In July, alternative rock band Metric played Time Warner Cable Arena as an opening act. Although the Canadian band previously packed Neighborhood Theatre and the Fillmore, the tour with Imagine Dragons – the headliner behind 2013’s monster single “Radioactive” – was decidedly different.
Singer Emily Haines calls the experience “illuminating.”
“I thought we were more mainstream than we were,” she says. “We’d never experienced the actual mainstream. We’ve played with Muse and the Rolling Stones, but if we were uncertain, it was obvious that we were still ‘art rock’ from the first minute we hit the stage – we’re terrifying these people.”
It was eye-opening and surprisingly reassuring for the band, which has had its share of radio play and stateside hits but is rooted in the indie world.
“In our world, in my family with the jazz background, and a lot of our friends are in independent music and unconventional music ... to them, we’re as pop as it gets,” she says with a laugh. It was almost a comfort to realize “I’m still a total art weirdo.”
The group returns to the Fillmore Wednesday for 106.5 The End’s annual Not So Acoustic Christmas show with Awolnation.
Metric is far from typical in its approach to a music career. Although it has had hits, received several Juno Awards at home in Canada, toured arenas with household names and is a staple at alternative radio, Metric didn’t get there the traditional way.
Metric is run like a business, with the band handling or hiring out practically all aspects of its career. They are the first band to have a Top 20 hit on commercial radio in the U.S. without the backing of a traditional label.
“We’re dedicated to presenting on a world-class scale and not being part of the machinery, which oddly seems to be back in complete control when Justin Bieber has five of the Top 10 songs,” she says of the hit-making industry that resembles the ’50s and ’60s in some ways.
“I think we all thought we were in a different time. You notice the same writers write all the music. In 2015, we do feel like we’re like the ‘Last of the Mohicans.’ I miss the days when we felt we had more contemporaries that had the same sort of narrative, but there will be another wave,” she says.
For its latest album, “Pagans in Vegas,” Haines and guitarist and producer Jimmy Shaw went their separate ways. It is mostly Shaw’s baby – an electronic, synth-heavy dance-rock record that, though different than Metric’s guitar-based previous work, fits well with its high energy live show.
“It’s funny when the guitar player doesn’t feel like hearing guitar,” she says.
The more introspective, Haines-heavy follow-up hasn’t been recorded yet. But she wrote very different songs while traveling to Spain and Nicaragua.
“It’s not like (the hit) ‘Stadium Love.’ Normally we would speed those piano-based, cinematic songs up and make them fit with the repertoire,” she says of the songs she wrote.
Her prints are still all over “Pagans in Vegas,” though. She was surprised which of her songs worked with what Shaw’s electro-pop – “It’s a matter of fitting in with the spirit of that record.”
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Fillmore Charlotte, 1000 NC Music Factory Blvd.
Details: 704-916-8970; www.livenation.com.