This week we’re featuring UK alt metal group Vexed in Meet The Band. Culling Culture is their debut album. Vocalist Megan Targett and guitarist Jay Bacon introduce us to their band.
Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Vexed.
Jay Bacon: So it all started back in 2018 or so. Meg, Willem (Mason-Geraghty, drums) and myself had been playing music together in an old band for a few years that we really hated. We decided to go in a different direction, and start playing whatever we wanted to play, and be whoever we wanted to be… ourselves. Then Vexed was born. We wrote a few singles and released them independently. We started working with Tone Management towards the end of 2019, who really helped point us in the right direction, and take some of the weight off our shoulders. We had some shows booked in Europe, and decided to bring our mate Al (Harper) along to play bass. Al ended up deciding to be a permanent member, and we’ve been writing and playing music since then.
Describe the songwriting process for Culling Culture.
We’d sit down to write about four or five times a week, usually for about four hours at a time. We’d usually start with a single riff, pattern, or vocal melody, and slowly develop it into a full track. The majority of the tracks on the album flowed out quite naturally. We never really needed to force anything, we’d always just hear where the track feels like it needed to go.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Probably our manager Tom sending the word “Napalm” to the group chat and then not replying for about three hours. (laughs) We were so confused and excited at the same time because we didn’t know the context behind it, so it could have meant anything. When he finally called and said Napalm had made an offer it was like a dream.
How would you characterize its style/sound?
Jay: I’d say it’s fair to call it diverse. One thing I personally really wanted to focus on is contrast. I wanted some sections to be stupidly heavy and aggressive, but some to be way more melodic and polished. I think we’ve achieved a full spectrum when it comes to the heavier/lighter sections. Compare tracks like “Aurora” and “Purity” to tracks like “Narcissist” and “Weaponise,” and you won’t struggle to differentiate between the sort of vibes we were going for.
What inspired the album title?
There’s a strong theme lyrically throughout the album of being who you are and not allowing the toxicity of others to have an effect on you. Culling Culture kind of derived from the term ‘cancel culture.’ Its essentially the idea of removing or ‘culling’ toxic people from your life.
What lyrical topics do you cover?
Megan Targett: Each track is inspired by an individual person that I’ve removed from my life because of the way they treated me. Whether it’s betrayal from a close friend or being a victim of abuse, it’s all about setting yourself a new standard of what you’re willing to accept or not accept from others. Pain can either destroy you or be a huge motivator to better your own life in a positive way and that’s where I get my lyrical inspiration from. Mental health is something we all can relate to as well and it’s something I also felt the need to touch upon in the lyrics. All of the pain I have endured whilst going through the traumas in these songs has left me quite fragile at times and I wanted people to know that.
What are your goals and expectations for the album?
We just want people to enjoy it. We hope people can relate to these tracks as much as we do, and if people take inspiration from it, that’d be amazing.
How has the pandemic affected the band, and you personally?
The band took several bad hits when the pandemic broke out and it was heartbreaking for us. We were meant to be touring with Whitechapel, playing several festivals as well as releasing the album a lot sooner. When it all came to a sudden stop it was almost too big to process and we couldn’t even speak about it properly for a while. It hurt too much. But, we realize how lucky and privileged we are and that we are blessed to not have lost any loved ones during the crisis. We’ve had bad days and good days, but the main thing is keeping an eye on each other and trying not to fall into a depression over it. We’ve managed to keep going and keep as positive as we can, as well as allowing ourselves to have days where we’re absolutely miserable. But we talk it through and we’ve become even closer for it.
What has been your most memorable Vexed live show?
Jay: It’s super hard to narrow it down to just one. For me the last London date back on our UK headline tour was pretty special. Meg, Willem and I had played that venue in an old project maybe a year or two earlier to literally about two people, so to see it sold out with the whole room screaming our lyrics was insane. Supporting Hacktivist up in Leicester back in 2019 was a really cool show also. I listen to those guys loads so it felt amazing to play alongside them.
When do you anticipate being able to play live shows again?
We’d like to think this summer but realistically we’re just holding out hope for next year. We would sell our souls to be able to perform for our amazing supporters and friends again, but we don’t want to get our hopes up too much.
How did you get started in music?
Megan: We all grew up with parents or family members who loved music. For me personally it started when I was about 13. I wasn’t popular in mainstream school and really struggled to make friends. I was badly bullied too and so I was homeschooled for a couple of years. When I was 13 I was put into a special school for kids who were bullied or ill. This is where I discovered Bring Me The Horizon and Slipknot and it changed my whole outlook on life. That’s when I knew that I wanted it to be my career.
Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Megan: Bring Me The Horizon, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Slayer were my earliest influences. I still regularly listen to them today.
What was the first metal concert you attended?
Megan: When I was about 8 I went to see The Darkness at Alexandra Palace in London. The lead singer Justin entered the stage via a huge pair of boobs suspended above the crowd. It was really confusing as a kid to watch but also hilarious. I remember really giggling throughout the whole show.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Megan: Currently I’m mainly listening to Alpha Wolf, Malevolence and Emmure. I’m really picky when it comes to heavy bands and I don’t tend to search for new music very often. I like what I like and am happy to repeat it until I’m completely desperate for a something new.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Thank you for taking an interest in our band, we really do appreciate it. Our debut album Culling Culture is out now via Napalm records and you can go order it via vexedvexedvexed.com. Thanks again and all the best!
(interview published May 22, 2021)
Watch Vexed – “Misery” Video