Model Citizens: The Inspired Rise Of Meet Me @ The Altar

Model Citizens: The Inspired Rise Of Meet Me @ The Altar

Much-hyped pop-punk trio on touring, chatting to Hayley Williams, and Nando's...

Newly signed to Fueled by Ramen, Meet Me @ The Altar are fast coming up as Florida’s latest pop-punk craze. Consisting of front-woman Edith Johnson, guitarist Téa Campbell, and drummer Ada Juarez, Meet Me @ The Altar is a project that unites three music fanatics hailing from three separate states causing a respectable ruckus in the punk underground.

The past year has been a huge success for the trio for a clutch of reasons; from the hit success of their 2020 single ‘Garden’ from bagging that Fueled by Ramen deal, to newly releasing their second studio EP ‘Model Citizen’. Between 2020 to now, Meet Me @ the Altar have made a notable dent in the punk industry and are fast becoming the voices for our generation.

The music industry can frequently feel like a heavily white-dominated place, never mind the rock scene. Taking pride in being their upmost authentic selves, Meet Me @ The Altar are striving to be the representation they so desperately wanted to see growing up as punk-rock loving teens.

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Just days into a string of their first live shows in almost two years, Meet Me @ The Altar exclaim their excitement for returning to the road, and their well-anticipated debut on UK soil. “There’s no question about it, touring was a lot different pre-COVID so we’re so excited to play to an entirely new crowd,” details Téa Campbell. “A humongous crowd!” adds Edith Johnson.

“We’re really excited for Nando's!” tells Téa. Completely bewildered by the wildness over the possibility there isn’t a Nando's in the United States, the group continue to mutter amongst themselves about its whereabouts. “Apparently we don’t have one,” Ada Juarez hesitantly puts, before a major lightbulb moment: “there’s one in Chicago!”

A Meet Me @ The Altar x Nando's UK edition sounds like a skit we’d love to get behind, what could go wrong? Your fave pop-punk group take on the UK and enter the cheeky Nando's inside joke us brits so love to milk – sounds great to me! Whoever said the UK’s culture consists of capitalist brainwashing, greed and its inability to recognise the inventible amount of suffering we have posed across the globe surely doesn’t recognise the striding power of our cheeky Nando's aesthetic…

With two UK dates spread across Manchester and London, Meet Me @ The Altar are itching to complete one of their goals of performing in the UK and meeting some of their biggest fans. Having newly released the mammoth success that is ‘Model Citizen’, the group discuss amongst themselves some of the tracks they’re most psyched to play live this September. “I’m personally excited to play ‘Mapped Out’, it’s so fun,” exclaims Edith, shortly added by Téa: “That’s my favourite too, I don’t know what it is about it, but I feel that every chunk of the song is straight to the point it’s so good.”

Standing as the mammoth second track on the EP, ‘Mapped Out’ is easily perceived as a standout single and is sure to kick up a fuss live. Adding to the conversation, Ada details, “my favourite is ‘Now or Never,’ I love playing that song.”

Spread across six buoyant tunes, in ‘Model Citizen’ Meet Me @ The Altar explore personal growth across a handful of ways. From entering adulthood during a global pandemic, to the towering success of their music career the last two years, Téa admires the possible outcome ‘Model Citizen’ has had on their fans since its release. “I wonder how many people have ‘Model Citizen’ as the soundtrack to their lives right now, because I know that I listen to music to death, and I have many memories associated with it.”

Reflecting on their recording process, Téa details: “It’s been really fun, we have complete control over our sound. The recording progress itself was very similar because we got to work with our producer old again, but this time it felt super special.” Words not often spouted when discussing signing to a major record deal, but for Meet Me @ The Altar, Fueled by Ramen has already proven to be a stable and opportunity grabbing process for the group.

Continuing, Edith adds: “I know a lot of artists fear that there will be a huge change when they enter that chapter of signing to a major label, and sometimes that can be true, but sometimes it’s not! And for us, it wasn’t true.”

Coming out with the PMA (positive mental attitude), Téa exclaims: “It’ll only change if you let it!” In the pop-punk world Fueled by Ramen is the Givenchy of fashion, with a roster of some of our ultimate favs, Paramore, All Time Low, Panic! At The Disco, to list a few, this record label is a major deal, and it’s without question to wonder just how accomplished the group might be feeling right now having been newly signed by them.

An almost extreme case of a pinch me moment, detailing this very expression Edith exclaims: “we listen to all the artists on their roster, so it’s just this mind-boggling thing, and I feel like we don’t fully understand what’s really going on yet.”

“That was the end goal,” Téa adds, before continuing, “it was always Fueled By Ramen was the dream, and it came really early. We didn’t expect it at all, we were all content with being DIY.”

Like many pop-punk bands, Meet Me @ The Altar are another noted homegrown creation, amplifying the notion that their very ambition is certified to take them anywhere. Having spent years in separate states in the US tackling to make it as a rock group that so happen to be three women of colour in a predominantly white, cis, heterosexual scene, Meet Me @ The Altar are forever challenging these barriers.

