Think 70’s rock, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, and a lot of prog! Sounds like a great mixture? Corsair from Charlottesville, Virginia, give you just that. Formed in 2008, the band recorded and released their debut EP “Alpha Centauri“ from 2010 all on their own. Now it will finally be made available through High Roller Records. Corsair consist of guitarists Marie Landragin and Paul Sebring, Jordan Brunk on bass and Aaron Lipscombe on drums, who all found together trough their love of good music. Marie, Paul and John used to put their talents together to play in Mass Sabbath, a tribute band that had made it a tradition to play Black Sabbath tunes on Halloween each year. Bassist Jordan tells a bit more about how it all started: “I was fortunate to play on the last two Mass Sabbath performances, but it was a year before, that Paul and Marie met, working together to turn Tony Iommi’s licks into multiple, complementary parts. You could say that was the band’s genesis, founded on a shared love of Black Sabbath. They continued to collaborate, bringing me into the fold to form Corsair in the months to follow.”
Corsair’s trademarks on “Alpha Centauri” are duelling lead guitars, intricate grooves, heavy riffs and, during its quieter moments, an overall feeling of drifting through space on a flying flokati rug. The drums are what sets this release apart from the following ones, the second EP and the full-length album: drummer Leigh Ann Leary plays a minimalist style which leaves a lot of space for effects and sounds that make you think of, yeah, space, while the songwriting is more condensed than on the following releases.
After having taken notice of this young and inspired outfit, the well-known underground magazine The Obelisk published some really positive reviews of all three Corsair releases. Here’s a quote I asked the band to comment upon: “As they blend pieces of classic prog, space and stoner rocks, they’re only going to find out the result of combining these elements is an approach all their own.“ Did Corsair set out to carve their very own niche from the start? “When we got together we did choose to start an AC/DC style ‘real rock’ band but having duelling lead guitarists atop drums and bass immediately placed the music in a particular direction. The songwriting has always begun with guitar riffs and instrumental ideas. We don’t move forward in the process until they are put together to our liking. Since we enjoy harmonizing guitar melodies that places our music more specifically, I think we chose to have duelling guitars but didn't realize how that would place our music in the larger scope.”
Corsair use vocals rather sparsely, the music itself stands in the foreground, and especially the double guitar duties Marie and Paul share are the backbone of the songs. The band also share the vocals – was that a decision Corsair made from the start, in order to avoid a “classic“ internal hierarchy? It’s Marie who responds to that question: “Jordan, Paul, and I share vocal duties often because they come with greater difficulty. They have to be on par with the music, so there is a bit of pressure to produce something good. Since we are collectively better musicians than we are singers, the good bits are slower to come when tackling the vocals. We take our time honing in the melodies and lyrics, with intention of making them as interesting as the music itself.”
Sharing duties is something Corsair also take into their way of composing music. Asked about the main songwriter, the answer is: “Paul writes the most guitar riffs, but it’s mostly a collaborative effort each time we write. One person’s idea combines with another. Sometimes we improvise something together that we like and will use it in a song later. Sometimes one person has the main idea or met of the song and then we tweak it a little. It’s a constantly evolving process that everyone is a part of.”
“Alpha Centauri” is the most spacey of all three Corsair releases up to this day, and it shows a promising young band carving its very own niche in the galaxy of prog rock.
Being the very first release, “Alpha Centauri” tells the story from the start. It documents the band’s first experience together in the studio, capturing the thrill and excitement of a recording process where pushing musical boundaries and giving shape to the outcome coincide. “’Alpha Centauri’ was our first experience together in the studio, and we were thrilled and nervous to the process. If you listen very closely, you might hear the sound of Corsair getting acquainted with the studio on Alpha Centauri” It’s the sound of cosmic creation, if you like!