Metric (band)

Metric (band)

James Shaw, Joules Scott-Key and Emily Haines, live in 2010
Background information
Origin Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Genres Indie rock[1]
New Wave
Post-punk revival
Years active 1998–present
Labels Metric Music International
Last Gang
Arts & Crafts (México Only)
Emily Haines
James Shaw
Josh Winstead
Joules Scott-Key

Metric is a Canadian indie rock[1] and New Wave band founded in 1998 in Toronto. The band has also at various times been based in Montreal, London, New York City and Los Angeles. Metric consists of vocalist Emily Haines (who also plays the synthesizer and guitar), guitarist James Shaw (who also plays the synthesizer and theremin), bassist Josh Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key.

Their first full-length album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?, was released in 2003 and earned a Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album. Live It Out was released on October 4, 2005 and was nominated for the 2006 Polaris Music Prize for the Canadian Album of The Year and once again the Juno Award nomination for Best Alternative Album.

The first album the band recorded, Grow Up and Blow Away, was finally released on June 26, 2007 by Last Gang Records. The album was originally recorded for Restless Records, but got neglected when the label was bought out by Rykodisc.

Haines and Shaw also perform with Broken Social Scene, and Haines has been a guest on albums by Stars, KC Accidental, The Stills, Jason Collett and Tiësto. Scott-Key and Winstead have their own side project, Bang Lime, and Haines has released a solo album and companion EP, Knives Don't Have Your Back and What Is Free to a Good Home?, respectively, under the name Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton.

Their fourth studio album Fantasies was released in Canada and the United States on April 7, 2009.[2] It was shortlisted for the 2009 Polaris Music Prize for Canadian Album of the Year, and won the Alternative Album of the Year at the 2010 Juno Awards. Metric won as well in 2010 Group of the Year.




Born in New Delhi, India, and raised in Cache Bay, Ontario, Emily Haines grew up as a dual citizen of Canada and India. The daughter of poet Paul Haines (best known for his lyrical collaboration with Carla Bley in the 1971 jazz opera Escalator over the Hill), Haines left London at the age of 3. Paul would often make cassettes of rare and eclectic music for his daughter to listen to and her early influences included Carla Bley and Robert Wyatt.

By her teens she followed her parents' footsteps by attending the Etobicoke School of the Arts. There she met Amy Millan and Kevin Drew, with whom she would later collaborate in hHead. Haines and Millan briefly formed their first band around 1990 while at ESA, and with songs later written and recorded while at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver in 1992–1993, at Toronto in 1995, and at Concordia University in Montreal in 1995–1996, Haines distributed in 1996 an early effort called Cut in Half and Also Double with a limited number of copies.

Shortly before this, UK born James Shaw was a student at a Boston music school and was friends with Torquil Campbell, a vocalist who would later form Stars, and Chris Seligman, the future synthesizer player of Stars. Torq had plans to move to New York City and on his suggestion Shaw applied to Juilliard Music School and moved to New York with him. After a three-year education at the institution, Shaw had acquired considerable classical training but did not enjoy his stay and knew that his musical interests lay elsewhere.

In 1998, Shaw and Torquil returned to Toronto, where Haines met Shaw through mutual friends in the local music scene. Shaw moved to Montreal where Haines was still living and the two worked on filling out each other's projects. For example, Shaw had an instrumental song built around piano chords and Emily had a completely different song with a vocal line that fit perfectly around the chords. The result was the song "Butcher", and eventually the two of them had completed several other tracks in their home studio (including "The People", "The Battlecry", "The Mandate", "The Lifestyle"). This resulted in what they called Mainstream E.P., a collection of demos with an overall downtempo and electronic feel.

In the fall of 1998, Shaw moved back to New York City, this time accompanied by Haines, Campbell, and Seligman. There they shared a loft in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. During their two-year stay at the loft, Haines and Shaw were erstwhile roommates with future members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars and TV on the Radio. In an interview with Dave Owen of I Cant Breathe Media[3] and AAA Shaw said that although this sounded like an amazing place to live often the roommates were simply struggling to eat.

