London-based four-piece Me Rex were kind enough to do an interview with us! Me Rex is composed of Myles McCabe, Kathryn Woods, Phoebe Cross, and Rich Mandell. Rich and Phoebe were originally in Happy Accidents, and Kathryn was Fresh alongside Myles. In this interview, we talk about their star signs, how meeting each other re-ignited their passion for music, and their reasoning behind designing their album to be shuffled. Interview with Myles, Phoebe, and Rich. They released their latest album, Megabear, which totals a whopping 52 tracks, on June 18th. Listen here!
What’s your go-to gas station order?
Myles: I think I think just petrol for me, please. I think this is like more of a more of a US thing, isn’t it? Because you have like longer drives on tour, right? But at the same time, I think, like, looking at going back to touring, eating food from petrol stations isn’t something that I want to go back to. You know, eating a lot of plain crisps. I would rather think of that more carefully and plan to eat something that I actually want to.
Phoebe: Figuring out what we actually want to eat.
Myles: Yeah, make little sandwiches or something.
Phoebe: Having said that, I was gonna say ready, salted crinkle cut crisps. Isn’t that my go to when I mean, especially in Europe, they taste better on the continent.
Myles: Petrol for me, well for everyone really, to share. And then unflavored crisps, if that’s what you fancy.
Rich: They’re flavored, they’re salty.
Myles: That’s not a flavor.
Rich: If it’s a Marks and Spencer’s, they’ll have like fancy fake me. Fake chicken sandwiches and stuff.
Myles: Maybe a soup! Not the best car food, but yeah.
Me Rex sort of has a witchy, tarot-esque theme going in its branding and instagram feed! Do any of you read tarot or are into astrology? If so, what’s your star sign, and do you feel it fits you? Why or why not?
Myles: For a long time, I believed that I’m a very Sagittarius-y Sagittarius. But then also more recently, I’ve realized that a lot of those are just symptoms of ADHD. So I don’t know. I mean, the two things aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. But you’re a Sagittarius as well. And I think we’re, we’re fairly different personality wise.
Phoebe: I’ve realized that I definitely have elements of like, I can’t concentrate very well, like Rich will be talking about something really deep and I’ll be like the “What’s for dinner tonight?” Or like, “Watch me do this.” And then I get very distracted. And so I have some of that more than I think I realized before but yeah.
Rich: We’ve got two Scorpios and two Sagittariuses.
Phoebe: It’s a nice balance.
Rich: Are you a Scorpio-y Scorpio?
Myles: I don’t know too much about what makes up a Scorpio-y Scorpio. But I think probably. Moody, bit of a downer, isn’t that what people say Scorpios are?
Phoebe: I’m looking them up right now, because I never know them off the top of my head.
Rich: Passionate and assertive, with determination and focus.
Myles: I mean, it’s not not me.
Rich: It sounds like you and Kathryn.
Phoebe: Yeah, Sagittarius are curious and energetic. That is true. My dad said I was boisterous the other day, too boisterous. That’s what you call a child.
Rich: You’re quite childlike. In your enthusiasm.
Phoebe: We have a child-kindred energy. What does that even mean? I don’t know.
Rich: But no, I guess we’re not that into Tarot and astrology.
Phoebe: I like the solar system element of it all and kind of the like spirituality bit, but I don’t know that much about it. But I like it.
Myles: I’m somewhere similar.
So Me Rex got its start in the bedroom of Myles. How did you all meet and get involved with Myles’ project? What were your first impressions of each other when you met?
Myles: I remember when I first met you two. I think it was the first time, it was good because it was an acoustic garden house show in St. John’s. And I remember thinking you were very good, and also enjoying, I think we talked about enjoying Alkaline Trio as teenagers.
Rich: That’s funny you remember that. Did you play that day?
Myles: Yeah, I did, yeah.
Rich: Oh, I feel like we missed it. Maybe we walked out halfway through. We first saw you at Vinyl Endeavored, that skateboard show.
