"Your whole family's going down": A blunt talk with Spiritbox singer Courtney LaPlante

One of metal's biggest figures gets honest about the genre's "identity crisis," the value of criticism, "shitty music" on Octane radio, right-wing metalcore assholes, Charli XCX, and much more.

"Your whole family's going down": A blunt talk with Spiritbox singer Courtney LaPlante
Courtney LaPlante at Sick New World, photo by Moe Horta

Last month, I wrote an article for Stereogum called "Metal's Stadium Class Is Less Metal Than Ever." In it, I argued that mainstream metal's old guard is withering away, and the batch of A-list bands who are presently slated to take their spots in arenas, stadiums, and at the tops of festival lineups are less connected to the sound and ethos of metal than ever before.

The majority of my piece focused on 2020s breakouts like Sleep Token, Bad Omens, and Spiritbox, who are coming up under the wing of Bring Me the Horizon and making glossy, pop-forward metalcore the predominant sound of above-ground metal music. That sound, I argue, is slated to inherit the headbanging echelon that Iron Maiden, Metallica, Slipknot, and their bigwig contemporaries have spearheaded for decades, especially as that cluster of old-school metal titans draw nearer to retirement age.

As I hoped, the article struck a chord. A lot of underground metal fans expressed how validated they felt by the tone of my assessment, which was extraordinarily critical of a sector of metal that's rarely, if ever, given the slightest pushback by the biggest voices in metal media. Just as many readers (and headline skimmers) were incensed by my critiques of Sleep Token and Bad Omens, and perceived me to be a stuffy, old gatekeeping metal boomer who just hates change. It was a polarizing piece, and when Anthony Fantano had me on his YouTube channel to talk about the article a few weeks after it was published, the dialogue around my thesis was ignited once again.

As the article made its rounds on social media, I received many DMs, tweets, and emails reacting to the piece, and the messages ranged from nice compliments to enraged tell-offs. All of that was to be expected, but there was one response I didn't anticipate: Spiritbox frontwoman Courtney LaPlante reaching out to tell me how much she enjoyed the article.

Although I was far less critical of her band than some of her peer groups, Spiritbox were still a band I highlighted in the piece, and many of their fans were furious to see me include them in my broader point about how many of metal's biggest bands are more sonically influenced by non-metal than metal itself. To be certain, Spiritbox have some incredibly heavy songs in their catalog. But they also have songs like "Circle With Me" and their Grammy-nominated 2023 track "Jaded," which both feature extremely melodic clean choruses that I compared to the sounds of contemporary Top 40 pop music.

Many Spiritbox fans took offense to that statement and didn't appreciate the overarching point of my article — that metal is changing, and some of those changes are unsavory — but not LaPlante. While she didn't endorse everything I wrote in the piece, she told me how much she respected my critical perspective, and mentioned that she'd like to talk with me sometime about some of the themes in my article, as well as the overall dearth of actual music criticism in the metal media landscape.

Again, I was surprised to hear this from someone in LaPlante's position, and I happily agreed to chat with her about her lingering thoughts on the article. Ultimately, her and I spoke for two hours, and our conversation veered in many different directions, including topics that she's never spoken on in an interview setting. Topics that artists in her genre are rarely given the opportunity to speak about within a metal media landscape that favors fluffy positivity and fawning endorsements over nuanced dialogue.

"It’s not that I don’t want to answer questions, it’s just that I’m not asked the questions," LaPlante told me. So I asked the questions.

Throughout our sprawling chat, LaPlante and I talked about metal's "identity crisis," the lack of peer-to-peer criticism in the genre, the absence of self-awareness in metalcore, the "shitty music" filling up Octane radio, her own band's commercial motives, and where she sees Spiritbox's era of metal going in the coming years.

