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  • 6:29:32 pm
  • Monday
  • 24 June 2024

Metric’s Emily Haines Sings Political

During some down time in Williamsburg, Emily Haines and James Shaw of Metric stopped for drinks with Tweed at Vera Cruz.

Chatting about fast food, anti-depressants and the Gulf War, this is the first section of our Metric interview. Issue 13 will feature the extended conversation, including James Shaw’s provocative contributions. Metric is Emily Haines, James Shaw, Joshua Winstead And Joules Scott-Key, represented here by Emily and tour manager, Brandon. Tweed is Stewart and Bill.

STEWART: Have you seen Super Size Me?

EMILY: Not yet.

BRANDON: I want to see that so bad.

EMILY: Yea, me too.

STEWART: I saw it the other night. It’s great—you feel sick while you’re watching it.

BRANDON: Do you feel like going into McDonald’s afterwards?

STEWART: With a gun, perhaps...


BILL: I had a friend—after he read Fast Food Nation, all he wanted was a burger from a fast food restaurant.

EMILY: That’s the way the human mind is though. There’s something that happens like, you know the extent of it and the only way for you to function is to embrace like, the most repulsive thing you can imagine. I think part of the function of American food is to make you feel sick. That’s why it kills your appetite. Definitely, like, being on the road, and seeing how average Americans eat is just so terrifying. Its like, its totally effective to eat a piece of fucking laminated chicken from Wendy’s ‘cause you’re really not hungry. Like’s disgusting.... like, you feel sick. Problem solved for three dollars. Whereas if you had access to excellent food you might actually have an appetite.


But I won’t continue. [Jokingly] I’ll write my essay. I’ll let you know...


BILL: I read in Time Magazine today about obesity—it’s skyrocketing. And, in the inner cities, they can’t afford, you know, good food. And they don’t have, what is it, Trader Joes, or any of the top food stores around so, they just can’t eat such foods. Plus, they don’t have the time or the money.

EMILY: Another thing that is skyrocketing is the prescribing of anti-depressants.


EMILY: I read an article in um, in Minneapolis, in the local paper thing, about this one doctor who is trying to, I mean, it was so small scale, you know it won’t get wide-spread release but, he said that there is so much...they know that those drugs don’t work and they know that they cause suicide—they contribute to suicide. And there have been all these studies that are completely shunned because its a billion dollar...a multi-billion dollar industry.

STEWART: No good for the pope, man... [Pope John Paul II was rumored to be on Paxil.]

EMILY: But its crazy—like ten percent a year increase of children taking fucking anti-depressants. Pre-schoolers are like, the most prescribed. That makes me so mad! [Slight, uncomfortable laughter] And this one doctor is saying what is the most common sense thing you could say. He said...what symptom needs treating...for example, a kid with torette’s, right? And they have that facial tick...and it’s making the kids at the school tease them then yes, a medication that is going to eliminate that stigma is a good idea.

But the idea of like, someone being like, “I’m miserable, I feel sooo sad”, and somebody going like, “Here—fucking go away.” He ties it to people having total impatience with anyone who is complex—that like, the mental health industry is supposed to be less an industry and more a service to human beings that’s like, “all right, we are going to deal with the most difficult people,” thank you.

And not just like...see, it contributes to the problem when someone feels like, even the fucking psychiatrist is like [Mocking, pirate-like voice] “Ah, you’re driving me nuts. Just take this and go away.” It’s really not effective at all. And that forever, depression has been like [Pause] that’s sadness! And we’ve all accepted this idea that it’s a disease and it really has been like a year and a half, this’s fuckin’ terrifying man! Everyone in Los Angeles is on pharmaceuticals! I can tell and I’ve gotten three people off them so far. And two of them had attempted suicide while on them.

BILL: What do you think of ADHD and Ritalyn?

EMILY: Oh. [Look of confusion]

BILL: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

EMILY: I just think in general, and I’m obviously not a doctor, but Howard Zinn has this amazing—I’m sure you’ve heard this—his thing is like, the reason that we are not involved more in our lives is ‘cause everyone feels like just because you’re a citizen, you’re not a fucking expert in anything. Its like, because I’m not a doctor, I shouldn’t say anything about kids on pills but, his thing is that everyone is entitled to a moral—there are no experts on morality.


EMILY: I mean that’s really depressing man. Of course, the kids are freaking out. They watch cartoons and sit in front of the television and their parents are just probably yuppies who focus their entire lives around the child. The child has no sense of context, no sense of what world they are inhabiting—just like this Disnified bag of Cheerios reality. Don’t give them a fucking pill! God! Take them out on a canoe already! You know what I mean?

...Maybe people are sad on such a scale now, I mean, maybe the masses are just so fucked up that like, the advent of these medications is to deal with the increase in numbers. You know what I mean? Maybe the governments are like “holy fuck!” Maybe it’s like... [Pause]...I don’t think so. It’s just money. It’s just marketing. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it! Like, “Ask your doctor about the purple pill...”


You don’t even know what the fuck its for...

STEWART: But it’ll make you feel better.


EMILY: Just the idea of never changing anything. And people feeling like completely hopeless. Whatever shred of idealism I ever had is like rapidly deteriorating, just so you know.

BILL: Does that have to do with having traveled a lot?


