Courrier

If any band-focused article mentions the words Austin and Texas in the first paragraph, regardless of genre or publication, chances are you’re gonna love what follows. You’ll likely check out the band's webpage, sample a few songs in the iTunes Store and maybe even buy a few. It’s Austin, Texas: a breeding ground for creativity with a filter that tends to work. Sure, you’ll find a couple bad eggs here and there, but if you’ve selected Austin as your home base, you better know how to stand out (and not in a sucky way).

Honestly, I’ve sampled every song I could on our latest feature's web site, and it’s hard to find a piece that I don’t get along with. Courrier, a 4-piece band producing “thought-rock” has certainly caught our attention, along with half of the music-loving community. And they may put it in words best, how important it is to stand out in Austin: “After the release of our debut album in February, people heard it and were (hopefully) impressed. I think the scene realized we weren't just another band recording a record in our bedroom and called it a ‘record,’ but we actually did it right. We flew our engineer (Adam Hawkins) out from LA because we were so impressed with his work on the last Switchfoot and Regina Spektor albums. We raised $10,000 on Kickstarter, which funded only about half of what we spent on the album. So for another independent band out of Austin, we were doing things a little bit differently than your typical local band.”

And doing it right has led to some mighty fine benefits. The band says “We sold out our CD release show here at one of Austin's best music venues (The Parish), and have been seeing a great turnout ever since. We're now playing shows with bands that we used to go see before we were a band, and that's not because we're the best band in Austin, but because this community has really shown us a lot of support.” That debut record they keep referencing? It’s called “A Violent Flame” and you’ll totally get this “thought-rock” once you sample it. The guys in Courrier can help you understand as well: “We say that because our music tends to have a heavy emphasis on lyric and story. We spend a lot of time with our lyrics, and hope we avoid a lot of clichés and typical song structures which run rampant in the alternative genre… I think people connect with our music in a different way than they would a lot of alternative bands.” It’s true – I’m doing that right now! So check out “A Violent Flame”. It’s excellent stuff. And keep an eye out for the band on the road – they don’t just stay in Austin. There’s a whole bunch more to get into, so keep reading for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

 

XXQs: Courrier

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

We jokingly refer to our genre of music as "thought-rock," which we think we coined ourselves, but someone else has probably thought of it before. We say that because our music tends to have a heavy emphasis on lyric and story. We spend a lot of time with our lyrics, and hope we avoid a lot of cliches and typical song structures which run rampant in the alternative genre. There are a lot of good songs out there, but sometimes you can listen to a good song and think, this isn't even about anything. So we do our best to create stories and match them with melodies that are hopefully as catchy as those other songs. A lot of times we'll play shows and end a song, and instead of the typical audience response, a lot of people will have pensive looks on their faces (we hope this isn't a sign that we're boring, ha). But seriously, I think people connect with our music in a different way than they would a lot of alternative bands.

PEV: Hailing from the music rich, Austin, Texas. What kind of music where the members of the band into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?

We have funny conversations about this all the time. I don't think you can really judge anyone's musical creativity based on what they listened to growing up anymore. We live in such a diverse musical generation that everyone's taste seems to have widened across the musical spectrum. Of course we did the punk rock / classical rock think in middle school, but I listened to almost exclusively Sinatra growing up (still one of my all time favorites), and Austin lived all over the US and Canada, so our influences are pretty diverse.

PEV: Tell us your take on the music scene is like in your hometown and what was it like trying to break into it?

