After a detour to perform at Northeastern’s Afterhours, Against The Current vocalist Chrissy Costanza met up with WRBB 104.9 FM’s Rachel Lipson during the tour of their brand new album, In Our Bones, for a chat about the band’s current position and fierce femininity in the music world.
So you guys were just in the Boston area a couple months ago with CRUISR and Beach Weather, what’s it like to be back?
Oh it’s great, I mean Boston’s cool because it’s so close to home for us, and it’s got the same east-coast vibe that Philly, New York, and even Baltimore and other shows like that kinda have. It’s always (a lot of) fun and energetic but a little edgy too.
Seeing that this is the band’s first real album, how was your approach to In Our Bones different from your previous EPs?
We did a totally different approach to In Our Bones than to Gravity or Infinity because we wrote the two EPs pretty much in like a week for each of them, and everything was written and recorded within the week. Then, for the record, we took months and months and months to write all the songs first and didn’t even worry about recording them, and then went and recorded it after everything was written and demoed and scratched out already.
What’s your game plan when you’re looking for inspiration?
It’s kind of just… honestly, every song starts differently, so sometimes there’s a lyric idea or a concept that I’ve had brewing, sometimes Will [Ferri, drummer] comes in with a fully fleshed-out instrumental track ready and there’s just a certain feeling in the music that is an inspiration. (Sometimes, when) we’re writing with someone else (in) a writing session and someone says, “Oh, I had this phrase I kept saying” that phrase will then inspire everything else. It’s totally different every single time.
Being a woman in the music industry obviously has its ups and downs— how would you describe your experiences thus far?
So far, I think I’ve been really lucky personally. It’s hard for me to speak about the hardships of a woman in the music industry, ‘cause I haven’t personally faced them head-on yet, but we are also at a much smaller level right now, y’know? I think it’s really cool to be a woman in the music industry though, especially for my situation – specifically being in a band – because there’s soooo many less women in bands right now, and throughout history in general. That’s why the ones who kind of do something with it always stand out so fiercely in our memories because it is such a special thing. But also as of right now women kind of dominate the music industry in general, so whenever people are like, “y’know you’re kind of like at a fall, y’know being a woman in the music industry” and I was like, really? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure like all of the top Forbes musicians were all women in the past 8 years… so I mean I think I’m kinda dominating. So far there’s much less of us in the band world though, so hopefully we’re gonna get that one going.
Yeah, automatically, I guess since there aren’t many, people just assume they should compare you to other female-fronted bands like Paramore… you obviously get that a lot.
Yeah, all the time. ‘Cause that’s like the modern rock female-fronted band, that’s like the only 2000’s female-fronted band that you think of immediately when you think of this pop/rock or “scene” genre, or whatever it is.
That’s like a compliment though— I mean, Paramore’s great!
Honestly yeah, like Hayley’s so freakin’ talented, so to be compared to her, even if someone doesn’t even realize what they’re actually comparing, is always a compliment.
A great amount of your growing fan base can be attributed to your online covers. How do you decide what songs to do and when?
It’s usually always really last-minute, and we’re always like, “Oh God, we really wanna come up with a cool cover,” (and) we book the studio space, A lot of them we did ourselves in the early times but if we’re on tour we have to rent a studio and we’re like, “Oh God we gotta go, we gotta go, we need to pick a cover!” and then last-minute we kind of just pick one. Usually we kinda try and look at the top charts, but usually we just do something that we like. We listen to all kinds of music and a lot of the time that does sync up with the top charts.
It must be pretty incredible to see other people doing covers of your own songs too.
Yeah it’s weird, especially cuz we were doing covers and writing our own music simultaneously in the beginning. Not a lot of people knew about our original music so much, but we were doing both at the same time. So, to see people doing covers of our music when that’s kind of how we got our foot in the door, it’s like… wow, that’s such a cool thing.
So this goes for both the covers and your original songs— how do you balance out what you want to do versus what your fans want you to do?
