In the heavy music world there’s one band on everyone’s mind right now who have burst onto the scene and made a huge statement with their music. That band is Spiritbox, and today it is my absolute pleasure to get you up close and personal with frontwoman, Courtney LaPlante.
The Canadian four-piece (yes there’s four—more on that soon) first dipped their toes into the scene back in 2016, but it wasn’t until 2020’s ‘Blessed Be’ was released that the spotlight was well and truly on this “new band” that had the potential to go far. As the singles grew, so did their popularity throughout the community. They spread through the metalcore, prog/djent and heavy metal scene like wildfire, creating a hype storm that not only took the band by surprise, but also terrified them heading into release week for their highly anticipated debut album Eternal Blue, released on September 17th via Rise Records (our review here).
Courtney touched on her thoughts about the globally recognised hype for the release, revealing:
“I’m really excited. I’m scared of all the hype. I fear the hype. I don’t understand how we got here, but here we are and now I’m just at the point where I’m ready for it to become yours, no longer mine.”
And that day has almost arrived. It’s unfathomable to believe it’ll be exactly one year, two months and three days since the album’s first single ‘Holy Roller‘ was first launched online (via Pale Chord Music back then), which set the wheels on the Spiritbox vehicle in motion, and the end result is where we are today. It was hard to escape anyone talking about this band last year. Throughout the entire pandemic, fans accumulated and passed on their music like Pokémon cards back in our teenage years, and soon forums, social media groups and sub-reddits were on fire with talk about this new band with the ex-frontwoman from US metalcore group iwrestledabearonce, her husband, guitarist/djent-lord Mike Stringer, and pop punk/metal bassist Bill Crook (ex-A Textbook Tragedy).
They were unstoppable and with every release, we saw them dabble in different genres, while staying true to their heavy/core sound. ‘Constance’ not only made us cry, but ripped our hearts out when we all discovered the lyrical content was inspired by the passing of Courtney’s grandmother who battled dementia all the way until the end. I think it was the relatability of this song that truly made us connect with Spiritbox‘s music on another level. And because of Courtney opening up and sharing those intimate stories of her life, it brought us closer to her and the band, because I absolutely agree a lot of us in the community have gone through something similar with one of our own loved ones. And hearing a song like this, when we needed it the most, really helped more than anyone else outside of our world could ever know.
That emotional connection transcended genres and could potentially be the reason why so many people jumped on Spiritbox not long after, because despite it being one of their slower and more melodic songs, it still featured elements and instrumentals from various genres, making it a concoction of all the things we know and love from heavy music. The band didn’t want to be pigeon-holed as this new “metalcore” act coming up the ranks, but more so this group of musicians trying to figure out their own path, setting out on their own journey of musical discovery and self-awareness.
“There’s a lot of freedom of being an outsider or not being the metalcore sweetheart for your whole life. Because then you don’t really care about those people’s validation, because they didn’t accept you to begin with… It’s kind of like when you’re the nerd kid [that] finally gets to sit at the cool kid table, if you feel like you’re a nerd and that you don’t belong there, you might feel really self-conscious sitting there.”
“For this, I’m happy to be able to sit with them, but it’s not my identity.“
It’s that confidence and freedom of “not belonging to a genre” that keeps her motivated. There’s great satisfaction to be had when you rebel and go against the status quo (especially when you fucking win) and there’s nothing more metal than telling someone, thanks, but you’re going to do it your way.
But as she later revealed, she wasn’t exactly the confident person she is now back in her early days in iwrestledabearonce (between 2012–2015). Courtney, along with most of us, was constantly trapped inside her own head, overthinking the expectations fans had for her, and the band, when she took over fronting duties from Krysta Cameron—a vocalist Courtney first admired as a fan, before stepping up to the plate when she swapped screaming fans for screaming babies and family life.
I pressed about the differences between the Courtney we see now in the Spiritbox era, and the Courtney from way back in that era, to which she cheekily laughed and replied with:
“I cared so much about what their fans thought about me, because I cared so much about that band, because I was a fan of the band, when I joined… That band inspired me to do what I do, so I didn’t want to let them down and I wanted, not just for my own ego, I just wanted for my own validation, to have everyone like me.”
“And, I don’t care about that anymore [laughs], at all.”
