Even under the best circumstances, heading out on tour can be a total gamble of faith. Toronto noise-rock veterans METZ took the plunge this month, though, for their first tour in over a year-and-a-half—likewise their first since the release of last year’s excellently circuits-surged Atlas Vending. Just a few days into the trip, the act woke up in Santa Clarita, CA, to find that their trailer full of guitar pedals, amps, and drums— not to mention band merchandise—had been unhitched from their van and stolen.
It was a crushing, burdensome blow, but METZ were determined to keep the tour going however they could. Their fans felt just the same.
As METZ set out for San Francisco, friends set up a GoFundMe page that quickly found many looking to chip in to help the trio—vocalist-guitarist Alex Edkins, bassist Chris Slorach, and drummer Hayden Menzies—recoup. Fans have also been coming to shows with extra pedals and handmade effects boxes in-hand so METZ can power through as (mostly) planned. The support has been overwhelming.
Speaking with Gut Feeling outside of their show in Vancouver, Chris Slorach got into the theft, METZ’s eternal gratitude to the broader indie rock community, and how one of the hardest working bands in underground punk is determined to work even harder.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Chris Slorach: There had been a lot of nerves about coming on this tour. As things were unfolding [with the theft], it felt like, ‘Is someone trying to tell me to stop doing this?’ So we woke up and the trailer was gone, but over the course of that day, the outpouring of support made me want to work harder. The number of people showing up to the shows with pedals; people from guitar stores offering up amps and drum kits….we felt a lot of love. The kind of thing that makes you feel misty-eyed.
There’s a lot of motivation when you realize that people really give a shit about what you do. It puts everything you do in a completely different perspective.
With what people had been bringing you, were they all things that had been in that list of stolen gear, or at least comparable?
People were messaging us over e-mail or Instagram asking us what we’d already acquired, and what we needed. A guy showed up to the Seattle show being like, ‘You can have this bass amp for a ridiculously low amount of money.’ Now I’ve got an 8x10 for the rest of the tour. Another guy showed up with a 4x12 for Alex. We were smart enough to bring all our guitars into the hotel [that night] so we managed to save the things with heavy sentimental value, but we lost everything else.
We left L.A. at 10 am, and by the time we got to San Francisco we had a full backline waiting for us—a smattering of pedals we could choose from; cables. People just rallied together behind us. I don’t even know how to express the amount of gratitude that we all have for the love that we felt from everybody. We didn’t miss a beat, you know? It was incredible.
Was there anything that was trickier to track down?
Yeah, there were boutique pedals that we had, but for touring we try to keep things as standard as possible. There are a handful of challenges that come with trying to replace an entire backline, right?
It’s a unique moment for METZ in that you’re out supporting your livestream concert album, Live at the Opera House, which was made last year to promote Atlas Vending in the absence of touring and in-person shows.
We’re touring to support Atlas Vending, that’s the idea here. The live record was a placeholder, but it was something we wanted to do. It was fun to present the album [Atlas Vending] in a live format that people could watch while they couldn’t go to shows.
Sometimes songs take on a new life when you take them out them out on the road. Since you’ve lived with Atlas Vending for a while now, have there been any mutations to these songs?
There are definitely places where we can stretch out in a lot of the new songs, but we haven’t fully explored that yet.
Anything from the record you’re especially juiced to be playing?
I’m excited to play everything off Atlas Vending. When we were making it, it felt like these songs would be perfect live.
“Framed by the Comet’s Tail” is a favourite, though. It’s one of the slower tracks on the record, but it’s got dynamics you can play around with in a live setting.https://youtu.be/Nerv22gJOy4
On the other side of that, are there any METZ songs that haven’t leant themselves to live performance?
We have a couple things that were specifically meant for record—a couple songs on [2018's] Strange Peace are like that, for sure. We also have this song coming out on a split with a band called Adulkt Life from the UK...we have a live version that we’ll do, but the [studio] version is meant for a record.
What basses had you kept safe in the hotel room?
I always carry two so that I have a back-up. They’re my two Gibson RDs. If I had lost those, I don’t know if I could have continued the tour.
You were hanging onto a wild bass in an Instagram story of yours a while back. I think it was star-shaped…
That’s a funny story. The guy that we rent our van from is friends with the bass player in GWAR [ed. Known to us lowly maggots as Beefcake the Mighty]. When GWAR were just in Toronto, the bassist was looking at Facebook Marketplace and came across a Bootsy Collins star bass. He sent a message to a friend in Philly saying, ‘I found this bass at a really good price, are you interested?’ She said, ‘Yeah, but how the hell am I going to get to Toronto?’ Then Derek [who rents us the van] messaged me and says, 'Can you buy that bass, leave it at your place, and I’ll pick it up?' I said, ‘Sure thing, no problem.’
Turns out the guy who owned the bass also owns this amazing chocolate shop in Toronto. When I went to go pick it up, he gave me bags of chocolate for my children. It was great!
I went home and screwed around with the bass. It takes five 9-volt batteries. It’s just obscene.
What kind of chocolates were you given?
It’s a place called SOMA—fancy chocolate, but my kids didn’t like it. They thought it was gross.
Was it dark chocolate? That can be a hurdle for kids.
C: Yes, like 98 %. There was some milk chocolate, too, but fancy chocolates are lost on my kids. I kept them for myself.
Metz's current tour continues through to mid-December. You can find their remaining tour dates here.https://youtu.be/GD9K7WLZMXg