Emily Haines really wanted to sound like Iggy Pop.
We sat down with the singer and her Metric co-founder, guitarist Jimmy Shaw, on Saturday to talk about the band's Austin City Limits Music Festival set and their newest record, "Art of Doubt." Like many of the storied indie-rock band's albums, "Art of Doubt" is happy to take its urgent instrumentals to dark places, with Haine's clear voice singing about some of society's worst impulses.
Listen to this interview below:
We're talking specifically about the song "Die Happy" — lyrics about Kool-Aid and dystopia abound — when Haines says she really wanted to capture wild child Pop's guttural sound on the song's turn toward the dirge-like.
"As always, we're just trying to, without overthinking it, just express what we're feeling and what we're going through in the moment we're living in," Haines says, "and hopefully find some solidarity with other people. Really, that's the same thing we've done with every record."
Over seven albums since 2003, Metric has covered a lot of ground, but they're still finding new places to go. There's the tight, menacing guitar hits like "Help I'm Alive" and "Gold Guns Girls" from 2009's "Fantasies"; the band's use of synths is a trademark, especially apparent on 2012's "Synthetica" (this writer's favorite) and 2015's "Pagans In Vegas." For "Art of Doubt," Shaw says, they wanted to think about how far they took electronic sounds on those more recent records and go there with heavy guitars, in a back-to-basics approach.
» More ACL interviews: King Princess says it's time for gay divas
"We like to experiment a lot,and we find stuff that becomes iconic for us," Shaw says about the early stages of songwriting and recording. "Signature sounds, and signature tricks."
One of Metric's signature songs: 2010's "Black Sheep," which also is a memorable part of the movie "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World." Haines knows the cartoonist, Bryan Lee O'Malley, behind the graphic novels on which the movie is based. And not coincidentally, one of the title character's ex-girlfriends in the story, Envy Adams (played by Brie Larson in the film), is the frontwoman of a very Metric-like band called the Clash at Demonhead. Director Edgar Wright wanted a song from the real-life band for the movie. He heard "Black Sheep," leftover from "Fantasies," and it made it in as the big number for the Clash at Demonhead.
"Which is, by the way, an amazing band name, and I kind of wish that we were called that instead of Metric," Haines says.
"I now follow Brie Larson, because I feel like she was kind of me, and I'm so happy for her and everything she's achieved," Haines says with a laugh. "I'm like, 'We win!'"
ACL Fest is the band's last stop on their current tour. "If we could spray tequila from the stage, we would, but we can't, but we won't," Shaw says.
Listen to our full interview with Haines and Shaw to hear more about making "Art of Doubt," the utility of a good air horns and what they think are the bands to watch coming out of their native Canada right now.
» More from ACL Fest: It’s Billie Eilish’s world; ACL Fest is just livin’ in it