MEANSTREAK – Unbelievably, You Cannot Buy The class

After their seminal “Road Kill” and a 36-year stop, the New York-based band Meanstreak released their new EP “Blood Moon”. In this special interview lead singer Bettina France unveiled more about it.

It’s been 36 years since the New York-based band Meanstreak released their seminal debut album “Road Kill.”  Aside from a few demos in the late 80s/early 90s, the band has not been heard from since.  Imagine my surprise (and pure delight) to discover the band has come out with the new EP “Blood Moon” in 2024, and it’s freaking good.  Recently, lead vocalist Bettina France was kind enough to answer a few questions, and she could not have been cooler.  Here is what she had to say.  Thanks to Bettina for being such an awesome interviewee.

Bettina France - Meanstreak

Meanstreak reunion

How long has the Meanstreak reunion been in the works?

Not really that long.  It started right after the pandemic.  We did a Zoom meeting, and we were like, “This is crazy; we need to get together at least and do something,” at least jam.  You know how it is; you’re sentimental talking about it and like, “Oh my god, miss you guys!” So then Rena (Sands) started saying we really should do something. You know we’re not getting any younger. I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it!” so we decided to do some recording, and then John (Petrucci from Dream Theater), her husband, decided to do a tour and asked us if we wanted to do it.

How did those shows go?

That was amazing.  We didn’t know what to expect regarding the audience because prog audiences are so much different than the typical heavy metal/thrash audience that we’re used to, but they were so good to us and so nice, and we’ve gained some new fans.  You know, we’ve been super lucky, it’s been great.  We love Meanstreak, we love to write music, and we love to rock out.  You don’t hear a lot of that old-school metal these days.

You have power metal, thrash metal, and speed metal, but Meanstreak is a classic old-school metal band.

And I love that.  You see me any day of the week while I’m driving banging my head to Iron Maiden or Judas Priest.

“The Dark Gift” Lyric Video

The new EP “Blood Moon”

Getting to the new EP, “Blood Moon.” There is a new song on the record called “Oh Father” Is that a new song written specifically for the EP?

That’s a brand-new song.  We had written it – so this Is an interesting tidbit – we were going to put out another demo, and then at the last moment, we were like, “This is not working; what’s going on?”  Everything changed at the drop of a hat; the girls started dating the guys in Dream Theater, and marriage and babies were in the future; the music scene was changing or had changed; it was grunge, which I loved too.  We had to change our stuff from what we were doing and add cover tunes to get people interested in us again. 

Grunge took over all bands like us, even the bigger bands. There was no room for anybody to play anymore because everyone would see bands like Nirvana.  That’s how “Oh Father” came about because I love Alice In Chains and that grunge sound, so I thought, let’s write a song that’s not grunge but a tribute to it.

The single “The Dark Gift”

It’s also pretty cool to hear older demo songs like “The Dark Gift” or “Rubberneck” updated.  Tell me about those songs. Were any parts re-written, or were they recorded verbatim?

BF: The girls did their own thing; I did my own thing.  I went out to Yael’s (Rallis) house; she lives in Simi Valley, in the desert near Palm Springs, and has a recording studio in her home. It was so much fun; we had a good time and recorded the vocals.  We had click tracks and we recorded the vocals, I think there was a bass and a guitar just doing the melody, so we just did it like that, after that was done, we sent it back to Rena and then we gave it to Jimmy T. the guy who does Dream Theater and that was basically how that came about.  It kind of all just fell into place. There are a lot more technical aspects to everything, but I leave it to the professionals (laughs).

Is “Blood Moon” a precursor to a full-length album?

BF: We’re hoping.  We’ll see how it happens; we’re working on getting management and somebody to take the reins and help us out that way.  There are things in the works, so we’re just not sure how we will do it; we have many options.  We’re just taking it slow, going at our own pace.  Everything is social media nowadays, so we’re trying to get our numbers up there.

Meanstreak photo band

The family’s back together

With the EP, the band sounds hungry, like you haven’t skipped a beat.

BF: We’re in it for the long haul; we want to tour and do another album, and we’ve already been throwing ideas back and forth.  We just had a Zoom meeting all together the other night.  We are in touch all the time.  The family’s back together.

Are you planning on any tour dates?

That’s being worked on as we speak.  We got to get somebody (a touring partner), who is a little newer but old school at the same time, and that seemed to work out very well with John Petrucci.  It was also interesting because the prog-rock audience sat down.  We played in wonderful old theaters I’ve always wanted to go to, so here I am singing on stage in these beautiful theaters with so much history.  It has seats, and it’s not like playing in a bar or anything; it was like a real audience sitting down, and everyone was so into it.  So we have to figure out who we are going to tour with.

The writing process

What was the recording process for “Blood Moon” like?

We did vocals in California, sent the digital tape, and did the rest in New York.

Are you writing new songs?

Absolutely.  Rena and the girls take care of the music, I can take care of the melody and say what direction I want it to go into. I handle the lyrics pretty much; Rena’s a good songwriter, too, as far as lyrics go.  Hopefully, everybody else will get more involved this time; I think Yael’s working on some stuff, so we’ll see how it goes.  It may just blow your mind; I hope it does (laughs).

In what direction do you see the new material heading?

One of the reasons why I love Meanstreak so much is that we don’t stick to any kind of formula.  Yes, it’s going to be metal, you know that.  I have so many different influences of music I love; if I’m listening to a Zeppelin song or something, I’ll go, “Hey guys, I love the vibe of this; let’s try to do something original but gives us the same vibe.”  That’s pretty much how we all write, and we click together like that, which makes Meanstreak.

“Giant Speaks” video

The surprising feedback

What kind of feedback have you gotten from the fans and media to the “Blood Moon” EP?

You know what?  Nothing bad, everything’s been great.  It’s even surprising us.  One of the best things that somebody that had come to see us when we were in Chicago – Chicago was great – he’s a fan now, and he wrote to us, he’s a younger kid, he said, “Please, please, please come back to Chicago, please do an album, the younger generation needs you.”  I’m like, “Yeah, they do; they need their old-school metal back.”

When I first heard “Blood Moon”, I felt like this is exactly like I remember Meanstreak.  “Oh Father” may have a different sort of vibe, but it fits in well with the other material.

It sounds like Meanstreak, and that’s ultimately how we love to write.

The physical release

Q: Will there be a physical release for “Blood Moon” on CD and possibly vinyl?

On March 1st, the EP will be out on CD.  As far as Vinyl, we’ll see how that goes if sales go well.  We wanted to do a red vinyl or something really cool, so we’ll see what happens.

Do you ever look back and think, “Why didn’t we make it?”

BF: No.  Don’t forget, we were together for ten years, and it was like at the end, and we knew it, but nobody said it.  Somebody finally said it; I was heartbroken.  But I got into another band right away, so that was cool.  It was a band called the Wild Bunch with many people from 80s rock bands.  It was a crazy, crazy cover band with like sixteen people in it, and we just went out and did a corporate tour.  They all had kids and were getting married (the members of Meanstreak), and you have to think that maybe we couldn’t have handled it, but here we are now.  Wiser, older, seasoned, now we can’t wait to fricken get back out on the road.

In closing, do you have any final words to close out this interview?

I’m just so happy to be back singing and performing for people and recording it.  How lucky are we?  And people are digging it, and that’s the best thing I can ask for.

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