Bands To Watch: Meet Me @ The Altar

I’m over the moon that pop-punk seems to be undergoing a big revival at the moment, mostly fueled by Generation Z and amplified through platforms such as TikTok. The golden era of pop-punk is filling the ears of a new generation, influencing new bands and proving that singing about teenage-angst will obviously never die amongst teenagers. I’m probably going to write about that at some point, but for now I thought I’d launch a new series called ‘Ones to Watch’ and highlight a pop-punk band that I’m really loving right now. I hope to use this series cover relatively new artists that I’ve found in my voracious need to consume new music.  

Anyway, let’s meet Meet Me @ The Altar. 

The story of how Meet Me @ The Altar formed pretty much sums up how Generation Z lives their lives, as the band was formed completely over the Internet, with each member living in different US states. This thoroughly modern journey began in 2015, where guitarist Téa Campbell found the YouTube channel of Ada Juarez. Ada has been pumping out excellent drum solo covers of pop-punk classics on her channel since she was 14. The pair bonded and vocalist Edith Johnson would join them in 2017 after an audition where she sang Paramore’s All I Wanted.  

As they lived in separate states, they had to work on music remotely. They would also fly to Orlando to do basement shows, telling Louder: 

“I don’t even think there was ever a day where we didn’t talk to each other,” says Johnson. 

“It felt right though. Sometimes in life you have obstacles, and this distance just happened to be the thing we needed to overcome in order to do what we love. We never complained and we’re seeing those sacrifices pay off now,” she adds with a grin.” 

Louder

Their track Garden was released in 2020 and was well received, appearing at a time when we were all needing a little emotional support during an incredibly shit year dominated by a pandemic. From there, a record deal by Fueled by Ramen followed. Earlier in 2021, they released their Model Citizen EP and also went on a US tour with Coheed and Cambria (a band I absolutely adored as a teenager).  

The Model Citizen EP is brilliant, kicking off with the infectious ‘Feel a Thing’, a song that is constantly stuck in my head (in a good way). It’s also accompanied by a retro-inspired music video where the band go into an arcade and get sucked into a game. Cue some charming retro video game inspired graphics, with the band lovingly rendered as characters in a side-scrolling brawler.  

It’s also very refreshing to see a fully female pop-punk band and one made up of women of colour too. The pop-punk scene has mostly been dominated by chino-clad white men, from the early days through the 2000’s. A sizeable amount still put out pop-punk tracks in their 40’s that can sound a little dull and uninspired (see Green Day’s latest output). I’m not saying you can’t do a good pop-punk song when you’re older, but it is a musical genre that tends to be better with young and fresh bands like Meet Me @ The Altar, as well as connecting with a younger audience too. Plus, those older bands have made the pop-punk genre a little stale in the last few years. 

My teenage years may be long gone, but the energy that Meet Me @ The Altar put out makes me feel like one again. These newer pop-punk bands remind me of being 19 and sitting on a train at 7am in the morning on the way to university in Leeds. They always helped put me in the right mood, especially when I was half-asleep at that time. Those bands were also a big part of my identity at the time and helped me cope with the world. As much as I never want to back to how I was back then, as I’ve changed so much, I know that things would have been a lot harder without music like this. So, I hope that bands like Meet Me @ The Altar can help a new generation come to terms with who they are. I wish them massive success! 

The Dreaded First Holiday With Your Child

If you’re a parent but you haven’t yet been on holiday with your child or children, then let me tell you this. Dispense with any fairy-tale notion that you’re ever going to have a relaxing holiday when you go away as a family. Yes, maybe they’ll be a little easier once they hit their teens, especially if you only ever have one child, but those days of going on a chilled holiday as a couple are long gone. 

We were probably a little naïve in thinking it wouldn’t be too hard with a two-year-old. I mean, he throws a little paddy simply because a toy car won’t fit under a wooden bridge that’s about three sizes too small for it. So, why we thought he’d be ok I’ll never know. At least we didn’t have the stress of going abroad, as it was just a two and a half-hour drive to a Haven holiday park known as Primrose Valley in Yorkshire. 

It’s technically not our first holiday, as we went to Spain for a family wedding when he was only around 5 months old. But that was relatively easy, as he was still in the stage where he slept for most of the day. This holiday was our first trip together where Noah could now take part in activities and enjoy himself, although he had many moments that just made us want to pack up and head home.

