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LAist Band Interview: Metric

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Metric is a band that breaks the mold. They regularly pull off the difficult task of creating edgy, satirical songs like "Combat Baby," Monster Hospital" and "Glass Ceiling" that are catchy and politically charged. The fact that they can pull off this balancing act is a credit to the band's relentless goal to stay true to the music. As guitarist Jimmy Shaw states in this interview, the band is never satisfied with their own work.

Their recent effort, "Live It Out," is no exception. Emily Haines' voice moves between a whisper and a wail one "Empty" as she proclaims: "I'm so glad that I'm an island now / Sickness was fixing me some / Coughed out my heart in the last stall / Now that the damage is done / I never miss it at all." Unapologetic lyrics like this restore our faith in rock.

Metric are: Emily Haines (vocals/synths), Jimmy Shaw (guitar), Josh Winstead (bass) and Joules Scott-Key (drums).

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The band just wrapped up a series of dates in San Francisco, LA and San Diego. In the midst of this tour, Jimmy Shaw took time out of his schedule to talk to LAist. Continue reading to see what makes the band tick.

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LAist: How long have you been performing together Metric?

Jimmy: Myself and Emily have been playing together a long time, same with Josh and Joules the same—[We've been] Metric about 4 years.

LAist: Describe your creative process for writing composing the music.

Jimmy: There isn't usually a set structure. LAist: How does the band deal with being geographically split up -- do you collaborate over the internet?

Jimmy: No, no internet just a lot of flights.

LAist: The videos for "Combat Baby" and "Succexy" are creative, if not graphic. How did you come up with the concepts?

Jimmy: "Combat Baby" was a collaboration between many people. Animators, directors, musicians. "Succexy" was born out of an idea I had with Ashley Cahill while extremely drunk. A week later he had done it by himself.

LAist: You're not afraid to be outspoken... how much of a role does politics play in your music?

Jimmy: We are all awake aware people. It plays a role for sure. Being outspoken helps people to have an opinion of there own.

LAist: What other interesting/humbling jobs have you had besides being musicians?

Jimmy: Oh god, that list could be long...Use your imagination and its probably true.

LAist: You've toured in North America, Europe and Japan. How does the LA music scene compare to other cities?

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Jimmy:

I find LA is one of the few rare big cities that doesn't stand around judging and "looky-loosing." Although it might just be metric shows I'm talking about. The LA music scene is very open and self aware of its desire for commercial success, which makes it very interesting and not shy of ambition.

LAist: What's the biggest challenge for a new band [breaking] in the LA music scene—or any music scene for that matter?

Jimmy: The hardest challenge for any band is the key to success, staying together.

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LAist: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring musician, what would it be?

Jimmy: Check your ego.

LAist: What is your favorite venue here in LA and why? Are you satisfied with the selection?

Jimmy: I love the El Rey, its where we always play, the crew there is great and the room looks awesome. LA has great venues.

LAist: Who is your biggest influence and why?

Jimmy: Probably Kubrickn 'cuz he's the best.

LAist: With whom would you most like to collaborate as a band (local or
otherwise) on your next project?

Jimmy: I guess I would like to collaborate with Murray Lightburn of the Dears, 'cuz I think we could get into some seriously heated fights.

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LAist: What was the first album you purchased as a kid?

Jimmy: Can't remember what record, was probably Yaz or Duran Duran or some shit. I was pretty happy as a kid, I didn't need records that bad.

LAist: Who's your favorite California-based band, or your favorite contemporary band right now?

Jimmy: Sparklehorse.

LAist: When you're not performing, what's your favorite thing to do to recharge?

Jimmy: Have sex. Or maybe swim.

LAist: Name one thing your fans probably don't know about the band.

Jimmy: We'll never be satisfied.


Further Listening: