In support of the release of its latest album, Synthetica, Toronto-based Metric recently embarked on its first-ever arena tour. With the Canadian concerts coming to an end on Saturday at Air Canada Centre, singer-songwriter Emily Haines talks from the road about finding stadium love and exploring the universe.
You've just got back from your sound check. This being your first headlining arena tour, how has the sound been?
We're travelling with all our own production. We bring in the stage, the lighting and the sound system. Everything has been designed by us and our amazing crew, who are very happy to have the opportunity to have such a canvas to work with. So, to answer your question, the sound has been great.
I know it's off your previous album, but can you talk about the song Stadium Love and how it feels to play it in such large venues now?
That song is the clearest example of manifest destiny when it comes to this band, and there's been a lot of that. When we released Fantasies, four years after Live it Out, people weren't even sure the band would continue. We released that album ourselves in the States. We were making all these bold moves, the boldest of which might have been having a song called Stadium Love on an album from a band that had primarily played clubs up to that point.
There's the line, "Every living thing pushed into the ring / fight it out to wow the crowd." Is it satisfying to be doing the wowing on such a large scale now?
It was an amazing feeling of dreaming it up and then fulfilling it. And the feeling is definitely in there when we play that song now. It's been fantastic. It's a cliché at this point, but I'd had that image of looking out from the stage and seeing the blackness, with only lighters as far as the eyes can see, like a constellation. And now it's a pretty wonderful thing to get to experience it. It's very rewarding for us.
Rewarding in what way?
Seeing that music fans are out there, despite what everyone says. They do pay for records. They do go to concerts. They're having a good time, and so are we. It feels like it's an experience being curated by both sides.
In Pete Townshend's new book, he finishes it by talking about playing to the universe, which he describes as a big, abstract picture – the unknown. He goes on to say that the universe, for the artist in all of us, is as "small or large as we want it to be." So I ask, what's your universe like these days?
I think that quote is very insightful, on his part. You do, every single day, muster an otherworldly strength, ideally, to be better than yourself. At this point our band does this as much for each other as for anyone else. You hope to continue to inspire each other, and not let your friends down. We've continued to be amazed at how far you can go, and what you can be comfortable with.
Can you talk about your comfort level? An example of where you're at?
I was on stage with Lou Reed at Radio City in New York a month or so ago. The thing that struck me about the experience was how natural it felt. It seemed to be a natural progression of a life spent dedicated to the feeling of trying to be better than you naturally are. But that's pretty much what we go for every night.
You're playing Air Canada Centre one night after Townshend and the Who. In what condition would you like them to leave the dressing room for you? Trashed, maybe with broken television set or two?
[laughs] I'd like to be given the same facility as they were handed. I don't feel like cleaning up anybody else's mess.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Metric plays the Air Canada Centre Saturday night (1-855-985-5000 or ticketmaster.ca).