8 Inch Betsy The Mean Days LP November 13th 2015
Meghan Galbraith (1979-2015).
Photo by Jesse Burke.
RIYL: Babes in Toyland, Brody Dalle, Bully, Joan Jett, The Thermals, Coathangers, Lagwagon, Screaming Females, Anti-Flag, Alkaline Trio, The Menzingers, White Lung
*8 Inch Betsy have also been featured recently at Popmatters, The Chicago Reader, Alternative Press, Punknews.org, New Noise Magazine, Louder Than War, Verbicide, Dying Scene, Get Out Magazine, I Heart Moosiq, With Guitars, Faronheit, The Loud Fast & Shi**y Radio Show & more.
NOV. 12, 2015 — Two more tracks have surfaced from 8 Inch Betsy’s sophomore album The Mean Days, along with a massive, well-researched feature from hometown alt-weekly The Chicago Reader. Flavorwire premiered “Water,” writing, it’s “a slow burn, it builds from a sparse arrangement into a screaming crescendo; by the song’s third minute, you can almost hear the pain pouring out from [Meghan Galbraith] into the microphone as she closes it out.” Gapers Block debuted “So Dark,” writing that the song is “a beautiful, simple, representative final statement from a woman who left an indelible mark on not just the queer community or the music community, but upon everyone whose life she touched.”
Chicago queercore outfit 8 Inch Betsy played aggressive lyric-driven rock with an equal debt to riot grrl ideals, snotty ‘90s pop punk and the heart-on-your-sleeve honesty of artists like PJ Harvey & Nina Nastasia. Earlier this year, frontwoman and primary songwriter Galbraith passed away at the age of 35, leaving in her wake a legacy of love, camaraderie and a finished album that—until now—had gone unreleased. Tomorrow, Nov. 13, 307 Knox Records (Future Islands, Dan Deacon) will posthumously issue 8 Inch Betsy’s sophomore album, The Mean Days.
Stream select tracks from the new The Mean Days LP
Listen to 8 Inch Betsy’s “Water” at Flavorwire
“Meant to Mean” at Consequence of Sound
“Uh Oh” at Death & Taxes
“Reformatory School” at NYLON
“So Dark” at Gapers Block
Read an in-depth 4,000-word feature at The Chicago Reader
Before Galbraith’s death, 8 Inch Betsy toured the U.S. many times over, sharing the stage with indie darlings like The Gossip, Girl in a Coma, Marnie Stern, Sybris & Jucifer, and heavy hitters like Cyndi Lauper and Indigo Girl Amy Ray. Their single, “Doomed,” was picked for inclusion Xbox’s celebrated Rock Band game, and 8 Inch Betsy has been featured in outlets such as NYLON, Consequence of Sound, Death + Taxes, Flavorwire, Alternative Press, PopMatters, The Chicago Tribune and dozens more.
While the band’s members—Meghan Galbraith (guitar, vox), Eli Burke (bass) & Melissa Thomas (drums)—identify as queer, The Mean Days doesn’t lend itself to overt LGBT themes, instead basking in the human condition: failed relationships, a longing for things lost, the chaos in how life can suddenly shift and push you in a completely new direction. All of 8 Inch Betsy’s songs were written by Galbraith, tearing pages from the secret book of her life and gluing them back together in a filigree of rock anthems. “Our songs are inspired by life experiences, relationships and everything that you can’t say out loud,” Galbraith once told Ohio State newspaper The Lantern.
It’s this idea of relationships that is most important to Galbraith’s story. In her life, she touched a staggering number of people—personally, professionally and romantically, and the wound that she leaves behind is deep. Galbraith surrounded herself with novelists, playwrights, activists, politicians, musicians and artists. She was a beacon of creativity and a stalwart neighborhood fixture. Chicago mayor Rham Emaneul would go out of his way to chat with her at local haunts. She acted in numerous plays written and directed by novelist Joe Meno and was on the cover of his book Hairstyles of the Damned. She was a regular volunteer with Girls Rock! Chicago, a program dedicated to teaching young girls creative expression, positive self-esteem and community awareness through music.
