Canadian metal newcomers Spiritbox - husband and wife duo, singer Courtney LaPlante and guitarist Mike Stringer, plus bassist Bill Crook - have spent the past few years working towards their debut album, and now 'Eternal Blue' is finally here, arriving this September via Rise Records. It's been a long journey, as Courtney explains.
Hi Courtney, how's it going? What are you up to today?
I'm doing well. Today I am doing Zoom calls and lunch meetings - I like those because I am rewarded with food.
How did you three meet, did you immediately know you wanted to make music together?
I don't remember meeting Bill, but he says we met at a party in 2010 - he is just one of those people you feel like you've always known. Michael met him around the same time, on tour. Bill is older than him and gave him the advice to drop out of school and smoke cigarettes. Then Michael gave Bill one of his demos, and Bill was a very nice supportive elder and had Michael's band sit with his band and listen to the songs in the van.
I met Michael in 2008 when we played a show together, and I thought he was the best guitar player I'd ever heard! I knew I needed to make music with him, but that took a few more years.
The three of us didn't all end up in the same room together, through all these years, until 2018, when Bill joined Spiritbox.
What drew you to heavy music? Are you fans of similar bands?
When we started out, in the scenes we grew up in, this is the music the young people were creating and interacting with. We all have very different tastes in heavy music, but appreciate it all.
Can you remember the first song you wrote together? How have you progressed since then?
I don't remember what song Michael wrote first, but we don't usually write together. Michael usually presents us with a full instrumental demo, then I do my thing over it. That comes from not having a full band or anywhere to jam.
That's changing a lot now, Michael and our producer Dan involve me in the beginning of the songwriting process with a scratch vocal, so we can build the song together. It helps me immensely.
I hope we've progressed, but we only have a few songs out... we will be progressing indefinitely as we are still developing our sound.
Is there anything in particular you try to get out of Spiritbox songs, a lot of them are pretty cathartic?
These lyrics are pure selfishness; it's what I want to hear, it's what I think serves the instrumental, and it's what helps me process my own feelings. I often don't even know what I am writing about until much later.
You seem to have had a great couple of years, what have been your highlights? Finishing your debut album must be up there?
The biggest highlight has been my manager calling us over Zoom and reading out the terms of our record deal to us. I'm very hard on myself; the other guys are hard on themselves too. Anytime we reach a goal, I immediately move on to the next one, and sometimes I don't take enough time to appreciate little victories and milestones. To have that validation, beyond anything I could have fathomed at this point, knowing it would help accelerate all our goals and our dreams for this band... my legs gave out, and I actually fell down, had to sit on the floor for most of it. I've just been told "no" a lot. Haha, what a drama queen!
What can you tell us about the record, how much of it is completely new material? How did you find putting it together?
It's 12 songs, mainly new material. Putting it together took so long; we started writing and releasing music from these writing sessions back in autumn 2019, and we just never stopped writing. We never intended to wait this long, but geographical location mixed with the pandemic required us to wait patiently, so we used that time to develop our songs further.
How are you feeling about this summer's festivals? You're coming over for Reading & Leeds, right?
All the ones I was playing other than Reading & Leeds got cancelled.
I follow developments regarding other large events and music festivals, waiting to see if they get cancelled or maybe spike Covid cases... but so far, I am so happy to see people are able to start getting back to live music and events safely. It gives me so much hope and motivation to get to Reading & Leeds. I honestly visualise our set there several times a day because I am so excited, and I have nothing else to do except dream about playing shows!
Do you know what extra restrictions will be in place yet?
I have no clue, I'm just along for the ride at this point, but I have faith it can be both reasonable and responsible.
What else have you got coming up?
Every week something wild and new happens, and it never happens how I expect; I hope to stay very busy! But my main focus is to go home now and "practice till we get it right, and then keep practising 'til we can't get it wrong!"
Taken from the July issue of Upset. Spiritbox's debut album 'Eternal Blue' is out 17th September.
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