Slanted Press had a chat with Mercedes Arn-Horn, Phoenix Arn-Horn, and Brandon Lockwood of Courage My Love.
Courage My Love returned to Birmingham in late November as a support act for As It Is. Despite the grim weather, the band seemed geared up for the interview. To start off, I ask the band if they've been enjoying their tour. “It’s been going really good!” Mercedes, lead vocalist and drummer, tells me, “It was only a 2-week run, so you know those 2-weeks go by really quickly, especially when they’re really fun big shows, and As It Is, Trash Boat, and Holding Absence have been a delight to tour with.”
While on tour, Courage My Love released a brand-new single, ‘Remission’, to great acclaim. I asked the band about the inspiration and direction behind the track. “That song really does mean a lot to us. We tend to write a lot about heartache, we write a lot of sad songs,” Mercedes says. “This song is along that vein but it’s more about the aftermath of something like that happening. It’s about growing and trying to heal from it and that’s why it’s called ‘Remission’. We’re equating it to this person that was like this disease bringing you down – you’re trying to go into remission from this person. Find your inner strength afterwards and strength to move on.”
The single had me wondering whether a new full-length was in the works. “We’re basically writing, writing, writing and trying to put as many songs out as we can” Mercedes tells me. Phoenix also adds to this, “We’ll write a bunch of stuff that we’re really stoked on and then we end up sitting on it for so long because we have to get everything together to make a full album.” Nothing concrete yet, but they’ve taken the new approach of releasing singles first and working as they go along.
Many of Courage My Love’s previous works have been metaphor-heavy or conceptual. I ask if they’re planning to tackle their new music this way too. Mercedes explains: “What I love about this process (their new style of writing) is that the songs are going to evolve as we evolve, since we’re writing them and releasing them as we go. It’ll feel a lot more current to where we are in our lives and I guess if you’re looking for a concept it might be that growing throughout.” Phoenix elaborates on her sister’s point, “It’s funny because sometimes we don’t try to write concepts, but then they end up becoming that after a while because all the songs are written around the same time. It sort of just happens after the fact.”
We just don’t want to be the kind of band that writes the same album twice.
With the band releasing new music, I wanted to know if they felt like their direction in music had organically changed. “Definitely!” Mercedes agrees, “between Becoming and Synesthesia it was probably a very big leap for a lot of our fans because we hadn’t put music out for a while. I think it was a natural evolution, but we did make a conscious decision to evolve and not stay in the same genre and not re-write something we’d already put out.” Phoenix also agreed, “a lot of people want that nostalgia, they want that same thing over and over again, but we’re definitely not like that,” she tells me, “we’d get bored if we just kept trying to re-write the same vibes as when we were 17. I’m glad that, hopefully, the fans that stick with us are the ones that grow with us and are more open minded and experience new things along with us.” For the first time in the interview, Brandon also agreed with his bandmates – “the influence has changed. Life just changes.” He might not say much, but it was aptly timed.
When Courage My Love were last in Birmingham, they were playing small venues like The Flapper, but now they’ve upgraded. I ask if they feel optimistic about the future. “We’re obviously feeling good, playing these O2 venues and we are opening so it’s not like we’re bringing the whole crowd, but it’s just great to reach that point. These are the biggest shows we’ve played in the UK, yet,” she says, emphasising the yet. “We’re all really excited. It’s just great to see an upward growth, you know, after we worked really hard and dedicated our lives to this. Hopefully, we can keep trucking and keep on it.”
I also had the privilege of catching the band's set after the interview, and if you needed a reason to see Courage My Love live, here it is – their stage presence is contagious. The venue was packed, but they easily captivated the crowd throughout their set. Courage My Love's energy alone was worth seeing, and Mercedes’ live vocal quality was just a bonus. They may be a small Canadian band, but they’re the underdogs worth checking out.