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Interview: Against The Current’s Chrissy Costanza on their sophomore album and the importance of safe spaces at live shows.

In support of debut album ‘In Their Bones’, Fueled By Ramen band Against Their Current made their way to New Zealand for a very intimate show - prior to which, we caught up with Chrissy Costanza on the phone, while she was waiting at the airport for her flight to New Zealand.

We spoke with Chrissy about the band’s next album, their songwriting, and the importance of live shows being a safe space…

... I hope to inspire them to educate themselves and form their own opinions based on their own research and information, their own ways and beliefs, rather than just blindly following something that I say.

COUP DE MAIN: You guys are playing your first ever show in New Zealand next week, and we're super excited! Are you excited to play here?
AGAINST THE CURRENT - CHRISSY COSTANZA: Yeah, we're really excited. We've only been to Australia once, and that trip down there we didn't get to come to New Zealand at all and obviously we've heard how beautiful it is especially with movies like 'Lord Of The Rings', so we're excited to get to come and see it for ourselves and meet everybody.

CDM: For someone who has never seen an Against The Current show, how would you describe your live show?
CHRISSY: Pretty energetic, even with the softer songs we try to pump them up a little bit live. We like having a lot of energy, a lot of movement during our shows, keeping it upbeat and going most of the time. It's a lot of fun for us and we just want the crowd to have a lot of fun too, so hopefully they will get that energetic vibe from it.

CDM: Do you have a favourite song to play live at the moment?
CHRISSY: It changes per place that we are, because I feel like different places have different songs that they just love, so that kind of energy just makes the songs stand out so much in the set. Sometimes you have a song, and then you're in a place where people just love that song for some reason and it changes the whole dynamic of it live. Out here in Asia right now where we are, some of the softer songs really poll with the kids. Our song 'Brighter', to us it’s simple and soft, but the kids love it so there's this new energy that's breathed into it when we play it out here. I'm excited to see what songs New Zealand really likes and which song caters to that area the most.

CDM: How is progress on the second Against The Current album going?
CHRISSY: Yeah, it's going really well. We are definitely taking more time than we thought we were going to because we just want to make sure that we have the right songs. So we have already written a ton, and we're going to be writing as soon as we get home from this tour again. So hopefully finishing up writing by the end of the year, just hopefully, depending on the right songs coming out and whatnot. But it's been a lot of fun so far, we've tried a lot of different things we haven't done in the past so it's been really exciting and we're really excited for how this record is gonna turn out.

CDM: Is the album still scheduled for an early 2018 release?
CHRISSY: We're hoping so, it generally depends on whenever we wrap the whole writing process and how long it takes to get it mixed and mastered. Writing a record is so unpredictable. You could say, 'Oh, we are gonna write it in this time-frame, and it's gonna turn out in this time-frame,’ but once you actually start writing, everything changes and it takes on a mind of its own. So hopefully yes, but I can't say for sure.

CDM: Side-note, I am very excited for the song that you said sounds like a Phoenix song.
CHRISSY: Yeah, that one is actually really cool. I'm not sure, we haven't put any songs in the officially ‘yes’ category yet. I hope that song makes it onto the record, it would be kind of different to anything else that would have been on it. But it's a really cool song and even if it doesn't make it onto the album, I hope we put it on a deluxe edition or something. It’s pretty cool, I really like it a lot.

CDM: You spoke in your interview with Rock Sound about your admiration of Lorde as a songwriter and her juxtaposition of the different emotions expressed in music. Do you think it’s important for music to showcase multiple sides of the human experience, and to be an accurate representation of a human experience?
CHRISSY: Yeah, those kind of songs kind of tend to speak to me more than the ones that are kind of cut and dried of feeling. There's so much complexity that we see on a day-to-day basis, even more so than we realise until we kind of hear it reflected back at us in a song. So that's one of the reasons that Lorde's songs really resonated with me, because they really have this way of capturing these complex emotions that weren't so much happy, sad, angry, a break-up song, or whatever it is. Everything had so many different layers to it, that it wasn't even easy to explain to someone else what the song made you feel, but you just know that you felt it so it just hit home with you. So, hopefully we'll capture a lot of that stuff in our songs coming out.

CDM: When I saw Jack Antonoff's band Bleachers live, he talks about the same thing. He wants his songs to be so that you can dance to them but you can also cry to them at the same time.
CHRISSY: Yeah, Lorde said something like that in an interview too. Obviously, he wrote the record with her so it makes a lot of sense. I thought that it was really cool she was like, “It’s all about the experience," and that makes a lot of sense and it comes through in her music.

