Out today is "Sick of the Hype," the latest single from Columbus band, The Cordial Sins. Just a week before it's release, we were able to preview this intense, driving, new song, and then chat with frontwoman Liz Fisher (lead vocals/guitar/keys) and Corey Dickerson (lead guitar/vocals) about the making of this single, the response to last year's EP Only Human, and what the future holds for The Cordial Sins. Turn up your speakers, listen to the song, and then check out our conversation below:
Sean O’Connor, Listen LIVE Columbus: It's good to see you guys! The last time we officially talked was last October, before the Only Human EP release. So, that's been out in the world now for over six months. What was it like getting out that out there in front of people?
Corey Dickerson, The Cordial Sins: It was very difficult (Liz laughing) because you want things to just be done and you want it to be out and you want it to be out of your face. You know, this is, mind you, after tracking, and all of the writing, all of the changing, and all of the mastering and waiting. It's good though, you know. We really tried to send it out to a lot of people to see if anybody would pick it up, but you know very few people were interested. We had a couple of bites here and there but nothing that really would have propelled us forward in the way still need it, with funding, better connections, and things like that. They weren't really offering anything that we didn't already have, other than a small amount of money, and I'd rather just spend it out of my pocket than being in debt to somebody else.
Liz Fisher, The Cordial Sins: It was really interesting to me because even though we had released stuff in the past, it felt to us like "Oh, this is just like another thing" that we were obviously really proud of, and it seems like it's this very cohesive sound, kind of like a rebirth in the sense that we're kind of honing in on something and this feels like a good collection of stuff. And even though it felt like we've been going at it for a few years, I think that the response to the EP has been almost like "this thing from this new band." You know, so it feels like the first thing we've ever really done. And I think, in the way where we thought, "Oh, we'll send this out to people, and we'll see if we can get this or that," it kind of made us realize that, "Oh, this seems really new to the people listening to it, and we seem really new to people listening to it, so we have a long way to go before we're really going to be in a position where those things are actually attainable." So it, kind of, for me, at least, put a lot of things in perspective as to what kind of work we still need to do, and it kind of kicked my ass in gear as far as focusing on other aspects of what we're doing. Because even with that we tried to do more promo and PR stuff for it ahead of time. But even with that, we didn't really make a huge plan for it early enough, which is a trap that people fall into, and so now it's gotten to the point where I realize why people plan for this and plan for that. So it was really eye opening for me. But I would say that like playing all that music has been really fun and people seem to receive it really well, and it's been able to get us good shows. So that's awesome.
Sean: After the EP release, you guys did a fair amount of touring in the direct aftermath of the release, and then this past spring, around Ohio, and other places like Chicago and New York. That touring experience was new-ish for you guys, right?
Liz: Yeah, all of that was pretty new. I feel like we're actually just starting to do the things that we really should be doing. And the reason why we can do it is because we have the new EP, and we're able to say, "oh we're touring in promotion of this." That's like our reference point. So I guess that's why it's so interesting to me because I didn't realize that prior to releasing that it was going to be that kind of thing for our band. But that's what it's become, which is kind of cool.
Sean: So what is it like walking into those those shows in New York or Chicago where maybe people have heard one or two of the songs if they've looked at it, but maybe they're just there that night for something else? How's that different than playing here at home where more people are familiar?
Corey: Well, yeah in Columbus we have a really good following. In all the other cities - Chicago we're starting to do a little better in, and I feel like New York we've been doing pretty well in, and in Cleveland we've been doing really well. All of the places surrounding Ohio we do well in, so it's kind of hit-or-miss. It does depend on the venue and the location, and it definitely depends on the other bands.
Liz: It's kind of nice though, because no one knows who you are, so you just have this fresh slate to do your thing.
Corey: I feel like you almost kind of perform better, in a way, knowing that like this is the first impression that most of these people are getting from you. So you kind of put that extra spice on there, you know.
Liz: You're just in the zone too, because you know that you're doing it for several days at a time. At least that's how we try to do it. So it's a little bit different that having a hometown show. It feels a little bit different. It feels like you're not just playing a show, you're contributing to this bigger thing that you're trying to accomplish. And we're just kind of usually in the zone when we're touring.
