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The Courtneys

The Courtneys

Interviewed by
Ben Coley
Monday 2nd March, 2015 3:20PM

The Courtneys play super catchy slacker pop which relies on a heavy diet of classic Flying Nun, 90s teenage movies and summer holidays. Currently based in Vancouver, the trio have been growing in reputation since their debut self-titled record came out back in 2013. They are currently half way through their Australian tour before they head over to New Zealand to play four shows across Auckland and Wellington. It is their first tour outside of North America and they are excited. UnderTheRadar sat down and Skyped with all three of The Courtneys, Jen aka Cute Courtney (drums), Sydney aka Crazy Courtney (bass) and Courtney aka Classic Courtney (guitar) while they were taking a break and doing some washing to talk about ramen, band superstitions, haunted instruments and what songs they would like played at their weddings/funerals...

UTR: Hi CourtneysÖhow are you?

Jen: Hey we are good. We are in Melbourne and have been doing our laundry.

Clean clothes are important on tour! Are you powder or liquid detergent users?

Jen: I usually use liquid when I am at home.

Courtney: We had no choice this time, powder was all they had.

So tell me, what are you excited about doing when you get to New Zealand?

Jen: Iím really excited to see the sheep.

Will you be travelling by car?

Jen: Yeah, from Auckland to Wellington.

Sydney: Are we?

Jen: Yeah, I think?

Sydney: There is still some debate.

Courtney: We are excited about the nature!

Well if you road trip, you will definitely see some sheep. get the Flying Nun reference a lot. Are you fans of the label and bands on it?

Jen: We all love Flying Nun and the bands on that label, which makes us even more excited to come to New Zealand. Itís an influence on our sound. We would love to meet The Clean!

The Courtneys have a lot of merch, I saw that you even have your own air freshener. What does The Courtneys smell like?

Jen: What do you think The Courtneys smells like?

Hmmm maybe something chocolatey?

Jen: No, itís coconut!

Coconutís good! If you could create any merch regardless of cost, what would you make?

Courtney: Cars! It would end up being totally insane, like that car Homer invents in The Simpsons. It would have to carry all our equipment, but it would need to do so in a clown car way, where it was still a really sweet summer sports car.

Sydney: But itís a merch, it wouldnít be for us.

Courtney: Yeah, butís it The Courtneys Car!

Sydney: I would make a signature bass, and it would be really sparkly.

Jen: I wanna make socks.

You can make anything and you would choose socks!?

Jen: Haha, um yeah... I will come up with something else later in the interview. Come back to me!

Sydney: Do you know what would be hard? Sheet Sets!

Everyone: OoooOOO!

Courtney: That would be sick.

I read in an interview that Jen writes the setlists before each show and that no one else is allowed to touch them before you play. Is that true?

Jen: Hahaha, itís a weird superstition.

Sydney: You let me touch one the other day.

Jen: I know, I let Sydney touch one the other day and I donít know why. Usually we will discuss the set and show it to them. I then put them in my back right pocket and just before we go on stage I have to shuffle them, this sounds so crazy, but I feel for which one belongs to whom and then I hand them out accordingly.

Thatís so funny, do you have any other band superstitions?

Sydney: We always pray to Bono before we go on stage and Courtney has a haunted guitar, but she is selling it, so we donít have to deal with it anymore.

Haunted!? in what way?

Sydney: It randomly malfunctions in catastrophic ways, no matter what the set up or situation is.

Courtney: It has had all the electronics completely re soldered by three different peers. It doesnít make sense what is wrong with it. I am selling it as haunted.

Going back to the setlists for a sec, what would happen if you got super famous and were playing huge shows?

Jen: The thing about superstitions is that they are constantly changing, the other day I let Sydney hold a setlist so this maybe the end of that superstition. I use to have this weird one where I had two different drumsticks. One was longer than the other and one was thicker than the other and I just had to use them. I donít know where it comes from.

Sydney: itís normal. I have certain picks I always use. At one stage I had the same two picks that I used for three years and I would keep them in this little case.

What about band vices?

Courtney: We all really like ramen.

Jen: There is this ramen restaurant called Kintaro in Vancouver that we frequent at least once a week. They actually kind of have a Courtneys shrine now. Our album is up on the wall with this sticker we made. Every now and then our friends will go there and message us saying ďDo you know there is a Courtneys shrine in thereĒ. We are like VIPs there now.

