Metric are a band who have embraced an eclectic and adventurous outlook -- the group's music encompasses elements of synth pop, new wave, dance rock, and electronic, while the group has collectively been based in Toronto, Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, and London over the course of their existence. Metric's story began when vocalist and keyboard player Emily Haines met guitarist James Shaw in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Haines, the daughter Paul Haines (a poet who has collaborated with jazz artist Carla Bley), was born in New Delhi in 1974 but moved to Toronto with her family when she was three. While studying at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, a high school for aspiring artists in Toronto, Haines formed her first band with fellow student Amy Millan. Haines and Millan would go on to form a group called Stars, which also included Torquil Campbell and Chris Seligman. Through Campbell, Haines was introduced to British-born and Canadian-raised Shaw in 1998, not long after he had relocated to Toronto following three years of study at the Julliard School of Music in New York City. Haines and Shaw discovered they were musically simpatico and began writing songs together.
During a sojourn in Montreal, Haines and Shaw began recording demos of their new material that would become Metric's debut EP, Mainstream, released in 1998. Later that same year, Haines and Shaw relocated to Brooklyn, New York, and after cutting more demos using synths and a drum machine, they were scouted by representatives of a major music publisher who flew them to London to work with producer Stephen Hague. Haines and Shaw combined the London-recorded tracks with material they cut in Brooklyn, and the results formed Metric's first album, Grow Up and Blow Away. In 2000, Metric signed a deal with Restless Records, but shortly before the album was scheduled for release in 2001, Restless was bought out by Rykodisc, and under the new ownership the Metric album went onto the back burner. Around this time, Haines and Shaw met drummer Joules Scott-Key, who was born in Michigan but had relocated to Brooklyn after studying at a music school in Texas; Scott-Key was soon invited to join Metric, and before long his friend Joshua Winstead, who attended the same school in Texas, came aboard as bassist. Metric had moved to Los Angeles while trying to sort out their deal with Restless, with Haines and Shaw returning to Toronto for a spell to work with their old friends Amy Millan and Kevin Drew in the group Broken Social Scene, and once they began working with the new rhythm section, Metric decided the pop-oriented electronic sound of Grow Up and Blow Away was no longer representative of their music. Metric parted ways with Restless and took the masters for Grow Up with them.
In the fall of 2003, the Canadian independent label Everloving Records released Metric's second "debut" album, Old World Underground, Where Are You Now?. The album (later picked up by Last Gang Records) was a major critical and commercial success, especially in Canada, and in 2005 Metric issued Live It Out, another success which was followed by a lengthy international tour. Metric took a hiatus after touring behind Live It Out. Haines went on an extended vacation in Argentina and made guest appearances on albums by the Stills and Jason Collett in addition to releasing two records with her solo project Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton. Scott-Key and Winstead moved to Oakland, CA and formed the band Bang Lime. Shaw headed back to Toronto and opened a recording facility, Giant Studio. A revised edition of Grow Up and Blow Away received a belated release in 2007. In 2008, after Haines decided she'd had enough of the downbeat music she'd composed with the Soft Skeleton, Metric regrouped in Toronto and began work on their next album, Fantasies, scheduled for release in April 2009.
- Mark Deming, All Music Guide
"Help I'm Alive"
Performed by Metric
Written by James Shaw and Emily Haines
Courtesy of Metric Productions and Metric Music Internationa
Published by Chrysalis Music Group (ASCAP)
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