Courrier bassist Taylor Bartholomew recently opened up about the upcoming release of Cathedrals of Color, the Austin based band’s second studio album.
For Cathedrals of Color, Courrier landed acclaimed producer Tim Palmer (U2, Pearl Jam, The Cure, David Bowie) who oversaw the production of the band’s second full length album, which features the top 50 radio single “Love is a Fire” and the newly released “Inch of Rope”.
On their rise to the top, Courrier, featuring vocalist Austin Jones, guitarist Philip Edsel, Taylor Bartholomew on bass, and drummer Nathan Drake, has been featured on The CW’s Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, 90210, as well as ABC Family’s Jane by Design and Pretty Little Liars. After their national television debut, Courrier’s emotional anthem “Between” raced up the iTunes alternative chart peaking at #52.
Ahead of the March 12 release of Cathedrals of Color, The Deadbolt went one-on-one with Courrier bassist Taylor Bartholomew to get the scoop on the evolution of the band since their last album, A Violent Flame, working with Tim Palmer, their sound, and how they approach marketing through social media.
THE DEADBOLT: Given the name of the band, what messages are you guys carrying on the new album?
TAYLOR BARTHOLOMEW: The record really came together sort of by accident. There’s a motif of home that goes on throughout the record and what that means to us. I think the record really comes down to this one moment where we walked into New York City for the first time as a band and felt the electricity of the city.
There were all sorts of emotions that went along with that, the adventure of being somewhere new along with missing home and missing our families. It was this overwhelming feeling of the world and all of the positive and negative emotions associated with that. It influenced every single song on the record.
THE DEADBOLT: How do you feel the band has evolved since A Violent Flame?
BARTHOLOMEW: That’s an interesting question. I’m actually the newbie in the band. I wasn’t in Courrier for A Violent Flame. I joined very shortly after the release of that record. I was actually there for the songwriting process because I’ve been friends with these guys for a while.
I think the difference between the last record and this new record is that we were all fans of the last album but we took the songwriting process a lot more seriously. We were all very conscious of writing hooks and writing other elements. Not just writing songs for the sake of songs but making sure that each part we wrote – the lyrics, melodies, and the arranging – was serving the song and the purpose of a good song. We didn’t want to dilute the songs in any way.
THE DEADBOLT: How does Cathedrals of Color reflect your true identity as a band?
BARTHOLOMEW: I think that along with taking the craft of songwriting a lot more seriously, the songs came from a very real place in our hearts. We didn’t want to lie or distort reality. We didn’t want to do anything that was dishonest to us. Although there are a lot of fictional characters within the record, every event came from a real place.
THE DEADBOLT: The band took a huge leap forward by landing Tim Palmer. What was his approach to the band and your sound?
BARTHOLOMEW: Well, as you know, Tim has produced U2, Pearl Jam and some very accomplished records. Surprisingly – and I think this is part of his genius – he let us do what we wanted to do and he never hindered us from that type of creativity.
He was very light and delicate in the way he moved the songs. I think that’s what so artistic about him. The things that he added made huge differences in the songs but they were very subtle changes. Part of the reason this record is so great is because he was part of the team.
THE DEADBOLT: Did you feel a need to redefine yourselves as a band between albums?
BARTHOLOMEW: I think it was about a year ago when we went on tour with Parachute. That was a big eye-opener for us. Those guys write songs and play great music and they really inspired us to take things to the next level.
There was such a dramatic influence from that and similar things. We started to realize that if we were going to do this as a profession and this was all we had, we had to kick it up a notch. That was one way we redefined ourselves along with the songwriting process.
One of our huge influences was Coldplay. We never wanted to be a band that just writes the same record over and over. We constantly want to be defying the expectations of our fans by giving them something new and different. Just like this record is so much different from A Violent Flame, the next record will be different from Cathedrals of Color.
THE DEADBOLT: How tough is it to succeed in today’s music world when everyone expects music to be free?
BARTHOLOMEW: That’s an interesting question. We really battle with that. With Spotify, we’re still getting a small positive from that. But with pirating music, it’s always discouraging. Unlike the old days where all of our money is in touring and playing shows, we realize that we’re still going to sell our music. So we’re not expecting to make our living that way necessarily. But we’ve had a lot of success in other things like TV placements. Last year we did The Vampire Diaries and the Hope Springs trailer. Other areas have given us exposure and support.
I think there are other means to do it. You don’t have to sell records in order to make money. I think we’ve taken some focus off of selling records and are now focusing more on developing a great live show and making people want to come out and see us. Hopefully people will buy our records because they want to support us as a byproduct of that not because they feel obligated to.
THE DEADBOLT: Do you feel the way the business has changed has forced bands to be even better creatively?
BARTHOLOMEW: Oh yeah, definitely. With home recording and the tool of the Internet, music is more available than it ever has been. It’s unbelievable! You can go online and find a hundred bands you like and download their records for free.
The standard for songwriting and creating now is higher than ever because there’s so much more white noise to overcome as you break through in order for someone to actually hear you. You’re battling against a thousand times the amount of bands than the bands in the ’90s. There’s a lot of pressure now with creative excellence.
THE DEADBOLT: How important is social media as you move forward?
BARTHOLOMEW: We are very active on social media. I think that’s one of the things that makes us different from a lot of other bands. We don’t like to put opurselves on a pedestal with our fans and be detached from the fans at all. When someone tweets us, we love to tweet them back. We want to have a social interaction and we want to meet people.
Social media is a great means to do that. The fans really enjoy it and we’re happy to do it. It’s really important for that relationship. Philip, our guitar player, is very into Instagram. He loves taking photos and documenting our adventures on the road and people seem to really like it. We like it, too.
We also want people to be engaged in fashion and what we’re wearing. We just try to tap into as many different social media platforms as we can so we can let fans into our lives.
THE DEADBOLT: Beyond the tour in April, what’s the plan for 2013?
BARTHOLOMEW: Well, we’ve got the new record release on March 12 and the tour with Marc Broussard. For the rest of the year we’re pretty much going full speed ahead touring and working our butts off trying to get this record out there for people to hear. We have something we really believe in and we believe can do soemthing, so we’re just going full speed ahead.