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In the studio with Spiritbox: “A lot of our new record is about dealing with depression”

Spiritbox
(Image credit: Jason Mageau)

They’ve racked up millions of streams on YouTube with singles Holy Roller and Constance and are considered to be one of metal’s hottest new bands – and they haven’t even released an album yet. But pandemic be damned: Spiritbox made a dash for the border to record debut album Eternal Blue. We check in with singer Courtney LaPlante to find out what we can expect from one of the most hotly-anticipated releases of 2021.

Metal Hammer line break

It seems like you’ve been sitting on the songs for this record for a while…

Courtney LaPlante (vocals): “Yeah, between winter 2019 and spring 2020 we’d done a few writing sessions, ahead of our first tour in February/March. But like everyone else, we had to put our plans on hold. We eventually realised the only way we could record this with our team was for us to come to them.” 

Where are you recording?

“It is called… the dining room of our producer’s house in Joshua Tree! Ha ha! Our producer Dan [Braunstein] lives in LA and decided to take everything from the studio and load it into his little electric car – that we were sure wasn’t going to make it to Joshua Tree – and we set everything up in the dining room.”

Recording out in the desert must work well for the atmosphere of your songs?

“It’s so cool – we’re on this big 20-acre ranch with a mountain as the backyard! We all live in condos in the city, so coming here, it was so silent that it creeped me out. I figured I’d be like, ‘Ooh I’m at one with nature’, but it was scary – at night it was so dark that the moon would illuminate the mountain and all you could see were rocks, like the start of a scary movie. But it’s also beautiful.”

How did the recording process compare to your experiences with your former band iwrestledabearonce?

“In iwrestledabearonce everybody wrote and recorded their own thing and it was very compartmentalised. For this, we recorded simultaneously so all these little puzzle pieces would be put together at the end. This method really worked for me; it was a lot less anxiety- inducing because I realised I was around people who I was comfortable with. We also built the songs together, which made me realise there’s no scary person with a big red button so when they don’t like something… BZZZT!”

How did the success of Holy Roller affect your approach to the record?

“That song was never supposed to be a single! We were pissed off we couldn’t record the album and it was the only song we were happy with that had been developed on demos. It was just fun: we wanted to put out a banger, an aggressive song. I’m not sure we’ll ever do a song like that again, but we wanted to tell people, ‘We’ll do whatever we want and if you don’t like that, listen to something else.’”

Spiritbox

(Image credit: Jason Mageau)

What themes and ideas have inspired this new record?

“When I’m writing, it takes me a while to self-analyse. A couple months later, I’ll realise what the songs are about. A lot of this record is about dealing with my depression, communicating with people and not wanting any confrontation, so the songs are a way of me having those confrontations.”

What is the biggest change in the songs over this past year?

“I had a polyp on my vocal cords for eight years, but this year I had a check- up and it’s gone. I’ve only ever recorded stuff with this injury and it’s something I’d gotten used to - to losing bits of tone and range. But all the excuses I put on myself for why I couldn’t do this or that aren’t true anymore. It’s liberating.”

What would you say is the biggest theme running through the record?

“The unifying theme is fluidity. I want a record that somebody will listen to all the way through and enjoy as a body of work, rather than just a few singles. The only people we’ve shown so far are my parents and of course they’re like, ‘This is the best! You’re going to win all the Grammys!’ But the real test is going to be when everyone else hears it. It’s time to rip the band-aid off!”