In 1999, Shaw and Haines decided to call their partnership "Metric", after a synthesizer beat that Shaw used on his sampler and as a reference to the duo's musical precision. That same year, Warner Bros. Records showed interest in the group and the band did a development deal with them. A producer in London saw the potential of commercial success from the demos they recorded in this period and offered to bring Metric to the UK for a possible record deal. Eager to take a break from the somewhat miserable conditions of the loft, Haines and Shaw set off to London in early 2000 and signed a publishing deal with Chrysalis Records.

With the help of producer Stephen Hague, an influential figure in the synthpop/New Wave genre(s) who had produced such '80s acts as Erasure, New Order, and the Pet Shop Boys, Metric worked on a new batch of New Wave/electropop drum-machine paced songs that would form the nucleus of their debut album. This nucleus formed the basis for an eclectic style that would be prescient for bands in the years ahead with their musical mix. Although Metric already had a semi-mainstream appeal, they felt restricted by the confines of recording demos and were eager to return to NYC and put a live band together. In November they moved back to their Brooklyn loft.

Grow Up and Blow Away (2001–2002)

Metric continued to work on their debut album in the first few months of 2001. Now dubbed Grow Up and Blow Away, the effort revealed a more musically layered and mature sound than the earlier Mainstream EP. The album under construction included commercial-friendly uptempo songs such as the title track "Grow Up and Blow Away", "Raw Sugar", and "Soft Rock Star" (distinguished by a vaguely Beatlesque melody, high-pitched singing in the chorus, and lyrics evoking middle school angst), downtempo songs like "White Gold", "The Twist", and "Rock Me Now" (which included singing by Shaw, spoken-word vocals by Haines in a manner reminiscent of "The Mandate", and had an overall jazzy vibe). "Parkdale", featuring trumpeting by Shaw and a fanfare intro, concerned the edgy and dynamic Toronto neighborhood. Haines and Shaw completed the album in April and by this time had found a new label for their release – Restless Records – the L.A. indie record company that promoted such acts as They Might Be Giants, Agent Orange, and The Dead Milkmen.

Jimmy Shaw of Metric

Metric had also gained a new bandmate in the winter of 2001 – Joules Scott-Key – a native of Flint, Michigan who was attending college in Texas and was in town with his friend Joshua Winstead (also from Texas) performing in the local music scene. Scott-Key (no relation to Francis Scott Key) and Winstead had known each other for about a decade and they met Haines and Shaw at the Brooklyn loft and at local performances. Metric at the time was for the most part a studio band and live shows approximated the Synthesizer-centered and drum-machine driven sound of the recordings. This made for somewhat restrained and less-than-dynamic performances. The recruitment of a drummer, particularly one of Scott-Key's talents, facilitated a stronger, more engaging live presence and Joules officially joined the band at a Unitard show at Black Betty's in Williamsburg. Metric performed in New York in early Spring and late Summer 2001, personally circulating handmade CD-R copies of their unreleased music to fans at shows and by mail, eventually giving the music away for free on the internet.

Metric received their first major public exposure in August 2001 with the television commercial "Be Afraid", advertising Polaroid's I-Zone Pocket Fortune film. The music used for the ad was taken from the song "Grow Up and Blow Away", with the line "Why does it feel so good to die today?" changed to the more benign "Why does it feel so good to fly away?". The commercial drew curious music listeners to the Polaroid website to learn of the source of the synth-pop music used in the commercial.

Old World Underground (2003–2004)

In 2003, Metric released their first official album Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?. The album was received with impressive, enthusiastic reviews. The group released six singles from the album, the most successful being "Combat Baby", which was featured as a free single on iTunes in 2004. As of 12 December 2005, the album has gone gold in Canada.

Metric was featured as themselves in the 2004 independent French film, Clean, directed by Olivier Assayas and starring Maggie Cheung. The film was nominated for the Palme D'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival. The songs that Maggie Cheung performs in the film were written and produced by David Roback of Mazzy Star. The soundtrack also features songs by Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, Emily Haines, Metric and Tricky.

