Their Own Sound
"When we formed the band in 2016, we decided to make the music that we had long missed. We strongly desire to give back to world what our favorite artists have given to us."
Formed in 2016, Southern California alt-rock outfit, Mëttle, takes on music through the virtue of their name. Heavily laced in atmospheric guitars, a driving rhythmic section and tear-jerking vocals, the band's sound is immersive, familiar, and an honorable throwback.
Teaming up with Grammy Award-Winning Engineer and Producer, Erich Talaba, the band released their debut EP 27 Ghosts in 2018. The band’s first EP was met with favorable reviews with the single “Red and Blue” gaining noticeable traction on Spotify and similar streaming services. Critics and fans alike note Mëttle’s unique, yet eerily nostalgic sound, which is no doubt a product of the band’s tangible 80's/90's musical influences. In March of 2019, Mëttle released their sophomore EP What’s Left of the Lizard, engineered and produced by Sean Gould, whose credits include Hollywood Undead, Katy Perry, and Train.
By Kreig Marks, September 28, 2020
TRR: Megan, on your Facebook profile, it states, “Just OK vocalist who’s not Amy Lee." I’ve listened to all of Mettle’s songs. I’ve heard most of Evanescence’s songs. You’ve got the voice, the range and technique. Who compares you to Amy Lee? Why not be compared to Megan Rice?
Megan: Thank you for the kind words. We constantly get the Evanescence comparison, primarily from listeners online. There’s a lot I could go into, I’ll start by saying that I respect Amy Lee’s talent. She is much more of a technically trained vocalist than I am, no question. As far as music goes, we both just bring very different things to the table. People see a pale girl with dark hair flanked by dudes with “occasionally” distorted guitars and that’s how we get the superficial comparison. However, if you take away the visual, I don’t think anyone would connect us with Evanescence. The music just doesn’t sound the same. The “just ok” and the nods to Amy in my Bio is just the nature of my self-deprecating humor. We don’t take much too seriously. Putting yourself out there for public scrutiny leads to some hilarious commentary. I’ve been told I’m a “less hot Amy Lee” and “Just OK” in the past. I thought it was funny, so now its my Bio.
TRR: Let those who make comparisons make their comparisons. Soon, there will be someone comparing another up and coming singer to Megan Rice. I gotta ask this question. Who’s the biggest snake fan in the household, you, Scott or the dogs?
METTLE: Ha! The snake fan is definitely me, Megan. Scott hated them initially and the dogs would kill them if provided the opportunity *sigh*.
TRR: Ha! I didn't see that one coming. You can keep your snake. So, Mettle was formed in 2016. What were you all doing before forming the band?
METTLE: Probably not what many would assume. Roy (drummer) has played the drums since around 15 yrs old when he lived in Mexico. After moving to the States he pursued that dream relentlessly, which inevitably led him to find us. Scott (guitarist) and his cousin Anthony (bassist) are lifelong musicians as well, having played and studied music for at least 20 yrs. Between the two of us (Scott and Megan), Scott’s path was probably the straightest shot, whereas I, Megan, was sort of all over the place. Spoiler, Scott and I are married. Scott’s passion for music led him to learn graphic design and marketing, which turned into a lucrative career. Ever the entrepreneur, these skills led to a few different businesses that we both built over the years. I, Megan, started in theater as a child. I went to a performing arts school where I studied theater and music. In college, I did a 180 and went the science route, primarily. After grad school the world was our oyster, and Scott and I came to a crossroad. I could keep going down my path or we could both take a chance and do something different. I starved my creative side to feed my intellectual one and I was ready to create a life where those two sides could merge. The 9-5 was not our style, so we decided to make music, but this time and for the first time we would be making music together.
TRR: Cool story. Did all of you come from musical households?
Scott (guitar) - Yes and no. My parents weren’t musical, per se, but my mother was an obsessive listener. She would quiz me on which artist played which songs and have me really listen and study the lyrics and messages of songs from a very young age. My uncles all played instruments though.
Anthony (bass) - Yes. My dad is a lead guitar player and his older brother a drummer. I grew up watching them play.
Roy (drums) - My grandfather from my dad's side was a self-taught instrumentalist, his name was Jose Hernandez Machuca. He could play most of the string and percussion instruments. He was mainly influenced by folk traditional music. Unfortunately he's passed away, but I have no doubt that I inherit the passion for music from him. We never had the opportunity to play together because he was already an elder man and had arthritis, which impeded his ability to play music.