We also talked about navigating around right-wing shithead men in metal — who LaPlante calls her O'Doyles — and the activist image that's projected onto her simply for being a female public figure who respects trans people. She spoke very openly about the disgusting behavior of the male musicians in her local scene, and the Warped Tour egomaniacs she watched slut-shame teenage girls from the stage. And then we lightened up and talked about mainstream pop artists we both enjoy: Charli XCX, Chappell Roan, Sabrina Carpenter, Camila Cabello and more.

It's the type unvarnished, no-holds-barred interview that artists like LaPlante are rarely given the opportunity to do these days, and I really enjoyed having it with her. The first two-thirds of our lightly edited back-and-forth is available for anyone to read down below, but you'll have to subscribe to Chasing Sundays to read the final third — which features some of her spiciest takes.

You can sign up for Chasing Sundays below to get access to that portion of the interview, while simultaneously supporting the type of independent music journalism that I'm committed to producing with this website. Thank you for reading.

The reason we’re talking right now is because I wrote an article where I was pretty critical of the state of mainstream metal, and one of the bands I wrote about was Spiritbox. I was very shocked, honestly, that you did reach out. You surprised me by saying you appreciated it. Why did you feel compelled to tell me that? 

Well, first of all I was thinking maybe it would have some controversy. But whenever you have something that, technically, within our world, would count as something more longform, it’s hard to grab people’s attention. Versus, if that was a TikTok video or something. It’s just harder to convince someone to click on something that's that long and read all your thoughts and not just take away the headline. Which, the headline on its own is very negative, but I felt like the article, other than your opinions on individual bands, was very neutral. It wasn’t saying that something was good or bad, it’s just acknowledging change. 

I don’t know, I just figured that some people that you would like to talk to and have a conversation about it might not read the whole thing. And be turned off by any sort of critique. Because I think we’re just really not used to it in our world. On a professional level, we’re not used to it. We’re used to it on a person to person level, like someone leaving a mean comment about me. But from professional peer to peer, we don’t see it. And I just felt like maybe no musician that was critiqued in there would most likely reach out to you. But I just thought it was a very well-written article. I was moreso just reaching out as a reader of your article who happens to be in a band that you mentioned in it. 

I’m glad you saw the neutrality of most of it. I went in pretty long on a band like Bring Me the Horizon, for instance, but I really like Bring Me the Horizon. I think what they're doing is oftentimes extremely cool. But it also spoke to this sort of trend I was writing about, the pop influence in metal. And especially knowing that you’re a big fan of pop music, having seen you talk so much about Beyoncé, I think you maybe have a level of scholarship in that realm that other metal musicians typically don’t. 

My first thought when I read your article was, and I didn’t then go find these conversations, but I was like: Where is this conversation — and is it a negative, positive, or neutral [conversation] — about hip-hop? I think that's something that started as a counterculture that then became the predominant culture and became synonymous with pop music. And I just feel like metal has this different feedback loop of pedigree. Like, I don’t think 21 Savage is sitting here thinking if he can figure out a thread to Run DMC. 

And there’s so much tradition in hip-hop culture, of course. We all remember the video of Drake holding the Blackberry while he’s freestyling, and that's just — you can’t do that. I don't mean that there’s not traditions. But maybe it’s just because [metal] is a genre that I’m a part of, so I see these conversations more, but I don’t really [recognize] a pressure in other genres that aren’t traditionalist in content [to have this] “how did we get here?” type position. It’s more individualistic, I feel.

And I feel like we’re in one of the only genres where the song content and feeling then represents you as an artist … everything is very binary to me. It’s like, “the band put out a slow song, they now make only slow songs.” Then I put out a really heavy song: “Now the band is back. They made the heaviest song they ever made and that is what they are now.”  

In our world I just think it’s this extremely binary thing where I imagine a guy on Reddit with a spreadsheet and he’s like, “OK, she screamed for 30 seconds, and now she’s singing for 45 seconds, oh no! Ope, there’s a breakdown, thank god. I like it again.” I actually see it in real time when I’m watching people when we’re premiering a music video and I see it in the side[bar]. “This sucks.” And then I start screaming and they're like, ["yay"]. 