Live It Out and Grow Up and Blow Away (2005–2007)

Two years later, Metric released their second studio album, Live It Out, on October 4, 2005. This album, like its predecessor, was well received. During this time, Metric was approached by and agreed to open for the Rolling Stones whose tour coincided with theirs in New York City. Live It Out was a success in Canada, already selling twice as many copies as Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? and scoring them three top 20 singles for "Monster Hospital", "Poster of a Girl" and "Handshakes". The album has since gone twice platinum in Canada, selling over 200,000 units. In the UK, all three of the singles were used in the soundtrack to the TV series Hollyoaks. The band did a UK-wide tour supporting Bloc Party as well as performing at Reading and Leeds Festival, The Great Escape in Brighton, Wireless Festival at Hyde Park in London and numerous club dates throughout the UK. The band has toured the world extensively for several years playing concerts in France, Germany, Iceland, Brazil, Greece, Italy, Turkey, the Netherlands, Finland, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, United States, Canada, Venezuela, Mexico and Japan to promote Live it Out.

On June 26, 2007, Last Gang Records released Metric's 2001 album Grow Up and Blow Away.

Throughout the summer of 2007, four new songs were road-tested by the band, tentatively named "Black Sheep", "The Hooks", "Stadium Love", and "Up in Flames". On October 4, 2007, Metric played a live webcast show on's "Hey Play This" programme. Fans sent in requests and the band played a selected few. Along with old material, they performed several new songs, including "Freddie" (aka: "Black Sheep"), "Standing in Line", "Gimme Sympathy" (aka: "The Hooks"), "Twilight", "Joyride" and "Stadium Love".

On November 13, 2007, Last Gang Records released a trailer on YouTube for a Metric DVD showcasing a live concert at the Metropolis Theatre in Montreal, as well as all three music videos from Live It Out. The DVD was released on February 12, 2008. A three-track audio EP was released on iTunes in December. The EP features the live tracks "The Police and the Private", "Too Little Too Late" and "Patriarch on a Vespa" from the DVD, as well as the DVD trailer.

Fantasies (2008–present)

Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw playing a free show at the Media Club in April 2009

The band performed select dates in 2008 in Canada, Mexico and Brazil while continuing to record their upcoming fourth album. They performed at the 2008 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California on April 27, 2008,[4] and at the 2008 Ottawa Bluesfest in Ottawa on July 11, 2008 in addition to playing at the 2008 Pemberton Festival in Pemberton, British Columbia on July 25, 2008 and All Points West Festival in New Jersey on August 9, 2008.[citation needed]

On September 7, under the premises of an Emily Haines solo show, Haines and Shaw played the full ten-track album acoustically at Union Pool in Brooklyn.

During December 13–23, 2008, Metric toured across Canada with Tokyo Police Club, The Dears, and Sebastien Grainger and The Mountains, to raise money for various charities under the name "Jingle Bell Rock" tour. "Help, I'm Alive" was officially released as the lead single from the upcoming album on iTunes on December 23, 2008 in Canada and January 1, 2009 around the rest of the world.

Their fourth record, "Fantasies" was released on Last Gang Records in Canada, Arts & Crafts in Mexico, and independently around the rest of the world. Fantasies features ten tracks. The song "Black Sheep", which was played often by the band on tours, was not included. However, the song was featured in the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The music video for "Gimme Sympathy" was released on MySpace on March 16, 2009. Emily and Jimmy completed a mini tour of exclusive acoustic shows across Canada, with stops in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Victoria in late April with cooperation from local radio stations. The only way to get tickets were from the band website or listen-to-win on the local radio stations. The band finished a Europe tour in May 2009 and toured the US (with Sebastien Grainger and The Mountains and Smile Smile), UK, and Canada at certain music festivals during the Summer. They then headed to Australia for their first ever Australian tour in early October, as well as one show in Tokyo. On August 30, 2009, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park fame made his remix of the track "Gold Guns Girls" available for streaming on his website. He used the remix as the theme for his art exhibition Glorious Excess (Dies), and later became part of a compilation album set up by Linkin Park's Music for Relief for victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[5]

On October 27, 2009, Metric released a 5-track EP called Plug In Plug Out containing acoustic versions of songs from Fantasies. The EP was available exclusively on Amazon for 30 days.[6]

Emily and Jimmy performed an acoustic version of "Help I'm Alive" on January 22, 2010 for the Canada for Haiti telethon.

During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Metric, along with several other Canadian music acts, came together in Vancouver to re-record K'Naan's song "Wavin' Flag" to benefit Haiti in a movement called Young Artists for Haiti.