BILL: Huh—so what exactly are your personal beliefs about what is going on in Iraq?

EMILY: [Bellowing] Oh God! When I was in grade 12, the first Gulf War happened. And I was like, “this is really fucked up.” ...The most superficial research—I go to my school library and find the complete history of the region, the Kurdish rebels, all the shit, everything that has to do with Kuwait...all the history of what was happening and like the true reason of what was happening in the Gulf. And we were all genuinely really angry. I mean, all my friends in school—we were all freaked out. We actually had demonstrations. Actually, the guy from Broken Social Scene, I don’t know if you know that band, but I have this permanent image in my head of him on a post. In some ways, childish, uh, but you know, whatever: children of hippies having a fucking demonstration against the war, I mean. I recognize the... [Pause]

The point is there was an awareness then, and now we watch it ... and all you have to do is scratch the surface, all you have to do is like touch the surface and you can find out the truth of what’s happening. Like the gloss on it, its so repulsive to me...the yarn that’s knit on top of it. I mean, the only way Americans are gonna care about that war is if more Americans start dying. Nobody fucking cares if the ratio is like, totally disgusting. And like, whatever man. I mean, its like, why is it that someone is a terrorist when they have like a pink plastic knife or whatever they can rustle up. Its like, “oh, my life is worth nothing, my whole family’s life has never been worth anything. I have something under the bed”—it’s like, “TERRORIST!” right? But we have this multibillion dollar budget which is exploding, going back to like 80's nuclear love, you know, right, like, we’re not fucking terrorists going over someone’s house being like, “I’m gonna drop that on your fucking house?” With the disproportionate gap between realities...I really find that the most disgusting thing, I mean—anything that fits in the context is immune to being called terrorism—it doesn’t make any sense.

STEWART: We called our terrorists “minute men.”

EMILY: Right.

BILL: That’s funny how you remember the first Gulf War ‘cause I remember it completely different. I was younger—I was ten and we watched the war every Thursday in class and it was just basically propaganda...

EMILY: Yea, that was the beginning of the new awareness of how you can package a war. And everything that goes along with it including the news channels. I just think, who’s the guy that goes “Attack on Iraq?” It like slides into focus.... [Looks at Stewart] You’re into graphic design and shit....

BILL: That was one of the sickest things about September 11th. Within minutes, they already named it—a title and everything. It was right there on the screen, on every channel and you knew...and you could see three words, and already know, have some idea of what was going on. And you already knew whom to blame—not necessarily being true but...

EMILY: I think what’s most funny about this administration is this like—and I’m not even such an ardent liberal, I mean as far as all political parties go, they all lie—they just know how to use different language, for sure, for sure. But I mean, in this case, its like “holy shit.” But um, its just like this is the first time there is just this much technology so it works double for them. They can manage to like captivate all of us simultaneously—like CNN, worldwide, this is the ONE story of what’s happening whereas I think with Nixon it was a little harder to do. It’s a monopoly. It’s upsetting that like, the Internet has so many alternates to news that get no love. But still, if you want to find out something else, you can.

BILL: Do you think Bush is worse? Is that what you’re saying? His administration is worse? I mean, you say all politicians lie, but do you find his administration to be that much worse?

EMILY: I’m like a young person. It’s not like I’ve been through Vietnam or whatever. But it’s hard for me to fathom a more despicable human being. Just like the whole family...we are living in a Biblical mythology under this child’s mind. We’ve got to be more articulate than to say “fuck bush,” that doesn’t like...I mean, at our shows, we try to initiate town hall meetings. We try to steer it away from “fuck him.” Actually, to me it’s the same thing as criticizing the approach of a terrorist when all they have is a box cutter or whatever. You’re so underneath the main narrative that it’s hard for you to say anything but “fuck off!” You so have no power.

BILL: How exactly do you initiate those meeting?

EMILY: My goal is to take all the attention that is focused on me and summersault it back out, which is more effective sometimes than others. Like, in Nashville were these giant Budweiser true blue—these huge banners. They are everywhere these days. Well, the Nashville crowd was amazing and I could say something like—it becomes almost like I’m Lenny Bruce, like I’m gonna say something and you’re gonna react. And it’s that rhythm. And I said, “what if we tore these things down?”

So like there was this mass rush to tear the things down. And they are attached really heavily to the whole lighting rig at the top of the stage. It’s like a real stage of a really great venue that we really like playing—really cool people—so I was like “Wait! Hold on. We have to think of the ramifications of this activity. If we pull them down, it’s gonna take the lighting rig down.”

And I literally saw 500 people—like 500 brows furrow simultaneously. And that was cool. That’s the essence of the dilemma of any sort of political dilemma: If you’re thoughtful enough to do something, you’re thoughtful enough to know what the ramifications are and you are fucking paralyzed, you know? It’s the same thing with words, its like, if you care enough about language, words and speech, to like get into it, you’ll ultimately realize that your words are worth nothing. And you’ll get really bummed out.


And your doctor will prescribe Xanax.


BILL: It all comes full circle.

* * * * * *

Check back for more segments of the interview (including James’s arrival at Vera Cruz) on both the website and in the new print issue, coming soon. For the latest from Metric visit or their label Everloving Records at Photographs by Stewart Smith.

Stewart Smith, William Wallace
Saturday, 24 July 2004

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