Why do you think that is? Because I always mentally felt not a part of my local scene, my regional scene. I’ve always felt a little on the outside. And then something clicked one day and someone waved a magic wand, and all these professional outlets are like, “This band’s great. This is the band you should like.” Or even, “This is the genre you’re part of.” 

I bet that's really disorienting. And like, The Decision to Do Cleans, is propped up as this really dramatic choice that every band has to make. Especially bands who play metalcore of some variety. I do think that as much as metal has become super melodic, especially metalcore, which you can trace back to really extreme forms of metal in the Nineties. It’s become a lot more melodic, but despite that, I think there's still this hesitancy. The one last bit of true underground subcultural value that metal fans hold with their genre is that it’s abrasive, it’s not giving too much over to the mainstream.

Maybe it’s just that there isn’t enough genre to go around. Maybe it’s a sorting problem. I never woke up and was like, “I’m in a metalcore band.” 

What would you have described yourself as before you got that tag? 

Just … a metal band. I don’t particularly care? I don’t mean that you shouldn’t care because that's how people find each other and connect together and create bands. I have the privilege of having created a band with my husband. I didn’t find him. We found each other as teenagers and just started making music together. 

I think maybe it’s a problem with the sorting of all the bands. I know the thread of the Warped Tour era, the Rise-core era. And then metalcore starting with Botch and stuff, going into Misery Signals, that side. And then the As I Lay Dying/Killswitch Engage side, Poison the Well. But I wasn’t really a part of that world as it was happening. I didn’t start listening to non-mainstream metal music until I was 18 or so. And then I was just listening to what I was exposed to, which was not that stuff. It was Protest the Hero, Despised Icon, all the Canadian bands. Misery Signals – we kind of count them as a Canadian band, even though they're not. 

So it wasn’t really based off of music I was finding on my own, but music based off of who would come to my island. So I was very underexposed to that stuff. And then I got a little older…I definitely liked extreme stuff. The kind of music you put on to show your friend in the car. I’d put on “Entombment of a Machine” by Job for a Cowboy and wait for my friend to hear the scream part. And I listened for technical ability. I was really thinking of it like that. I didn’t listen to metal music in the same way maybe my other peers started listening to it. I had to learn that stuff later and get my education of, “Why did these bands sound like this?” 

I’m just a few years younger than you so I was coming up as a young teenager with The Devil Wears Prada, with Iwrestledabearonce, Attack Attack!. I didn’t understand what the references were, I listened to Slipknot the year before and then I somehow found [metalcore] through Warped Tour. I didn’t have an older sibling to expose me. But I just became one of those nerds who gets filtered into music journalism where I was like, “Oh, I can see the categories.” Throughlines are important to me. But also, I’m super into hardcore now, and have been for a decade, and hardcore is obsessed with tradition and throughlines and form. 

And I understand why. It’s almost like that's how you preserve and maybe could have an oral history of the scene. So I get that. It’s weird, I get the irony of my band doing well and then me feeling like an outsider, but I’m not gonna stand in line and try to get into a club that someone’s gonna try and get me to work to get into. I’d rather just go to a different club. I started putting on my own shows because the cool bands here didn’t want my stupid band on a show. So I do my own shows. 

My band now, Spiritbox, we needed to get funding from something because it was just Michael [Stringer, guitarist] and I funding everything, and we were always working minimum wage jobs. We eventually got office jobs where we were like, “Oh my god, we’re making $20 an hour. We’re millionaires now.” But no one wanted to fund us, so our manager started his own record label to give us $5,000 so we could make some music videos. Whether it’s perceived outsider-ness or it truly is being an outsider, I guess I just was like, “fine.” I don’t feel welcomed in this club, or I feel kind of exploited in this club. 

