You don’t have to be a fan of rock/post-punk music to be a fan of 8 Inch Betsy. You just have to like good music. That is what 8 Inch Betsy delivers. Their clever and heartfelt lyrics are relatable on every spectrum. You’ll find yourself singing the lyrics while waiting for the bus, grocery shopping, or in a meeting when you should really be paying attention. I can’t speak for others, but I speak from experience. With a new album months away, and two shows just around the corner, The L Stop caught up with Liz and Meghan in a cozy back booth of The Long Room.
The L Stop: How did you come up with the name, 8 Inch Betsy?
Liz: Honestly it was just kind of random. We thought there should be a number in it. We were like, “let’s pick eight.” Everyone thinks it’s something that it may or may not be, which is fine. It was just us trying to be funny.
TLS: Who are some of your musical influences?
Meghan: Well, I really like bands off of Fat Wreck Chords label, like NOFX and Lagwagon. When my song writing started going from punk to post-punk, I started looking at them for influences. I’ve always loved Social Distortion and The Beatles. Anything heartbreaking.
Liz: For me it’s old stuff, like Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac. I’m more into classic rock, I guess. I’m into newer stuff too, but not so much punk.
TLS: Would you say that those influences could be found in 8 Inch Betsy’s music?
Liz: I’m sure it comes out somehow, but we don’t directly apply it.
Meghan: Yeah, but I also love classic rock. So we meet in the middle. And, we disagree on others. It’s a pretty easy road.
TLS: How many albums does 8 Inch Betsy have out?
Liz: We have and EP, a full length, and we have a new album coming out on August 23rd of this year titled The Mean Days.
TLS: Are you having an album release party for The Mean Days?
Liz: We will, as it gets closer. We want to actually have it in hand before we plan anything crazy. But, yeah, we will definitely be having a CD release party somewhere in town.
TLS: How long has 8 Inch Betsy been around?
Meghan: We’re going to be seven in June.
Liz: Yeah. There was an earlier version of the band in the late nineties, early two thousands. That went on for two or three years. And then we took a long break.
TLS: So is it just the two of you now?
Liz: No. The band has had a few members now. (laughs) But we’ve been the longest two members now. Seven years.
Meghan: We’ve been doing shows together since June of 2004.
Liz: I feel pretty good about that.
Meghan: Also, for those that don’t know, we have a new drummer named Mel, who is knocking it out of the park right now. She is probably recording right now and finishing up the album, all by her lonesome up in Durham, North Carolina. She’s based out of there. She flies in for shows and practices together. She’s the bomb.com.
TLS: How did the two of you get involved with 8 Inch Betsy?
Liz: A former member introduced us. It was pretty that much we met and played one practice.
Meghan: The practice went so well that we decided we should have another. Then, another. And then we were a band. The process was just so easy that it felt right.
TLS: How did you both get into music?
Meghan: The family members on my mother’s side were all musical, and they were all drummers. So, I decided that I was going to be a drummer too. Until I saw how cool the guitar players were. Then, I got this Toys R Us guitar. I couldn’t make it sound like how I wanted it to, like Black Sabbath. So, I had to strive for that. I left the drums behind, which was probably a mistake. I really wish that I could play both at this point. But, that stuff is hard. So I just stick to the guitar and song writing. Song writing, actually, found me by mistake. I never meant to be a singer. I never meant to be a songwriter. It just sort of happened. It’s something I really enjoy and love doing. It’s my life now.
Liz: When I was nineteen I had just moved to Tucson, Arizona. This girl at my job, at the time, had pink hair and was really cool. She was in a band. One day she like, “Hey, my band needs a bass player.” I never played bass, and told her I didn’t know anything about that. She was like, “Just try. It’s really easy. My boyfriend has a hollow body bass.” I didn’t even know what that meant. So, we went to her house and stuffed a foam mattress into the body of the bass. And I learned to play. She was like, “Basically you just have to do this.” And I was like, “Oh.” I, then, put that on repeat, and that’s what happened.
TLS: How did you fall into songwriting?