Myles: That was great.
Rich: That was wicked. I remember being very blown away. My expectations, I think everyone’s expectations of “man with acoustic guitar” are never that high, and you dove across.
Myles: It’s lucky I chose not to do the Ed Sheeran covers that night.
Phoebe: Definitely a bold move.
Myles: The first time I met Kathryn was also an acoustic show. It was when Fresh supported Trust Fund, at Houseman’s Radical bookshop. Apparently, she doesn’t remember meeting me that day. I think the first time that Kathryn remembers me, was again, at an acoustic out at the Galley Throw house, because I was pushing her around in a shopping trolley, pushed her into the river.
Phoebe: Because we did that on that tour in Europe in Germany, didn’t we?
Rich: Who doesn’t love getting pushed around in a shopping trolley?
Phoebe: I did until that German man mooned us, then I wanted out.
Rich: Soured the whole experience.
Phoebe: I think we were being pushed by someone I didn’t know, and they started going quite fast, and it was like, “Let me out!”.
Rich: Kathryn loves telling the story of the first time we met, which I swear to god didn’t happen, was at Southampton and our band had just played, opening for Jeff Rosenstock. And she said, “Nice set!” and I said, “Oh yeah? What color were my glasses?” and she said, “I don’t know?” and I said, “Trick question, I wasn’t wearing any glasses!”. And that sounds like the least me thing off all time.
Phoebe: I do remember meeting Kathryn at that gig, and she was off her face, so that correlates potentially. I went up to Kathryn and I was like, “Youre Kathryn from Fresh!” and she was like, “You’re Phoebe from Happy Accidents!” and it was key. She was sixteen or something like that.
Myles: I can just imagine Rich saying that sassy little blue line, and then popping your color and slinking off. In a leather jacket.
Me Rex became a pivoting point in your musical career where you were able to re-ignite your passion for music, can you tell us more how this project made you fall in love with your craft all over again?
Myles: It was mostly doing that tour, the one where you first saw me. Final tour. I was looking at the poster now.
Phoebe: Lovely show, lovely tour.
Myles: Oh, it was fantastic tour. It was kind of small. Like, a lot of it was non venue venues. Just the whole kind of way of doing things was very different to anything that I had experienced before. And it was kind of like an introduction to you know, the UK DIY scene.
Rich: Was that your first DIY tour in general?
Phoebe: I thought you were an old dog at that.
Myles: Yeah. No, no, no. A salty old dog. It was my first one.
Rich: That’s cool. I didn’t realize.
Phoebe: Yeah, it felt very genuine and everyone obviously is really talented and there was something very pure about that lineup. It was very nice, right? I remember that fondly.
Your brand-new concept album, Megabear, has 52 tracks that are all pretty short, some only around 30 seconds long. How did you develop this different sort of style of songwriting, and what advantages do you feel it gives you over a more traditional style?
Myles: This thing of having short styles, and being able to rearrange them and gather them in different ways, and kind of allow them to sit in different contexts, is actually, I don’t know about other people’s songwriting processes, but for me that’s how I write anyway. I accumulate a lot of ideas, and then they’re just kind of rearranged. And any of them will kind of find a place to sit. And in that process as well, they’ll interact with each other in different ways. So it’s letting the listener in on that process.
Megabear is intended to be listened to on shuffle as a means of producing an infinite number of combinations of each of the tracks together. This seems like a sort of antithesis to album sequencing, or rather a remixed way of how to do it. What was the process of putting the tracklist together?
Myles: Yeah, so the tracklist for the vinyl was based pretty closely on the order that we recorded it in, with a few slight adjustments for, you know, to kind of get around having having a lot of repetition in places.
Rich: If we left it all in, the last ten songs would just be filler stuff that we thought about afterwards.
Myles: All the instrumentals and ambient things, yeah. There’s no filler on the album. The final order was the order we recorded it in, and the rest, I literally just put the album on shuffle and wrote down the order that it came in and listened through and then made some little tweaks.