When I think of going to shows, I think of 30-year-old drunk men trying to fuck 16-year-old girls and giving them cocaine. Whenever people are like, “Aw, there’s no all-ages venues anymore, we need to get more all-age venues on the island,” I’m like, “Please don’t.” I don’t want all of these children unsupervised around all these gross losers, who are like, “Oh my god, he’s in a band and lives in a basement with six guys. I’m going to go hang out with him.”

I guess I just have a different view of the rose-colored glasses part. As a young girl, that did feel like we were being exploited by these older guys. It was giving me youth pastor vibes. But I do love that world and I really love and respect how not corporate that world is, because you can see it in people being comfortable expressing their opinions on stuff. It’s so funny when people try to separate hardcore music from politics and social constructs. Because it’s not just about the music. I look at it more like punk music, it wasn’t about, “Oh wow, that riff was hard.” Someone’s trying to say something.

I agree that there has been a change. I think it’s a unique time in how bands that have a lot of pop affectation and the way that they sing are successful. But I also kind of just base it off: what are their biggest songs? I think our band’s a little more extreme. It could kill us someday. I say we’re two bands for the price of one. I don’t know if people like that. You could show [someone] two different [Spiritbox] songs and I don’t think people would know if it was the same band.

So I know not every band is like that, but I feel like it’s a fluidity thing. I don’t have this outside pressure of pedigree, or “Oh, if you don’t do it like this then you’re not metal.” Because I’m like, people have said that I’m not metal since I’ve listened to metal music. Who cares? I always wonder what a band like Deftones feels about all that. 

I feel like Chino never talks about metal. He just likes to talk about Depeche Mode. 

I think it’s gonna take more time to see if it’s a phenomenon in the grand scheme of things or just flashes in the pan. Anyone can have one big tour. I was in a band that had one big tour. Iwrestledabearonce had one tour where they had a couple thousand people come to shows. But that's one. The lightning has to strike more than once. 

I think there’s a reason why the Knocked Loose record is being so celebrated. It’s not just, “Oh it’s sticking to who they are and they're not selling out.” It sounds different than everyone else. The production sounds different. It’s not all about perfection. It’s about showing the emotion and you feel like you’re listening to a band, and I feel like for a lot of bands in our world, you kind of feel like you’re listening to a dude making music on his computer.

I’m really happy people are reacting to [Knocked Loose] like that, because that's how it makes me feel. It’s clean, but it doesn't sound like everyone else’s record. 

It shows that there’s still an appetite for something that's very heavy. And their growth has been so organic over many years. 

Yeah, and I think people have a bit of revisionist history with them, too. In how they weren't accepted at first. Everyone loves to act like they’ve always loved that band, but I think that's what made that band strong. Is that they weren’t accepted locally or regionally, and they didn’t care. Because they were just like, “We’re making music that we want to make.” 

I will say another thing in our world, and I don’t feel like being the one to be this person, but I think that most other genres that I pay attention to are more critical of their peers publicly. They’ll be like, “That was wack. That song sucks.” 

And even different eras of metal. If you look back at metal magazines from the Nineties or even the 2000s, not that this was always good, but bands were shit-talking each other left and right. Fear of expressing an opinion…there wasn’t one. Maybe it’s social media that's caused people to change. What do you think it is? 

I don’t know, I just think back then we weren’t just constantly bombarded with negativity. I try to have everything muted on my phone and I’ll just look down at my phone and be like, “Welp, that's not cool.” Private, evil messages and then public stuff that I’m not willingly seeking out but my algorithm will just push it to me, about myself. So maybe that's why.

We all know how the general consensus is about critiquing because back in the day, if you were a hater you had to really go out of your way to have that artist see your haterness. Sit down and write them a letter or go to their show. Now you don’t have to do that, you can just be a hater on the internet. And I don’t mean that it’s not valid.

More haterism in general has devalued the art of hating. 

I think we’re protective of one another. We don't want to add to the hatred. Personally, I just kind of want to worry about myself and not always be talking mad shit. There’s just so much more horrible stuff within our music industry other than how shitty the band’s music is that I’m passionate about. And maybe metal’s always been a lot more conservative than we’ve let on. 

