Tunes: The Courtneys

The Courtneys drift back to the sound of the early ’90s while reflecting a fun-in-the-sun west coast mentality—delivering a special blend of fuzzy slacker pop that draws comparisons to Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr. and The Clean. The musicianship is tight, the hooks are sharp, and the songcraft is dynamic. Courtney Loove’s dreamy guitar riffs add a timeless pop element to the punk backbone formed by Sydney Koke’s heavy driving basslines, and drummer/lead singer Jen Twynn Payne’s snare kick combos. Stemming from Vancouver’s thriving music scene—their debut and self-titled full length is on its third pressing after last year’s release via Hockey Dad Records. You can also catch it on tape from Burger Records and Gnar Tapes. Recorded over one weekend on Vancouver Island, The Courtneys exudes vibes of the ladies’ strong sun-drenched Flying Nun / New Order / 90’s grunge influence, and has gained critical acclaim from Rookie, Pitchfork, NME, Noisey plus many more. Catch ’em on the road this spring with Tegan and Sara.

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Courtney

How did your interest in music begin?  There was always lots of music in our household as far back as I can remember. Me and my 2 brothers all did the rounds of the standard lessons you get as a kid—piano first, then we all played tenor sax in middle school band for the sake of convenience because it was the instrument we had in the house. And then I picked up guitar around age 12. My dad played music full time before I was born and was a sound guy when I was a little kid so that was an influence for sure. By the time I was 16 all I can remember myself doing was sitting in my room working out Smiths tabs from the internet.

If you had to explain your music to a stranger, what would you say? I usually tell strangers its “poppy garage rock” or something, or “have you heard of Sonic Youth or Pavement?”

 

 

What’s your favorite thing about your city? Because I am from the island (Vancouver Island), Vancouver has a big city feel to me and I love that. There is always so much stuff going on and so many people doing cool things all the time. In a big city with at least a couple million people life never gets the chance to feel stagnant and there is never that feeling “get me the hell out of here!”. We also have a shit ton of nature all around us which is essential for human sanity. My favourite thing though is the music scene here, so many great active bands such as Watermelon, White Poppy, and Dead Ghosts to name a few.

What do you do when you’re not working on music? Lift weights/ swim at the YMCA if its winter, cruise around in my car if it’s summer, and draw cartoons.

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Sydney

Do you get fan mail? What’s been the most exciting thing you have received from a fan? We do! It’s the best thing, we love hearing from fans. One person sent us a photo of her birthday cake, which featured The Courtneys logo drawn in icing!! Also a band from Vancouver called Speranza sent us a song on Valentine’s day, it references our lyrics and is called “Thank you Courtney”. So cute!

If you hadn’t become a musician, what do you think you’d be doing? Funny story, I used to be a neuroscientist. Four years ago I was living in Durham, North Carolina, working on a PhD in neuroscience at Duke. Then I decided that life is really short! I had been doing science for a while, so I packed up and moved to Vancouver to start a band with Jen and Courtney. In an alternate universe, I am getting my PhD this spring!

 

 

What do you do when you’re not working on music? I make cash by editing neuroscience articles, and fill the rest of my time with music and visual art. I just finished my MFA in fall, where I specialized in contemporary sculpture. I will be showing some work in a few galleries this spring, so I have a lot to work on right now!

What kinds of music/what musicians are influencing your work right now? I love experimental music, like noise and no-wave. I also play in a noise/punk band called Shearing Pinx, which definitely affects my song writing instincts when jamming out new ideas with The Courtneys. I like to see how far I can push it, aiming for basslines that exist on the threshold between punk and pop.

 

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Jen

What are you currently watching on Netflix/what’s on your Netflix queue? I love this question! Many of the lyrics I write are inspired by the TV shows or movies that I am obsessed with at the time. I consume an inordinate amount of pop culture! Okay, so my netflix account has been a little neglected lately because everything I’ve been watching is currently airing. I recently finished American Horror Story: Coven. It wasn’t my favorite show, but I enjoyed all the Stevie Nicks cameos. The new season of Dance Moms started up January 1st, and I am hoping to play a show in Pittsburgh on our upcoming tour so I can stop by Abby Lee’s studio. But the show that most has my attention right now is the new HBO series, True Detective. I am a big fan of crime dramas, and Matthew McConaughey’s “mcconaissance.” If he keeps it up, there just might be a Courtneys song about him!

What kinds of music/what musicians are influencing your work right now? Beyonce and U2. I can only speak for myself on this one, but I haven’t been able to stop listening to Beyonce’s new album since it dropped out of nowhere. I am so blown away/inspired by the fact that she managed to make 18 music videos without it leaking. I’ve also been on a huge U2 kick—actually, I am watching a full concert video from their 2001 elevation tour right now—but they have always been an influence. We used to cover their song I Will Follow. I love that they have post-punk roots, but have managed to become one of the biggest bands in the world and sustain that with their original members. The Joshua Tree is my favorite album by them.

 

 

What is your snack/beverage of choice when recording? When we are recording I drink a lot of tea, because it is important to stay hydrated as a drummer, a singer, and a human! My recording tea of choice is Yogi’s Honey Lemon Throat Comfort. It’s hard for me to pick a snack of choice, because I love snacks almost as much as I love television, but this past recording session Terry at the Noise Floor Recording Studio put me on the chocolate covered acai berries tip.

What are you really excited about right now? Lots of things! I am really looking forward to supporting Tegan and Sara on their Let’s Make Things Physical Tour in May and June. I am really excited about an upcoming single that we collaborated on with our rapper friend Young Braised, and I am most excited about a McFlurry that my boyfriend just gave me.

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