Trying to get a family photo when a two year-old is wriggling around in your arms and refusing to look at the camera is hard. This was our best attempt in Scarborough.

But I’m probably being a little too harsh, as we did have fun moments on our holiday. It is, after all, mostly about your child having fun. Yet, we were utterly exhausted by the end of it to the point that we travelled home a day early on the Sunday (we were supposed to be out of our accommodation by the Monday) simply because we could have a day off from work to recover once we were back.  

That Lockdown Hair

The WHO declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020. My son, Noah, wasn’t even one on that date. 

Here is Noah just a few days before that.  

Noah in his Burnley FC shirt with his Burnley book.

Here is Noah on the Sunday just gone. He’ll turn two next month. 

Noah and his long hair.

You can sort of chart the course of the year by looking at his hair, which has obviously grown a lot since the pandemic began over a year ago. It was whispy and thin at that age. It’s now longer and thicker, and he has the most magnificent bedhead every morning.

We’ve had few opportunities to get it cut, with hairdressers being open for a few weeks before having to close again. Cutting it ourselves just makes it look like we’ve put a bowl on his head, so we’re content to keep it as it is for now.  

But you can also see how much his face has changed. He’s now a little boy who can run around and say over 50 words. I’m constantly amazed by every new little thing he does, and he has a cheeky little character that always has me in fits of laughter. 

It’s a shame that the majority of a year of his life, which is a long time in a child of his age, has been spent being cooped up within the same four walls. We try to go for walks or go to the park when the weather is fine, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re limited to your local area and lots of activities you can do with your children are still closed.  

He still gets to the go to the childminders, so at least he has the social contact that he is mostly being deprived of in other areas right now. 

It’s the effect that the coronavirus pandemic has had on children that worries me the most. Maybe not so much Noah, as he’s still very young. But all the kids at school and the amount of learning – or simply just being able to be a child – that they’ve missed out on.  

It’s been hard for us all, mentally and physically, but I hate that children have had to miss out on chunks of their childhood. It’s something they’ll never get back.  

March Steps Challenge Mid-Month Check-Up

It’s halfway through the month, so it’s time for an update on our goal to hit 10,000 steps a day throughout March. Just a reminder that my wife, Alex, is raising money for Cancer Research UK while she does too. You can donate here.  

The good news is that we’ve managed to hit the target every day, even if it’s sometimes meant running up and down the living room at 10pm. My Fitbit says that I’ve done 196,701 steps since the start of March, which is well on the way to the 310,000 required by the end of the month.  

Steps that Thomas Mulrooney has done throughout March 2021.
You can see how I started off strong, but flagged a little by the second week. Still, it’s way better than the 42k steps I did in the last week of February.

I know some people who are doing it who aren’t doing 10,000 a day yet are still hoping to hit the target. In this case you’ll do more than 10,000 one day, then maybe only do 7,000 the next. But I’d rather not have a day off, so we’ve stuck to our guns. But, I’m not here to judge, so do it whichever way you wish. The priority is getting exercise. 

I won’t lie and say it’s been easy, as it’s been bloody hard at times. Sometimes you have a particularly busy day at work and, as I sit on my arse at a computer all day, I sometimes don’t get the chance to get many steps in. I try to remember to get up every hour and do at least 250 steps, because they all add up and it keeps me from being too inactive in a sedentary job. I also try and go on a walk on my lunch break, weather permitting. 

Speaking of the weather, that’s been a problem at times. Not that I’d expect anything less from the good old UK. It’s easy to say that you should go out and walk even if it’s raining. If it was a drizzle, sure, but I draw the line at lashings of rain amidst strong winds. On these days we have to do our steps inside, which usually ends up with me running up and down the living room.  

Alex has taken a less boring route than me and has taken to doing step workouts she found on YouTube. If you’re interested, the channel is called Get Fit With Rick. He has a variety of step workouts from a quick 1,000 to a knackering 10,000.  

I’ve also been trying to drink at least a 1.5 litre bottle of water every day. I started off well, but I’ve flagged a bit recently, so I need to get back into that. I have found that I feel a lot better when I do drink water, although you also have to pee a hell of a lot more. 