Honestly I think we’ve gotten really lucky with the fan base that we’ve partially just gotten and partially kind of cultivated. I think the attitude you put out is kinda the attitude you’re gonna get in response as well, from the people that want to be that close to you. Obviously you’re gonna have haters on either side of the spectrum. But for the real fans, the core fans, when we put out a certain mentality we see that reflected back at us. So for us we feel like our fans usually kinda want the same things that we do. We haven’t really done anything yet that was like, “This isn’t Against The Current” or “this is so weird.” I definitely get personally, like the whole, “we miss the old Chrissy,” but guys— I’m just not 15, I’m sorry, like, I’m sorry! But in terms of the music and the covers and stuff, they’ve always been pretty receptive to everything. We haven’t really faced that yet… maybe on record two though… I feel like everything changes on record two, so we’ll see.
In your song “Forget Me Now,” you mention “[your] voice on the airwaves.” Is your ultimate goal to someday be on mainstream radio?
I think that’s one of the goals. I wouldn’t say ultimate, but I would say definitely one of the major stepping stones that we wanna do. Turning on — I don’t know what you guys listen to, but for me it’s stations like Z100 or 92.3 [in New York] and turning that on and just all of a sudden hearing your song, being like “whaaaat,” is obviously one of those major platforms that you wanna be on.
How was your first time on the Vans Warped Tour this past summer?
Oh, it was a lot of fun. Yeah it was awesome, it was really cool, it was unlike any other tour we’ve ever done ‘cause it’s both a festival and tour at the same time. But it’s really cool, it’s literally like summer camp for bands, except kind of more like a labor camp. So it’s fun, but it’s a lot of work. [laughs]
Any hints on whether you’ll be back this year?
Probably not this year, I would say, just because right before the summer we’re going on tour with State Champs in the US, and we also just did Warped Tour and we don’t have a new record coming out before the summer so we’ll probably wait until we have new content before going back again.
Most of your fans are in or around their teens, as you saw tonight in the crowd of college students. At this easily moldable age, what advice would you wanna give them?
Ooh, that’s a good question. Ok, part of my answer has to be, “Warning, I am also at this age!” I mean I’m not a teen, I’m 21, which is basically the same thing as being a teen anyways. I’m still technically a college-age student— I mean, I’d be a senior right now, so I don’t really have this all figured out myself! But I would just say that the best thing you could possibly do is just absorb any information that you possibly could, gain every perspective, like always pick everybody’s brain around you, because some of the biggest moments of growth and some of the biggest moments of change in my life were from really, microscopically inspecting someone else’s perspective that I thought was a great perspective. Learning so much about, “Wow someone’s brain works like this, my brain would never work like that on its own,” but now it does, because now I’ve adapted to these different traits and ways of thinking. So I think that’s the best thing you can do, just learn from the people around you.
Lastly, what direction do you think Against The Current will head in next?
Well, currently, our direction is set towards Europe! But I don’t know, it’s really hard to say -eventually sometime this year we’re gonna start getting into record number two, and for us there’s nothing clear-cut about what we wanna do with the record yet. We really don’t like to put up walls for ourselves, y’know? Too many people end up locking themselves in because they think they have to be this thing, and all of a sudden they’ve crossed out all the things they can now never be, and just lock themselves in this little room. So we wanna just keep an open mind and always keep writing music, and just keep developing. So we don’t know what it’s gonna look like next year or two years from now, but I think that’s the fun of it for us.
Thank you so much to Chrissy for taking the time to interview with Rachel Lipson of WRBB, and thank you to Northeastern’s own Live Music Association for help in coordination.
Listen to In Our Bones here:
Catch Against The Current on tour:
Jan 14th | The Foundry | Philadelphia, PA
Apr 7th | Agora Theatre & Ballroom | Cleveland, OH
Apr 8th | Saint Andrew’s Hall | Detroit, MI
Apr 9th | Concord Music Hall | Chicago, IL
Apr 11th | Wooly’s | Des Moines, IA