In a genre that has historically been dominated by straight white males, Meet Me @ The Altar has a simple yet sizable mission: to dismantle rock’s stereotypes riff by riff. Their debut album, Past // Present // Future, is the very tool with which they intend to do so – and for guitarist Téa Campbell, a Reverend Billy Corgan Z-One signature guitar will also come in handy for the fight.
Kitted out with Corgan’s star-etched Railhammer Humcutters, it boasts what she describes as “that perfect balance in tonality where you can hear all the notes, but it’s still really heavy” – essential qualities for a guitarist who juggles rhythm and lead roles.
Like many her age, Campbell's interest in the guitar was sparked by the pop-punk boom of the early-to-mid noughties, and its influence is splashed across her playing as brightly as the ubiquitous skatepark graffiti that featured in every music video from the days when teen defiance and powerchords ruled MTV. But, as the album title suggests, Meet Me @ The Altar seek to redefine the present sound of the genre and pave its future direction as much as honor its past.
“We live different lives than most people who are pioneering this genre,” says Campbell, who advocates for “unapologetically making the music we love,” and “literally just taking up space” as the means for inspiring young players who are yet to see themselves sufficiently represented onstage.
Musically, the album is an all-killer-no-filler explosion, with just two tracks breaking the three-minute mark. Yet Campbell manages to pack memorable hooks, ear-catching textures and satisfying dynamic shifts into its 30-minute runtime.
As she puts it, “We wanted it to be really focused on variety and not just writing the same song over and over.” She cites Paramore, The Script, Kings Of Leon and even Hannah Montana as inspirations, but says: “You can really hear that I’m learning how to blend all of my different influences into a sound that is us.”
For the bulk of the record, she professes to having “used Dave Grohl’s Kemper tone” as a shortcut to those archetypically chunky sounds. But, just as it should, Meet Me @ The Altar’s debut also captures the excitement of a guitarist embracing the studio environment and experimenting with new tonal possibilities for the first time.
There’s a deliciously 2000s-esque phaser wash on Kool to listen out for, layers of Big Muff-enshrouded rhythms that hit hard in all the right places, and an ingeniously deployed octave pedal that turns an already killer solo on Same Language into a joyfully stratospheric one.
- Past / / Present / / Future is out now via Fueled by Ramen.