Kitchener, CANADA trio Courage My Love, prominently featuring twin sisters Mercedes and Phoenix Arn-Horn, along with bassist Brandon Lockwood, have a new EP currently available. Titled Becoming, on Homeskool Prom/Warner Records, the 3-piece has garnered lots of attention during their brief career, including a spot on AP’s “100 Bands You Need To Know” (which trumps many of my old bands’ highest accolades as a member of “1,000,000 Bands You’ve Never Heard Of.”)
I caught up with Mercedes, Phoenix, and Brandon (on top of their van) prior to their performance at the CIMA Canadian Blast showcase at Arlene’s Grocery during CMJ 2013 to talk about Becoming, their upcoming Canadian and U.S. tour, and their positive punk message of rocking out, being happy, and staying true.
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five and welcome to NY! What’s going on?
M- Hey! We’re so stoked to be here!
G- Very good, and it’s good to have you guys! How long was the trip down?
M- Maybe 9 hours-ish. Maybe more than that. I don’t know.
P- We were sleeping most of the time. (laughs)
G- You slept for a lot of it?
P- Yeah. I don’t think we really remember.
G- Right on, and how does it feel to be in the Big Apple during CMJ?
M- So awesome! It’s our first time playing here in NY and it’s our first time playing in the United States ever, so we’re really pumped to be here and can’t wait to see how it goes!
G- Excellent! Well, you have some time to mill around before your show, so get some pizza and hang.
M- For sure!
G- Speaking of which, have you guys had any NYC pizza since you’ve been here?
B- We had some as soon as we got here, actually.
G- Where’d you go and how was it?
B- Rosario’s right over there
G- Rosario’s Pizza right on Orchard and Stanton, and what did you think?
M- I thought it was great.
P- It was pretty good.
M- You can’t really have bad pizza, but you can have really good pizza, and I thought it was really good.
G- Well, I was in Toronto last week for NIN and I had Pizza Pizza, and lemme tell you… You CAN have bad pizza (laughing.)
M- I guess Pizza Pizza is kinda not that good.
G- Well, at 3am when you’re hungry, you’ll eat anything.
So let’s talk about the band and not just pizza. How long has Courage My Love been around and when did you first get started? Do you remember the moment that you really felt the group “clicking?”
M- Well, it started around 2010-ish with Phoenix and me. We were always the main writers in the band and were just kinda jamming and writing songs. And then we started playing shows and getting some attention around the local area, and that’s how we got our manager and our producer. Things just kinda escalated from there. We got signed and started touring and stuff, which is sweet! Lockwood just joined the band last year, so we’re really stoked to have him in the band…
G- Right on.
M- And we’re just kicking ass and taking names right now.
G- That’s what we like to hear! And you are currently touring in support of your new EP, Becoming. How has the reception been to the new songs, and have you noticed any fan favorites off of the record?
M- Yeah. It’s been going really well because we’ve been touring with it. Personally, I love the new songs so much, especially playing them live. I really like playing them live.
Fan favorites? It’s hard to say. We get a good reaction off of our first single called “You Don’t Know How,” but we’re also getting good reactions to “Skin and Bone.”
B- The whole EP has been getting great attention.
B- We haven’t had a complaint.
M- Yeah, nothing bad has happened yet.
G- That’s good! Now if you could, can you tell us about the what’s and if’s of the EP? Where did you record it, who was the producer, and how long did the release take to get turned out?
M- It’s a really interesting story. We recorded it in Toronto with our producer, Chris Perry, at Pocket Studios. That’s where we’ve recorded everything… Our first EP and our second one, and probably our next one and everything else after that. It’s a great studio and he’s a great producer.
The album took maybe a year and a half to make, so it was a long time. It was delayed a lot because of our tour schedule, so we would be writing songs during the summer and playing lots of shows and trying to write as much as possible on the road, and the recording schedule got really delayed because we recorded half of it and then went on this long tour and had to record the other half while we were still writing and stuff. So, it did take a while, but it was totally worth it. It paid off in the end and I’m really proud of it. It’s probably my favorite thing we’ve ever done.
G- And you guys are going to have a busy couple of months coming up. This is your first time here in the states, but you’re coming right back along with your Canadian tour. And headlining, right?
M- That’s right!
