Meet Me @ The Altar close out their first headlining tour with a hometown show at the Abbey
By Ida V. Eskamani
"I am really happy that we're a part of something that's becoming more diverse and more inclusive ... it's been really, really long awaited."
In their past, present and future, one thing is very clear about guitarist Téa Campbell, drummer Ada Juarez and lead vocalist Edith Victoria of the pop-punk sensation Meet Me @ The Altar: These three don't see obstacles, only opportunity.
That's why the trio of 20-something women of color found a home and forged a path in a music scene historically dominated by white guys. It's why, despite each living in different states, they didn't think twice about starting a band in 2015, steadily creating music, building a loyal following and cutting their teeth in Orlando's music scene.
At the present moment, Meet Me @ The Altar are somewhere in San Diego, sharing a hotel room, doing a Zoom interview with a local paper (us!) that gets to call them a hometown band.
"We're in San Diego somewhere, we just woke up because it's 8:30 a.m. here," says Campbell, in the bathroom laughing at her futile yet thoughtful efforts to not wake up her tourmates. In addition to sleep-deprived, they're in the midst of their first headlining tour on the heels of their first full-length album, Past // Present // Future.
Campbell speaks to the inspiration behind their debut: "We always found ourselves going back to the music that we were influenced by in our childhood, which was like Pink, Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, Jonas Brothers. So we were like, 'Why don't we pull from that and make something modern out of it?'" She continues, reflecting on the tour, "We're getting more comfortable playing these brand-new songs too. And people are responding really well to them, which is so cool to see. ... As an artist releasing something new, it's kind of scary, but people are really loving it."
As we shared in our first interview with the band in 2021, it was back in the pandemic summer of 2020 when Dan Campbell of pop-punk stalwarts the Wonder Years discovered and tweeted about Meet Me @ The Altar's song "Garden." Alex Gaskarth from All Time Low followed, and then came recognition from singer Halsey's Black Creators Fund.
Soon after, Meet Me @ The Altar signed to Fueled by Ramen, a label known for launching acts like Paramore, Twenty One Pilots and Fall Out Boy. They've been headed toward the stratosphere since.
"We're on our first headlining tour right now, and it's really fun seeing our crowd for the first time and seeing how diverse it is," says Juarez. "Every single type of person comes to our show. And I feel like we're making a complete safe space for them to go to shows and to just be themselves no matter what. I'm really happy to do that for people. It's really great."
Victoria adds, "So many people have come up to us and told us how much our music has changed their lives and how being at the shows feels like such a safe space for them to just have fun, and we don't take that for granted."
Included in this diversity are parents and their kids. "I just love being able to be the representation that people need to see, especially children today," Juarez says, "because I know it gives them hope. And I know that it gives them the drive to want to do exactly what we wanted to do when we were their age. So I hope that we're inspiring a ton of just little children. So they can do what we do."
Meet Me @ The Altar are a part of Generation Z, a generation raised on the internet, where the world is small and the possibilities endless. And though these musicians are young, they've been a band for eight years now; their experience is amply reflected in their self-assuredness.
"We had to kind of do things the hard way, just because we never saw ourselves directly represented in someone," Victoria says. "We're not the type of people that let that stop us, but not everyone is like that, it's not always easy to just do your own thing when you don't really see anyone doing what you want to do."
Meet Me @ The Altar recognizes how many doors they had to kick down to be where they are today. And they want to keep those doors blown wide open for future women and people of color following them, because "it feels really good for us to now be representing ourselves and be like hey, we can do this. We're literally on stage, right now."
It's been over a year since the band graced an Orlando venue, and they chose the City Beautiful to close out their first headline tour. "It's been a long time coming, this is kind of our hometown show. It's weird, but that's just because we're all from separate states. We're really excited to come back and really show how much we've grown since then," explains Campbell.
When Meet Me @ The Altar dreams about their future, they dream about getting on the radio, soundtracks, stadium shows and being household names. "We were kind of waiting for someone else to come along. But we're like, 'OK, I guess we're it.'" Victoria laughs, but with confidence. "We take it one day at a time, we're very big about doing all the steps to get anywhere because, you know, to get places it takes hard work."
They also dream about playing a homecoming show at Uncle Lou's Entertainment Hall. "When we're Paramore-size, we'll go back."
"Yeah, we'll make it like a really intimate show."
"We're manifesting it."
Ida is an Iranian-American from Florida who grew up with the Beatles, and came of age in the pit. She will talk to you about music for as long as you will pretend to listen. She is founder of Bandifesto, a little blog with a big heart.