Metric found themselves at a bit of a crossroads when they were approaching the release of their fourth album. Having released three albums via the traditional record label route, they weren’t satisfied with the results.
This time they opted to take a huge risk to record and release their fourth album Fantasies independently. The gamble ended up paying off for the Toronto indie-rock quartet, and Fantasies would end up becoming their international breakthrough album, and setting the stage for the future of the band’s career.
Founded in 1998, Metric began as a duo consisting of Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw, eventually bringing in Joshua Winstead and Joules Scott-Key to round out the line-up. They released their first studio album Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? in 2003, and earned success in Canada with early singles “Combat Baby” and “Dead Disco.”
Despite Old World Underground being their first album release, their first recorded record Grow Up And Blow Away was actually finished two years prior and was sitting idle in the hands of their record label, who delayed its release. It wouldn’t see the light of day until its official release six years later.
Their follow-up album Live It Out, released on Last Gang Records, found success at home in Canada as well at the UK, with singles “Monster Hospital” and “Poster of a Girl” appearing on the charts in 2006.
But despite the success, the band still felt like they were struggling to prove themselves and to get their music heard. They had put out three records the traditional industry way, and were ready to take a chance and forego compromise to release their next album exactly the way they wanted to.
They spent the next year and a half working on Fantasies, an album for which they turned down labels offers in order to release it themselves. “We wanted to be able to exist in a way that there was nobody in between us and Metric fans,” said Jimmy Shaw. “It took a lot of investment, time, and energy, and it almost bankrupted us.”
Upon release, the band sold the album directly to fans via their website and the iTunes store. Their gamble paid off, and the record found quick success at home as well as internationally. In addition to earning critical praise, the album sold over 500,000 copies by 2012, their best selling release so far. They earned a slew of awards including the Juno for Group of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year.
The single “Help I’m Alive” peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Alternative Songs Chart, making Metric the first band in history to have a top 20 radio hit in the United States without the backing of an established label. The band would earn more revenue from Fantasies than they had in the previous four years of their career.
Before long, their songs were being featured in movie soundtracks and television shows, including Grey’s Anatomy, Zombieland, Twilight, Entourage, Vampire Diaries, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. In 2013, “Stadium Love” became the official song of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Metric would continue to release their music themselves and on their own terms, self-releasing Synthetica in 2012, Pagans in Vegas in 2015, and Art of Doubt in 2018, all on their own record label Metric Music International.