Do you have your own VIP table?

Sydney: No, but they know our order off by heart, and sometimes they will ignore the rule of everyone having to be there at the same time to be seated, and they will seat us anyway.

Letís talk about your music for a bit. Your latest single 'Mars Attacks' features Young Braised. Itís quite odd hearing a rap verse in a guitar pop song, yet it fits so perfectly. How did that collaboration come about?

Jen: I worked at this print shop in Vancouver and one day they were like ďwe hired this new guy, heís a rapperĒ We were all watching his videoís before he started. He was really weird and cool. As a band we were wanting to make a 7-inch. We wanted to make it different and special and it just came together.

You give off a relaxed and fun persona as a band. Is it the same when you are writing and recording or do you take that process more seriously?

Jen: A little of both.

Courtney: We are more serious and focused.

Sydney: It is something that we are most serious about. We are always really involved in the composition. We discuss every single element of the songs and we work over them for a long time. Sometimes we work on them for years.

Jen: There is A LOT of discussion and thinking over everything. But in the studio, when we actually record, itís pretty fun. We are very ready and we donít like to overthink things.

Sydney: We make sure we have played the songs live before we record, because there are so many options in the studio. We like to use the takes that have the most energy. The writing process takes a long time and we throw out a lot of songs.

Courtney: The rule is to try and make things sound pretty relaxed. So ultimately we labour over things for a long time to make them sound unlaboured. Itís deliberate.

Jen: some of them come in one jam too. Like '90210'. That song came in one jam and the vocals were written at the same time.

Are you guys working on new material at the moment?

Jen: Yeah.

Sydney: We will be playing lots of new songs.

Courtney: We hope to finish recording a new album in May and have it out by the end of the year.

You all seem to have a fascination with 90s pop culture, where does that come from?

Sydney: Itís when we grew up.

Courtney: Yeah, thatís when we were kids.

Jen: I think that itís ingrained in us.

Do you do those Buzzfeed questionnaires like ďwhich 90s alternative indie band are you or which 90s sitcom are youĒ?

Jen: all the time!

You should make a Courtneys one ďWhich Courtney are you?Ē

Jen: We have one!!

Sydney: You gotta take it.

Thatís amazing! I will do it after the interview. I saw on your band blog that you have been trying a lot of Australian snacks. What has been your favourite so far?

Courtney: Yeah, I tried all the chocolate bars that I had never seen in North America. It was a good study. Most of them were pretty middle of the road. I really liked the Curly Wurly though.

You should try Pineapple Lumps when you come here [explains Pineapple Lumps]...

Jen: Whoa

Sydney: Those sound great.

Another Kiwi classic you should try when you are here is Marmite [explains Marmite]...

Sydney: Is it like Vegemite?

Jen: Iím big into toast spreads.

I am on a peanut butter buzz at the moment.

Jen: Same, itís so good.

Courtney: Peanut butter is okay.

What are your favourite toast spreads?

Courtney: Honey!

Sydney: I like tapenade.

Fancy! finally, what song would you want played at your wedding and funeral?

Jen: Oh my godÖOkay mine would be. At my wedding, I would have. Ah no. come back to me.

Sydney: This is really hard, I feel like people spend years thinking about this question.

Jen: Actually, I totally know my funeral song. Itís 'Tuesdayís Gone' by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Depending on whoís alive when I die, I want my friends to play it. Wedding is hard, it would depend on who I was marrying. Iím sure we would have a song.

Courtney: For my wedding song I would choose 'When Youíre Near Me I Have Difficulty' by XTC and for a funeral song I have always thought 'Dress Sexy At My Funeral' by Smog. There are a lot of good funeral songs.

Sydney: Man, I have no idea for either. Maybe Alice Coltrane at my wedding. I feel that maybe my funeral would be outside, so maybe there wouldnít be a sound system.

Courtney: Actually a really good funeral song would be Simple Minds 'Donít You Forget About Me'. Thatís like my favourite song ever.

Good Choices! Thanks for your time, it was fun talking to you...

Sydney: Thanks, we canít wait to be in New Zealand!

Everyone: Bye!

The Courtneys are playing four shows while in New Zealand, kicking off with a performance at Whammy Bar on Friday 6th March, head over here for more information

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related gigs
Fri 6th Mar
Whammy Bar, Auckland