Metric’s Emily Haines + James Shaw Talk New Album, Imagine Dragons Tour
Metric recently joined Imagine Dragons for a mini-concert in Los Angeles to announce they were pairing up for a tour -- and Diffuser was there. We had a chance to chat with Metric's Emily Haines and James Shaw about the trek, and they also dished on the progress of their upcoming album, gave the stories behind a couple of new tracks and Haines also spoke about her recent collaboration with Goldiebloxc. Check out our exclusive chat below.
First off, it was a pleasure hearing you play today and I loved the new song -- the song with no name. Can you tell me a bit about where it came from and where it was in the process of putting together the new album?
Emily Haines: Yeah, it's really great cause we've been putting the finishing touches on the new record and then this whole tour just came together and it's wonderful. We were saying earlier, it just comes your way and makes sense. And it was like, "Hey, you want to come to the press conference?" and we were like, "When is it?" So the day before we left, we were like, "We gotta figure out how to play that song," so we sat at the piano. But there's a little bit too much contention in the band about what the name of that song is. It's been a huge battle. So it's like, "We can't title it right now. There's too much debate." So I think we're just gonna put it to our fans and be like, "'Song With No Name,' help us out. What's it called?"
Because it is so new, can you talk about the first time hearing "Song With No Name" back after writing it?
James Shaw: I was saying to Matt, our manager, earlier that it's a weird process because you toil away in the studio on the details, like the intensity of the hi-hat, is the bass too distorted -- and then the first time that anyone's gonna hear it is on acoustic guitar, so there's an element of it that's like, "Oh my God, why did I even go through all that trouble?" But then, the two things don't have to exist in the same world. I think it is interesting just to let it out the way that it is and then when the real song comes out later on it'll have its own life span …
Emily Haines: … and maybe its own name. And you know, I love that about acoustic stuff. It just shows you that either it's a song or it's not. If you can't stay there and play it, then what do you got? Maybe you got nothing.
Absolutely. And we've got the tour coming up. Just curious, with it being the first time out on the road after being in the studio for a period and completing a new album, is there any sort of jitters when you get back out there and have new songs to work in?
Emily Haines: It's always for me when I get deep into my life that is outside of the music or even recording or writing and just living, I have moments where I'll lie in my bed and be like, "How is it possible that as I've been doing this for years, I'll still be at the front of the stage trying to get a crowd of people to go off?" Like I'm lying in my bed thinking it can't be done. But then we just get back up there and we do it every time. So I don't really get jitters. I get excited to do it all again and better.
And Imagine Dragons. What are your thoughts on getting a chance to share stages with those guys?
James Shaw: They came on big right out of the gate and the first time I heard one of their songs on the radio I was like, "Aww s--t, these guys are really good." There were a couple of little things in that song "Demons" that just as a producer, I was like, "That's good. F---, why didn't I come up with that?" And then when the offer came it, it kind of just made so much sense. I think there's almost like a weird camaraderie between the two bands already which is very different and very unusual and I just think it's gonna be a great time.
And I realize that it's all still very fresh for you, but any songs you're interested in getting out there and seeing how they do live?
Emily Haines: Yeah, that's what we'll have to do. We're probably going to ask our fans too about what we should play. This will be our sixth record, so there's lots of material to choose from -- greatest hits and new stuff -- and it's a lot to choose from.
James Shaw: It'll probably be a three-and-a-half hour opening set.
Emily Haines: Yeah, something like that, three-and-a-half, four hours.
I absolutely love "The Fatal Gift" that you just shared not long ago.
Emily Haines: Oh yeah, thanks. We were just talking about that. It was Christmas Eve and I was at my mom's and she had gone to bed and I was kind of restless and I had come from New York. You know, we had this music that had been recorded but we hadn't really decided when it was going to be properly released and I thought, "This has to happen right now -- 'The Fatal Gift,' Christmas, it all makes sense." It was sort of a commentary on materialism and it's creepy and sort of paranoid and it's exactly my favorite kind of Christmas carol.
So we were talking about how it's this great little moment for our organization that we can turn this around in a matter of hours. It was like, this is what I want to do, I wrote up a description, these are all the formats and platforms we want to get it on. And we got a guy, Jimmy, we need artwork, send me pictures. And that's it, got it, go, and it came out on Christmas Day and that was really satisfying.
James Shaw: It took us years to really set up our business in a way that we own everything that we do. There's no one to check with who's going to say you don't have the rights or whatever. We're just allowed to do whatever we want to do and it took a long time to get to that point and that was really one of the first points where we were able to exercise it in a matter of an hour. It was really cool.
Emily Haines: That was really exciting for me. I think that's sort of the future for me is to feel empowered to do stuff. Cause a lot of the internet age is feeling the opposite. You just kind of feel like they're coming at you from all sides and you're just holding onto albums and that kind of stuff. So this is a way to kind of reclaim the fact that it's changed.
I wanted to ask about the progress on the new album. I realize the tour may push things forward a bit …
James Shaw: We're really close. There are probably just a few little tiny things left and we'll be right there. Who knows when it will come out? That's the next part of the process, but there will probably be some announcements relatively soon.
I love what I've seen from Goldieblox the last few years in their advertising …
Emily Haines: Isn't that great? Their stuff is great.
How did you get involved with them?
Emily Haines: That was another thing like we were talking about earlier about fighting for things or having them come your way. It's been a bit of that feeling now where we have established ourselves and we do exist. And they actually reached out to us and asked me to be the voice for Goldieblox because the woman who designed the toy and the whole concept between getting education and engineering education for kids, she said she was a fan of mine and that it kind of inspired the character. That kind of made me cry. I was really honored by that. So of course I'd be happy to work on it, so I did the voice which was really fun, and a little song. So we'll see what comes next. It was really awesome.
Did they show you something to work off of?
Emily Haines: Oh yeah, it was a whole involved process and my first voice-over work. So yeah, we saw the animations and had the whole illustration to work with. It was great.
And I think I saw you discussing wanting to get more into voice-over work. Is this something you're pursuing more of?
Emily Haines: I mean, being open to it is my version of pursuing it. You know what I mean? I feel more comfortable that way.
Our thanks to Metric's Emily Haines and James Shaw for the interview. Keep an eye out for news on their upcoming album. And be sure to catch them on tour with Imagine Dragons. Dates can be found here.