When mental health and metal collide, Vexed is the breath of fresh air and outcome. Megan undertakes important topics on Culling Culture involving her addressing her bullies and calling them out. Her intense and aggressive vocals create a cathartic experience to not only her, but the listeners who have had similar experiences. When you add the immense talent of the other musicians, you get a really kick ass metal album with lots of life irrupting within it.
These metal dominators come from the UK and consist of members; Megan Targett (vocals), Jay Bacon (guitar), Willem Mason-Geraghty (drums), and Al Harper (bass). The fierce and heartfelt songs are gut-punching from the initial track “Ignorant” clear to ending track, “Lazarus”. Targett transitions quickly from her deep growls to clean singing effortlessly. Bacon’s guitar riffs are catchy and ever changing in a hypnotic way. Mason-Geraghty slays a heavy and constant steady drum beat with great fills and shifts. Harper progressively hammers the melody song after song.
Megan took some time to talk with Metal Nation about Culling Culture:
The album is out now! But it’s been done for, I wanna say, about two years is that correct?
“Yeah, two years. It’s been a very long two years.”
I bet! Especially with your first album with this band.
“Yes! When we had it done we thought that it would be able to go out instantly and we had a set date and everything done for last year and obviously when pandemic hit it was like, ‘No, you got to wait even longer’ and it’s just been torture to be honest.”
From what I understand you’re already working on the second album.
“Yes! Yeah we are, I’ve started writing and it’s going really good. We’re excited, but it’s weird because we’re trying to kind of get inspiration and focus on trying to be bigger than the first release and people are only hearing it now so it is very strange.”
Right, you don’t have any feedback to go off of yet. So do you have a theme with the second one like you have with the first one , or do you know yet?
“Not yet, it’s still sort of in the air. We’re still just getting song structures together and such but there’s no theme as of yet. There might be but we haven’t found anything just yet.”
Not that there’s not a whole year of garbage that you can just probably spew. [laughs] I watched the video for “Fake” this morning and man it is intense!
“Yeah that one has to come with a disclaimer at the start just in case [laughs].”
Well, all of them have that horror theme and then also interject with each other, like a movie at the beginning of each of them, but this one was super intense. Was it difficult to do, or was it more trying to be serious because you guys are all doing it together?
“So it was really difficult to do because of the lockdown restrictions. We were trying to plan and find locations for months and we didn’t really have anything until a couple of days before the actual shoot so we ended up at my house and we had to find a car to burn which was an absolute nightmare we didn’t find it until two hours before the shoot. Even though we’ve been organized, it took weeks! It was right until the last minute that we managed to get everything done. Behind the scenes, even though it is really intense, it was absolutely hilarious we had the best couple of days because I had to be drowned a lot and you can’t half ass that, you got to really fully commit to that and Willem, bless him, was the one who was drowning me. He had to try and make it look convincing and I had to make it look convincing. We are actually hurting each other, it was really funny we got a good giggle.”
Oh my gosh, I am an anxious person so I think that would make me super nervous. [laughs]
“It was a bit nerve racking beforehand because I’ve never done anything like that before so I didn’t know what to expect. I think because Willem was the one who was pretending to drown me and we’re really good friends now with the people who produce our videos, so we just took our time and spent ages doing it and it was a lot more fun then terrifying.”
I know this album’s theme has to do with you cutting toxic people out of your life, that is obviously a pretty intense subject and is something that I think is really important to talk about and I’m glad that you have this outlet to do that. Do you feel it was a cathartic experience to be able to create music and lyrics that have been very painful for you?
“Definitely, cathartic is the best word to describe it because some of the situations that inspired these songs are so raw and brutal. If I didn’t have Vexed as an outlet, I don’t know how I would cope with it and it makes me feel for other people who don’t have that outlet. Which is why I often say it is so important to find something that you’re good at or just enjoy to put all your negative energy into and to turn it into a positive experience because if I didn’t have Vexed I don’t know what I’d do with all that pain. So even though it was horrific, like you said, it was such a cathartic experience being able to just get it down and then get the videos done and release it to the world it’s kind of my way of letting go.”
Were there any of them in particular that were more painful than the others, if you don’t mind sharing?