Galbraith was an imposing figure, often sporting a huge mohawk, neck tattoos and an “I dare you to say the wrong thing” demeanor, but once a person spent even a few moments speaking with her, she was an instant friend.
“She’d be a mirror,” Burke says. “She’d be the person you needed to talk to at any given moment. She’d give and give and give until there was nothing left. She had a million friends, but only her inner circle was privy to how sensitive she was and how she carried that empathy like a badge. She told me once that she carried a flag for every girl she’s ever dated. I asked her how she could live like that. She just said that she didn’t have a choice.”
8 Inch Betsy recorded their debut LP, This Time, Last Time, Every Time (Queer Control Records) at Chicago’s Joyride Studios, creating a compelling record that takes listeners on a passionate journey through Galbraith’s brilliant mind. It’s a humble, angsty, honest, full-throttle album with tons of catchy hooks. 8 Inch Betsy wanted to replicate the experience with their follow-up, but the recording of The Mean Days was a drawn-out process that began in 2010 and went on for years. They recorded and re-recorded the songs, fitting in a few hours of sessions whenever they could.
“Recording The Mean Days was easy and fun,” Burke recalls. “We wanted to give the album a live feel, so we’d just do a few runs of each song, then we’d tweak it here and there over time. Part of the problem came from a falling out with our original drummer. It was hard finding a replacement with a similar skill set. Christian [Moder] really killed it on this album as a session drummer, but we still needed to find someone to be full time.”
8 Inch Betsy continued to tour with a slew of drummers coming and going, but nothing felt right until they found Melissa Thomas, head of 307 Knox Records. She believed in the band, fought to get them on her label and was their drummer until the end. “I had some of the best times of my life on the road with Meghan and Eli,” she says. “I feel privileged to have spent so much time with such talented people. Now that there’s no more 8 Inch Betsy, I feel good in the fact that I’ll be bringing the gospel of Meghan and 8 Inch Betsy to the people by releasing this album.”
The Mean Days is the last studio album recorded by Galbraith. The tracks are peppered with her laughter, her burps and her beautiful voice, sometimes light, feminine and delicate, other times growling, brutal and hard as nails—sometimes both simultaneously as she sings her own harmonies. The feeling that this album is her final goodbye to the world is tempered by the fact that she was such a prolific musician—dozens of audio tapes she recorded on a beat-up 4-track remain scattered amongst her lifetime of friends and lovers. In addition to this excellent new album, the secret b-sides and hidden tracks of Meghan Galbraith are still out there if one wants to find them.
“The coolest female fronted queer band.” – NYLON
“The infectious energy feels like a celebration of Galbraith’s punk rock spirit. Her vocals are bruised and ragged, thrashing against her surging rhythm guitar. Even more jarring are her frank and honest lyrics, owning up to being half empty and alone.” – Consequence of Sound
“Blistering, emotionally raw—an incredibly insightful awareness of the world.” – Death & Taxes
“A bittersweet triumph.” – Flavorwire
“Driving, classic punk with slight hints of bands like The Avengers, The Distillers and Joan Jett.” – Punk News
“A humble, angsty, honest, full-throttle album with tons of catchy hooks.” – New Noise Magazine
“An aggressive yet melodic style of punk rock similar to that of the Distillers.” – PopMatters
“Striking talent, enchanting lyrics, haunting vocals—some of the most powerful and compelling punk rock I have heard.” – Louder Than War
“Aggressive lyric-driven rock with an equal debt to riot grrl ideals, snotty ’90s pop punk and the heart-on-your-sleeve honesty of artists like PJ Harvey & Nina Nastasia.” – With Guitars
“Queercore tempered by a bit of pop accessibility. … Galbraith is intimidating. She usually wears sleeveless T-shirts cut low enough to reveal the tattoo across her neck. Her gruff voice is punk, loud, yet perfectly on pitch.” – After Ellen
“The band’s restrained performance allows plenty of dead air to seep in, accentuating the foreboding nature of Galbraith’s lyrics.” – Chicago Reader