Austin is both a great place and a hard place to be in a band. Great because so much of the town's energy and culture resides in music and the arts, but hard because there is such a saturation of music in Austin. You have to make yourself stand out. We definitely had to pay our dues when we started as a band, even though that was only 3 years ago. But after the release of our debut album in February, people heard it and were (hopefully) impressed. I think the scene realized we weren't just another band recording a record in our bedroom and called it a "record," but we actually did it right. We flew our engineer out from LA because we were so impressed with his work on the last Switchfoot and Regina Spektor albums. We raised $10,000 on Kickstarter, which funded only about half of what we spent on the album. So for another independent band out of Austin, we were doing things a little bit differently than your typical local band. And we've definitely reaped the benefit of that. We sold out our CD release show here at one of Austin's best music venues (The Parish), and have been seeing a great turnout ever since. We're now playing shows with bands that we used to go see before we were a band, and that's not because we're the best band in Austin, but because this community has really shown us a lot of support. There are a ton of great bands here, and we are honored to be a part of the community.

PEV: With that, what can fans expect from a live Courrier show?

We understand that a live show isn't just a recreation of what you hear in your headphones. It's an experience. And when people buy tickets to our shows, they are exhibiting faith that we are going to create that experience, so we take that seriously. We try to add in special moments in the set that you don't get on the record. I also think a lot of bands that we play with don't understand the importance of dynamic. Their shows are 45 minutes of full-out aural bludgeoning. There needs to be moments of intimacy also. We hope we find the balance.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

Ha. Most of the time it's, I hope we don't screw this up. Not that we would, but there's definitely a growing pressure as our fanbase grows. But we've started telling ourselves to try to go crazy every show. It's that type of energy that is exciting for fans to see. We're definitely learning and getting better at that.

PEV: Having all been in other bands before how is playing with Courrier different then those other works?

We actually haven't all been in other bands before. Some of us were growing up, but this is our first real effort to make a career out of being a band. We're not the type of guys that will be in a band no matter who we're playing with, or what the environment is. We never really saw ourselves as musicians when we started. So Courrier is more important to us than just being in a band. Our group, and our relationship with one another, is what makes the band.

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?

There's a lot of music out there today that isn't about anything. There's also a lot of music out there which is about trivial stuff, which definitely has it's place, but isn't our style. We try to write music about what is most important to us, and I think to other people. Namely, faith, death, love, war, etc. The big stuff. Plus, Sisco already wrote the thong song, so that one was taken.

PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out do you ever look back at your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?

It's just funny to think about. Like I said, we all played instruments, but never really considered ourselves musicians, or thought we'd be in band. But when we think about the process of becoming Courrier today, we realize how much we've invested in the band over the years. And how blessed we've been with a lot of opportunities and relationships we've established with people who have helped us along the way.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Courrier?

Ha, I don't know if there is much that would surprise you. We're actually pretty athletic for a bunch of rock n rollers. Austin was a State Baseball Champion in high school and Philip was recruited to play lacrosse at Dartmouth. Sorry, that's kind of a lame answer. But we don't have many secrets.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

When we graduated from college (a little over a year ago), we knew this was no longer just a hobby. If we wanted to make this a career, it was something we needed to pursue full-time, not just in our spare time. Once we released our full-length, it was easier to accept that we were musicians.

PEV: Tell us about your debut full-length album “A Violent Flame”.  What can fans expect from this? How is this different from past works?

AVF is the easily the best thing we've ever done. We released an EP a few years ago, really just because we needed music. It was good, but our album is a totally different level. Better songwriting, better melodies, better songs. We're proud of it because it seems more of a completed work, a set of stories, than just a collection of songs.

PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

We'd LOVE to go to the UK and Europe and play there, but we need to establish ourselves a bit first. Anywhere we get to play where we have fans that want to hear us play is worth it to us though.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?

Obviously it's a bit weird to have a son or brother that's a musician, if you grew up in a non-musical family, which most of us did. But our families are extremely supportive, which is why we're able to do what we do.

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

There's this band called The Arcade Fires or something. I hear they're pretty good.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think each of you would be your career?

We all love music and we're all pretty creative people, so I think we'd have to be doing something creative, whether we are in a band or not.

PEV: So, what is next for Courrier?

Touring! Writing! Trying to get our music in as many people's hands as possible. We've already started writing new songs, but we want more people to hear this album first.

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