Interview: Eli Burke of 8 Inch Betsy
8 Inch Betsy Premiers New Single “Arise”, was the entitled press release sent to my email… without pausing to study the contents embedded within the media blast, with a flash, I instantaneously listened to the track.
Thus far it was one of the most powerful and compelling punk rock songs I have heard. The fact that it was recorded by an all girl Queercore band intrigued me even more.
Decidedly I set forth to obtain an interview with the outfit, but to my dismay after scrutinizing the body of the email for contact information, I learned that the lead singer “Meghan Galbraith” had died earlier this year. I was urgently disappointed for, and overwhelmed by a sense of great sadness for the 35 year old arresting individual, with her huge mo-hawk and her imposing tattoos drawn upon her neck. Her striking talent, enchanting lyrics, haunting vocals and sensitive story drove me to further investigate the tracks on “Mean Days” their album slated to be out on Nov 13th.
Historically, before Meghan’s passing the band toured with the iconic Cyndi Lauper as well as Amy Ray of “The Indigo Girls”. The Chicago based faction had their song “Doomed” chosen for the popular X-box game “Rock Band”.
Louder Than War: Can you give us a little history regarding 8 Inch Betsy?
8 Inch Betsy started in the late 90’s, in Tucson, I ended up leaving and moving to Chicago, and I reformed it there. Meghan had been playing music and writing songs for a while, but I don’t think she ever found the people that would say what she was trying to do. She put out a solo album before that, but she had already had material that she knew she wanted to try out, so we played it and we got two songs down our first time playing together. It was pretty awesome. It quickly grew from there. The next year we were touring with Amy Ray, which was unbelievable. It was 2005 that we did that. It was our first tour. After that tour, we did two West Coast tours in 2007. That really gave us a feel of “touring” and what it was really like. After we got back from those tours, the plan was like, we were just gonna tour. Tour and play, tour and play… We had released “This Time, Last Time, Every Time” in 2008, but we were really just focused on just playing, it took us forever to get that album together. I love Chicago, but it was just so nice to be out on the road doing what you want to do. In 2010 we finally had this album down. We recorded the first version of it, but then the drummer quit while we were in the process. It wasn’t a positive thing, so we were like “Ok, do we wanna use this recording, or”… We did a second recording and just re-recorded the drum tracks. That was it… It took some time but –
What inspires you musically?
To really be honest, I’m really a fan of Meghan’s music. That’s what drew me. We were friends first of all, but she was really talented, and I was in awe of that. I was very much motivated to support her and be a good bass player.
Now you have a new music project in the works, correct?
I do, I’m working with two people here in Tucson, Tom and Danny. we have a project called”Pink Eyez”, with a ‘z’, someone took Pink Eye’s with an ‘s’. It’s new, we have a few songs. It’s good, I think it’s good.
So there is another band member in 8 Inch Betsy, a drummer?
Yeah, Mel…Melissa Thomas. She has 307 Knox, that’s how we met her. She’s our label basically. She runs the label and she happened to be a drummer. When we lost our drummer, we said, “Ok, let’s try this.” She is like one of those people you meet and they’re instantly a fan and super supportive.
When I identify with punk, I’m not familiar with too many female voices performing that genre.
Meghan was a huge “Dead Milk Man” fan, and just all of these sort of bands whom I had no idea of – she was just really into it. That was her thing. She was a skater, she listened to it all the time constantly and it was part of her. It was just coming out in the music. I’m flattered that it’s getting released now. I wish she was here. That’s the hard part for me, but I’m just glad it’s happened . Have you heard any other tracks?
Yes, I have, and I love them all.
“Arise” is your favorite?
Yes, it is. I feel there is an emotion, a sensibility to it. I don’t know if its because it was the first track I heard, but I’m sort of in love with it.
It’s the only song I use a pedal on.
I do want to wish you the best of luck with your new endeavour.
Thank you, I appreciate that.
Is there anything you’d like to leave us with, perhaps a message to the fans?
I’m so grateful for the experience that they gave us. It sounds cliche but it’s true.. we made music in a dirty, nasty room, which we did but it would’t mean anything without all the people that came to our shows and would travel to see us. I know that Meghan would be so excited about this – just stoked about it. She asked me , you know we had this conversation about it. She wanted this, so I’m just happy that its happening. Were going to try to do it for Meghan.
All words by Eileen Shapiro. More of Eileen’s writing can be found in her author’s archive.