TO use the words of charismatic frontwoman Emily Haines, Metric have always been "the outliers" of the indie-rock music industry.
Many of their contemporaries have acquiesced to play the game. Whether that be tailoring their sound to the whims of so-called taste-masters or schmoozing with the major labels in the hope of securing 'the push'.
That's never been Metric's way. For more than 20 years the Canadian new wave revivalists have plotted their own path on independent labels, even to their own commercial detriment.
However, Metric's refusal to play the corporate game and focus on their creative integrity has earned them a wealth of admirers and accolades, such as multiple Canadian music awards.
On their eighth studio album Formentera, Metric have again ignored trends to create an anthemic, yet dark, masterpiece as they strive to make sense of the pandemic and its impact on humanity.
"We're trying for something more than to write three-minute songs," Haines says over Zoom from Canada.
"All four of us have pushed past people's dismissive automatic ideas of who you're gonna be based on your appearance, your gender or background.
"That sense of being chronically underestimated.
"I actually want to make a t-shirt that says 'ignore me some more'. It doesn't matter because we're on this quest.
"Ultimately it's a very cool relationship we have with people who find our music."
Metric formed in the late '90s and released several albums in the 2000s while based in New York's fertile indie scene which produced The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Interpol.
Metric's synth-heavy indie-rock eventually caught fire on fourth record Fantasies in 2009, with featured their break-out songs Help I'm Alive and Gold Guns Girls.
Guitarist James Shaw says the goal of Metric when the band began more than 20 years ago was to produce interesting work and create interesting conversations.
"It seems like over the past 20 years the world has gone more and more in the direction of, what's important is it makes money," Shaw says.
"It's not like that wasn't always there, but it seems so strong now.
"The notion that we do something for the pure reason that it would be interesting, cool, thought-provoking - it seems like it's a smaller idea now.
"It seems very strange to us, given we've dedicated 20-something years consistently to that one notion. That's what life is supposed to be."
COVID lockdowns meant the Canada-based Haines and Shaw were separated from their US bandmates Joshua Winstead (bass/synths) and Joules Scott-Key (drums), so when the opportunity finally arrived to record together again, they settled on a idea of escapism.
The title Formentera is taken from a Spanish Mediterranean island near Ibiza. Haines admits they didn't completely achieve that escapist ideal.
"We lost people to COVID, we lost a lot," she says. "It was not easy, but the idea was we were thinking ahead to how it's gonna feel when we're all coming out of this and this is gonna be the music released then. That's its purpose.
"I feel a little bit sad that things are not that great in the world. I was really optimistic there would be this moment of humanity. Some sort of evolutionary change where we would realise something profound and some beautiful thing happening. It's childish and idealistic.
"It feels like things are more divided and polarised, but more reason to have this music, which is ideally meant to make people feel like they can process what happened and also have a really good time."
The 10-minute Doomscroller is the album's show-stopper and darkest moment, and sums up the feeling of reading endlessly bleak news during COVID.
"I was so in that state of mind where you think you're going to get to the bottom of it, the end of it, and the worst will be over, but it isn't and it never will be," Haines says.
"You actually have to regain some control and pull yourself out of the hole. It's not a pleasant feeling."
Metric last toured Australia in 2013, and Haines and Shaw promise the drought will soon end.
"We're starting our North America tour in a week and we just announced Europe in February," Haines says. "We're just onto our management, 'so when are we going to Australia?'"
Shaw adds: "I would say there's a very good chance that we're there next year sometime. That's the idea."
Metric's album Formentera is out now.
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