Sean: We talked about Only Human kind of marking a transition or rebirth, or whatever we want to call it for The Cordial Sins. And it was a change, sound-wise, from what you had been doing previously, and now you're getting ready to release this new single, "Sick of the Hype," which I think is even another step forward, right? I mean it's the hardest rocking song you guys have put out so far.
Liz: Yeah, that and "Under Fire" I think. But it is even a step up from that probably.
Sean: How how did "Sick of the Hype" come together? Why this song now?
"Like always, Liz is at the command, at the wheel.
So I was like, I'm just going to let you drive it and I'm going to make my part, and you tell me where I'm going."
Liz: I was all by myself.
Corey: No, well, yeah, you were all by yourself. I guess it was probably that same day, but later on when we sat on the couch together. And, Liz had this idea, but I wasn't really convinced by it at first. This one took a long time for everybody in the band, including me.
Liz: Everyone was like, "What are you trying to say?"
Corey: Yeah, everybody was kind of like, "What? I don't really get it." Because for "Sick of the Hype" it just kind of revolves around this one chord progression and we change all these things around it so you don't really recognize that the other parts are the same thing. There's just other things happening. It's so simple that we had to figure out how to make every part different.
Liz: Everyone had labeling issues. They were like, "What are we calling this part? Is this the chorus or pre-chorus, what’s the verse?" And I'm over there like, "it's just a feeling..."
Corey: Oh yeah, there was a lot of banter back and forth and I feel like the only other song we've had this much trouble writing was "Control" because it had a lot of different variations. That's another song that's just like very simple and we tried to keep it that way and try and make everything else interesting and ear catching. But yeah, with “Sick of the Hype,” I was just sitting on the couch and trying to explain it, and I thought it was really good, you know that the hook is really good, but I didn't really know how to go about it. So bringing everybody into it...I mean, like always, Liz is at the command, at the wheel. So I was like, I'm just going to let you drive it and I'm going to make my part, and you tell me where I'm going.
Liz: It was hard, but here we are.
Sean: It is interesting because it isn't just a typical chorus-verse-chorus kind of song. It's very direct, and so it isn't something that falls any sort of normal pattern.
Liz: I think what happened was with the initial riff, I think I came up with those two melodies for the vocals and we were like, "We really like them, and I was like OK what if we just like make one part just this weird thing and then we make one part the 'chorus'." And then we had the only riff that deviates from that - we don't really know what to call it because it's not really a chorus. So it was trying to figure out where the emphasis of the song should be. That was the really hard part, so it was like "let's keep it pretty driving the whole time." But you know, we were working on another song at the same time, we kind do them in pairs, and this one is really fun to play live. I think back to what you were saying about the energy of it, I think from our experience touring and changing some of the songs so that they have a lot of energy, it's been kind of nice to do that with this song from the start. Being like, "I know this going to feel good when we play it live," because we have had experiences doing that in different places now, so I think we were able to capture that a little bit more in the recording.
Sean: Was there something in particular that drove the message that song?
"Just feeling like even though you put in all of this work creatively, it doesn't measure up to a standard
that's created by some white guy. . . .
So it's like, you know, I'm sick, I'm really sick of that."
Liz: Here we go! OK, so let me just preface this by saying I think with Only Human and basically anything in the past, I felt myself tiptoeing around all these ideas. And it's like we're writing a new song, not "Sick of the Hype," but another new one, and I'm thinking "is this is too dramatic or like too straight forward in what I'm actually saying?" And that's always what I feel like I find myself doing, where I'm like, "How do I tone myself down to appease other people's opinions of me?" Which is just a terrible thing for me to do to myself. So, in particular, I just feel like "why is this band with a bunch of white dudes, you know, who make sub-par music, why is it just so much easier for them to do X, Y, and Z than it is for somebody like a woman or a person of color?" So, it just gets tiring. You know, it's like, "Oh, I want to be happy for people and I want to not be cynical." But at the same time I wish that they weren't there because it would make room for me to do my thing or whatever. So that's kind of what it's about. Just feeling like even though you put in all of this work creatively, it doesn't measure up to a standard that's created by some white guy. I say usually they're white, predominantly the rock music scene is kind of headed by them.