G- How long is the run and when will you guys get back home from the tour?
M- It’s a little over a month. The first half is Canada, mostly Ontario and Quebec provinces, as well as a few East coast shows, which will be sweet. And then we tour the states, and it’s mostly northern states. All the dates are up on our website, so if you wanna check it out…
P – It starts in the middle of November and ends December 20th.
M- Right before Christmas.
P- So, it should be good.
G- Nice! So, I have to ask this of all my Canadian interviews. Clearly, I like to eat, and I’m looking for the best poutine in Canada, so in your opinion, where should I go to get some fries, cheese curds, and gravy?
M- In Kitchener or in Canada?
G- Your favorite place.
M- Easy… La Belle Provence in Montreal. It’s got the best poutine ever, and it’s right across from this awesome bar. So, after you’re done at the bar, it’s open all night and you can walk over to La Belle Provence, or Bel-Pro as we like to call it, and get some real, authentic Montreal poutine.
G- And there are 2 more of you, so I have to get everybody’s opinion here, but I’ll try that. How about you, Brandon?
B- I’d say that’s probably the best poutine I’ve had as well.
G- Ok, and are we gonna get a hat-trick? Is it a unanimous decision?
P- I’m gonna go with a different answer. Bel-Pro is good, but just for some variety, I’m gonna say Smoke’s Poutinery. It’s really, really good. You can get Nacho Poutine and that’s the best thing ever. I think it’s in Toronto.
G- I’m with that!
And to delve a little, I’d like to know if you have, individually or collectively, a favorite song you have ever written or to perform, or if you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard Courage My Love before…
M & P – Oooohhhh.
G- …To try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
M- There are different answers.
B- Honestly, take the time to listen to all of them, because they’re wonderful!
M- Yeah. They’re all telling a story, and they’re all different. Especially on Becoming. But if I were to show someone for the first time ever, maybe “Cold Blooded” or “We’re Not In Kansas Anymore” because of the variation in the songs.
But like Brandon said, they’re all really good and they’re all different, so you should just check out the whole thing.
B- Trust me.
G- Always trust the bass player… He lays it down.
Now let’s speculate for a few. You guys are building and still very young and ambitious. You have a new EP out and it looks like you’re going to be doing so more recording in the near future, but in terms of performance… Do you guys have a feasible 3-band dream lineup you’d like to be a part of, or who would you like to go on tour with in the future?
B- Nice! I know mine.
G- Ok, Brandon first.
B- I’d say Chiodos, Everytime I Die, and Die Mannequin.
G- Stellar lineup! How about you, Mercedes?
M- I am a pretty big fan of Chiodos, so that’d be sweet! Brand New would be awesome, and I really don’t know for the third one because we just want to tour with everybody and don’t really care who it is as long as they like having fun and putting on a good show.
G- And how about you, Phoenix?
P- Jimmy Eat World, Brand New, and Chiodos. Let’s do it!
G- We have a unanimous decision for Chiodos, so hey guys… Help ‘em out!
So to finish up, you guys are a very young band on the road, and very ambitious. A lot of kids are going to look up to you, and probably do already, for inspiration, so for those kids out there who want to be in a band, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
B- Keep giving here. Never stop, because if you give it your all, it’ll happen.
M- Mine is really similar. Just don’t give up because a lot of the time, I feel like young bands just give up when the odds are against them. Keep working hard and pushing for it, and you’ll get to where you want to be. Just stay positive and work as hard as you can. Be the best you can be, and eventually someone is gonna notice.
And also, write for yourself and be really honest with your music. Don’t worry about if anyone is gonna like it or not. If you like it, then other people will like it and you’ll make yourself happy.
G- Awesome! And you, Phoenix?
P- I’d say the same as all of them. Just do you. Don’t try to be a trend. Try to be a trendsetter. Trends die, but if you’re a trendsetter, people will love you for ages. So, just do the music you want to do, be yourself, and it’ll work out in the end.
G- Excellent. All great answers.
And I guess that’s about it! I just want to say again thank you for taking the time to speak with Live High Five today…
M- Thank you!
G- It’s my pleasure! The new Courage My Love EP, Becoming, is out now, so go check it out. Play really well, travel very safely, and we look forward to another go-round in the future.
M- Thank you very much!