Meg Myers has long been on our radars as an up-and-coming musician in the alt-rock scene, particularly as she’s made her ascent while living in Los Angeles. She’s drawn comparisons to acts like Alanis Morissette and Fiona Apple but in an interview we did with her last year, she told us her influences were more along the lines of Nine Inch Nails and Alice in Chains. Her debut full-length self-titled album Sorry more than lived up to the buzz generated by her preceding EPs, and now she’s on the road as part of a headlining tour in support of the album with a stop at the El Rey on Tuesday, November 17.
We’ve seen her perform at Bardot, the OC Observatory, The Echo, at the Santa Monica Pier and most recently at Life is Beautiful. We had a chance to catch up with Meg a few hours before her daytime Saturday set at the hot downtown Las Vegas festival a little whiles back and talked to her about her new tour and some of the difficulties that come with performing such powerful tunes.
GRIMY GOODS: Was it hard figuring out the setlist for this tour behind your new album? You’ve been touring pretty heavily and before the album came out, you were only playing a couple of tracks from it.
MEG MYERS: “It’s weird. It’s really hard to decide what to choose. Basically, as far as like the set goes for this headlining tour, I just kind of chose all of the songs on the album equal about 45 minutes, and a headlining set is like an hour, so we’re playing all those songs and then we’re just continuing to play songs like “Curbstomp” and “Heart Heart Head.” We actually aren’t playing “Adelaide” on this run but we might throw it in there.
GG: One of my favorite songs off the new album is “I Really Want You to Hate Me,” something that you’ve said is also maybe the hardest one for you to perform.
MM: “Well I’m sure you can see why (laughs). I actually wasn’t even sure I wanted it to be on the album at first – it was something I really had to think about. It’s clearly the darkest song on the album. I was just like – ‘Shit, do I really want to have to sing that every night? That’s going to be exhausting.’ Because you’re not just putting out an album, you’ve got to play these songs over and over. But ultimately I decided to keep it because it’s a really good song and I am not sure the whole thing would make sense without it on there.”
GG: What’s it like playing these festival sets in the daytime, especially when it is hot as hell – especially your music, which seems to take a lot out of you in general?
MM: “It’s really intense physically. It’s really exhausting and it’s especially dry out here. So it’s a little harder on the vocal chords and breathing and the heat – humidity or just dry heat – it’s hard on stage. Maybe if I was just standing and playing it would be one thing, but when I’m like running around, I’ve definitely gotten heat stroke a couple of times doing festivals – just throwing up afterwards. We go all out.”
GG: That’s one of the draws of your performances is that you are obviously putting so much into it – you’re like gasping for air between verses sometimes because it’s so much. You’re headlining the El Rey, that’s a pretty good step up for you from other headlining shows you’ve played in LA. Being based in LA and seeing your career take these steps, do you get nerves playing out here?
MM: “I haven’t really thought about it a ton but when you mention it, I’m like oh shit, I’m sure I will. And a lot of my people will be there too. I kind of feel like every time I play in LA, it’s not as good as my shows elsewhere because I do get in my head a bit about the people watching me. When I first started playing, that would happen a few times.”
GG: One thing I credit you a lot for in your live performances – there’s a lot of production on your studio recordings and it’s always a challenge to take that and put it in a live setting with more instrumentation. For this album, was it difficult taking all those songs and adapting them live?
“It was really hard. We just went through ten-hour rehearsals and then a few six hour ones before this tour so it was exhausting trying to figure out what everybody plays. There’s no cello on all those songs on the album, so we end up having Ken [Oak] do a lot of the guitar on a lot of the new songs because there’s different guitar parts. I really wanted to make it sound as close to the album as possible, so it was hard. But I did get some Instagrams after that first Fresno show that it sounded just like on the album, so I was like, ‘Yes, that’s what I’m going for!’ But you can’t ever make it sound exactly like it does.
GG: For the first couple of shows on a new tour is it important to sort of see what kind of response you get to the new material?
MM: “Yeah! I was in shock last night because a lot of people were singing all the new songs on the album already, it just came out. I was like ‘what the fu—that’s so cool!’ It gives me a lot to look forward to.”
Make sure you check out Meg Myers at the El Rey on Tuesday, November 17!
Words: Mark E. Ortega
Photography: Tom Dellinger