CDM: Has your songwriting process for the second album changed at all, do you think?
CHRISSY: I think we still kind of write in the way that we write differently everyday, like we never really had a process to begin with, we kind of start every song differently depending on what everyone is feeling. It could start from maybe just a lyric idea, a word or a feeling, or it could start from a guitar riff, or Will [Ferri] might have a whole track built basically, a whole instrumental, and then I’ll just have to do the vocals. So everyday it's different, I think we are trying to be a little bit more outside of the box with it and also write a little bit simpler at first. I think we spent a lot of time on the first record fleshing out entire songs down to the tiniest details, and then those songs wouldn't end up being on the record anyway. So I think we spent a lot of time doing that when we could have spent it writing more songs.

CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
CHRISSY: It's hard to say, I guess. Maybe it's just saying the same thing that everyone else is feeling just in a different way, or showing that in a different way, depending on how music can make you feel something even the lyrics can't. So when I think of the greatest songs, there's no other song like it out there. Some of those great, great, great songs, they're unlike anything else even if they're saying something that has been said a thousand times, they're saying it completely differently and they're making you feel it in a different way. So maybe that's the key, I'm not totally sure - I wish I knew.

CDM: I really respect that you speak up so openly about the injustices and awful things happening in the U.S. at the moment - quote retweeting Donald Trump etc. Do you think it’s important to use your voice (that you’ve come to through music) to speak up about issues that you’re passionate about / that are so important in 2017?
CHRISSY: Yeah, I think it's a delicate balance. I think ignorance is probably never the answer, I know there's a lot of people that probably choose to turn the other cheek and I know there's a lot of people that take the stance of, ‘It's not really any of our business as a musician,’ and I understand that. I understand it can put you in a very polarising and controversial position and it can isolate your fans depending on their views, but I think there are some things that are happening that are just blatantly wrong. In that way I don't feel uncomfortable making sure that our fans know that we're not okay with this. It's not like we're talking about every political point, like what we think about which tax policy we think is best or whatever, those things kind of don't have a right or wrong answer. But I think there are things out there in the world right now that are just blatantly wrong and it needs to be said that they are wrong. I try not to go too far with it because I know we have a lot of young fans that are very impressionable. Whether they agree with me or not in the end, I'd rather them make their own decisions and think for themselves rather than just regurgitate what I'm saying online - because I know for a long time I was like that, where I would look up to people, even if it was just your parents or whatever, I would just regurgitate their opinions without really forming any of my own. So I hope to inspire them to educate themselves and form their own opinions based on their own research and information, their own ways and beliefs, rather than just blindly following something that I say. That being said, there are some things that I just think are just, 'This is how it is, this is just a wrong thing, and this should not be happening.'

CDM: A huge issue in the music industry/the rock music industry at the moment is the safety at live shows for everyone - particularly young women and people in the LGBTQ community - do you find it important for your live shows to feel like a safe space for everyone?
CHRISSY: Yeah for sure, shows are strange gatherings of people. You get people from every different type of walk of life who are just coming to listen to the music that they all listen to. It’s a very unifying experience being at a concert. You are interconnected with everyone in the room whether you like it or not in some way, because there is just that bond that the music that you're listening to creates. So I definitely think it's important to be safe because it's supposed to be a community, and a community is supposed to be a place of empowerment and safety where there isn’t fear, there’s only courage. So I hope that our shows feel that way to all of our fans and I try to always make sure that I'm promoting those ideas and making sure that people respect that our shows are a place for everybody.

CDM: What do you think is the best pop song of all time?
CHRISSY: Oh Jesus Christ, that’s a hard question. The greatest pop song of all time? This is probably not what people will be expecting me to say, but I'm going to say 'Thriller' by Michael Jackson. I think he was the King of Pop for a reason.

CDM: If you were to curate your own music festival, who would you want to play and what would the festival be called?
CHRISSY: I have this dream of doing an all girls music festival. I mean obviously guys can play in the band, but all-female fronters, or not even female fronters, but there could be female keyboard players or female drummers… Just a festival that showcases specifically females in the music industry and in music in general. I think when you go to a music festival, even though there are some massive, massive female acts playing, they're still dominated by so many male acts. Understandably so, I know there just happens to be a lot of male bands in the music world right now so I think that's where that populates. But I think it would be cool just to have a festival that's kind of like a safe place for females and is all about females and whatnot.

Against The Current’s album ‘In Our Bones’ is out now - watch the ‘Wasteland’ music video below…