Corsair, who hail from Charlottesville, VA, are a band that you will probably be hearing a lot about in the coming years. The group recently signed with Shadow Kingdom Records and had their self-titled debut unleashed upon the masses in January. The band’s laid back blend of Thin Lizzy, Maiden, and Sabbath is infectious and refreshing, appealing to both old-school and new metalheads alike. After hearing the record I had to find out more about the band, and they graciously agreed to answer my questions.
Thanks for taking the time to talk to me! Can you give the obligatory background information on the band to start?
Jordan: It all started in a basement of a house on East Market St. in Charlottesville, VA. After meeting each other as members of a 12 piece Black Sabbath tribute band called Mass Sabbath, Paul Sebring and Marie Landragin thought it would be fun to cut heads and test each other’s might on the guitar. They stretched the necks of their axes to squeal higher and higher, flooding the airwaves with enough noodles to feed all of little Italy. One day, their notes collided in glorious harmony, bonding them forever like a blood brother’s pact, and Corsair began its mission to write awesome riffs. You’d be hard pressed to find a song that does not find the two locked together in harmony or parting to spread their own wings like an eagle soaring above with a flying V, killing a solo.
But, something was missing. The wind in the sails, so to speak. Guitar work is great and all, but headbanging needs something repetitive and heavy to bang into, preferably not the wall. Enter Leigh Anne Leary, Corsair’s first drummer! I was soon to follow on bass and we had a band that eventually wrote enough material to play a real live gig in a warehouse space called “Dust.” We recorded our first EP together, Alpha Centauri with Lance Brenner, and after a couple reviews online, we felt pretty official. Since then, Aaron Lipscombe joined the band as the new drummer and we recorded and released Ghosts of Proxima Centauri and, most recently, Corsair, our debut album.
Congrats on your self-titled album! I personally loved it and from what I have seen the overall response has been positive. Were you expecting such a positive response to the album?
Jordan: Of course we were! What’s not to like? You’ve got guitar solos, some tasty twists and turns to keep you guessing, and some straightforward hard rock in case you’re in the mood. But, to answer in a more serious tone, we are humbled by the response and very much appreciate and follow what people are writing online. There are a couple of reviews that don’t shine so brightly and a couple that think we’re the best thing since sliced bread, but overwhelmingly the reviews have been very encouraging. I respect the amount of activity and discussion about everything that is metal online in the form of reviews, comments and forums. The writers and fans out there online are passionate and honest, not wavering between what everyone thinks is the next cool thing, but have well formed opinions with deep knowledge of the genre.
Marie: We set making this album as a personal goal (for all of us) and it sort of took on it’s own life as we finished it up. I knew we had something pretty solid when we were done but I didn’t think so many people would really, and I mean really, dig it. We’ve all had big grins on our faces for a couple months now and it is giving us good positive energy for when we go into the studio for the new album we are working on.
You are obviously inspired by bands such as Thin Lizzy in particular. I am also aware that at least a couple of you are members of a Black Sabbath tribute band. Do you have any concerns about being labeled as simply a tribute band?
Paul: I think there’s not really a danger there. People hear the guitar harmonies and say “Ohh, Thin Lizzy” but I think there’s a lot of other stuff people might dig in the record. We all love Thin Lizzy of course but there’s so much more within our sound (I think).
Jordan: I’m not worried either because we’re writing our own tunes that all have their own flavor while propagating a musical lineage. You did, however, remove the shroud of mystery surrounding our latest single “The Kids Return to Town.” It’s difficult to sound completely original these days.
How did the deal with Shadow Kingdom Records come about? Are they going to be re-releasing Alpha Centauri or just your S/T and Ghosts of Proxima Centauri? Also will these be limited edition re-releases?
Jordan: Word came around to Tim last summer, perhaps through a few online reviews, and he ordered a few of each cds to add to his amazing collection. Soon thereafter, he emailed us, proposing that we talk over the phone the details of a record deal. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag about things to come, but he did originally buy a few of each release we had so far, like I said above.
How did each of you get involved in playing metal/hard rock?
Paul: I was 14 and my Dad took me to an antique store and there was a box full of old tapes. I picked out a faded white cassette that said Metallica on it. The only Metallica song i knew was “Fuel” because it was on the radio so i thought “Yay Metallica!”. Little did I know that this was “Ride the Lightning.” When I heard “Call of Ktulu” I thought it was simply grand. All manner of evil imagination began running through my brain and the sounds suggested so much to me, I had to be able to make those sounds! I asked my Dad if I could play the guitar. He said “Really? You’re not gonna listen to that Rap anymore?”. He gave me a Stratocaster copy and a 15 watt Gorilla practice amp and showed me how to play a power chord.
