Metric's Emily Haines on Working With Lou Reed: "It's Been a Really Creative Friendship"

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Photo by Justin Broadbent

One of the standout tracks on Metric's latest entry into their 15-year oeuvre, Synthetica, features vocals by a figure who helped lay the foundation of modern alternative rock, Lou Reed.

On "The Wanderlust," a song that arrives close to album's end, the breathy alto of vocalist Emily Haines gives way to the rough-edged tenor of Reed.

Speaking over the phone from a vacation in Spain, Haines excitedly recalls working with Reed on one of the album's perkier tracks, full of shimmering synthesizers and trilling guitar work.

"Old Lou, Uncle Lou!" she declares. "It was so great."

See also:
-Metric's Emily Haines on Synthetica and "Examining What's Real and What's Artificial"

Haines says the recording session allowed for a respite from all the chaos and pressure of meticulously constructing an album that would later become both a critical and commercial success in 2012.

"I'm sure you have the same thing in your work where it's like you get your nose to the grindstone, and then something pops up that makes it all worth it. That's what it was with Lou."

She recalls their introduction in 2010 when Reed floored Haines by reciting some of her own lyrics to her. She and Metric guitarist Jimmy Shaw were playing a Neil Young tribute in Vancouver in February of that year, and Reed was one of the many participants.

"A friend of mine, Kevin Hearn [keyboardist of Barenaked Ladies], he is a pretty amazing musician, he was like, 'Hey, you wanna meet Lou Reed?' and I was like, 'Do I? Yes, I do.' Best thing ever.

"I assumed that when I meet him he's gonna say, 'Hey, what's up?' But instead, he totally knew my work and when Kevin said, 'Hey, this is Emily Haines,' he said, 'Oh, Emily Haines, who would you rather be the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?' which is a line from our song 'Gimme Sympathy,' so I was totally chuffed, and then, quick on my feet, I said, 'Oh, Lou, I would rather be the Velvet Underground.' That really cracked him up, and we really hit it off."


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