“No that’s fine! Of course! ‘Hideous’ was pretty hideous [laughs]. ‘Narcissist’ is probably another one and ‘Aurora’. ‘Aurora’ is about awful sort of childhood abuse experiences I went through so it’s kind of from a very, very deep dark place a long time ago that I haven’t really spoken about to anyone. So that’s really like personal and dark. When it comes to like real hatred and anger and upsets kind of feeling—negative feelings, I’d say ‘Narcissist’ would be the most personal one.”
That’s interesting because those songs I feel like both definitely give that feel. “Narcissist” is such an in-your-face heavy song. I love your vocals in “Aurora”, they do a different thing than you do in the other ones and the lyrics “You’re not the mistakes you make, you are the knowledge you make” I love those lyrics. I think they’re very insightful. I’m a mental health therapist so a lot of this stuff I work with day in and day out but I think those lyrics are just amazing and are gonna be helpful for a lot of people who have gone through some of the similar struggles.
“That actually means a hell of a lot, thank you. That’s all I could ever hope for is the reason why I wanted to open up and actually talk about the topics that ‘Aurora’ is about for the sake of seeing if it could help somebody else, god know there’s nothing else you can do with an awful experience like that other than accept it and try and help others so that’s really nice of you to say, thank you.”
Well thank you! Music is something that’s therapy for all of us when we can’t reach out to other people for support or just in general. So having something out there for everybody to help get through their own stuff I think is really important. Thank you for tackling such an important issue.
“Oh it’s my pleasure, honestly it really is.”
So with that, do you have advice for young kids who are getting bullied?
“Yes! So I suppose my advice would be don’t hate your bullies, I know that’s sort of a really easy thing to say and a different thing to feel but you have to take pity on them because just as they don’t know that you might be going through something at home, they might be going through something else too. Although your initial reaction is upset and pain and anger or whatever it is, try and remember they’re also human and as much as they deserve a smack in the face if you can, you know, try and talk to them or whatever. If it is more a case of somebody just a bit of an asshole for the sake of being an asshole, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and say they’re just being an asshole because ultimately what anybody else thinks of you really doesn’t matter. If it’s causing you pain in your day-to-day life you have the right to tell them to stop. I don’t know how to say this without sounding cringey[ laughs]. Just tell them to fuck off.”
I don’t think when you’re talking about these types of things you can sound cringey. I get the cliché sayings, but, those cliché sayings are sayings for a reason. You know? They’re repetitive sayings for a reason.
“Of course, it’s tricky because it’s all down to individual situations. It could be a case of, ‘Ok why is this person bullying me maybe they’re going through a hard time too, let’s talk about it’, but then some people are just assholes and if you need to stand up for yourself and say, ‘No you’re just being discriminative or racist or sexist or homophobic’, that’s not necessarily a problem or situation you can sort out. Yeah just tell them to fuck off and believe in yourself enough to know that you’re a good person and they can handle being told to fuck off for their bad doings and their wrongs if that makes any sense.”
It totally does! And maybe that’s the seed that needs to be planted with them to take a step back and recognize that they’re handling people and life in a none helpful way.
“I think so. Many people get away with being allowed to say hurtful stuff and awful stuff for so long because they’re surrounded by people that agree with them and egg them on to do it, whereas if somebody suddenly is brave enough and shows enough courage to say, ‘Actually the way you talk, your opinions and things you say are vile’, it might actually shock them into potentially, hopefully changing their mind. So you never know, what you said being told to shut up or fuck off, might be the best thing for them. Probably, definitely not what you’d say to people in therapy [laughs].”
Sometimes! It depends on the person, but there’s definitely times that you have to be real and have to lay it all out on the line, if you feel like that’s what best for them. I do marriage counseling too and there’s been times that I’ve told people you guys just need to split [laughs].
“It is true though, sometimes there’s no helping people. You either have to tell them to fuck off or part ways kindly.”
Right! What usually what happens is I get in therapy, which is obviously different than the real world, but, in therapy when I get to that point they’ll back pedal real quick.
“It shows if you give them a scary situation they’re actually willing to work on it.”
“Reality hits home.”
If only that was the way it went outside of therapy that would a much better place.
“It really would be.”
[laughs] So what do you do for self-care outside of the music?
