Do the Courtneys have a song about [Insert celebrity name here]?
This interview has been edited for clarity.
From Left to right: Courtney the (double!) Pisces, Sydney the Virgo, Jen the (double!) Gemini
First things first, things I should have asked The Courtneys:
1. For sartorial tips from Courtney Loove
2. What true crime show did Jen work on?
3. So just who exactly is your new, yet to be released, song about?
A little more on that last one later.
The Courtneys are a trio that churns out consistently catchy garage pop tunes. They released their newest album, II, on legendary New Zealand record label Flying Nun Records, home to cult favorite kiwi bands such as The Clean, The Bats, Gordons, and The Beths. While they first formed in Vancouver B.C., the members are now separated by thousands of miles, as two of the three live outside Canada. The good news is that they are now reunited for another North American tour. They recently played at Montreal’s Bar Le Ritz along with Cloud Nothings, and Our Tuesday Morning Crew got a chance to catch up with them about their new material, what it’s like being in a long-distance band, astrological musings, and their love of spas. Listen below for the full interview, or read below that for some highlights.
What’s it like writing new material while all living in different countries?
Sydney: We got to try a new style of writing which has actually been really interesting. We write in sessions now, where we meet up in a city for two or three weeks, and go into a studio every day to write and record. It’s very different from how we would work before (while all living in Vancouver), where we would meet for a few hours each week, and write slowly but consistently. Now we have to produce a whole bunch of ideas in a short period of time, then go and listen to them at home for a few months, and then meet up again to refine them. It has been very different, but I am liking it a lot. It’s really productive, and I like the stuff we’ve written so far.
Where do you usually like to meet up for these writing retreats?
Courtney: At first we weren’t really sure if we would be able to write for an entire day, so initially we just tried a couple days in Vancouver, which actually went really well. We have a couple new songs we are playing that came out of that session.
We felt good about how that first session went, so then we met up for two weeks in L.A., and spent five or six hours a day writing. That went well, but L.A. is also really fun and there are a lot of interesting things going on to distract you from your work.
So for our third session, we met up on Gabriola island in B.C. for two weeks, and that was good because it was the opposite, there were no distractions. It’s also a place we are familiar with because we usually record there with our friend Jordan Koop of the Noise Floor. We got a lot done there, but then some weird things happened too.. [laughs]
Sydney: Everyone fell mysteriously ill! But luckily it was the end of the session so we already wrote a lot of stuff.
Jen: I’m pretty sure it was the beans that we left in the can in the fridge and shouldn’t have eaten.
Sydney: yes don’t do that, food safety.
Jen: Well Courtney did it, but I ate it.
Courtney: I’m not comfortable being blamed for this!
Can you tell us a little bit about your new songs?
Jen: Okay so one song is in general about celebrity fandom, or just feeling really passionate about a person, even if it’s not a celebrity, but of a person you know. But, It’s also about a specific celebrity [Laughs], and it’s on the line of kind of being a joke but also serious.
So we wrote about Keanu Reeves on our first album, and my whole goal for that was that I wanted Keanu to be in the music video! I found his manager, sent the song to him, but it unfortunately didn’t pan out. So for this new song, the dream is that this person will be in the music video!
Sydney: it’s also part of this persons vibe that, being in the music video would be very appropriate and so funny.
Jen: What I’m hoping, and this is why I’m not revealing who it is, is that someone will come to our show and hear the song and know who it’s about, and then they’ll write, «Do The Courtneys have a song about ‘so and so’?» and it will get tweeted to him, and he’ll be like “this is awesome”, and he’ll be in the music video!
This is such a grand plan!
Sydney: it hasn’t happened yet, but we’ve only played the song a couple of times, and this is in the realm of Jen’s world, this is how shit happens.
Jen: and if you know who this celebrity is, this whole thing makes a lot of sense.
So on your newest album, II, you have a song called Virgo. What are your sign charts?
Jen: We are the most different of signs, and apparently, we are 3 of the 4 signs that are most likely to be serial killers!
Courtney: Yeah, we are all mutable signs.
Jen: I’m a double Gemini. My sun and moon are Gemini, and for a long time I thought my rising was Virgo, which I didn’t really relate to. But then I found out my mom got my birth time wrong, and my rising is actually Leo, which makes a lot more sense.
Sydney: I’m a Virgo, but I don’t remember my chart, usually someone has it saved on their phone and can tell me. I think I have Libra in one of them, and then probably more Virgo [Laughs]
Courtney: I’m a double Pisces, my sun and moon. And a Sagittarius rising. Actually my mom, my step sister and step brother are all Pisces too, and the other two are Capricorns, I also have a lot of Capricorns in my life.
I’ve heard that you guys really like going to spas, tell me what’s good!
Sydney: So here’s the thing about tour, you’re with a bunch of people, you don’t get to make any decisions for yourself, ever. And when you go to a spa, and Korean spas in particular (which if you haven’t been to one, you basically pay around twenty-five bucks, and you get to go to all these different saunas and steam rooms), you basically get to do what you want. It’s so nice, you get to make all these micro-decisions about what you want to do, you have ultimate freedom, and it’s such a good mental vacation while you are on tour. So we know a lot of Korean spas in North America. we love King Spa, we go to the one in Chicago and the one in New Jersey.
Jen: I like this one in Atlanta, it’s called Jeju. And in L.A. we love Wi Spa, and Olympic Spa.
Courtney: If there are any spas reading this, and you want to put us on the guest list, please let us know [laughs]
Jen: Especially shout-out to King’s Spa in Chicago, because they follow us on Instagram. We posted a photo while at King’s spa once, and they commented with a flame emoji. Sponsor us King Spa!
Do you have a tentative schedule for a new album?
Sydney: we’re relatively close, I feel really good about how much work we’ve done considering that we all live so far apart, but we also have the feeling that we have more ideas, so we might end up with more songs than we need, and that will make the album even better because we’ll be able to edit it really well. So maybe we’ll finish all the songs and it’ll be out like this summer, but maybe not. We don’t like to rush it, it’s all supposed to be fun, and the motto here is we don’t do it if it isn’t fun.
Courtney: and it’s really fun working on it, I don’t want it to end. But if you come see us during this tour, you can hear the new stuff!
You can listen to The Courtney’s music on any of the major streaming services or buy the album Here
CKUT Arts & Culture Dept.