Artist of the Month is an accolade awarded to an up-and-coming artist or group who we believe is ready for the big time. In August 2021, we turn our attention to rising trio Meet Me @ the Altar as they release their major label debut EP Model Citizen.
When talking to Téa Campbell, Ada Juarez, and Edith Johnson, the three members of pop punk group Meet Me @ the Altar, it quickly becomes evident that they are delightfully, inescapably Gen Z. As the trio huddles around a laptop for a conversation — one that touches on their musical journey to date, how finding each other was “fate,” their DIY sensibilities, and more — it becomes clear that they operate within a simple principle: If no one is going to do something for them, they can just do it themselves.
The idea of aspirational instrumentalists linking up and deciding to start a band is certainly not new, but Meet Me @ the Altar have put a distinctly 21st-century spin on such an origin story. Lead guitarist Campbell stumbled upon a drum cover posted by Juarez on YouTube and was struck by excitement seeing another young, female instrumentalist in the search tags of some of her favorite acts. So she messaged her: “Want to start a band?”
“For some reason, she said yes — even though she lived in New Jersey and I lived in Florida. That shouldn’t work,” Campbell tells Consequence over Zoom. Adds Juarez, “In my brain, it was like… why wouldn’t it work? We have the Internet; we can send files back and forth, we can Skype.”
The two then auditioned more than fifty vocalists, with Campbell keeping record in a small notebook filled with ages and locations, before ultimately landing on Johnson to round out the group. “We took it very seriously,” Juarez confirms.
It’s true: The members of Meet Me @ the Altar have taken their work seriously from the start, and their success so far is proof of that dedication. Juarez is 22 years old, Campbell and Johnson are just 20, and while all three are bubbling with excitement and energy, there’s no naïveté about them.
The trio was eager to take on any role necessary to help them achieve their goals. They became their own tour managers, merchandise directors, and booking agents, slowly increasing their circle and carving out their corner of the pop-punk scene. Meet Me @ the Altar truly started from scratch, but through sheer persistence and a healthy dose of internet searches, they managed to launch their own careers. (“Google is your biggest friend,” Campbell insists.)
In a sonic space historically dominated by white male bands, it feels both thrilling and overdue to witness a group like Meet Me @ the Altar, composed of three women of color. They’re aware of the fact that the odds are stacked against them but talk about this aspect of their journey with something that sounds more like motivation, rather than discouragement. Like everything else, they’ve adopted a “why not us” attitude, kicking doors open that might otherwise be shut in their faces.
Notably, they don’t seem focused only on their own success, although that’s certainly part of the plan; they want to leave the scene better than they found it.
Growing up, they didn’t see pop-punk groups that looked like them, and they want to lay the groundwork for the next generation. (We do take a quick conversational detour to discuss The Cheetah Girls, but these ladies want to be certifiable rock stars.) Their arrival has invited plenty of comparisons to another female-fronted pop-punk group, Paramore — and to be clear, Johnson has those heart-stopping vocals to go the distance — but Meet Me @ the Altar is in its own much smaller, more exciting category.
It’s wildly exciting to see firsts happen in real-time, but if these three have any say in the matter, they certainly won’t be the last of their kind.
Model Citizen, the group’s Fueled by Ramen debut EP, arrives Friday, August 13th. Melodically, it bears many of the hallmarks of pop-punk — the catharsis of releasing pent-up frustration, killer instrumentals, and soaring vocals — but, appropriately, it also maintains some of that unstoppable optimism Meet Me @ the Altar exudes as a whole.
“I think that we started making our songs have a positive message when we realized how truly negative pop-punk is,” says Campbell. “Everyone feels sad, everyone feels anger, it’s ok to feel those emotions and it’s nice to have songs that help you realize that you’re not alone — but there should still be some kind of positive message that keeps you going. That’s, at the end of the day, what’s so important.”
While discussing some of their artistic influences, I mention that the members have fantastic presence when performing. Since the three have been creating together since they were in their early teen years, they’ve developed a very comfortable, natural rapport both onstage and off. “I love seeing professional older bands,” Johnson says with a dreamy sigh. “Like, damn… They’ve toured so much, they’re so good, I hope we’re like that.”
We have very little doubt that this will be the case for Meet Me @ the Altar, in spite of the roadblocks or obstacles that tend to pepper their specific artistic path. The trio is well-armed with that trademark stubborn optimism, sure to be their greatest tool as they continue to forge ahead.
“We were like, ‘We’ll figure it out,’” Campbell says with a laugh. “And then we did!”
Model Citizen EP Artwork: