The Courtneys Pray to Bono Regularly, Will Gladly Kick Your Ass at Softball
Sometimes, we prefer to get to know a band via seemingly random, probing numerical associations. Today we Count Off with Courtney Loove, guitarist / vocalist of Vancouver jangle-rockers the Courtneys. Their excellent new album, The Courtneys II, is out now via storied New Zealand label Flying Nun.
1: Describe your band in one sentence or phrase.
Artisanal grunge from Canada.
2: What do your parents think about your music?
They all think it's cool. I definitely don't ask for their input. My parents are hippies; they're from an island. My dad always played music, so they think that art is the only way, pretty much.
3: Musically speaking, who’s your holy trinity?
I consume an insane amount of music, so it's impossible to pick three, but I'm going to pick three anyway: David Bowie, the Chameleons and Lush. I like really big guitars.
4: What are four things you can’t do without on tour?
I have to have a really tiny soccer ball with me — I always bring it. It would be a really big problem if I didn't have it. The second thing would be the pump that goes with the soccer ball, because if it goes flat and you don't have the pump, it's pointless. Three: earplugs, if you want to get any sleep. Last, you've gotta have a working stereo in your car, preferably not just a CD player — ideally, a cassette deck. It's essential. If your music in the tour van sucks, the whole tour sucks.
7: If you won the lottery and could buy any instrument, gear, record or other music-related object you wanted, what would you pick and why?
I've always really, really wanted to do the Iron Maiden thing and have our own plane: a Courtneys plane. If the plane is out of our budget, we're fine with a boat. We've always been a water-themed, island-based band, so we've always wanted to have a boat, although a plane would be more useful for touring. I'm not really into fancy guitars or fancy stuff, because then I just worry that it's going to get stolen or lost. It would be nice to have a '67 Strat, but I'd rather get a plane and flying lessons. I've always wanted to do that.
9: If you were a professional athlete, what would your entrance music be?
[Laughs] Oh, man. We actually have a softball team — the Courtneys softball team — and we have walk-up songs when we go up to bat. "Deadbeat Club" by the B-52's, I really like that one — it's a good slacker kind of song, so it's kind of funny. You need a walk-up song that psyches you up, but also intimidates others. I also had Darude's "Sandstorm" for a while. Jen [Twynn Payne], our drummer, used [Jennifer Lopez's] "Jenny From the Block."
10: Where do you see your band 10 years from now?
I hope that we're not too far from where we are currently. I hope we're still hanging out and having fun and that nothing dark happens to anyone. [Laughs]
12: What’s been the biggest challenge in your career as a band so far?
So far, nothing, really. I feel like we're kind of limited by ... we all live in expensive cities, so it's annoying having to balance work with being able to play music, since we all have day jobs. At the same time, music is a really big part of our lives, so we're trying to figure out how to make it work in that way. That's the biggest struggle so far, but it's not so bad. Nobody's a heroin addict.
13: Do you follow any superstitions when you're on the road?
We are a really superstitious band, for sure. First of all, we always listen to this radio show, Coast to Coast AM. It's all about the supernatural — ghosts and aliens and stuff — and it's only on the radio in the middle of the night. If we're ever driving during that time, we always listen to that. I have one guitar that's haunted. We call it the haunted guitar, and it just does really weird shit sometimes, and there's no way to fix it. I've taken it to a bunch of really good techs who've taken everything out, re-soldered it, put it back together — and it still does really weird stuff onstage sometimes.
We have some other superstitions. We always pray to Bono before we go onstage; we get in a little triangle, put our hands in the middle, and then there's this series of events that takes place in this prayer. [Laughs] I'm not going to elaborate, since it's our secret, but yeah — we're really superstitious.
16: What was your favorite album when you were 16?
I would probably say Loveless by My Bloody Valentine. I was listening to so much music at that time, though. I would also say First and Last and Always by Sisters of Mercy, or the Dandy Warhols' self-titled. But let's go with Loveless.
51: Suppose an alien touches down on Earth, walks up to your band and points a ray gun at your heads. The extraterrestrial will spare your feeble Earthling lives, provided you play him / her / it a good song. What's your selection?
[Laughs] So, the alien is, like, really, really intimidating, and we want him to know we come in peace. I've been listening a lot to Gheorghe Zamfir, and there’s a really funny cover he does of Elton John’s “Your Song”; It’s on a tape called Romance with Zamfir. I feel like it’s the most heartwarming thing ever, and it doesn’t have any lyrics, so it wouldn’t require the alien to understand what’s being said. Musically, it’s so charming and silly.