Illiterates is a lo-fi, punk band that draw their inspiration from various different places. In their music, you will find pieces of garage-rock, Devo-era new wave, and even some 90’s skate punk. The band’s debut album, Makeout Mountain — released back on September 7 via Baby Robot Records — showcases all of these different attributes.
Makeout Mountain is a twelve track collection from Illiterate that transcends the spectrum from glittery, bubblegum love ballads drenched in acid to whimsical blasts of fast-paced, frantic rock music that is pushed even further into the Twilight Zone due to frontman Steve Alberston’s snotty theatrical vocals. Even beyond the music, looking at the lyrics of the release, you will find Illiterate tackling everything from elder gods and mad preacher Ponzi schemes to the police brutality that is rampant throughout America.
Today, we focus our attention to the anthemic Sex Pistols riff rocker “Owl Commander.” The song serves as one of Make Mountain‘s more powerful and heartfelt tracks. It’s dedicated to the memory of Meghan Galbraith — a member of Chicago band 8 Inch Betsy and a lifelong friend of Albertson’s — as it celebrates her kindness, sense of humor, and ability to inspire others.
We have an exclusive premiere of the video for this new track, which you can find at the top of the post. The video for the song — directed by filmmaker and photographer Raymond McCrea Jones (New York Times, Billboard, Rolling Stone) — shows a young child finding a beat up guitar in the trash, and ultimately finding Illiterates rocking out in the garage, thus helping her discover her passion for rock music.
Albertson shares his story on the track from Illiterates below:
“‘Owl Commander’ is about one of my best friends and musical influences, Meghan Galbraith of Chicago queercore band 8 Inch Betsy. I don’t think anybody’s had a bigger impact in my life. She got very sick and passed away almost four years ago now. I was lucky enough to have spent a long night of laughing and eating with her just after that Christmas, and she died on Jan. 22, 2015. We talked about her illness and the constant hospital visits and her mental health after recovering from the month-long induced coma when she first got sick. She was chipper and smiled the entire time I was there. She talked about her plans to move out to her family cabin in upper peninsula Michigan and chop wood, and how she’d keep fixing the place up. We talked about the weird neighbors that bought her grandfather’s old cabin next door. We made food, talked about food, drank juice and talked about juice. She was really excited about fresh fruit and fresh juice. I left just before the sun was coming up and never saw here again.
Meghan always played music and it’s one of the things that drew me to her. She amazed me with her guitar playing and I would often force our friends to name a song and make Meghan play it. ‘See! She knows every song ever!’ I would tell them. Her original songs, even in high school, would make me cry. She had the most beautiful voice. I would make her sing for everyone, and in the beginning she was embarrassed, but eventually saw that everyone loved it. I would sit with her for hours and have her play and sing me songs.
We both moved to Chicago right after high school and worked at the same coffee shop together for nearly a decade. We both had our own bands, Meghan with 8 Inch Betsy and me with Dr. Killbot. We’d support each other and play shows together. We’ve acted in plays together. We’ve helped each other through every single relationship we’ve ever had. We got matching tattoos on a crazy Hunter S. Thompson-esque weekend in Upper Peninsula Michigan. We lived together for years… almost up until I moved to Atlanta.
When she got her first one-bedroom apartment when we were both 18 her roommate slept in the bedroom and we shared her tiny futon until I got my own place (that she found for me). We made a home for ourselves in Chicago. Our circles of friends were constantly combining. I feel like we were both great at bringing people together. She had the best jokes. She knew that it was ok just to hang out and relax. Her songs are heartfelt and genuine. The universe threw her in my path right when I needed her, and I held on tight all the way until the end. So this song is dedicated one of the greatest people I’ve ever known.