Marie: For me it was 9th grade, high school, signed up for a Classical Guitar class. I got really into it, had a knack I guess, and would watch the other, older guys shredding solos on their guitars and jamming bar chords. One of the guys, Charlie Sheads, he showed me the positioning for a bar chord and I flipped! Shortly after, I wanted to learn all the heavy hits I had been rocking out on tape, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Megadeth, Soundgarden, L7, Babes in Toyland… list goes on and on. That’s when I realized this electric guitar world going to be tricky and I needed to slow down. I started with Black Sabbath, first album, and worked my way at a tortoise’s pace as I found the material kinda hard and solo-ing impossible. It’s been a long journey but I’ve loved learning the whole way.
Check out the album ‘Corsair’
Can you tell us a bit about the side projects that each of you are involved in?
Jordan: Borrowed Beams of Light is the work of Adam Brock, a long time friend and collaborator of mine. I learned to play bass with Adam on drums and we spent five years in a band together called The Nice Jenkins. As the band drifted apart, he teamed up with The Invisible Hand, and I with Corsair. All the while, Adam writes psychedelic lyrics atop high energy garage rock with the occasional ballad and experimental excursion thrown in the mix. Marie and I appear on Borrowed Beams’ first LP Stellar Hoax(which I mixed) and the following EP Hot Springs.
Marie: I play a lot of solos on the two most recent albums. I loove this band, it’s totally different than Corsair but hits hard in a late 60’s psych-rock kinda way.
Jordan: Manscout began in the studio while recording the S/T. It started snowing with no plans of stopping just as we finished an afternoon of tracking, so we did the next logical thing and bought some beer and started to rap about having a snow day. Nate Bolling, who engineered the drums for the album, produced the beat while the rest of us wrote a verse to spit at the mic. Aaron left at the first sight of snow because he lived in the country and his car has an aversion to hills and snow. Also featured on that song is Graham Partridge (Grahampage) and Alex Bolling, who sings the hook. It goes deeper than this for Paul, who continued to rhyme with the moniker “Money Up Now” with “Grahampage” on a few more songs.
Are there any plans to do any touring outside of your hometown or is that not going to happen?
Jordan: Currently, we’re working on new material to record late spring and plan to hit the road in the early summer to support the S/T with the new songs hopefully mixed together. It’ll be shows on the East coast.
There has been a lot of talk lately from bands such as Def Leppard, Machine Head and others about the death of the album and that “people only want to buy singles”. Do you feel this is true for metal or not?
Paul: I feel this is the opposite nowadays. In Metal, if people like something you do it seems they would want more of it. My favorite music is album oriented because I love holding the record in my hand and knowing there’s gonna be some bangers on there. A single should be the gateway to the real stuff that’s in the album’s guts.
Jordan: It kinda depends on who you’re talking about because if it’s teenagers, or “kids these days” then, yes I do believe that the majority of listeners want to hear the latest single, jumping around the world of pop music. But the fans of metal music are made of different stuff and seek out obscure bands from nordic countries that have concept albums about Valhalla or something dark and mysterious. Metal will always exist and defy the trends as it has in the shadows, patiently and methodically growing and evolving. Will metal ever rise to the center of pop again? Perhaps there’s a band out there with enough guts to stomach it. Currently, the powers that shape pop are content to produce gold without having to engineer a full band, and have it pump at the club with synths blaring.
What are your plans for future material?
Jordan: We’re shaping up some riffs as building blocks for songs, piecing together a shadowy monument atop a distant mountain either underwater or in space. We’re still working out the details.
What are top 5 albums of all time?
1. Metallica – Ride the Lightning
2. Mars Volta – Deloused in the Comatorium
3. Mastodon – Blood Mountain
4. Between the Buried and Me – Alaska
5. Shai Hulud – Hearts Once Nourished with Hope and Compassion
1. Miles Davis – In A Silent Way
2. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
3. Led Zeppelin – Houses of the Holy
4. The Beatles – Abbey Road
5. Radiohead – Ok Computer
This is a really hard question to answer!! There are sooo many amazing albums out there that have heavily influenced me, so here’s my best, for today, going back to my roots.
1. Rush – Rush
2. Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
3. Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden
4. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
5. Metallica – …And Justice For All
1. Tool – Lateralus
2. QOTSA – Songs For the Deaf
3. Primus – Pork Soda
4. Led Zeppelin – II
5. RHCP – Blood sugar sex magic
Thanks a lot for talking to me, anything else you would like to say?
Jordan: Thanks for your investigative moxie, Curtis. If anyone out there wants to see some videos of the band live, check out our website at www.skykrakken.com!
Marie: Yes, thanks again Curtis, we really appreciate your interest and your support for Corsair, now, off to band practice!
Check out the song “Orca”