Phoebe: Just how it’s supposed to be.
Rich: I saw on Reddit someone said what you just said but muddled up the format. They said the digital version was the version that we recorded in. And I was like, “Wow, I’ve never seen something that I’ve worked on be part of the misinformation Reddit process.”
In addition to Megabear, you released a single, Galena, that is comprised of 5 of the LP’s songs and represents the natural mineral form of lead sulfide. What does the single mean to you in comparison to the full-length LP?
Myles: It’s a little sampler of the album, really, it’s a taste of a lot of the different aspects of it.
Phoebe: Radio stations didn’t want to play the full half an hour, so it’s a nice way of having something that maybe would get on the airwaves, too. The name is just a cool name, a cool word.
You also released a collection of EPs over the course of last year that represent dinosaurs or extinct species. Aside from these animal figureheads, how does each collection connect with each other, and why did you decide to split up these songs as opposed to putting them in one record?
Myles: Writing all the songs, I didn’t think they would all get pressed to vinyl. I thought it was all digital, a digital thing. I’m not really a vinyl collector myself. Writing the songs, I wasn’t really invested in the idea that they would get to vinyl. And they just kind of came in force. I didn’t feel there was an obligation to go with the album format. It wasn’t something the releases would be bound to. When I did that tour, the one that I mentioned earlier, I didn’t even have CDs or anything. And it got quite close to the day we were going to set off, and I realized I didn’t have any merch to tour with. So I went on Ebay and I got a job lot of toy dinosaurs that children had grown out of. And I wrote digital download tags on the dinosaurs feet, and I did pay what you want dinosaurs with dino load codes. They sold very well. Not many people downloaded the codes, but the dinosaurs sold well.
Rich: I don’t think many people know that they’re re-recordings of old EPs, I think they’ve taken on a life of their own. They’re like, new.
Myles: With Triceratops, I think of like, a set of demos. But Stegosaurus, I recorded them with Lou Gates, and I really like how the recordings came out. But they didn’t have the full band on it.
Phoebe: There’s something very wholesome about how you approached that. It’s cute. I like them,
You mentioned in an article with ‘Consequence” that while writing Megabear, you didn’t have “the emotional language to process it.” Has finishing and releasing this project into the world provided you with a newfound sense of clarity or perspective?
Myles: The thing they’re referring to, is something a lot of people have, particularly people we know or people who write music, or people who are very into music. It’s something we use to process emotional events in our lives. Through writing and through listening, it gives you language and context as well for the things that you’re feeling.
Rich: Do you feel like that’s changed now that it’s out in the world? Like has releasing it changed that, or is that just an aside?
Myles: I’d say more in the writing than in the releasing.
Phoebe: It’s funny how when you release something, it’s no longer yours or mine or Rich’s or Kathryn’s and it’s just complete.
Myles: And that was that was something that I wanted to emphasize with Megabear particularly as well, because it’s so much about taking the control away from the composer. And, and giving it either to chance by having it on shuffle, or to the person consuming it. So they can have their own set order.
Phoebe: It’s kind of personal to everyone.
So you guys have announced a November tour and a festival date! Do you have any other upcoming plans?
Myles: We have an album’s worth of songs recorded. We are writing the next thing after that. I think that’s all safe to say.
Rich: We’re gonna tour as much as we can, and we’re gonna write, and we’re gonna play music, because we haven’t been able to play for a really long time.
Phoebe: We’re doing quite a big festival next weekend, which is like a test event. So it’s sort of going ahead at full capacity, but it’s got loads and loads of Coronavirus testing and regulations still and stuff. That’s going to be our first show as a full band since 2019. So it’s gonna be really exciting, and I hope everyone appreciates that we really haven’t played a show in quite awhile, so it’s gonna be fun.
Rich: When we play our Lexington show, it will be two years from then since the London show before it.
Phoebe: Everything’s gone so fast and slow, I’ve lost all sense of time. We’re excited to get more songs out in the world.