While it’s tiring at times and my limbs can ache the day after, it’s all worth it and I feel great. I weighed myself on the 4th March and I was 14st4lbs. I’m refusing to weigh myself again until April arrives, so fingers crossed that all this walking makes an impact.  

But even if I don’t lose as much weight as I hope I will, I’m still seeing the benefits in being generally fitter, more awake and more switched on during the day.  

Just try it. You don’t have to do 10,000 but set a target you think is achievable and go from there. You’ll start to make decisions with increasing your steps in mind. You’ll do things like taking the stairs instead of the lift or getting off the bus one stop early. All these little things add up. Before you know it, you’ll be hitting your target in no time.  

I’ll report the results on the 1st of April. Until then, I’ve got some more walking to do! 

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The Pinter: A Simple Way To Brew Your Own Beer

As I’ve mentioned recently, I’m a bit obsessed with craft beer at the moment. I’ve even been considering going down the route of brewing my own beer at some point in the future. Although I know I’ll end up messing it up and it will come out tasting like cat piss. 

I have memories of my step-grandad brewing up beer in his kitchen, and while I was too young to really understand just what the hell he was doing at the time, I always thought that it looked a bit of a faff. A cursory Google of ‘how to brew your own beer’ shows I’m not wrong. You need a lot of space and equipment, and even after all that effort the results may be terrible. 

Luckily, there’s a solution in the form of The Pinter.  I found this little gem via a promotion on the Untappd app.

The Pinter home brewing kit
It definitely looks like a nice bit of kit.

Marketed as a ‘world-first innovation’, The Pinter is a home brewing kit that’s committed to making the brewing process easier, more affordable, and sustainable.  

The Pinter brewing kit contains a barrel, brewing dock, yeast, purifier, and a Fresh Press pack. The latter is what contains the alcohol-free drink you’ll be making. It’s alcohol-free because the alcohol is created during the fermentation process. Choices include the likes of cider, IPA, stout and lager, with more added over time. There’s also a subscription service where you can get a new Fresh Press popped through your letterbox every month. 

The barrel itself looks eye-catching, with six different colours that include jet black and hot red. But how does the Pinter actually work? 

First, you purify the barrel, before adding water, yeast and the Fresh Press. The brewing dock removes the yeast and residue during the fermentation process, leaving you with pressurised beer. All this will take a few days, with 4 being the standard, but it does depend on which drink you’re brewing.  

The Pinter beer maker

The cool thing is that The Pinter holds on to the CO2 that’s produced during the fermentation process, and it’s then used to help carbonate the beer. It also kicks out excess CO2 through a valve system. 

The conditioning process, where the brew is carbonated so that it’s not as flat as that beer you fell asleep drinking, needs to be done in your fridge. While the barrel is nowhere near as big as your standard pub beer cask (it will supply 10 pints of chilled beer) you do need to be aware that, after the initial brewing process is complete, you’ll need to stick it in the fridge to allow it to cool for even more days. I can see that being an issue with a lot of people, as you’ll no doubt have to sacrifice lots of space and possibly even have to remove a shelf. If you’ve got one of those big American-style fridges, then you’ll likely be ok. I’d probably be shit out of luck, as my fridge is full of cheese. 

I love the idea of The Pinter. Making brewing simple and stress-free is a great way to get more beer lovers into it. Plus, the £75 price tag isn’t too high considering how much beer you’ll be getting out of it. However, there is the issue that the only beer you can brew in it are those in the Fresh Press range, so you couldn’t ever try your own creative combinations (it voids the 1-year warranty if you do try this). Hopefully The Greater Good Fresh Brewing Co will keep coming out with new drinks to try.  

I’m also thinking that if they went out of business in the future, you’d be left with some kit that you couldn’t do anything with as they wouldn’t be making Fresh Press drinks anymore. But I suppose that’s the risk you take with anything that relies on products you can only buy from the equipment manufacturer.  

Still, it’s a great idea and I’m very tempted. Find out more and buy your own over on The Pinter website

Interesting Links – Week Of 8 March 2021

I really do need to find a better image that represents the Internet.

It’s Sunday, which means it’s time for the second edition of ‘Interesting Links’ (read the first edition here). It’s been a busy week in terms of news, and there are a couple of big topics I want to address. First, I want to talk about a horrific crime that happened here in the UK.