Metric's Emily Haines: I will never be a manufactured pop star

Categories: Interview, Q&A
Photo by Brantley Gutierrez
Emily Haines won't give up the past for the sake of her future. The lead singer of the Canadian rock band Metric is captivating to watch onstage, fiery and opinionated but controlled enough to reign it in and expose pieces of her life in song. The latest in this chain of expression is last year's Synthetica.

Haines spoke in succinct fashion with Gimme Noise before this weekend's two sold-out shows, one for MPR's Wits and the other at the Walker Art Center and 89.3 the Current's Rock the Garden. It was easy to imagine her pacing the room as she does the stage during the phone interview as we discussed the band's progression, her father, and why anatomy is destiny.

Gimme Noise:
Now that it has been out for a while, how do you feel about Synthetica compared to your past works?

Emily Haines:
I think everything you do you take a risk and you push yourself, so [2009's] Fantasies was a long time coming. Every record we've made has had its purpose, and we've pulled something creatively from them as a band. You always hope that you're doing good work, and luckily Synthetica totally surpassed our expectations in the way it was received, so it's all good.

GN: Do you feel it was a continuation of Fantasies, or was it a totally different album?

EH: I feel it's a continuation. All I can base it on is the fact that I perform this music 300 nights a year, so it's very interesting to feel how the songs fit together in a set. The live shows are really where they fit, so what's interesting for us is how carefree they meld together, and even the songs all the way back to [2003's] Old World Underground -- how they connect back to the newest music. We feel that cohesion in the records that we make going forward. I think we're on the path we want to be on.

GN: Are there some songs you don't enjoy performing as much because you don't feel a connection to them anymore?

EH: Um, no. If we didn't want to play it, we wouldn't play it, you know? I don't have some weird job; I just play rock 'n' roll for my life -- so it's my life. We really enjoy the process of curating every concert; we sing songs that fit well together, and it's cool. If anything, there's songs that I miss playing, some of the lesser-known songs, but there's nothing to really dig out there.

GN: You have a line in [the song] "Breathing Underwater" about never meeting your heroes [Full lyrics: "They were right when they said we should never meet our heroes, When they bow at their feet, in the end it wasn't me"]. Even after listening to that song, those lyrics always stick with me. Where did you draw from when you were writing that line?

EH: It's something that I know a lot of people think about and obviously that's why that line connected with people. But the idea is that there is no human being who can embody that fully -- spiritually or creatively. I've been watching this film on immortality; it's ultimately about everyone striving to be more than human, right? We push ourselves to express something that's far beyond us. You can never expect for that vision to inhabit reality. To me, I actually find a comfort in that. A lot of our favorite artists also forget that, because the point is even if you can meet them -- aside from dreaming about possible collaborations or wonderful music that could have been written -- the point is that everything they do was always outside of them and beyond the person who wakes up in the morning and tries to figure out what to do next.

A lot of people want to know if that line was based on Lou Reed, and all I have to say to that is that he is nothing but a lovely and incredible artist and human.

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