regularly? In general, I feel like I operate with a bull**** detector; I don’t care what style it is. So- called “authentic” music can get really snobby with indie rock and music in general, but just because people have suspenders and beards and wear denim— that’s not authenticity. I’m open-minded to music and am always really excited to hear something that gives me that “feeling.”
In New Orleans we just played Voodoo Festival and saw the Standard Growlers [at One Eyed Jacks, a small venue in the French Quarter] on Halloween. It was insanity! It was really fun and I loved their music—kind of garage rock throwback with more modern, Morrissey-like vocals…That’s the kind of thing I live for in the modern music scene: It’s the camaraderie of people coming out.
Who or what inspires you when it comes your artistic process? I thanked the two women from “Broad City” and Amy Schumer in the new album, so that should give u some indication: Where boldness resides! There’s nothing for me like just leaving town and realizing how everything you built can be gone and no one can care in a matter of hours. That’s sort of the approach that I take—getting inspiration from life and make sure I don’t fall into the rabbit hole like so many people do.