Check out the song: “The One”

Guitarist Philip Edsel of the Texas based alternative rock band Courrier spoke to me recently about their debut full-length release, A Violent Flame. Standing out in an overcrowded genre is a tall order, especially on a debut record, but that is exactly what Courrier are poised to do. Their incredibly inspired, honest brand of music is loaded with powerful vocals and great melodies with introspective lyrics based on personal experience that resonate long after the songs are over. Courrier is a band to watch for; I feel they are destined for big things. Here’s what Edsel had to say.

Different groups have unique ways of writing their songs. How do you guys go about writing your music? Is it a collective effort or is it more the efforts of one particular member of the band?
Philip: It has really changed a lot since our last record. The initial part begins the same way. One of us has an idea, a melody, or a hook. But instead of working it out on our own, trying to finish the song alone, we usually bring that hook to the rest of the band and write the song together. Our bassist Taylor has a studio, so we usually demo everything from the ground up. You find out pretty quickly what works and what doesn’t by listening to a demo a couple times.

Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the other bands and artists that have greatly influenced you guys and your music?
Philip: As cliché as this might sound, we can’t answer this question without talking about Coldplay. A lot of bands admire them for different reasons, but we think their ingenuity, their songwriting, their willingness to redefine themselves, and their humility, makes them the best band on the planet. But we also draw a lot of inspiration from Springsteen, Radiohead, U2, etc.

If you could jam with any famous musician, dead or alive, from any century, who would it be and why?
Philip: I don’t think we’d feel worthy to jam with any of our heroes!

The name of the band is interesting to say the least and sounds as if there is a story behind it. Where did the name come from and what is the story?
Philip: Coming up with a band name is an awful experience (and more times than not, has awful results), but Courrier we landed on and it just seemed to fit perfectly. We appreciated the French spelling for its uniqueness and for its vintage aesthetic which we go for (although I’m sure in France people just think we’re called Mailman). But there is also significance to the meaning, The message-carrier. We do our best to write songs about the important things in life: love, loss, struggle, responsibility, faith, etc., so in a sense that’s our message.

Now that you have had a little bit to sit back and take it all in are you still satisfied with A Violent Flame, or are there things you would like to go back and change?
Philip: We don’t ever talk about what we’d do differently. A record is a snapshot of who we were at the time, what we were feeling, and what kind of songwriters and musicians we were like. So to go back and try to nitpick things would be to ruin that snapshot. We focus more on what we would like to do differently for the next record, and what new directions we are heading in a lot though.

Are there any tracks on A Violent Flame that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
Philip: They all have some personal significance, and we like them all, but really our favorites just become the ones people connect with the most, and the songs that are the most fun to play live, like “Paper Ghost”.

Do you plan on touring in support of the record?
Philip: We have actually done a bit of touring (just finished a national tour with Parachute and Kate Voegele last fall), but we’re always looking to get out on the road and play for more people. We’ll be touring again in the spring or summer for sure.

What artists would fans be surprised to find on your iPod?
Philip: Good question. We listen to all sorts of stuff. Taylor is a NIN freak, I’m all over anything Kanye does, Austin is really into 80’s music right now, and Nathan only listens to jazz (not really).

Check out the song: “Between”

Tell me about a book or two that you’ve read that you think other people should read?
Philip: “For Whom The Bell Tolls!” Taylor and I read this recently, and it may be our favorite book of all time. I love Hemingway. I actually wrote a song based on the book called “Black Milk”, but who knows if it will ever see the light of day.

If you had not become a musician what other career path would you have liked to attempt?
Philip: There are other careers paths?

What three words best describe your band?
Philip: Determined, dedicated and lovely.

If you were a superhero, who would it be and why?
Philip: Phil Collins for his amazing tom fills.

What is next for you guys?
Philip: We’re really excited about the new songs we’re writing. They’re definitely a step forward musically, and I think our fans are going to be pleasantly surprised. We’ll be recording a new single this month, as well as filming two new music videos. One for “Paper Ghost”, and one for the new single. We’ve also got a showcase in LA at the end of February that we’re pretty thrilled about. Then more writing and touring. Onward and upward!