Formed by twin sisters Mercedes and Phoenix Arn-Horn along with their friend David Blake-Dickson, Courage My Love is a young and energetic band who has decided to self-release its debut EP “For Now” on its own Homeskool Prom Records through a distribution deal with Warner. Not bad for a first release! With a regular rotation of their two music videos on MuchMusic, this down to earth trio is starting off on the right foot. When they were in Montreal for some promo back in November, I had the chance to sit down with the band to discuss their album, their plans and their influences, among other things.
CONFRONT: Can I have a little history about the band to start things off?
MERCEDES: We started about three years ago, and it started with just my sister and I. And it started off with just us playing in our attic to playing a couple of big shows. We’ve played Warped Tour, we played Canadian Music Week, Indie Week and North by North East, stuff like that. Our debut EP just came out on Halloween, which also happens to be our birthday! Our second music video just came out and yeah, that’s pretty much it!
CONFRONT: And how did you get together with David?
MERCEDES: We used to be really into drama and we were all in a play together and at one rehearsal, he showed us some of his acoustic stuff that he used to do. We were really into it and we thought it was really good so we just ended up jamming; we were looking for a bass player at the time so we thought we’d invite him over and jam with him but we didn’t really tell him it was an audition but it was great.
CONFRONT: That’s cool! And you seemed to have a little shame when she mentioned that acoustic stuff!
DAVID: Oh yeah! I was 15, I guess it wasn’t that long ago, but it was my first endeavors into writing music and it was just…
PHOENIX: Every artist has that one song they wish they never wrote!
CONFRONT: Well you have to start somewhere right?
CONFRONT: So, you guys have made your own music label, why did you decide to do that?
PHOENIX: We wanted to do that because we had a lot of labels asking us if we wanted to sign with them but we wanted to make sure that we maintained a lot of control so we could write all our own songs and decide what the image of the band is going to be and all that sort of stuff. So we made our own label, which is doing distribution with Warner Music right now. It’s actually awesome because Warner Music basically helps us out with everything and they’re just really great. Our label right now, is kind of just for Courage My Love but we’re hoping to grow it out in a few years maybe so we can sign other indie bands.
MERCEDES: We’re kind of the guinea pigs.
PHOENIX: Maybe in a few years when we’ll have more experiences and we’ll gain more resources, we can start helping other bands. We’ll see how it goes.
CONFRONT: That’s cool! Now, let’s talk about your debut EP that came out a few weeks ago! How has
the response been?
MERCEDES: It’s been pretty good! We’ve been waiting so long; probably about a year and a half. So we’re just really stoked that it’s finally out and we keep forgetting that all the songs on the EP, they sound old to us but to everyone else who hears them, they’re new. It’s really cool though, it’s kind of rejuvenating because when everyone else hears them, it reminds me of what we were like when we first wrote the songs so it’s been really cool that way.
CONFRONT: And how does it feel to have so much support from MuchMusic?
PHOENIX: It’s awesome!
DAVID: It’s so cool!
PHOENIX: We didn’t really expect it because a lot of the bands on there are signed with major labels and they’re all professional but they just kind of took us under their wing and decided to help us out so that was really great!
MERCEDES: It’s really cool because everyone there is really nice. Our videos have been on MuchMusic for a while doing rotations and stuff and then we just did New Music Live, which was awesome because I used to watch that so it’s pretty sweet that we got to do it.
CONFRONT: That’s one of the big steps for Canadian bands.
MERCEDES: Yeah! It definitely helped with some exposure across Canada.
CONFRONT: How did that come along actually?
MERCEDES: Well you know Mark Spicoluk from Underground Operations? He also works for MuchMusic a lot. When we did our first video a year ago, we sent that in to hopefully get played; we thought it’d be getting played on MuchHeavy or something like that. But we played a video release show in Toronto and he was there and the next day, our video was on heavy rotation on Much. I suspect he had something to do with it.
CONFRONT: He really supports indie bands, right?
CONFRONT: And your first two singles off your EP are Bridges and Barricades, why did you choose those two?
MERCEDES: Those two are two of our older ones so we released them earlier before the EP actually came out. I think they’re really catchy and they’re really popular with crowds when we play them live. They just seemed to be the ones that everyone liked so we decided to make them singles. Everyone has their favorites when they listen to the CD and it’s not necessarily the singles, but when they hear the singles, they know which band it is.
CONFRONT: Yeah they associate it with you. Actually, you guys have been compared to Paramore a lot, how does that feel?
PHOENIX: I think they’re a good band to be compared to. I don’t personally think we sound that much alike but I can understand why.
MERCEDES: They’re a really successful band with a female front.
CONFRONT: Yeah I think that plays a big part in it.
MERCEDES: I think it’s good because I’m a fan of Paramore. While I don’t think we write songs the same way Paramore do, I think it’s a good comparison. When people ask me what we sound like, I say we sound like Paramore but a little more punk, a little heavier.
CONFRONT: How would you describe your sound, without comparing it?
MERCEDES: Probably like a mix of punk, pop, rock, hardcore…I don’t know. Each song is different and it can fit into its own category. I think this EP is really diverse with the songs that we wrote on it.
PHOENIX: I think overall, it’s kind of pop-punk-alternative.
MERCEDES: Yeah! Kind of like Paramore, Four Year Strong, A Day to Remember, all mixed together.
CONFRONT: And are those some of your inspirations?
MERCEDES: Oh yeah! They are.
PHOENIX: They’re really good bands.
CONFRONT: And who did you grow up listening to?