Megan (vocals) - Nope. I wish it was more interesting than that (lol), but my family was not musical at all.
TRR: What inspired each of you to pursue music as a profession?
Megan (vocals) – I have always gone 100% when pursuing a passion. I can’t just do something superficially no matter what it is, so when Scott asked me if I wanted to make music, there was no other option for me – it was all or nothing.
Scott (guitar) – Music is so homogenized these days and I think everything sucks for the most part. I wanted to make the music that I would actually enjoy listening to… since waiting around for other people to make it wasn’t working out too well.
Anthony (bass) – I just love playing music. Anything that will allow me to play music more often is my goal.
Roy (drums) – what inspires me to pursue music is the need for adrenaline before and after every show. The personal satisfaction I get when I accomplish a musical challenge, whether it be a part, a song, or a style. Music is part of my every day life and it's even better if I get the opportunity to play it for a living.
TRR: Tell me about some of your individual musical influences.
METTLE: Scott (guitar) – It’s bands like Zeppelin, RHCP, Smashing Pumpkins, Muse, and Prince etc., the reason being, they are bands that strictly sound like themselves and strive to have their own unique sound. I don’t have a single current-day musical influence because not a single band or artist has their own sound anymore. Music has gotten completely homogenized.
Megan (vocals) – I pull from all sorts of music. I look at the structure and choices of songwriting greats and I do so without concerning myself with what musical snobs might think. I’ve always admired The Eagles and Elton John. I look to U2 for the ambience and killer guitar work by The Edge. I look at top 40 producers like Max Martin and their early work that honestly shaped the sound of a decade. I want our music to lightly hint at the alt rock sound of the 90s, so I incorporate Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Cranberries… even though we sound like none of them. Nuance is important.
Roy (drums) – I don't know if this answers the question directly but I gravitate towards music that has some kind of mysticism in the lyrics accompanied by aggressive riffs and big drums. That's why Stuck is one of my favorite songs!
Anthony (bass) – If I say “I try to be influenced by everything” I sound like an asshole. I don’t put much thought into influences. Final answer.
TRR: And......Anthony drops the mic! That was a lot more from all of you than I expected. Excellent answers across the board. (We'll have to find Scott a band out there he can enjoy though.) The first single you released as a band was “Red and Blue” from your debut EP, 27 Ghosts. Take me through the writing process of that song.
METTLE: We were listening to the Cure and wanted to write a song along that same feel. It quickly turned into something else and that’s what we love about original music.
TRR: It's a very cool song and the video is very cool as well. Describe your feelings when you first heard the final, mastered version of the song.
METTLE: Even before the master, when Scott and I (Megan) got the first mix back from the producer, we just looked at each other and said “Wow, this is us”. It was a good wow, lol.
TRR: Who produced 27 Ghosts?
METTLE: Erich Talaba. He was great. Erich is extremely professional and is incredible at his job. We love the quality of the product we got from him. He was more of a quiet guy... and Scott and I made it our mission to make him crack. We could never tell if he ever liked us, LOL. He would rarely budge with all our ridiculous jokes and commentary. I loved the way he worked and his process. We took a lot away from our experience working with him. He lost all patience with our drummer on drum tracking day... it was hilarious. I was scared he would lose his cool with me, but his response was "No, not as long as you know what you're doing". HA! Our drummer at the time was a novice and really didn't take direction well. He was repeating the same fills over and over, regardless of direction. At one point Erich just yelled into the speaker "STOP hitting the snare. Hit ANY OTHER DRUM." Scott and I were ROLLING.
TRR: That's hysterical. Anything else from that session?
METTLE: You would love this... before we went in to track Erich asked for scratch vocals for each song. Scott likes to work on mixing as well and from one of his programs he got a hold of the soloed vocals from Evenflow...So for our song 'Warmer Weather', we sent him the "alternate vocal" which was just Evenflow. He never once commented on it... HAHA
TRR: He knew. He just didn't want to give you the satisfaction. Wanted to keep you guessing. "27 Ghosts," where did that title come from?
METTLE: All of our album names are really just inside jokes that sounded artsy and pretentious enough to be an album name. We love mocking the absurdity of music snobbery and self-indulgence. “27 Ghosts” is the average number of dead people per every one living. We were joking around one day that it seems absurd we aren’t more haunted… because every person has about 27 ghosts to their name. “What’s Left of the Lizard” is what our dogs bring us after they’ve been lizard hunting in the yard.
