Interview: Before St. Pete Pride performance, alt-rock trio Meet Me @ The Altar discusses coming out, more

They play a St. Pete Pride concert on June 24.

click to enlarge Meet Me @ The Altar - Photo by Jonathan Weiner
Photo by Jonathan Weiner
Meet Me @ The Altar
The world’s changed dramatically since the members of diverse, all-female alt-rock trio Meet Me At The Altar (stylized “Meet Me @ The Altar”) made their first Tampa Bay appearance at Ybor City’s dearly departed Blue Note in December 2019.

Only months later, neon-hair-braided lead singer Edith Victoria, Orlando-based guitarist Téa Campbell, and YouTube drummer Ada Juarez—all having come together from different states, thanks to the power of social media—quarantined together in Davenport, two miles northeast of St. Petersburg where the band is on the slate of performers for Pride.

The girls aren’t roomies anymore, but things only picked up from when they were. The band signed to Fueled By Ramen (home to Fall Out Boy and A Day To Remember), opened for Twenty One Pilots and Knuckle Puck, and earlier this year, released a debut album, Past // Present // Future, which largely takes on Internet haters and female empowerment.

And even before they made it big, Edith, Téa, and Ada wanted to make it blatantly clear that they love, respect, and honor everyone in the LGBTQ+ community. While Victoria is a major ally to say the least, Campbell and Juarez are both members of the community, and have totally different stories about coming out for the first time.

“I came out when I was 14 years old,” Campbell said during a phone call on the way to a Maryland gig. “I was out at school, and I had myself a little girlfriend.”
Event Details

St. Pete Pride: Parade and festival w/Meet Me @ The Altar/more

Sat., June 24, 2-10 p.m.

Vinoy Park 701 Bayshore Dr. NE, St. Petersburg St. Pete

Of course, when Valentine’s Day rolled around, Campbell wanted to get her love interest a gift, but because her parents would have to give her money and drive her to the store, she was nervous about telling them the truth. “I knew that they were accepting, but it was just really nerve-wracking,” she added.

Luckily, when Campbell told her dad, he was indeed accepting, but also not at all surprised.

As for Juarez, she always knew that she was into girls, but tried to convince herself that she also liked guys. It didn’t work, and when she was 13 years old, her mom was driving her home from school, when they saw a female couple walking together and holding hands.

“My mom made a comment at that moment, and I told her that I was gay. Her response…it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good,” Juarez recalled. As the years passed, though, her parents both warmed up to the idea.

“They came around, and it was just like, a learning experience,” she added. “Especially growing up in New Jersey, where everything is pretty liberal, and I had no problem coming out to any of my friends or really, anyone else.”

It makes sense that in the years to follow—mainly the post-COVID ones—Meet Me @ The Altar has been a common name at select Pride celebrations across the country. Needless to say, St. Pete Pride's big concert—which goes down at Vinoy Park on June 24—won’t be their first rodeo, but Campbell and Juarez fondly remember theirs.

Juarez attended her first Pride event—New York Pride—with her friends at the age of 18.

“Honestly, best day of my life,” she laughed. “The city was ours. It was that type of feeling: You were in New York City, and there were so many gay people around. Oh, and me and my friends had skateboards. We were just skating around following the parade, and meeting random people.” Ada would later add how cool literally everyone was. Let’s be real: The more LGBTQ+ friendly an event is, the less hostile the environment is.

As for Campbell, she attended the 2017 iteration of Orlando Pride (no, not the women’s soccer team, you dope), and had the exact same sentiments.

“That was the first time that I got to see just the large amount of support for the community, and so many people unafraid to be themselves,” she recalled. “Especially because I was so young, I think that helped me feel a lot more comfortable with my sexuality.”

They don’t necessarily aim to have any songs become Pride-specific anthems (per Victoria, “The voice of the band doesn’t really relate to that”), but they never use specific pronouns in their songs about relationships. “I feel like that’s really powerful, in the sense that people can relate to it no matter what. They can put their own experiences into the song so they can think about the person that they like,” she added.

Meet Me @ The Altar formed after Campbell came across a drum cover of “Holding Onto You” by Twenty One Pilots on Juarez’ YouTube channel. Campbell reached out to the drummer—who had previously appeared in a lost-to-the-ages Kellogg’s advert for female empowerment—and the two started talking, eventually deciding to start a virtual band. But there was still a missing piece: A vocalist.

“You know how YouTube recommends videos like, randomly?” Edith asked. As it turned out, Juarez released a video announcing that her new band needed a singer, and while Edith auditioned, she initially ended up being beaten out by someone who turned out to not be the best fit. “I always say that you can’t be rude and bad at your job, but [the original singer] was both, so it didn’t really work,” Victoria explained.

In the end, following a few months of nagging Campbell via text, Victoria was given a chance to sing for the band on a cover, and the rest is history.

Half a decade later, the band was at last year’s mega When We Were Young Festival in Las Vegas, which the girls previously admitted to thinking of as a scam upon first finding out about it. Their hero, Hayley Williams—who they FaceTimed once in 2020—even sent them a note ahead of Paramore’s first set.

By the time Meet Me @ The Altar calls it quits much later this century, they hope to change the “gatekeepingness” of rock as a whole. “For the longest time, there were just certain rules that you had to follow that we just don't anymore,” Campbell explained.

“We're the type of people who were influenced by so many different genres, that if we were to just stick with specifically pop-punk or something, we’d just be crazy to do the same thing over and over. We need people to be pushing the genre and adding their element and just like, making it their own, because that's the whole point of making music: To put your own personal spin on it.”

In short, by the end of the century, rock will hopefully hold up the way Pride does, in that all influences will be welcome.

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About The Author

Josh Bradley

Josh Bradley is Creative Loafing Tampa's resident live music freak. He started freelancing with the paper in 2020 at the age of 18, and has since covered, announced, and previewed numerous live shows in Tampa Bay. Check the music section in print and online every week for the latest in local live music.
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