“That’s the biggest difference. I don’t care and I feel like there’s so much baggage that I can just leave at the door now because I don’t have to compare myself to anyone. And I especially don’t have to compare myself to one of my favourite vocalists every time I step out on stage and sing one of her songs. That’s the biggest difference.”
It’s that liberating feeling of not longer living in the past of her own shadow that has truly allowed Courtney, and her bandmates to become the heroes they have today. But, talking about bandmates, I had to mention the elephant in the room.
As I noted earlier, there are four key members who make up Spiritbox, and one of them, drummer Zev Rose, isn’t spotted in any of the band’s promo photos (leading up to the release of Eternal Blue) nor is he mentioned in bios about the band, despite the pleas and concerns from fans to acknowledge him. I settled in for a live Spiritbox Q&A on their Instagram Page not too long ago and this was brought up in front of the thousands of fans watching at the time.
Courtney laughed and joked that every time someone asked about him or why he hadn’t become a full-time member yet, they pushed his invite to join back a month. Hilarious reaction, but I had to find out why this was the case and if there was any underlying stories we didn’t know about, but as it turns out, it’s all because of the big ol’ C word—COVID.
“I think that everyone just forgot that we’re in a global pandemic and we met this guy two days before we went on our first tour with him [supporting After The Burial, Make Them Suffer and Polar on their ill-fated European Tour in Feb/March 2020 – just as COVID hit], and we hung out with him for one week, and then we NEVER saw him again!”
Yep, that’s a valid enough reason in itself, isn’t it! But there’s been plenty of conversations behind the scenes, Zev (who resides in Philadelphia, USA) also recorded the drums for Eternal Blue remotely and is very much in the band, it’s just a bit of a logistical nightmare to get them all together at the moment.
They did however get to spent at least three (of twelve) nights sharing the stage with Zev again on their recent US tour supporting Limp Bizkit (which was sadly cut short AGAIN due to a positive COVID case within the touring crew), but they’re still hanging out for a couple more weeks and he is here to stay.
“We love Zev and we would be lost without him and he has been a really big part of our lives and honestly the second that [the] second tour got cancelled, I was like ‘there’s not another man that will ever know what we’ve been through in the past two years other than this guy, other than this 20 year old guy’ [laughs]”
But even if the universe is trying to convince her otherwise, she’ll always side with him, without a doubt:
“I wouldn’t care anyway because he’s so good! So if that means I never get to tour again, but I get to have him, it’s a trade off. I’ll survive!”
Back to the music. Eternal Blue showcases a vast array of different genres, as most debut records do, and as Spiritbox‘s popularity surges to dizzying new heights, so too does Courtney’s hope that one day, heavy music will make it to the mainstream; albeit not mainstream media, but more so popular avenues and acknowledgement from the rest of the world.
She’s adamant that change can come, but bands shouldn’t have to sacrifice who they are to fit in:
“I want this type of music to break out into—maybe mainstream is too bold of a thing to say—I don’t want metal music to become more poppy, but I want pop music to become more heavy. I think that’s what people are craving right now and a lot of the music that I like and turn to, has an air of heaviness to it, regardless of what that means to you, so that’s what I want to hear.”
Evidence of this concept coming to fruition may have been just a mere thought years ago, but following the release of Halsey‘s collaborative album alongside Nine Inch Nails icons Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, we may start to slowly see a shift in direction when (and if) more mainstream acts unleash that pent up anger inside of them. We’ve already seen the success Bring Me The Horizon has had. Ed Sheeran has apparently emailed Cradle of Filth‘s Dani Filth for a potential collab (after admitting he used to play extreme metal in his early years) and Spiritbox, with their unintentional global domination, are fast bringing attention to the lighter/melodic side of heavy music again, while still staying close to the roots of it all.
I cannot wait to see this band explode and to be able to chat with them prior to their debut album’s release is certainly a dream come true moment. We at Wall of Sound wish the band all the best and can’t wait for their promised debut in Australia once borders are back open again…
Until then, dive in with the full interview below!
Virtual Hangs/Words by Paul ‘Browny’ Brown @brownypaul
Eternal Blue is out Friday, Sept 17 via Rise Records.
Spiritbox – Eternal Blue tracklisting
1. Sun Killer
2. Hurt You
3. Yellowjacket feat. Sam Carter
4. The Summit
5. Secret Garden
6. Silk In The Strings
7. Holy Roller
8. Eternal Blue
9. We Live In A Strange World
11. Circle With Me