Meghan: I’ve always been a big sucker for listening to all of the words and specifically the emotions construed in lyrics. And, all kinds of sappy stuff. You find all kinds of sappy stuff in the hardest, most metal stuff too. So, that fascinated me as an eleven year old. Listening to Alice in Chains I’d be like, “Man, I really get that.” (laughs)
So I just decided that since I knew, like, eight chords, I’d play something similar to what they played. I’d then make up my own words. And, then, that was my first song. And, then, there was a second song. And then I realized that I could do riffs. I just taught myself. I never had a guitar lesson. I’ve never had voice training. I love to yell and scream really loudly, in tune. I love to sing really sweetly, in tune. And, I love harmonies too. So, I try to make what I want to hear.
TLS: Besides making music, what else can we find 8 inch Betsy doing?
Meghan: Well, we sure did play a lot of Wii today. (laughs)
Liz: Yeah, we play a lot of Wii. Go to the beach. I’m an artist. I did art school. I should make more art than I make. And, I work at a coffee shop.
Meghan: I work at two bars, and I drink at several bars. Since I do work at bars, I like to take my days off just as quietly as possible. So, I’ll go sit in a café with my girlfriend or a friend, or something. I watch a lot of Netflix and take it easy. But, now that it’s summer I’ll spend a lot of time at the beach.
TLS: If you could describe your music in one word, what would it be?
Meghan: I’d give it a very melodic, catchy, post-punk.
Liz: That’s not one word. (laughs)
Meghan: Oh, one term? Sorry.
TLS: You can make that into one word.
Meghan: Melodapunk (laughs)
TLS: Does being known as a queer band hinder or help the band’s fan base and success?
Liz: When we first started we all decided that we weren’t going to market ourselves as a queer band. But, we didn’t hide the fact either. We were just going to be a band. And, honestly, I don’t think we would have gotten this far without the queer community. I feel that since there are so little representations of queer within the music industry, or in rock, especially women, the queer community really embraced it fast. As we’ve toured and traveled and met other bands, the same is true for them. I don’t think it’ been harder, but I think that we’ve been propelled by it.
TLS: Are there any artists that you would like to, one day, go on tour with?
Liz: I want to go on tour with Cyndi Lauper. I want to go on the True Colors tour. (laughs)
Meghan: We got to play with Cyndi Lauper at Toronto Pride last summer. We were side stage, and we were very close for her “True Colors” song. It was wonderful. Let’s just say that we both really enjoyed it.
Liz: And Gossip.
Meghan: I would like to tour Europe with Gossip. I wouldn’t mind touring the states with Girl In A Coma.
TLS: Is there a favorite city or venue that you love performing at?
Meghan: Atlanta is starting to be one of mine. Liz: Yeah, Atlanta is up there.
Meghan: We just have so much fun in Atlanta.
Liz: It’s just really cool people. Atlanta, actually, does come to mind first as one of the top.
TLS: And why is that, exactly?
Meghan: It’s a really good town to have a show in. As far as audiences go, we’ve always had very good audiences. Everybody is so cool. We sell a decent amount of merchandize. We keep in touch with people through email lists. And, they do stay in touch.
Liz: They’re just friendly. It’s that southern hospitality. They’ll let you stay at their house for as long as you want. They’ll give you food. Anything you need. You feel really welcome there.
TLS: Any upcoming tours?
Liz: We have a tour in July. It’s not really a CD release tour. There are two cities confirmed. It’s just a little one. I wouldn’t mind doing a west coast one.
Meghan: I would love that.
TLS: What can we expect from 8 Inch Betsy in the near future?
Meghan: Live shows in every city we can get our hands on. Albums coming out a lot more frequently than they have been in the last couple of years.
Liz: We have two great shows coming up. June 14th with Nicky Click at Parlour on Clark. And then, Quenchers on June 29th for a film screening of Whistlin’ Dixie: Queer Sounds of the New South. It’s a documentary about queer music coming out of the south. I, also, feel like consistency is one thing. We’re just going to keep putting out consistent music. And, yes, a video.
Meghan: We’re going to get video-fied.
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Next Show: Tuesday, June 14th
9-12am / FREE / Parlour on Clark / 6341 N Clark
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Growing up Erica knew she’d be one of two things: 1. A lesbian 2. A writer. Lucky for her, she turned out to be both! After graduating from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Creative Writing, she moved back to the Midwest. In Chicago she found a community, a home, and her wonderful wife. Besides writing for The L Stop, Erica spends her time script writing. She hopes to, one day, write and produce good quality films and plays. If you ever see Erica around, feel free to say hi. She loves meeting new faces.