On February 28, 2010, Metric released the track "Black Sheep" through their Facebook page.[7] The song is on the soundtrack for the film Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. In the movie this song is sung by Brie Larson who played Envy Adams in the film. Scott Pilgrim author Bryan Lee O'Malley said he was inspired by concert photos of Emily Haines while originally drawing Envy's singing poses. The band toured in western USA, before playing shows in the Canadian Maritimes and Eastern Ontario for most of March 2010.[8] Metric also toured with Sarah McLachlan for part of her 2010 Lilith Fair.

Metric won multiple awards at the 2010 Juno Awards, winning Group of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year.

Metric have a song, "Eclipse (All Yours)" on the Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack,released on June 8, 2010.[citation needed] The song was written with composer Howard Shore. The deluxe version of the album also has an acoustic version of the song. Metric performed "Eclipse (All Yours) on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on July 21, 2010.

During October and November 2010, Metric opened for Muse for seven shows of The Resistance Tour. They were part of the lineup for Voodoo Experience 2010 which took place over Halloween weekend in New Orleans, LA.[9]

Metric announced that they will be returning to the studio in late 2010 to write and record for their fifth studio album.[citation needed]

On January 4, 2011, Metric released an iTunes Session EP exclusively on iTunes, consisting of 8 live tracks, including "Hustle Rose", "Empty" and a cover of the Buffalo Springfield song "Expecting to Fly ", and a 30 minute interview.[citation needed]

Emily and Jimmy were presenters together at the Juno Awards of 2011 on March 27, 2011.

On April 3, 2011 it was announced that Metric will headline "Live At Squamish" on August 20, a music festival put on by local radio station 100.5 The Peak. Due to a scheduling change, Emily and Jimmy ended up playing a smaller acoustic set on August 20th, and played a full band show the following night, August 21st.

In early October 2011, Haines announced that the band was nearing completion of their as-yet untitled fifth studio album. She also added that they are looking forward to a Spring 2012 release date.[10]

Media usage

  • "Gold Guns Girls" has been used on 90210, Zombieland, Entourage, Grey's Anatomy, Rookie Blue, Totally Spies! The Movie, One Tree Hill, EA Sports soccer game FIFA 10, as well as Eden Games' open-world racing game Test Drive Unlimited 2.
  • "Police and the Private", "Front Row", and "Blindness" have been used in Grey's Anatomy.
  • "Monster Hospital" has been used in CSI: Miami and in Grey's Anatomy.
  • "Stadium Love" has been used on CSI: NY, 2011 NHL All-Star Game as well as on House.
  • "Gimme Sympathy" has been featured in 90210, the opening montage to CBC's coverage of the 2010 NHL Winter Classic and in the Ontario Media Development Corporation's 2011 "We've Got it Going on" campaign[11]
  • "Help I'm Alive" has been featured in the second episode of 90210 's third season, The Vampire Diaries, the films Defendor and Zombieland, and the video game NBA 2K10.
  • "Combat Baby" is a playable song in the music video game Rock Band 3.
  • "Eclipse (All Yours)" was included in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack.
  • "Handshakes" was featured in Inside Paris and in Test Drive Unlimited, a racing game published by Atari.
  • "Monster Hospital" was featured in Tormented.
  • "Black Sheep" was featured in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and also performed in the film by fictional band The Clash at Demonhead.
  • "Dead Disco" was featured on Grey's Anatomy in Season 7 episode "Something's Gotta Give".



Year Details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
2003 Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?
  • Released: 2 September 2003
  • Label: Last Gang Records
2005 Live It Out
  • Released: 27 September 2005
  • Label: Last Gang Records
2007 Grow Up and Blow Away[note 1]
2009 Fantasies
  • Released: 7 April 2009
  • Label: Metric Music International
6 48 110 164 76
  1. ^ Recorded in either 1999[18] or 2001[19] but wasn't released until 2007 – with minor tracklist changes.