The hardcore world and the metal guy world are so pushing together now, because it’s less insulated and we’re seeing there’s a lot of traditional values in metal. I’m just surprised because this world likes to believe that it’s this rebellious, edgy world. But in fact I feel like it’s become this really boomer — well not become, it’s just an older world. 

It’s older, but it really depresses me to see that the younger generation — obviously not you guys, but a lot of your peers — are...rancid. The people running this shit right now — it feels like the bad guys are winning in some ways. I’m not talking musically, I’m talking politically and culturally. The spirit of the genre right now, and as we’re seeing in a lot of cultural spaces throughout the internet, it’s being overrun by younger right-wing people saying really regressive stuff. 

And I know the pendulum shift, I get it. The algorithm radicalization of people. I call it the “SJW own compilation 2016 brain.” The “Ben Shapiro Destroys SJWs with facts and logic,” and then it started swinging back. And [now the right-wing stuff] is coming back...All the bands have the same means that the listeners have. We know, “deployment-core” and “coworker metalcore.”

There’s this really red-blood, meat eatin’, American rock, conservative bent in this world. There’s always people like that, and I understand that there’s nuance. Someone might say something inflammatory and then you really look at what they're saying and you’re like, “Oh, they're just a fucking dumbass who has millions of followers, that's unfortunate.” I don’t think they really hate anyone. But their fans think they do. It’s just really weird to me. 

The thing that's more disappointing are people that are smaller than those musicians just sucking up to them so hard. My joke in our industry, and it’s not just our industry, it’s any industry that's male-dominated, it’s like these people do horrible things and my joke is people go, “Oh, well they're really nice to me.” I’m like, so? Who gives a fuck that they're nice to you? All those people are nice to me, too. I just go out of my way to never be around them because I think they're idiots. I think a lot of people in bands have a similar feeling to me. I call them my O’Doyle’s, from Billy Madison. You know the O’Doyles? 

I’m not that up on my Billy Madison lore, I haven’t seen that movie in a long time. 

If you recall, to take over his dad’s company he has to retake all of school, so he starts in kindergarten and has to graduate high-school as a grown man. And in every elementary school, middle school, high-school, there’s always a bully that shoves kids into a locker. His name is O’Doyle, he’ll shove a kid and be like, “O’Doyle rules!” An idiot who thinks they own the place.

And then one time in high-school, Billy Madison’s like, “I have a feeling your whole family’s going down.” And then at some point in the movie Chris Farley is a bus driver and he throws a banana peel onto the road, and then later on in the movie the O’Doyles are all driving down that room and the car drives over the banana peel and they drive of a cliff screaming, “O’Doyle rules!” And they all die. 

I always call those people my O’Doyles. Eventually, your whole family’s going down, it’s only a matter of time. 

I hope so. 

Yeah, but if not, I always say that it’s what this whole genre deserves. It’s just reality instead of someone trying to pat themselves on the back for being diverse. It’s like the reality of this world...why does this world have such a diversity problem? Obviously it’s getting better, but why is it so attractive mainly to straight white men? Moreso than other genres of music. What is it about it? It’s not that it’s music that calls to them, it’s that it deters everyone else away, for some reason. Why? 

It deterred me away, physically. I didn’t like going and performing onstage and having someone yell something rude at me or throw something at me or try to sexually assault me while I was performing. That wasn’t cool. So it cracks me up when people are talking shit about bands having a barrier up. I’m like, “Oh, I see you don’t get sexually assaulted while you’re performing. That must be so nice for you.” 

Yeah, that doesn’t come up in the barricade argument too often. 

Let alone what other demographic of people would be allowed to beat each other up in a public space? That's a privilege in itself. Who else would be allowed to do that and not have the cops come and fuckin’ take everyone away? 

