Let’s face it. When I find something fun and local that I like, I like to Rebeccammend it in hopes that a friend or reader will like it too. And, when I’ve written about something more than once, it’s because there’s more great news to share about the topic. The topic at hand is one of my favorite local bands: Courrier. With French spelling and all, they are one of the generous bands that shared their original music at my blog’s first birthday party, and their name perfectly describes the way their music carries beyond small borders. I’ve had a fascination with Courrier since I met them and heard their music, not only because of my personal connection to them through the blog party, but I happen to connect with their music, and because of their genuine nature and the passion that radiates from their sounds. Also, they are a sight to see at a live performance. I’m truly amazed to see a group of four young men literally banding together to produce music– and by produce, I mean produce. They recently recorded their very first album at Willie Nelson’s local Pedernales Studio! Seriously. What an accomplishment.
I think this is absolutely worth celebrating, along with their music, and the guys behind it. I had the privilege of hearing an advance copy as an album supporter in their Kickstarter campaign and I listened to it in its entirety last night for probably about the tenth time since I received it in my inbox last week. I find this album to be strong, passionate, heartfelt, and even delicate in unsuspected places, which is difficult to execute well in songs with a robust alternative sound. And, the combination of instrumental melodies, piano, vocals, supporting bass, and dominant drums comes together to produce sounds that make an impact, taking Courrier from a shining spark to a violent flame.
The band was so kind to answer some questions to share information about them and their music and what it’s like to record your first studio at the age of 23. How incredible. Enjoy, and if you have a chance to catch their album release show tonight, do it. If not, check out their new album on iTunes starting Tuesday, February 1st. Congratulations, guys! Click more to see the interview….
When did Courrier form?
Courrier formed in the fall of ’08, I think. We were great friends living together and writing music together, so it just happened naturally.
What is the story behind your band name?
We were originally a different band under a different name, just for a few months. But when we decided to actually seriously pursue a career in music, we changed the name. Courrier was brought up after a few months of trying to come up with names and it felt right. We changed to spelling to avoid confusion, but it gives it a certain uniqueness. And hopefully a more vintage vibe since it’s the french spelling.
How old are each of you?
We’re youngins! We’re all 23, having recently graduated from UT, except for our drummer, who is a bit younger and a senior at Texas State.
Where are you from?
Philip is from Austin, Austin is from Boerne, Rob is from Houston and Nathan is from Dallas.
How do you all know eachother?
We met in school. Three of us were in a fraternity at The University of Texas, and we met our drummer, Nathan, through church.
In one sentence, how would you describe your music?
Hard question! How about you describe our music, ha. (see Rebecca’s description above) Dynamic and thoughtful alternative rock?
Are there any funny stories from past shows?
Actually, the worst and best show we ever played, we played at a little place called Treasure Island. That’s right, a pirate bar. It was some unofficial SXSW show and that was the venue we ended up with. We call it the best/worst show ever because nobody was there, so we had fun at an essentially glorified rehearsal.
What has been your favorite show so far and why?
Our favorite show so far was probably when we played the Music For The City Haiti benefit last year, right after the disaster in Haiti. Not only did we get to partner with an amazing organization here to help the people of Haiti, we got to do it in front of a sold at show at the Parish. It was great to see people supporting the people of Haiti like that.
Your first album is releasing this week, what is the official release date?
February 1st! On iTunes.
What is the story behind the name of your debut album, A Violent Flame?
It’s a lyric from from our song “How Long.” “The life we lead is a violent flame/ trapped within this tender frame/ to the end will the spark await, to arise”. It seems to do a pretty good job summing up both the record’s vibe. There are moments of brightness, but on the whole has a darker feel.
Did you have to raise funds to record the album?
You only get one shot to make your first record. And so we wanted to do it right. We hired a fantastic producer, Matt Noveskey (also bassist for Blue October), flew an amazing engineer to Austin (Adam Hawkins, who engineered/mixed Switchfoot’s Hello Hurricane and Regina Spektor’s Far), and booked a legendary studio, Willie Nelson’s Pedernales Studio. These expenses, we knew, were going to cost us a good amount of money, which we didn’t have. So we thought if we could raise almost half of the cost ($10,000), we could find a way to pay for the rest. So that was the goal for our Kickstarter campaign. And in 3 months, we did just that! We have some amazing family, friends and fans. (Note from Rebecca- Kickstarter is an awesome way to raise money and gain support for a creative project!)
How many days, hours, weeks did it take to record the album?
We recorded every day for two weeks straight, with one day off in between, pretty much recording all day long.
Who writes Courrier’s songs?
Austin and Philip write the foundation (lyrics and melody) for most of the songs, but in the end, it’s an entire band process. We usually bring the song ideas to practice as unfinished thoughts and work through them there. So it’s definitely an equal process.
What were the biggest challenges during the recording process?
The recording process actually went pretty smoothly, until the end. When Austin had to do his vocals in the last week, he got pretty sick. He even took a day off from the studio to rest his voice. We weren’t sure if he would be able to record vocals then, but he decided to push through, and killed it. It was amazing.
What was the biggest thing you learned during the recording process?
Well, we have been in the studio a few times before, but never to record a full-length record. It’s hard to even understand what that is like if you’ve never done. A lot of emotional swings. You get really tired and worn out, but then something happens by chance and everyone gets really excited and into the process again. We actually did a great job of preparation prior to the studio, with everyone writing their parts and a week of rehearsal. So when we got into the studio, we knew what to do, and had a little extra time to experiment.
What was the most fun during the recording process?
Everyone always says the most fun thing about the studio are the moments that you didn’t expect to happen, when someone does something by accident, or you change a part just slightly and it throws a whole new light on the song. That’s definitely true. The moments of experimentation (when it actually worked) were the most fun. When we would record the entire drum kit through a distorted amp, or when Adam would throw a crazy effect on a guitar sound. That was the fun stuff.
What is your favorite song on the album and why?
I (Philip) think the band favorite has to be the last song on the album, Morning Light. It feels the most tense and triumphant of all the songs on the record.
What are the plans for the band after the album is released?
The plan is to continue to promote the record and get it into as many people’s hands as possible. We believe in our album so much, that we think if people would just listen to it, they might really like it. So the plan is to figure out how best to do that. We’re hoping to do our first national or semi-national tour over the summer, too.
How are you celebrating the release of A Violent Flame?
The album release party! This Friday, the 28th at the Parish. Doors are 8. We’ve asked our friends David Ramirez, Aaron Ivey band, and Quiet Company to join us, and it’s going to be a blast!
Anything else you want to add?
We want to tell people to buy the record! Or at least listen to it. I hope that they will be pleasantly surprised. You can download the album sampler on the Courrier website before the official release on February 1st.