  • Mainstream EP (1998)
  • Static Anonymity (2001)
  • Live at Metropolis (2007)
  • Plug In Plug Out (2009)
  • Spotify Acoustic EP (2010)
  • Spotify Covers EP (2010)
  • iTunes Session EP (2011)


Year Title Peak chart positions Album

US Rock
2001 "Grow Up and Blow Away" (UK promo) Grow Up and Blow Away
"Raw Sugar" (promo)
2004 "Combat Baby" Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?
"Succexy" (promo)
"Dead Disco" (promo)
2006 "Monster Hospital" 55 Live It Out
"Poster of a Girl"
"Handshakes" (promo)
2007 "Empty"
2008 "Help, I'm Alive" 21 17 30 Fantasies
2009 "Front Row" (promo) 65
"Gimme Sympathy" (promo) 52
"Sick Muse"
"Gold Guns Girls" (promo) 85 16 28
2010 "Stadium Love" (promo)



  • Live at Metropolis (2008)

Music videos

Year Title Director
2003 "Calculation Theme" Ramon Bloomberg
"IOU"[24] Unknown
"Combat Baby" Michael Schiller[25]
"Succexy" Ashley Cahill[26]
2004 "The List" Chris Grismer
"Dead Disco"
2005 "Monster Hospital" Micah Meisner
2006 "Poster of a Girl"
2007 "Empty" Jaron Albertin
2009 "Help, I'm Alive" Deco Dawson
"Gimme Sympathy" Frank Borin
"Sick Muse" Justin Broadbent[27]
2010 "Gold Guns Girls" Eady Bros. / METRIC[28]
"Stadium Love" Robby Starbuck & Frank Borin[29]
"Eclipse (All Yours)" Brantley Gutierrez

Director Christopher Mills directed a short film with the song "Collect Call" from Fantasies. He also created a sequel using the band's iTunes Sessions cover of "Expecting to Fly".

See also


  1. ^ a b "Singles Round Up". Clash. Retrieved March 8, 2011. 
  2. ^ Kaplan, Ben (2009-03-11). "Metric moves up the release date of new album". The National Post. Retrieved 2009-03-12. 
  3. ^ "Metric: Music Podcast". Access All Areas. 7 September 2009. 
  4. ^ Goldstein, Melissa (1 May 2008). "Coachella '08 Reviewed, Day Three: Metric, I'm From Barcelona, Duffy, Stars, Sean Penn". Spin. Retrieved 2008-11-28. 
  5. ^ Shinoda, Mike (30 August 2009). "Shinoda+Metric Remix: Gold Guns Girls". 
  6. ^ "New Acoustic EP "PLUG IN PLUG OUT"". Metric's MySpace blog. MySpace. 20 October 2009. Retrieved 31 October 2009. 
  7. ^ "Metric". Facebook. Retrieved 1 March 2010. 
  8. ^ "Tour Dates". Metric. Archived from the original on 1 March 2010. Retrieved 1 March 2010. 
  9. ^ "Voodoo Festival 2010". Retrieved 17 June 2010. 
  10. ^ Gaston, Peter. "IN THE STUDIO: Emily Haines Talks Metric LP". 
  11. ^ "Ontario Media Development Corporation". Retrieved 27 March 2011. 
  12. ^ a b "Metric: Billboard albums". Allmusic. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  13. ^ "Metric". Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  14. ^ "Metric" (in French). Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  15. ^ "UK Chartlog: 9.05.2009 update". The Zobbel Website!. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  16. ^ "Gold & Platinum – February 2006". CRIA. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  17. ^ "Gold & Platinum – August 2009". CRIA. Retrieved 2009-09-20. 
  18. ^ "Metric Hit Studio, Re-release First Album". Spin. 9 May 2007. 
  19. ^ "Metric "Grow Up and Blow Away" CD". Metric Online Store. Archived from the original on 2007-12-12. 
  20. ^ "Gold & Platinum – December 2009". CRIA. Retrieved 2009-02-03. 
  21. ^ "Chartlog UK: 1994–2008: M – My Vitriol". The Zobbel Website!. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  22. ^ "Billboard: Metric positions". Retrieved 2009-06-09. [dead link]
  23. ^ "Metric Album & Song Chart History". Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  24. ^ Metric. I.O.U. (Video). YouTube. 
  25. ^ Metric. Combat Baby (Video). YouTube. 
  26. ^ Metric. Succexy (Video). YouTube. 
  27. ^ Metric. Sick Muse (Video). YouTube. 
  28. ^ Metric (22 March 2010). Gold Guns Girls (Video). MySpace. 
  29. ^ Metric. Stadium Love (Video). YouTube. 

External links

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