Reliqa’s Monique Pym interviews Spiritbox’s Courtney LaPlante for us ahead of ‘Eternal Blue’ dropping next month, musician to musician, discussing a variety of topics through various different lenses.
Monique: Hey Courtney, I’m speaking to you on behalf of killyourstereo.com. Thank you so much for taking the time! I’m the vocalist of a band called Reliqa down here in Sydney, Australia, and today, I’m speaking to you from a number of different lenses. A fellow musician and a fan of Spiritbox, but also a woman navigating the modern heavy music industry. So I’m grateful to have the opportunity today to learn from your experience. Allow me to start off by congratulating you on the release of Secret Garden. I remember seeing on your socials, just before the release, that it was a scary one to release because it was so different tonally and emotionally from everything that you’d released beforehand. And you were talking about the assumptions that people build when bands release singles. How does that feel, in retrospect, now that it’s been out for a while?
Courtney: Thank you! I’m so happy. I’m so happy that people like it. I’m so out of practice of releasing a full album. It’s been so long since I’ve done that in my life. It just takes a lot to get used to. And you have these people make assumptions about what your album sounds like, based on the singles because that’s just how we’ve always been trained to be. I do the same thing. If someone puts out a single, I assume they’re showing the showcase of the album. I always get very annoyed because of that weird assumption of linear songwriting. So even though I wrote Secret Garden before I wrote Holy Roller, almost six months apart from one another, [Secret Garden] came out after the other [Holy Roller]. Now that means that I’ve suddenly changed, but in reality, there’s never been a change. It just all depends on when I put out a song. The songs are all there regardless, they exist in their little song vacuum. That’s always been weird. You know how it is, you write a song and maybe next time you put out a song, you’ll put out a slow one. And for some reason, all your fans are gonna go: “I really hope you don’t stop doing fast ones.”
Monique: Yeah I know, it’s always a bit scary. I remember when I saw that post, I really gravitated towards it because it had me thinking about the balancing act that you have as an artist, between looking past preconceived notions and assumptions and creating for you and what you feel is right. But then also the balancing act comes from feeding off your audience to guide the direction that you go in, even subconsciously. Where do you find yourself within that balance with your band’s writing style?
Courtney: I think right now, we all feel we try to be indifferent to it because we don’t want our fans to help manipulate how we write, but it’s just one of those things that you can’t say that it’s not going to happen. It’s always going to happen. We can’t create this music in a vacuum. Our fans have been a part of this album since last year, every time we write a new riff, or we’re just writing stuff on a live stream, we show them and so it’s never going to be objective. We’re always going to be influenced by our listeners. So that’s such an interesting statement because it’s true. It’s like a little loop, you know, we are all always going to be feeding off of them as well. I think that’s what happens when bands are able to have long-lasting careers. I think those two things develop parallel.
Monique: Absolutely! It’s almost like when you’re young, and you’re reading your favourite book series, and it’s still not finished yet. But you grow up, becoming a more mature reader, then the author starts to write their books for a more mature audience who’s also growing up with them. I suppose it’s like, as musicians, we’ve got to grow in tandem with our audience, but not because of them.
Courtney: I know! And we’re still learning because we’re so new. I mean, aside from our album, we only have like 15 songs to our name, right? So we are really at the development stage as a band. It just so happens to be this weird circumstance where there’s a lot of eyes on it while it’s developing.
Monique: Yeah, that’s a really interesting point. Because looking at your band and being so inspired by your band for some time, probably about a year now, I never thought about it as in you don’t have much material out there. Eternal Blue will be a massive milestone. A debut album is a massive milestone for any band obviously, but this is you creating who you are and showing who you are to the world. But having all of those eyes on you, you must feel very much under pressure?
Courtney: Yes, we feel a lot of pressure. But I think we really work well under pressure. And making us feel even more determined. You know, we just want to feel so much determination to make the album as beautifully as we can. And I’m really excited even though I’m scared to finally put all our music out because then we are laying it bare for everyone to analyse and criticise. I’m really excited because I know our fans are going to understand where we’re coming from with it. And I’m just so excited to start that chapter of my life where we have an album that people can consume in one big piece, which is such a nice thing to be able to do.
Monique: Yeah, absolutely. I’m personally really looking forward to it. And it’s going to be such a special milestone for your career. And I think that already people are receiving it well. So I’m proud of you guys for that. That must be such an interesting journey going through it with all these eyes on you, but you still feel like you’re growing.
Courtney: We’re always growing, but you still feel so small and stuff, which is insane to me. I definitely understand that mindset, especially during the pandemic. My life hasn’t really changed a lot. I have debated quitting my job. And I haven’t but my husband and I were thinking about it today. It’s so weird like I’m living a double life right now. And I think eventually the two lives are gonna like come together again. When I walk back up on a stage, like once I go up on a stage again, and when I perform I’ll be like: “Alright, we’re back.” It’s a universal feeling!
Monique: Before we go, I just wanted to talk about your podcast, Good for a Girl. I adore the podcast, particularly the episode you’ve done with Booka Nile. You guys had this really good chemistry and this amazing way of storytelling.
Courtney: Yes, she’s so cool! I wouldn’t stop doing it, I’m gonna keep doing it. Because every woman that I talked to, I learned so much from them. So it’s just one of those things that are selfishly for me. It really helps me to be able to talk to these cool women. And then the other great part about it is when I get to hear what they have to say. So it’s like a supplemental study for me, I get to learn so much. I still have so many people that I want to talk to on there. And I love it. I love the podcast format because you never know, the conversation just goes wherever it goes – so I love it. And I love talking to Booka. She’s just like the most charismatic person I’ve ever met. She’s incredible.
Monique: I love the podcast format and definitely enjoyed exploring those different women’s stories with you. And I think that you’re giving them a different kind of platform. Obviously, they already have a platform in one way or another, but you’re giving them that opportunity to talk specifically about certain other things. That’s really important. Do you think that experience of learning and those feelings of empowerment and feminine lens show themselves in the themes of Eternal Blue?
Courtney: Yes, they do. You know, I think that Eternal Blue is me growing up. I’m 32 but I feel like I’m just now growing up and finding for the first time calm, having fewer insecurities than I thought that I would have at this stage. So I think that this album represents me, figuring out who I am and gaining confidence. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have anything that I’m scared of. It’s just the confidence to acknowledge all of those imperfections, you know?
Monique: Absolutely. And that’s something that I’m going to be taking away today. As a musician, as a woman and as, like as a fan, that’s fantastic.