TRR: LOL! How thoughtful of them. Good doggies! February/March of this year, the country goes under a pandemic and live music is put on hold. What’s going through all of your minds then and now?
METTLE: We had a lot of great fairs, festivals and big shows lined up all summer long. It was going to be a year of playing some pretty sizeable events. We were disappointed, frustrated, and angry. It's eye-opening to see how little control the majority of us have in this world. It’s also terrifying. What’s going through my mind now is that if this sort of thing can happen so easily once, it will happen again. My focus is on what live music and entertainment will look like moving forward and, how can we take advantage of a shifting climate?
TRR: There's definitely going to be a change in how venues bring in the crowds, at least for a while. I'm sure safety will continue to be a priority but it's such a litigious society we live in. It wouldn't surprise me to see venues having the attendees sign a release of liability waver. So, the pandemic, it’s now been about 7 or so months dealing with this As a married couple, I’m sure there are not many secrets or habits kept from each other. Tell me about some strange things Scott and Megan have learned about each other during this.
METTLE: Scott and Megan’s normal life looks a lot like a pandemic. We never leave our house (referred to as the Wolves’ Den). We rarely have social interactions. And If we come out and see our shadows we run back inside for 6 more weeks.
TRR: The Groundhogs. Maybe that can be a side project. What about as a band? What’s the strangest or funniest thing you’ve learned about one of the band members?
METTLE: I don’t know about funny or strange since we are all family and close friends, we know each other pretty damn well already. What I did learn is how each of us handle pressure and strain. It’s sort of a silver-lining getting to see what people are truly made of when times are tough.
TRR: With the band, who’s handled the pandemic the best?
METTLE: Scott handled it the worst. He laid around topless for 3 weeks drinking chamomile.
TRR: Ha! I'm picturing him. Chamomile? LOL. You’re driving in your car and on Octane, one of your songs comes on. This question is for all of you. Who’s the first person you text to tell them your song is on Satellite radio?
METTLE: Megan (vocals) – My mom. Scott (guitar) – Megan’s Mom Anthony (bass) – Megan’s mom as well. Roy (drums) – Megan’s mom for me, too.
TRR: Hysterical! I guess Megan's mom is the one who will then take over the phone lines and spread the word! Awesome. Gotta meet this woman. Then, while the song is playing, do you take out your cell phone to take a picture of the station where it says Octane and the band Mettle?
METTLE: For sure! I (Megan) would probably take a video of Scott being disappointed that the radio isn’t playing Phil Collins though…
TRR: Scott's a big Phil Collins fan? Favorite song? Please tell me it's Sussudio!
METTLE: Haha! It’s sort of a running gag we have. But his real favorite is 'That’s All'.
TRR: Cool song. Back to Octane. It's your song on there. You listen to the whole song. When the song is over, do you hit the replay button on your car stereo?
METTLE: You can replay a song on satellite radio? SWEET!
TRR: I guess it depends on the level of sophistication of your stereo. On mine, I can stop, replay and actually record the song and create my own playlist. Now, you’re at a red light. The windows are down. You’re singing along to your own song and you glance over to the left and the guy in the car next to you at the red light is jamming to your song too. Do you yell to the guy, “Hey, that’s me!”
METTLE: This has strangely “sort of” happened!
TRR: Why doesn't that surprise me? Let's hear it.
METTLE: One time in particular, Scott and I (Megan) were at a stoplight, windows down and one of our songs blaring. There was a kid on a bike waiting for the light to change and he was rockin’ out. I yelled to him and he waved back. So, like a total douche I yelled “THIS IS US!”, lol.
TRR: So, you went all fan-girl over yourselves. LOL! That's awesome.
METTLE: The kid was stoked, we were stoked, and it was a rad moment. Occasionally we’ve had supporters send us videos of them hearing "Red and Blue" playing in their local stores, just like an AutoZone in Indiana. It’s pretty cool.
TRR: Describe the feeling the first time all of you performed together on stage.
METTLE: Mëttle has undergone different iterations over the years. You need to have the right chemistry and everyone needs to be in the same head-space for a band to really work. I, Megan, genuinely cannot remember the first time the band in its current form all played together for the first time and the guys can’t either, LOL. I will tell you that there is no greater feeling than playing with these guys. We just work. It's something special when we play together. Anytime, whether on stage or at rehearsal, the vibe is truly electric when we are all in it and playing for the true heart of the music.