“It’s definitely important to us to feel like people are seeing us, that’s the reason we wanted a platform to begin with,” tells Téa. “We know how much it would’ve meant for our little girl selves to see a band like us. It’s important to see the possibilities, because if you don’t see it, you don’t really know it’s out there. But at the same time, it’s like a double-edged sword, you don’t want to become a token, and these early years are really important. We have to go with it because we are building a platform.”

In many ways being a poc band in rock music right now is a given, after all that has occurred across the last two years the world is super-hot on representation. And whilst this may feel like a positive outcome, it too can be the complete opposite to honest and earnest progress. Expressing her own personal reflection on the matter, Edith details: “I feel like even just being a woman in the music industry, you’re never going to not have to deal with it. If you’re a woman, sadly, almost every field is mainly male dominated.”

Talking about their progress thus far Téa and Edith discus, “everything seems super rapid because it has been, but prior to this, it had been stagnant for so long!” Téa continues, “We didn’t get any open slots for shows, I literally remember spending hours sending so many emails to bands like: ‘hey we’re offering our support,’ nothing really came from that, and our home scene wasn’t really welcoming to us. It was really a struggle to put ourselves out there and get ourselves known, but luckily things have turned out the way that they did.”

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Whenever one of your favourite bands merge themselves into the mainstream it's often normal to ask the question, what was it like for them starting out? Along their way up Meet Me @ The Altar have crossed paths with a handful of critiques. “Sometimes we get back-handed compliments,” tells Edith. Téa adds: “I don’t remember where we were, or what we were doing, but some guy came up to us and was like: ‘wait, you actually play the guitar on the records?’ and we were so confused. Like what were you actually trying to ask?”

Growing up in relatively small states cursed by small-town personalities, the group detail how their success feels, and whether this is something they’d backtrack to their hometowns. Téa reveals: “the people in my hometown know about Meet Me @ The Altar because the band formed when I was a freshman in high school. The kids I grew up with saw the whole start of the matter, unfortunately everyone at my high school kind of sucked though! I would literally have to beg them to go to our shows, I would be like, ‘I will pay for your ticket’ and they still wouldn’t go, so I was like screw you guys! I think growing up in the suburbs, the kids aren't too much into live music like that, but I was still like, damn!”

Consisting of 22-year-old Ada, and 20-year-olds Edith and Téa, Meet Me @ The Altar are shutting down the stereotypes of what ‘makes,’ a rock band. Searching for the right response, Edith replies: “we’ve never been asked this before, all I’m thinking of is the Bring Me The Horizon song (‘Mantra’).” As the group chat between themselves about what Meet Me @ The Altar’s mission is Téa develops: “Our biggest message, - and it sounds cheesy – is that you can literally do anything you set your mind to. Because we were literally three kids from three separate, really small towns, and we turned our love for music into this. Literally it can happen to anyone if you put the work in. I think because we were so focused in what we wanted, we were like this is where we want to be and continued to work our way up!”

Released three years since their last, ‘Model Citizen’ showcases Meet Me @ The Altar at their strongest yet. Discussing the EP, Téa details: “I think I was in the shower when the title ‘Model Citizen’ just popped into my head completely unwarranted and I was like, ‘yo, that’s iconic!’ We kind of based the theme around that because it sounded super interesting, we entered adulthood during the pandemic and so there was a lot of pressure that comes with that and finding where your place is in society.”  

“I find it completely awkward to be honest,” mutters Edith, before Téa adds, “the whole concept of ‘Model Citizen’ is this ideal person in society, I feel like everyone tries to live up to that in a way and it’s kind of impossible to actually live up to. Growing up is the struggle of wanting to be that but realising you can't and learning to cope with it and accepting yourself.”

Continuing, as the group discuss ‘Model Citizen’ and their own theories on idolisation, Téa details, “as we've worked ourselves up we’ve totally separated the person from the artist, if you had told us four to five years ago that we were going to have a FaceTime call with Hayley Williams we would've been like, ‘what woah?!’ At the end of the day all these stars are literal people and that’s something you have to keep in mind. I think idolisation is hurtful and we try not to do that.”

Nonchalantly discussing their FaceTime chat with the Hayley Williams, the girls discuss this memory. “It was a while ago, it was way closer to when we released garden,” tells Edith. Swiftly added by Téa: “I think it was a few months after we signed with Fueled, because we work with Lindsey Byrnes a lot and she was like: ‘I'm In Nashville I want to FaceTime you guys.’” Ada interjets: “we were like, why are you in Nashville?’”  

“Lindsey was in a hotel room with Hayley and she put her on and honestly we just had a regular conversation. It was so weird to experience our change in perspective because we should've been freaking out, but it just felt like, I’m just talking to this person!” tells Téa.

Now setting up for a handful of festivals and tours, Meet Me @ The Altar are finally back in their rock-star lifestyle. Across the next few months Meet Me @ The Altar are passing through the music industry with flying colours. Having just recently been added to the Download 2022 UK festival line-up, a UK tour with All Time Low, and discussing material for their debut studio album, the group are thriving in more ways than they could imagine.

Put simply, this is an imperative band to look out for.

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Words: Laviea Thomas

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