“I’m probably the most boring person on the planet, because for self-care I like to just sleep, eat and just spend time with my pets, my family, and my friends. There’s not an ounce of like, I don’t know, rock-n-roll in me. I’d much rather just have a cup of tea, sit with my pet ducks, and go for a walk with my dog or my boyfriend. I think it’s kind of just turning my phone off and just being outside and being with my pets and my friends and family is literally just the best therapy.”
I think that’s perfect, that’s finding balance. I actually going to be doing an article, cuz I’ve been asking all the people that I’ve been interviewing that question when it comes to self-care cuz I’m going to do an article about self-care just through the musicians eyes. I think it’s important, it’s stuff that can help anybody. Walks are highly underrated! They’re super, super helpful it’s a mindful step back to stop and smell the roses.
“Oh my gosh, yeah it is. Sometimes, like when I’ve been so upset or anxious or anything and I really don’t know what to do with myself, I’ll just put my airpods in and I’ll just walk for miles and miles and miles. Don’t really know where I’m going, but it’s like the best thing, is to just get some fresh air. It sounds so cliché and simple but it really is a good thing to do.”
It is and I think a lot of people when they go for walks, they’re so stuck in their cycling of thoughts instead of taking deep breaths and appreciating all the colors and the breeze and the sun and everything that comes with walking and, you know, whether you’re listening to music or listening to the birds or whatever it’s just a very helpful way to slow down cuz we live in such a crazy fast-paced world.
“Just turning your phone off I think and learning to be present is so important because if you spend too much time on your phone I think that’s the worst type of spiraling out, that’s anti-self-care. Yeah, definitely getting out into the actual real life world and being present with yourself.”
I 100% agree, I think phone or even internet, if used the way that most of us use it with social media and everything, can definitely heighten the mental illnesses whether it’s depression, anxiety, or whatever. I think at this point the majority of humanity has at least one, for obvious reasons the way our world is. So tell me about “Purity”, that one sounds really deep.
“‘Purity’ was inspired by quite a few things. My mum was adopted and I have never known my dad so I was raised by a single mum and my whole family are technically not my real family even though I consider them that 100%. It’s the sort of scientific way of looking at it is the only person I’m really related to is my mum. Unfortunately, there’s sort of like relatives within the family who don’t believe that we’re worthy of being a Targett because we’re not blood, even though they adopted my mum and we are worthy they don’t see us as being good enough. ‘Purity’ was kind of my way of getting that out and saying like actually we are worthy. We spend so much time with my granddad, he’s my favorite person on this planet, like the chorus, ‘All I ever want is to make you proud, that’s been my whole life figuring out how’, that’s about my granddad and just wanting to make him proud no matter what. Just kind of the idea of basically telling those family members to fuck off, that family is more than just blood and I hope that even though I’m not necessarily a blood relative with these people I love, I hope they’re proud. I’m not sure how I’ll be able to live without them once they’re gone basically. So it is a deep one, but, it needed to be said, I think.”
So just out of curiosity, have they heard this or will they listen to it? I know metals not everybody’s cup of tea especially probably not grandpa’s [laughs].
“It’s funny because he’s like the most supportive, but he can’t stand the music. He doesn’t understand it for a second but he’s like, ‘Yeah, um I don’t understand why you do this, Megan, I don’t understand how people like it, but you are the best at it so keep doing it’”
[laughs] That’s wonderful!
“Yeah he’s a mate, um I don’t think they will hear it. I know there’s a couple of them who may but I don’t think they will. They’ve always treated us like an outcast and think that me being in a band is just a joke and so whatever. If this song or this album becomes successful it’s because of that and they have no idea about it to be honest it just makes it even funnier because towards us, and they have no idea.”
Yeah that’s definitely a bitter sweet kind of situation and I think it will it’s an incredible album. People are already obviously very much digging it from what they’ve heard and I just don’t see you guys not going far.
“That’s really kind of you!”
Well I have an ear for music [laughs] I grew up a metal head too. I grew up in a small, country, conservative town so I definitely understand being an outcast especially as a female with metal. I had one really good friend tell me at one point, “You know you’re gonna have a really hard time finding a guy that wants to stick around with the music you listen to” [laughs]. Which is funny, and so now 21 years later out of school I have many people from high school say, ‘Well you’re still doing what you love and clearly this is something that you really were into.’
“It wasn’t a faze! [laughs]”
I think a lot of people think that, you know, especially the older population, think that it’s just a faze that you’re going to grow out of.
