”Ten years and five records: I can’t get my head around that,” says Emily Haines, frontwoman of indie rock group Metric. Then, she asks, half-jokingly, “I guess this is really what I’m doing with my life, right?”
The Toronto band has spent the last decade learning to feel comfortable with its career. Since the foursome’s 2003 debut, “Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?,” Haines says Metric has constantly navigated difficult obstacles, whether it was struggles with record labels or a sense that the band continually had to prove itself. However, following its 2009 album, “Fantasies,” Metric-which also includes guitarist/producer Jimmy Shaw, bassist Josh Winstead and drummer Joules Scott-Key-decided to launch its own label in the United States. Since then, the path has been much smoother.
Metric’s fifth album, “Synthetica,” will be released June 12 on Metric Music International in partnership with Mom+Pop Records. The disc expands on “Fantasies'” boisterous, synth-tinged rock sound, which was heralded by the singles “Gimme Sympathy,” “Help I’m Alive” and “Gold Guns Girls,” the latter two top 20 hits on Billboard’s Alternative chart. The album has sold 198,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and reached No. 76 on the Billboard 200.
“There was a sense that we were granted some legitimacy on the last record,” Haines says of Synthetica, which was written and recorded after two years of touring for Fantasies. “It felt like I had been working this long just to get the job. Now, ideally, we can get started achieving what we set out to do so long ago.”
This career stability comes, in part, from a 2010 decision to align the band’s own Metric Music International with Mom+Pop, an indie label associated with Q Prime Management that’s home to Sleigh Bells, Andrew Bird and Tokyo Police Club. Under the deal, Metric retains control over its music and all creative decisions, but enjoys the benefits of a full-service label that markets and promotes its albums. “Mom+Pop respects what we’re doing,” Haines says. “[The label] properly [partnered] with us instead of falling into that usual model, where the musician is like an employee and you become secondary to a larger agenda.”
According to Mom+Pop co-founder Michael Goldstone, Metric didn’t want a label, but a true partner to join the organization and help it grow. “Structuring deals that are forward-thinking are paramount to our future,” he adds.
To promote “Synthetica,” the underlying idea is simply to build upon a fan base that counts new fans arriving only recently due to Metric’s original theme song, “Eclipse (All Yours),” used on the 2010 soundtrack to “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.” This means using marketing tools involving direct fan interaction, especially since the band is playing only selective North American dates until a more comprehensive fall tour. Techniques include an unveiling of debut single “Youth Without Youth” using lyrics on Metric’s website and a recent reveal of the entire album, which was streamed on SoundCloud following an online scavenger hunt and offering free downloads of the album for fans purchasing tickets to the fall tour.
“We wanted to continue to embrace the discovery process that Metric has historically built,” Goldstone says. “We’ve tried to stay transparent for Metric to continue that direct relationship with its audience.”