Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.
“You slept with our drummer, didn’t you!?” Emily Haines, frontwoman and indie-rock glamour girl exclaimed a few minutes after we met. I insisted I did not! (Seriously. I didn’t). “You’re blushing,” she said laughing, then snapped her fingers and her husband, an insanely affable and dapper South American artist and musician Haines met on an airplane, appeared with a bottle of champagne, offering refills. “That’s my man,” she said, sighing and gazing at him wistfully. “Isn’t he so hot?”
“The signature Metric idea is that the sweet spot in music and in life comes from luxuriating in the battle and then celebrating fiercely when you win.”
We were all tucked away downstairs at New York’s favorite exclusive rock bar, The Cabin, attending the listening session for the Canadian band’s new album, Synthetica. It’s been almost exactly three years since their last record Fantasies, which propelled the quartet from rock critic and super-fan favorite to mainstream contenders. As the primal elegance of dreamy sonic vignette “Dreams So Real” came on, Haines, who is model-thin and aggressively beautiful in a filmy white T-shirt, piles of assorted necklaces, and skinny jeans, holds up her hand, interrupting herself to announce, “This is my jam.”
They are all her jams. One of the things that’s most charming about Metric is that they’ve fought for their fame, having battled indifference and label melodrama and the odd bout of tepid critical response, and come out on top. They are rock warriors, and as such they have that defiant, intensely personal connection to this, their fifth record that bands who’ve traveled an easier road often haven’t felt since their first. Metric are a testament to the idea that struggle breeds greatness. And that sensibility feeds into their aesthetic – a kind of rebellious but not adolescent rock cool, a commitment to having fun no matter what, on and off the stage.
“Turning thirty is the bomb,” Haines exclaimed as we talked about aging in rock while staying young. I asked if she minded telling me how old she is. “Yeah, I do,” she snapped, the angular planes of her lineless face suddenly sharper and more pronounced as she stared me down. But then she smiled, and we discussed the way it weirdly all gets better as you evolve beyond the nubile but aimless post-adolescent decade of your 20s and into the self-assured sexiness that is your 30s. “I look better than I did ten years ago,” Haines said without hesitation. “And it’s amazing to have kids coming up to us after shows saying ‘I listened to you driving to high school and now I listen to you driving to college.’”
The signature Metric idea is that the sweet spot in music and in life comes from luxuriating in the battle and then celebrating fiercely when you win. This was on display at the Cabin. The bar was open, the drinks flowing, and periodically plates of micro greens, posh crudite and fancy grilled cheese sandwich squares would appear to help guests like Nick Zinner and Adam Green soak up the booze. On my way to the bar for yet another Stoli and soda I accidentally jostled Metric guitarist Jimmy Shaw on his way from the bar carrying a bunch of shots. I apologized. He just grinned: “No it’s a great thing! Tequila everywhere!”