“Yeah, they definitely do I think because they don’t understand it, then it must just be a faze or something but it really isn’t. It’s such huge a part of so many people’s lives.”
I think many people that felt like they didn’t fit into the mold of what society was wanting you to be or whatever naturally gravitated toward metal, but, you said something that really stuck out for me because I think this is something that is super important to call attention to and hopefully eventually we can get a hold on. You had said in one interview “The bullied have become the bullies’, and I think that’s exactly what’s been going on in the metal world. It’s like all of us that have gone to this musical genre cuz we didn’t feel we fit in anywhere and it felt like it was this big community all of a sudden is like beating each other to crap.
“Yeah! It’s horrific isn’t it?”
It is. It makes zero sense.
“I don’t understand it at all, I know that for a long time there metal felt like a safe place for so many of us and just like you said, now it just feels all those people are so protective over metal and created these boxes that have to be ticked and these sort of rules that apply. You know you have to look this way, you to dress this way and you can’t sing or scream that way and it’s just ridiculous and if you don’t fit into those boxes then you’re not welcome. And it really is like a really judgmental community now I keep having interviews by people that are like, well the interviewers are like, ‘Oh yeah the metal community is so accepting and loving’ and I’m like ‘What? Where have you been?’ [laughs]”
Are you new to this community because you have not seen the ugliness of it? [laughs]
“The metal community is one of the most poisonous, rancid communities out there and I hate to say it but it is! And people say, ‘Oh well there’s this vocalist whose gay and everybody accepts him’ or ‘This vocalist is a lesbian and everyone accepts her’ and I say ‘Yeah but do they?’ Just because your friends and your community don’t have a problem with it doesn’t mean they don’t face discrimination of some sort. Saying that it’s inclusive, doesn’t mean that it actually is. You have to ask the people who are being discriminated against. And when you do ask them, they’ll say it’s not welcoming in the slightest. And as a woman who in a band and as a woman who is a journalist or a writer you must get it every single day!”
Everyone thinks I’m a guy and it doesn’t help that I have a weird name but everyone calls me ‘bro’, ‘dude’ and I’m just like ‘alright, yup.’ [laughs]
“Isn’t it so strange?”
“It’s time for a bit of a cleanse I think, the metal community needs a wake up call and a reminder of where we came from and not stoop back to that level.”
Yeah I agree 100% and hopefully we’re moving in that direction, but that’s something that might be a good theme for an album, everybody wake up and come together and be the humans that we need to be and take care of one another instead of fighting each other. It is exhausting.
“Yeah that’s it, it’s actually exhausting.”
Ok I know you have another one coming up, I could probably talk to you all day, are you trained vocally? I know obviously you have to practice your instrument. I know that that’s not something that just comes natural, but have you had a vocal coach help train you?
“Pretty much it’s all been self taught. I went to college for a little while and studied music there and I had a couple of lessons about like how to warm up and breathe and things like that, but I did an assignment once on screaming and I got up and performed in front of my colleagues and screamed. I failed because they said it wasn’t good enough and not the type of singing for a woman. I realized I was going to have to figure it out by myself. It’s just been self taught and it kind of stemmed from a place of being told that I couldn’t do it and it made me really, really motivated to make sure that I could. Whenever anybody tells me I can’t do something it just makes me want to do it better.”
Good for you, that’s impressive. I know there’s a certain way you’ve have to learn how to do harsh vocals so it doesn’t hurt your vocal cords.
“Thank you! It’s taken a very long time, years, to kind of perfecting it but I am in a place now where I feel really confident and good about the technique I’ve developed, but yeah it took a long time of making sure it didn’t hurt, like you said, and just discovering, figuring out what worked and what didn’t and yeah I’m quite good at it now.”
I think Culling Culture is going to be a smash for so many different people and honestly, I’ll even say in a lot of different parts of the metal community because it doesn’t fit under a specific metal-umbrella-genre. I think that’s really important.
“Thank you, I hope it does well, I just can’t wait for it to be out it’s been such a long wait.”
Targett brings some very important topics to life and gives the fans a place to heal their weary souls from the dark tar some people have tainted their heart with. Culling Culture not only is heavy, intense, and incredible, it is also a lifeline. Make sure you check Vexed out and throw your support their way! We need to make sure we are supporting these musicians who are giving us access to wisdom and mental health releases.