“I think it’s very me. It’s very up and down.”
Meg Myers is referring to the emotional trajectory of her debut record, Sorry, and if you’ve ever heard the 28-year-old rocker sing a track, you know she can go from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. “It’s like, ‘I hate you, I love you, I hate you, I love you, I’m dying!’ ” says Myers of her upcoming album. “It’s life. It’s kind of just life for a lot of people.”
Myers feels everything, and it’s pretty hard not to simultaneously feel what she’s feeling when you listen to her music. It’s filled with so much emotion that at live performances her vocals fall somewhere between orgasm and exorcism. While Myers released two EPs and various singles over the course of the past three years, the release of Sorry has taken a bit more time. Myers was going to put it out earlier, but ended up pushing it back due to an uptick in her touring commitments. “Luckily the [delayed release] happened because I’ve also grown a lot in the last two years, and I don’t think I would be as happy with the songs on the album if I had written them back then,” she says of Sorry‘s songs.
If there’s a timeless feeling you get from listening to Myers, it’s because you won’t find her pressing play on much new music. As of late she’s been listening to a lot of Ryan Adams and classical; classic rock and older country like Townes Van Zandt, Randy Travis, and the Highwaymen are more her wheelhouse. Her love for Van Zandt shines through on the track “Motel” from her forthcoming album. “When I discovered a [Townes] Van Zandt quote and put it in the song, [the quote] turned it around,” says Myers. “It explained why I write the way I write. It really turned the song into finding hope at the end of it.” For Myers, the key change in the final verse of “Motel” is symbolic of that emotional shift.
While Myers might have come across angsty in singles like “Monster” and “Sorry,” she’s surprisingly not. “I’ve really needed to find some joy and some hope, because life can be really painful,” says Myers of her songwriting. “It’s the only way to get through.” Listening to her music triggers flashbacks to the best parts of Trent Reznor’s, Fiona Apple’s, and Alanis Morissette’s raw songwriting. Myers falls into a category of artists that feel so deeply you can hear each emotion in every word, verse, and chorus. While Taylor Swift writes of her relationships, flings, and breakups, Myers has passed that point in her life. Although her older songs have definitely covered the topic of love, her current songwriting covers the things she’s been through that have nothing to do with romance. “As you get older, life can be really, really difficult in so many other ways,” says Myers of her songs. “You move on and you find other things to write about.”
Though music has been cathartic for her, it’s no secret that Myers had a bit of a rough childhood. She grew up in a strict religious environment as a Jehovah’s Witness until she was thirteen, and was taken out of school that same year. “I actually love so many Jehovah’s Witnesses,” explains Myers of her former religious group. “I think they’re awesome. I think in any religion, people can take it too far…where it doesn’t become healthy. I really believe that’s in any religion. That’s kind of what happened to me.”
Additionally, Myers helped raise her brother and sister while moving around with her family — sometimes on a month-to-month basis. Her family’s financial issues even led to her living in a car at one point. “I grew up pretty poor and the religious thing was really intense,” she says.
While some people might still be reeling from such childhood issues, Myers is in a good place with her family. She got there by just getting older and understanding that people grow and change. Myers’s parents were in their early to mid-twenties when they were married and had kids, and she hasn’t been in that position yet. “I’ve definitely had moments where I’m like, ‘I’m messed up because of my rough childhood,’ ” she says. “I think we all do that. I think it has [messed me up], but I don’t think it’s healthy to blame that. Everyone has harder childhoods than others. It’s been important to me to focus on now and my future as much as I can.”
For Myers, it’s never been about making the pain go away — it’s been about growing from it. “I need to show my fans what I’ve gone through,” says Myers of her experiences. “I want them to see that it’s OK to feel pain and express yourself. Embrace your pain and pick yourself back up. Writing all of these [songs] was like my safe place. We all need that. We all need some kind of outlet.”
Meg Myers’s Sorry is out September 18. She’ll play the Marlin Room at Webster Hall on November 13.