Girl power

Kitchener-based band Courage My Love talks breaking into a genre dominated by men

The pop-punk, alternative metal band from Kitchener was founded by twin sisters Phoenix and Mercedes Arn-Horn.
The pop-punk, alternative metal band from Kitchener was founded by twin sisters Phoenix and Mercedes Arn-Horn.

As a female-fronted band in the rock n’ roll world, it hasn’t been easy.

Mercedes Arn-Horn, one part of Courage My Love, along with sister Phoenix, said they’ve sometimes had trouble breaking through in a male-dominated genre.

“There’s that stigma [like] you can’t shred as hard as this other guy,” she said. “Not a lot of female-centered rock bands get played on the radio these days and I don’t know why.”

But the band doesn’t let this hold them back.

“But on the upside that just makes us work a lot harder to become better at what we do and I do think that it draws people to our music,” she said.

For these musical twins, it’s do or die.

When they get an opportunity or face a change, Arn-Horn said, the band has to take advantage of it.

One of these changes came in the form of replacing a band member in the middle of recording an album.

After their first EP For Now was released in 2011, the band went on tour, playing about 200 shows. While in the process of writing and recording their most recent EP Becoming, the band’s original bassist left the band, to be replaced by Brandon Lockwood.

Twin sisters, Mercedes and Phoenix Arn-Horn, who both cover vocals, brought Kitchener-based trio Courage My Love together.

“A lot of stuff changed, but I think that all of that really helped with the writing of Becoming,” Mercedes, who plays guitar while her sister plays drums, said. “I feel like we needed that pressure and that ‘do it or die’ type of attitude.”

On Nov. 17, Courage My Love began their current tour in their hometown. It’s their longest headlining tour to date and they’re set to play in cities across Canada and the United States.

At only 19, that’s a pretty big deal.

Their sound has been described as pop-punk rock but to the Arn-Horns, a label doesn’t really matter.

“I don’t really care what people call it as long as they think it’s good,” Mercedes said.

The sisters started writing music together even before they formed Courage My Love in 2010.

“I just feel like [Phoenix] hears things and has ideas that I might never have,” she said, “and I just think like that totally rounds out the sound when we have a collaboration.”

Their inspirations, she said, come from absolutely everywhere.

“Lyrically, our whole world influences us, like we’ll write about friends or we’ll write about ourselves or something that we heard in the news,” Mercedes said. “Just the other day we heard about Chelsea Manning and [Phoenix] was moved by the story we heard and she decided to write a song about it.”

The bands they listen to, like most musicians, also inspire their music. Arn-Horn cited Brand New and Ellie Goulding’s new album Halcyon as current go-tos.

“I definitely think you can hear it, especially in certain songs,” she said. “I feel like if the production was different, if there wasn’t full band behind it, you might be thinking to yourself ‘this is an Ellie Goulding song.’”

The band wants to have listeners connect to their lyrics.

“As long as it affects them in a positive way, that’s all we really want,” she said.

Since their creation, their sound has been constantly evolving.

“[When] we wrote For Now, we hadn’t gone on tour ever and it was our first time in a big studio and we had a record deal on the way,” Arn-Horn said, “so we were just stoked on life and were writing about all that sort of stuff.”

After a well received first show in Kingston last June, they are excited to return.

“I think that every time you’re playing to an audience that might not know you, you kind of have to break though their shell a little bit with the first couple songs,” she said.

“I feel like in towns like Kingston where they’re just there to have fun and stuff, that shell already is gone and you’re ready to just party.”

Courage My Love will be playing at the Mansion on Nov. 28 at 7 p.m.

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