Hailing from Charlottesville, Virginia, Corsair is an adventurous rock band who loves to harmonize their guitar riffs, tapping into the vein of Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden-like sounds. Current members include Marie Landragin and Paul Sebring on duelling lead guitars, Jordan Brunk on bass, and Aaron Lipscombe on drums. Vocal duties are shared between the six- and four-stringers in the band. After having released two EPs in 2010 and 2011 which were praised by the better part of the underground media (you find extensive and very positive reviews on The Obelisk), Corsair finally arrived at recording their first full-length album. So much for an introduction, now let’s get into the details! Bassist Jordan unravels the history of how Corsair came into being: “Marie, Paul and I were all at one point members in the rotating cast that was Mass Sabbath. For seven years running a group of 10-12 musicians put their talents together to play Black Sabbath tunes each year. It wasn’t so much a band as it was a spectacle to behold each Halloween with two drummers, two bassists, a handful of guitarists, a string section, and the occasional visit from a wizard.“ Black Sabbath sounds great, but what about the rumours about a Spinal Tap tribute band most of the band members used to play in? “For those of us wanting to continue to do something spectacular for Halloween, we joined forces with other local bands in what we called “Mockstars Ball.” It was then that Corsair tapped into the essence of Spinal Tap, watching the movie repeatedly and playing a 45 minute set in character. There’s a video on our website if you want a good laugh. We then returned to the second year of Mackstar’s Ball as Thin Lizzy, further honing our chops.”
It’s not an easy task to nail down how exactly Corsair sound. Those who nonetheless need to stick a label on each and everything might resort to “new progressive hard rock”. That’s not too bad a description, actually. Corsair take the best of 70’s hard rock, a dash of stoner rock, spacey elements, tricky rhythms, duelling guitars and unexpected twists and turns. They blend all that to create a sound that is unique to a point where comparisons are meant to fail. So where does the band get its inspiration from? There are many different hints to some really great bands, aren’t there? Marie agrees: “I’d say our main influences are Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, and Metallica. Paul leans towards the heavier 80’s side of metal and I towards the melodic 70’s vein, so we get some of both in the end. Jordan likes to tweak transitions to make them surprising or interesting, juxtaposing heavy and light, tight and loose.”
At least as far as I know, there are not too many bands hailing from Charlottesville one currently hears about. Is that right or is there a (huge?) scene Corsair are part of which we are missing right now? “Charlottesville is a university town with a strong population of musicians. We have a long list of local musical treasures who have stayed here because they’ve settled into the vortex. A majority of the music scene gravitates towards acoustic music, whether it’s folk, americana, or bluegrass. No matter what style of music you’re into, it’s not hard to find a player that will inspire and push you to hone your own skills. As for bands ‘making it’ to a level that people outside of Charlottesville take notice, it is a rare thing to behold. The hard rock scene sees an even slimmer number with about a dozen bands playing loud music to steadily growing numbers. The people who turn out are enthusiastic, since they’re a bit starved for metal. We’ll keep you updated as it progresses.”
What interests here, too, is the progress Corsair have made since the release of the first EP. Between “Alpha Centauri” from 2010 and the album has been a shift away from „space rock“ to “harder driving classic rock punch”, as The Obelisk puts it. Are Corsair constantly working to develop their sound into a certain direction?
“The biggest difference between Alpha Centauri and the others to follow is found when you listen to the drums. Leigh Ann Leary played on Alpha Centauri and had a minimalist style that left more space for delay effects and things that sound more space-like. Also, our songwriting may have been simpler at the beginning. Aaron Lipscombe has a very different style, and the music became punchier and more aggressive. I love the idea of finding space within a hard driving song, and so hope to hang onto our spacey roots wherever possible.“
When thinking about their own development, where do the four place the album? “The album sees the songwriting and production tighten up a bit more. We recorded and produced the album rather quickly. There’s an edgy character to the songs that came from a sense of urgency and purpose to make a full length album. It was fresh in our minds as a band, with a couple of songs being written within a week of recording. All of the vocals were written and recorded in the studio as well. We were driven and more comfortable at the helm of this record.”
For the High Roller-release, adjustments to the mixes before being re-mastered to better suit a vinyl pressing have been made. The artwork and layout have been redesigned by Marie to suit the larger canvas that vinyl provides. Having the album out on vinyl will add some extra warmth to Corsair’s stunning guitar harmonies, and talking about vinyl: Four out of four members of Corsair recommend buying their records on vinyl! Take their advice, they know best!