TRR: Who gets so juiced up [excited] that he or she feels they may vomit when you first hit the stage?
METTLE: The guys are all longtime music pros, so they never get too worked up anymore. My (Megan) 2nd show ever singing live in front of people was the Summer of 2017 at a huge local festival. I sang the entire set with my eyes closed because I was so freaked.
TRR: Just put on some shades and no one will know the truth behind them. What’s been the worst thing you’ve all experienced from the pandemic?
METTTLE: Oh, man, this could get dark. Luckily, none of us or our family has died as a result, but its definitely sucked in a lot of ways that it’s sucked for millions of others. I’ll leave it there.
TRR: I know what you mean. On a better note, what’s been the best thing to happen to any of you as a result of the pandemic?
METTLE: Honestly, our band name has never applied more than it has during this time. It’s been a true test, but it’s shown us that we will not break and we will overcome. Instead of focusing on all the things we’ve lost and how the industry might change for the “worse”, we focus on the new opportunities created in the wake of it all. It’s forced us to really examine our goals, priorities, and given us all a new perspective on how we plan to move forward with our music.
TRR: Let’s hear the most “fan-girl” moment any of you have experienced in the music profession. When I had the opportunity to interview Lou Gramm of Foreigner, I told him it was coming and he said, “Kreig, just let it go”, and he laughed. And, I went all fan-girl for a few seconds speaking to Lou Gramm.
METTLE: We can’t blame you there, we love Foreigner. We do a cover of 'Urgent' that we’re pretty proud of and they were our topic a few weeks back on our band music podcast “Mëttle-heads." I can’t say we’ve had a “fan-girl” moment. Scott and I would probably only “fan-girl” over something completely stupid… like Honey Boo Boo.
TRR: Honey Boo Boo? You both need help! LOL! Best song you feel you’ve written?
METTLE: We would go with "Stillness" even though we aren’t trying to be Roxette, LOL.
TRR: Song you’ve written and recorded and now listen to it and think, “Well, maybe we should redo it this way…..”
METTLE: I (Megan) need to answer this on behalf of everyone. 'Warmer Weather', hands down. It ended up sounding like a Taylor Swift song. It wasn’t what we wanted, but we were trying to trust our producer at the time. People love it. I’ve found it's honestly a “fan fav”, which makes me not want to touch it… but, man, it's so not what I wanted.
TRR: One day.....maybe you'll redo it. You’re in the car listening to the radio. A song comes on and you think to yourself, “damn, that song kicks ass! I wish I had written that. What song is that?
METTLE: How Bizarre by OMC
METTLE: We thought it was better than some self-indulgent rant... music people want musicians to say their favorite songs or music is something obscure and artsy... like I’m supposed to say I wish I wrote some bullshit Thom Yorke song.
Some asshole throws a bunch of keyboards on the ground and call it revolutionary and cutting edge... I can’t stand it. Scott and I are the foil of that sort of thing.
TRR: Really? That's wild! Are you all busy rescheduling shows now that the pandemic is lessening?
METTLE: Yes and no. We learned a lot as a band. We do want to start playing shows again, but we want the experience to be new and exciting. We are looking for opportunities to play that bring something novel and fresh. We have some cool things in the works and are always looking to work with event coordinators and other tenacious bands to create a new scene. I feel change is in the wind. A lot of us are in this holding pattern thinking ‘how’s it going to be’ when things “go back to normal”, but I don’t want to wait and see. I want to be shaping what that new live music scene will be.
TRR: When can we expect some more new music from the band?
METTLE: We have a project in the works. We have several songs ready to go, but we have a crafty plan that we are hoping to pull off. I won’t spoil it, in the event that I jinx myself… but if all goes to plan, we should have an awesome production and release.
TRR: Guys, this has been cool. Looking forward to hearing the "crafty plan" and the new songs.
Kreig Marks, TRR Founder/Publisher
Founder of Tru Rock Revival Magazine, and Bandivious.com, Kreig Marks is a mover and a shaker promoting Rock Music, bands, and expanding the Rock 'n Roll community. In his other life, he is a top Neurological Fitness trainer in South Florida. His other love is his family, as the father of four loving kids.