PHOENIX: I think we were all into kind of different stuff. For me, my parents were really into Sex Pistols and stuff like that…
MERCEDES: Bob Marley.
DAVID: My parents were more into folk and stuff but I think the first CD that I bought or that was given to me that I really liked was Billy Talent and Green Day. Then, I went heavier from there.
MERCEDES: Yeah we loved Linkin Park when we were 13 year olds.
PHOENIX: Oh yeah Linkin Park!!
PHOENIX: We were more into the heavier music…like death metal!
CONFRONT: And do you still listen to that now?
PHOENIX: Yeah! It brings about nostalgic memories. Our tastes have changed throughout the years.
DAVID: Your tastes have gotten lighter while mine have gotten heavier. We’re kind of at the same point right now.
CONFRONT: Well that’s good! You’ve got common ground now! And what has been the biggest accomplishment for the band?
MERCEDES: Playing New Music Live was really awesome, playing Warped Tour was the highlight of my summer because it was the perfect year for Warped Tour. Paramore played, A Day To Remember played, The Devil Wears Prada played, all my favorite bands played that year so we were really stoked that we got to play it too. Releasing the CD has also been pretty awesome. And I think doing the distribution deal with Warner has been really great for us. I don’t know, there’s been a lot of highlights this year, I can’t really chose a favorite.
CONFRONT: So I guess this whole year is a big accomplishment?
MERCEDES: Yeah that’s a good way of putting it!
PHOENIX: Coming to Quebec has been really cool too!
CONFRONT: Yeah I saw the you guys were playing outside at Place des Arts yesterday, how was that?
MERCEDES: It was really cool! It was a last-minute thing. We tweeted to a bunch of fans asking if we did an acoustic set, how many people would come out. So they all tweeted back and when we headed there, our van ran out of gas but we got there an hour later and they were still there. We got to play an acoustic set and we got to meet the fans so it was really great.
CONFRONT: Were there a lot of people?
PHOENIX: For just tweeting about it, I’m surprised at how many people came out!
MERCEDES: Yeah because it was just a whim.
CONFRONT: Well that’s the magic of social networks nowadays. Do you think those tools help a lot?
PHOENIX: Oh yeah! There’s no way that a band like us would have fans in South America and places like that if we didn’t have our presence on the internet so I think that’s definitely helped us out and I think it’s a really awesome tool for bands to use.
CONFRONT: Do you use it a lot?
PHOENIX: Yeah! We’re really on top of it, just because it’s an awesome way to stay connected with your fans if you’re not able to go and play shows because that’s obviously the best way. But if you can’t do that in other countries, I think that’s the second best way to stay in contact with them so we try to do that as much as possible.
CONFRONT: Well nowadays, there are just so many bands online, you need to find a way to stand out.
PHOENIX: Yeah, we’re in the communication age right now. In the old days, it was all just singles released on the radio by the same people.
DAVID: It was like [the radio dictating] these are the 5 bands you’re going to listen to. Whereas now, you can listen to any band, anytime you want.
MERCEDES: As soon as you upload anything on the internet, you already have a built-in automatic audience.
DAVID: Yeah. It may be one guy or it may be a million people. You just got to reach out and hope that they like it.
CONFRONT: And do you think it’s also making it harder for bands because there are so many to choose from?
MERCEDES: In a way, it’s harder for your voice to get heard but I think that the pros definitely outweigh the cons because it would be twice as hard to get heard anywhere if you weren’t on the internet already. I think it’s really convenient.
CONFRONT: That’s true. Now, earlier, you mentioned Warped Tour. How was that experience for you?
MERCEDES: It was so awesome!
PHOENIX: It was good to actually play with bands that we all listen to. That was really cool.
MERCEDES: And so many kids come out to Warped Tour every year and it was the perfect day for it. I got my whole tan of the summer from Warped Tour! And we got to meet a lot of our favorite bands and we got to watch them live so it was just a day that was full of all these opportunities. And it was crazy because, going back to the social media thing, a bunch of people from Twitter heard about it and they all came out specifically to watch out band. So that was crazy, considering all the other bands that were there!
CONFRONT: And were you Warped Tour go-ers?
MERCEDES: It was my first year at Warped Tour! I had never gone to Warped Tour before but David went!
DAVID: Yeah my first legit concert was Warped 08 and I didn’t even really know what it was, I was just going to see one band. And I just got there and I was amazed.
CONFRONT: Who did you go see?
DAVID: I was there to see Story Of The Year but now, I look back at the lineup from that year and I listen to so many of those bands now.
MERCEDES: So many good bands! We always buy the compilation CDs because all the bands that get to play Warped Tour end up being really good.
PHOENIX: Yeah! I’m always amazed because normally, it’s a really diverse lineup.
CONFRONT: That’s what’s great about it!
PHOENIX: Yeah, definitely!
CONFRONT: I’m going to ask you my last question, which is to draw something that represents you.
MERCEDES: It’s a girl riding a unicorn and she’s holding a battle axe and the severed head of her ex-boyfriend.
PHOENIX: And we kind of talked about this a while ago. When people first see us, they think we’re going to be some brat, teenage pop band so that’s the sweet looking girl. But when they hear us play, we’re way more edgy so that’s kind of where the battle axe and the blood come from. [If you like the drawing, they have a new t-shirt with a similar design available in their merch store, check it out!]
MERCEDES: And unicorns are just awesome.
CONFRONT: The drawing is pretty awesome! And cool description too! Well, that’s it for me!
If you want to learn more about the band, see what they’re up to or hear some of their tunes, check out these sites :
Official Website : http://www.ilovecouragemylove.com