Megan is now the lead singer of the band: Beat The System
There are a handful of artists that honestly and truly know what it means to sing from the heart and from the soul. Whether or not these artists sing about unrequited love, raise their fists against injustice, or expose our innermost fears and desires like a raw nerve, there’s a fire in their soul, a bitter tasting spit salivating from their lips, and a magnetic force in their grip. Sharpening the tart edge of her tongue comes naturally to Megan McCauley.
It was Janis Joplin that did it for Megan. “She was glamorous and sexy in her own right,” she says. “She had a raw sexuality while also being very strong and independent. If she wanted to, she’d go up on stage smashed. She was completely liberal in every way. I was and still am enamored by that. If it wasn’t for Janis, there would have never been a match that lit the fire in me.”
McCauley, much like her idol, offers no apologies. This redheaded siren with tattoos and piercings is anything but conventional. The Ohio native is nineteen, convincingly brash and impressively iron-willed. Megan is wildly undisguised simply because she knows no other way. Raised by a single mother, she was fulfilled by compulsive visits to the conveniently located Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “I used to hang out at the Hall when I got older. Every weekend I would buy a new album of the inductees in the gift shop. One day I bought a Big Brother and The Holding Company album and it just floored me. I remember locking myself in my room for weeks until I could sing like Janis,” adds Megan. By finding invaluable influence through Joplin, Megan finally found her own voice and shaped herself into anything but a pop star - and that's what makes her an original.
“Everybody has an asshole and an opinion. I don’t give a shit about being outspoken. I’ve been told to keep my mouth shut, but I have no control. It’s like breathing. Perhaps there will be a day when my comments are more calculated, but I see no reason not to simply state it like it is.”
Frankly, Megan just doesn’t give a shit. It’s not misplaced aggression from being a teenager nor is it false mourning sought from her favorite artists. It’s not even about challenging the status quo. Megan refuses to escape simplicity for the sake of being herself. Being who she is, is enough.
“When I want something, I’ll claw and scratch through anything in order to make it happen,” she says. “I don’t stop until I get it. I figure why quit and just give up after working so hard? I will prevail. I don’t really need anyone on my side to back me up in who I want to be.”
Since her parents divorce at age three, Megan grew up being herself which was not always accepted by her peers. As an outsider in school, she learned to live within her own skin. “I fit in with the outcast group,” she says. “By high school, there were more people like me, but all of the sudden it became cool to be an outcast. What people don’t understand is how it’s not a natural thing, yet somehow in some ways it made me popular, or at least noticed. A friend of mine told me that I was a ‘gothic punk with a side-stitch of freak all wrapped up in a fashionista package’ I liked that.”
Megan looked beyond her exterior mold and saw someone with three sides: the dark-minded, corset-wearing creature fond of Halloween, a snide punk kid who loves to fuck with the system, and the freak who’s completely out of the picture. Writing songs is the one thing that connects all of these things together.
“I was a loner through everything. Like Janis Joplin said: ‘I was laughed out of class, out of town and out of the state’ during my preteen years. I sunk into a deep depression, gained a whole bunch of weight. I was completely tortured through school and never had many good friends. But I think it’s made me a better person for today. I don’t need anyone there to justify that I like myself for who I am. I don’t need to be anything to justify myself. I’m making this album so I can pass on my experiences to others so they can move beyond their issues. Even though I am young, I have been through a lot of screwed up shit. I think a lot of people go through the same stuff, whether people acknowledge it or not. All I really want to do is help people get through those hard times.”
Megan’s been singing all of her life, but learning how to play instruments is another story.
She credits some of her favorite artists—most notably Damien Rice and Rasputina frontwoman Melora Creager. “In my downtime, I play a lot of instruments, but I’m not that great. I can do some guitar licks, but nothing really outstanding,” she says. “But when I pick something up, I immediately get obsessive about it. I bought a used cello for $400 and taught myself how to play. As soon as it happened, I thought ‘This is my instrument.”
Even with her forays into musicianship, songwriting is Megan’s gift. “I can’t read music or handle anything overly technical.” says Megan. “All of it confuses me, however when I do get into a studio, I know what I want. As the lyrics come to me, there is always a melody that carries them onto the page. Every line of every song has meaning.”
The glorious guitar downpour that carries Wonder, is merely a glimpse into this personal space. Megan’s honesty is so stripped, the raw power of her lyrics is so right there, you cannot help but reach for it. You’d never know she was 14 when she wrote this song, for it breathes hard much like an adult who’s weathered too many storms.
“I wrote this song for a friend of mine. All of a sudden I was laying there one night and thought the first line has to capture everything. I was staring at the clock and it was midnight, and I wrote ‘Midnight workings, weather down the storyline / I try to find the truth between all the lies’ and it all seemed to work.”
Nothing would prepare Megan for the violent shock that would lead to the autobiographical I’ll Pay You To Shoot Him. At a young age, Megan’s father had separated from the family, only to return years later. The relationship between father and daughter was not whole, and ultimately throughout the majority of her life it was as though she simply did not have a father at all. Approximately a decade after his exit, McCauley’s father rejoined the family. She recalls “Physically having him in my life did not offer the nurturing and emotional support that’s naturally there for so many others.” Two years after his return, in August 2004 she was witness to a domestic dispute between her parents which turned violent. The argument was brutal, and the altercation turned physical. With adrenalin flowing from witnessing the acts of violence, she turned to the police officers on the scene and yelled to them, “I’ll pay you to shoot him!’ The comment later became the basis of the song with the same name and passionately displays her inability to hold back. She explains, “In writing the song, I am not looking for sympathy, and this is not a tale of devastation or loss. It is a punch back, a lunge against intimidation and raw brutality. It’s all part of life experience.”
“I think the fact that I’m so direct kind of comes from my influences—Bob Dylan, Janis, Poe. Poe’s songs gave me the inspiration and the balls to write I’ll Pay You to Shoot Him, and not worry about suffering criticism. I think hiding things just hurts other people. It’s just ignorant. There is just no reason for not knowing the truth. You might as well tell people so they can avoid it or so they can get through it. There is no reason to lose hope.”
“I am an open book when it comes to emotional things,” Megan says. “The fact that most of my life early on was shielded and sheltered by suburbia, I made sure that I found out everything myself. I’ve gone through things, so why hide it? People are going to find out anyway. Why not have people learn from that? The thing is, I have no personal space to be invaded. I’m going to be as blunt and to the point as I possibly can.”
But even with all the rawness, Megan does have a playful side as evidenced by her soon to be released debut single “Tap That.” This song explores the naughty, wild side of Megan, the girl who also loves to go out with her friends and party like a rock star whenever she can. “With all the bullshit that life throws at you, you have to get out and have fun” says Megan. “
|WONDER Megan McCauley|