The latest edition of The Downbeat welcomes one of heavy music’s most celebrated vocalists in Spiritbox’s Courtney LaPlante. Riding high on the recent announcement of the band’s universally-anticipated debut Eternal Blue set for a September 17th release, the Canadian metalcore machine has quickly become one of the genre’s most championed collectives.
The casual, albeit comprehensive conversation began naturally where most Downbeat conversation eventually end up… the drums. Given that host Craig Reynolds is the veteran drummer for Stray Form The Path, LaPlante confided that Spiritbox programs the percussion and eventually brings in their drummer, Hev Rose, to give the track. Human touch.
LaPlante also revealed a bit more about the recording process for Eternal Blue in that the band rented a house to track everything together - a much different process then the previous singles which were all worked on remotely. Working alongside one another for album was a priority given the significance of the debut.
LaPlante got pretty candid about her tenure as the singer in iwrestledabearonce. Confiding that the experience was less than enthralling, she talked about instances where there were no original members onstage. She shared that playing songs that weren’t hers and serving as the band’s replacement vocalist made for a three year stretch that wasn’t as fulfilling as she had hoped it might be. Though she did share the value of the learning experience, for LaPlante, that time served well in preparing her mentally for what would eventually come Spiritbox.
While the pandemic presented a strange reality for most bands, LaPlante explained that not touring and not having to stress about the rigors that come with that aspect of the business is something that has allowed them to concentrate solely on making music and videos. She confessed that the small bit of touring Spiritbox did was something that was out of their comfort zone. Mentally, the band is gearing up to hit the road again but it’s something that is still somewhat new for Spiritbox.
LaPlante and Reynolds touched on how the pandemic, combined with their previous experience in working bands has made them wiser about the decisions they will be making moving forward. Reynolds explained that for many musicians, the idea of touring for the sake of exposure or strategy will likely be easier to say no to now. Previously afraid of missing out on a good opportunity, bands have now seen what life without touring is and some, have been able to adjust to that reality.
The frontwoman also divulged how her Southern background and growing up in the church resulted in her fascination with Christian imagery. While the band gets misconstrued as being a Christian band, LaPlante says she understands the correlation, but it’s mostly a fascination with religious imagery rather than any idealogical pulpit.
The musicians began discussing the philosophical principle of Sunken Time Fallacy and the notion that having the freedom to walk away from something that isn’t fulfilling is liberating. LaPlante went onto connect that concept with the idea of working with the wrong producer or wrong band members - just because lots of time and energy has been invested doesn’t mean that you are obligated to play songs that you aren’t completely happy with.
The two struck a chord over their mutual love and respect for Bjork. Reynolds shared a story in which he saw her perform a brand new album entirely much to the surprise of everyone in the room. Both Reynolds and LaPlante talked about having that kind of artistic bravery and how admirable it is.
The discussion then moved towards a very frank dissection of the metalcore genre. Critiquing the kind of tired troupes of the style and the often-overly used style points, both Reynolds and LaPlante talked about being tired of the same things and, as is the case with Spiritbox, the emphasis to try and take the genre in a different creative direction. Attributing that culture of rehashing the same sound to stay stuck in a creative comfort zone, LaPlante shares that she understands why artists grow complacent but has reached a point in her career where she is looking to make something the moves the culture forward from just a palatable music with the occasional scream.
In discussing Spiritbox's upcoming Reading and Leeds appearance, LaPlante confided being nervous for such a big return to the festival circuit. In fact, she shared that this would be her first festival performance in several years and with it, have come a few dream scenarios. Of those scenarios, the first involves meeting, hanging and eventually working for the day's headliner Post Malone. The second scenario involves having Sam Carter from Architects come out to perform their joint track together in "Yellowjacket".
The exchange again moved towards a very frank dissection of metalcore . Critiquing the kind of tired troupes of the style and the often-overly used style points, both Reynolds and LaPlante talked about being tired of the same things and, as is the case with Spiritbox, the emphasis to try and take the genre in a different creative direction. Attributing that culture of rehashing the same sound to stay stuck in a creative comfort zone, LaPlante shares that she understands why artists grow complacent but has reached a point in her career where she is looking to make something the moves the culture forward from just a palatable music with the occasional scream.
Getting back to the album, LaPlante discussed that while the band never intended for this to take so long, she feels confident about how it will be received. Comparing the comment threads online to a focus group, she says that in reading the good and the bad, that the criticism not referencing the mix of the album is a good sign. Operating with a kind of super confidence currently, LaPlante is stoked to finally share what began literally year ago with such a receptive fan base.
The conversation also touched on Courtney’s own podcast in ‘Good For A Girl’. Sharing that she loves the conversation aspect of the platform, LaPlante shared that being able to speak to such a broad spectrum of people offers a unique learning experience on everything from marketing, touring, and even more weighty topics like sexism and misogyny from an industry perspective.
That segued into a question that LaPlante is often asked in a way that is vaguely sexist with the “So how did you get into this kind of music?” Though she has no issue in discussing her musical evolution, LaPlante pointed out that her male counterparts aren’t usually asked that question. At least it isn’t a focused talking point.
Despite that fact, LaPlante detailed how her taste evolved with enthusiasm. Citing how bands like Protest the Hero and Enter Shikari eventually led to tech-heavy bands like TesseracT and Animals As Leaders, the vocalist showcased her diversity in referencing how Beyonce is her favorite vocalist and Meshuggah is her standard bearer of all things heavy. LaPlante’s eclectic taste serves well in explaining how Spiritbox approaches their craft with such a refined musical palate.
Stream the complete episode of The Downbeat featuring Courtney LaPlante of Spiritbox below.