[Photo courtesy of Kyle Schwieger]
By Roman Salomone, Contributor
The 2022 Battle of the Bands took place at The Union on Thursday, Oct. 6. Among the five incredible acts that played, Meat and Cheese Collective put on an amazing and high energy show. Prior to their set, I sat down with the members to discuss their origins, inspirations and Better Call Saul.
[This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]
Roman: Could you introduce yourselves and what you play in the band?
Juno: I’m Juno, I play bass.
Kelby: I’m Kelby. I play guitar and I sing.
Chris: I’m Chris, I play the drums.
Austin: I’m Austin and I play the trumpet.
Roman: How did the band get its start?
Juno: So, me, Kelby and Chris actually all – we no longer all three work there now – but we met because we all worked at Bagel Street Deli. I met both of them when I started about a year ago, and it was cool because I was like, ‘Oh, I have coworkers that I actually like’ and then I found out that they play instruments and I was like, ‘Whoa.’ Kelby was like, ‘We should play together sometime.’ I don’t know whose idea it was originally because I know Kelby and Chris have played together before, since they both worked together longer than me. But we all ended up last December starting to jam and stuff and then it kind of just went on from there and then, eventually – Austin is Kelby’s roommate – so then we all were like ‘Whoa, Brass. That’s awesome.’
Roman: How or when did you guys get into music?
Chris: I mean, I’ve always loved music, I don’t know about you guys.
Austin: I think all of us started young. Like playing through high school, playing in the band.
Kelby: In, like, middle school I started playing guitar, same for you guys maybe?
Chris: Yeah, I was 11 or 12. I got a drum set, played in the band at my middle school and then I didn’t make it through high school. I didn’t want to commit that amount of time. But yeah, I played drums in my house still through all that time.
Juno: My dad’s also in several bands or a couple bands, and has been my whole life. So that’s kind of how I started getting into music, but I didn’t really play guitar until like a few years ago.
Roman: How would you describe your music?
Kelby: I would describe as I guess we’re like, an emo folk rock band, which is I think was what we’ve settled on as our official title of genre. Garage, emo, folk rock.
Austin: Yeah, we also play covers of other songs.
Kelby: A lot of alternative types of music.
Juno: We draw from like a wide variety. Well, I was just gonna say Kelby is the one who writes most of the music and lyrics and stuff, and then we like build on it.
Chris: Yeah, I write the drum parts.
Roman: You mentioned covers. I went to the show last night a few weeks back and I noticed the covers you did were very eclectic and unexpected. There was a Violent Femmes song, there was a Peaches song, and it’s hard to forget a Better Call Saul intro song-jam. Does that highlight your inspirations and influences well?
Kelby: I’d say so I mean, I don’t know.
Chris: I mean, I’ve got a lot of influences. The type of music I play along with is not necessarily the music I listen to all the time, but a lot of it is.
Kelby: Right. I think it’s kind of more of our common ground and yeah, particularly Peaches and Better Call Saul are just us having fun. A lot of our covers are like, “Oh, how can we have the most fun?” Yeah, we want everyone to have a good time.
Roman: What does the creative process of your original music look like?
Kelby: Juno and I have done a little bit of stuff together. It’s mostly me. I mostly write just alone. I’ll sit down acoustically and then I’ll bring it to the band, lyrically. We just kind of jam it out.
Juno: Kelby and I will like start writing something and I’ll be like, ‘What if it was this word?’ and then we’re like, ‘Cool,’ and then we do like an acoustic jam and then we bring it to the group.
Roman: Where did the name Meat and Cheese Collective come from?
Chris: That’s my sole artistic contribution to the group.
Chris: I made that up at work one day, and then Juno latched on.
Juno: Yeah, we all met when we were working at a shop that sells deli meat. I think we were just at work one day, like cleaning something out. I was working with Chris and like that phrase got brought up and we were like, ‘Oh, that would be a cool band name.’ And now we’re here.
Roman: What made you want to play Battle of the Bands?
Juno: I’m just excited to get us opportunities to play more now that students are back in town. Most of the shows we did were over the summer, where it was less people. Like less younger people or it was kind of the same kind of people that normally see us, which is fun, but it’s cool to be playing for people for the first time again. So I felt like this would just be like a super good opportunity for that. I did Battle of the Bands last year and it was just super fun to get to see all the other local talent too and the people that are also doing cool stuff. It’s a good way to figure out like, ‘Oh, I could collab with this person’ or ‘I want to see more of their music.’ I feel like it’s just sort of a way to get in touch with the broader music community in Athens, which is a really great community to be a part of.
Roman: A bit of a fun question I wanted to ask, but the Better Call Saul jam. I’m assuming you guys are fans of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad?
Kelby: Oh yeah, Austin and I especially.
Roman: Any hot takes you have about the show?
Austin: I think it ended very well.
Kelby: We liked it a lot.
Juno: Are you satisfied with the ending?
Austin: Yeah I think out of a lot of the shows that I’ve watched that’s one that I was actually satisfied on.