It's kind of just like this assumption like, "oh because you look this way you must be so good, you know, and I'm just like fuck that." And it just makes it harder in a lot of ways. So it's like, you know, I'm sick, I'm really sick of that. And I think some of them are very genuinely very talented and I don't want to diminish that, but at the same time I think there so many people that get overlooked because they don't fit the status quo. So, it's just me being angry about it.
Sean: Right, everybody's allowed to be angry.
Liz: That's what I tell myself.
Sean: So, I think you bring up a good point, of you talking about in your songwriting and trying to create songs that you think people are going to like, but are also true to what you actually think. I think that's true of everybody - we all have to put on these faces when we go to work so we can survive our day and make people around us like what we're doing. But then how do you balance that with being genuine in what you actually want to do?
Liz: Yeah exactly because it gets to a point where you're kind of like this just doesn't really feed or fulfill me, you know, and I don't want that to happen. So I guess in my experience it seems that's something where I think a lot of new artists or people trying to forge a career probably feel that way, in how do I tiptoe around and make sure that it's accessible. You know when you're trying to write something and then you feel like it might do well but it might not because it doesn't sound like this person.
Sean: So, you have a bunch more shows scheduled this summer. Starting next month you're doing like ten shows over June and July, right? What are you most looking forward to with the upcoming tour?
Liz: Oh my gosh, we're going to do a roof-top show in New York, and I'm so excited.
Corey: It's very exciting and it's new territory. We're going back to Chicago which is going to be awesome, we've got a pretty good show there. And Detroit, we haven't been there in like three years.
Sean: And you have your shows coming up in the greater Columbus region. You’re at Brothers Drake with Counterfeit Madison and Mutts on June 28th. And then two really cool things, a new festival, Bellwether Music Festival at Renaissance Park, where The Cordial Sins are playing on the same day as The Flaming Lips, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs, and Japanese Breakfast, on August 11th, which is the second day of the two-day festival.
Corey: Yeah, I think we fit that day pretty well.
Liz: I'm fucking stoked!
Sean: And then something I'm kind of particularly looking forward to, because I didn't make it to any of these last year, the Campfire Sessions at Rockmill Brewery down in Lancaster.
Liz: It's like a whole event where they want to make it an experience. And the line-up for the whole Campfire Sessions this summer, they picked a lot of female-lead bands - Souther, Angela Perley, Counterfeit Madison. One goal that I express support for, and that Corey and I have talked about a lot, was diversifying our show bills as much as possible. Like when we have control over them, you know, because you can do it even when you go out of town as well. There's no reason not to try to do that when it's available because I feel a personal responsibility to make things more diverse on my end.
Sean: And then you launched a new project under the moniker Gliders, for when you're mostly doing things like more stripped down shows and not the full band together?
Liz: Yeah, we've already done a bunch of shows like that over the years, but we never called it anything different.
Corey: Yeah we mainly did it because we've been talking about finding another name for a while just to do that kind of stuff because we don't book here in Columbus very often as the full The Cordial Sins, and I think we only want to play like four shows in town this year and we wanted to try and sell all of them out this year as a goal. So we needed a way to make a little money and still be able to do stuff without hurting our promotion for our actual band around here. So we created another name, to be able to do these other things that aren't the full Sins.
Sean: Do you envision that ever as an outlet maybe for some new music that you write that maybe you don't think fits The Cordial Sins?
Corey: Yeah, we've talked about it.
Liz: Yeah, I think we can use it as a writing tool, and we use it to play some of our older stuff as well.
Sean: Thank you guys so much! Congrats on the imminent release of “Sick of the Hype,” good luck with the upcoming tour, and we’ll see you in Columbus at Brothers Drake on June 28th.
For more information on show dates and what’s going on with The Cordial Sins, check out their website, stay in touch with them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), and follow them on Spotify and SoundCloud.