One thing that [Spiritbox], Bad Omens, Sleep Token and I presume Knocked Loose have in common, is I think we have a rather large female listenership compared to our peers. The same with those Rise-core-era bands, the emo-era bands. Watching the Metallica documentaries and stuff, they were kind of made fun of for that, too. I think anything that women like is always mocked, but I think teenage girls are the purveyors of culture. 

How difficult has it been for Spiritbox to navigate around those O’Doyles? 

It’s horrible because no matter what, even if you can get away from them, someone who you care about, who you trust, profits off them, too. Being a woman in this industry, it’s amazing how little you can do and how little activism you can do, and then that activism is projected onto you. 

How do you mean? 

I feel like I’m a rather passive artist. I have very strong, in this day and age, radical political views. And views on how the world should be. But it doesn’t exactly come across in my music and in my stage presence and how I talk. But I feel like people that don’t like change in our world, they project that onto me anyway.

Yeah, you’re the “woke” artist. Just because you’re a woman, pretty much. 

Yeah, or that I think trans people are human beings that shouldn’t be discriminated against, who deserve the same rights as anyone else. It’s interesting, those things are hurled as insults. But they're like projected ideas. I’m a symbol to those people. The “woke” thing has become a catch-all phrase for whatever those people [don’t like].

And I’m not exactly fearless of some of those people. I’m legitimately disturbed by a lot of them, and I have to…not interact with them, but it’s not just me talking to someone on the internet. They're technically co-workers and stuff. I can talk shit publicly, but I feel like that's what all those people kind of want. I just want to behind the scenes become successful enough that I can make an impact because of the leverage I have. 

When we were first starting, we played a festival and we were playing on a Saturday. And we got moved to a different day because Nine Inch Nails looked at their stage and they said, “Put some women on our stage, and you need people of color on our stage. This is unacceptable.” I think that their intention was that [the festival] got more people on the bill, not just move us. But I was like, “Wow, that's the impact of that band, they can do that.” So maybe I can do that someday, and a lot of my peers. I don’t know all of them, but I feel like they're more like us in how they feel. So I appreciate when any of those bands do well because I think it strengthens us all. 

But I don’t know, this could just be a little flash in the pan. Sleep Token, that's a phenomenon. I feel like when my band was [being written about as], “This is this meteoric rise. They came out of nowhere.” I feel like Sleep Token are actually doing what we were perceived to be doing. They sold out Madison Square Garden. Without ever talking to anyone in the press. Same with the Bad Omens guys now, they don’t talk much either. I think that's really cool, I hope they get bigger and it sustains. 

But this music…I think because we love weird music so much, we’re all really desensitized to how weird even the super mainstream stuff that you’ll always be hearing on Octane. If you show that to someone who doesn’t listen to that kind of music, they’d be like, “What is this?” Sleep Token are a prog band, to me. 

Yeah, but at the same time there’s people in my life who never listened to metal who listen to them. But Sleep Token are a special case. Of all the bands I wrote about, they're by far the most pop-forward band. 

I’ve never met them, but I think they're more like us and Bad Omens, probably. I’ve never had this discussion with them. But I don’t think they ever think about what type of genre the song that they’ve made is. I don’t think that's good or bad — it doesn’t make us better than anyone else. But I feel like if I thought that about every song I made, I would go insane. 

I don’t think there’s any artist I’ve ever interviewed over the years who said, “Oh, I was intentionally trying to do this specific sound.” Honestly, just hardcore bands who are like, “Oh yeah, we wanted to sound like this one 1987 demo.” 

That's a perfect example of why it’s cool, too. To reference that kind of thing. 

But don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of songs that are on the radio now, in metal music, that people got in a room and they did one session and that's the lyrics and that's the song. Whatever it was that day, “Who cares if it sounds a little bit like this other song. Who cares if they already said those words in another song.” It’s a little AI feeling. Just content being churned out. Because it feels real good when you’re playing a big festival…

We go onstage and people are like, “OK.” And then another band who makes music that I wouldn’t listen to goes on after us and it feels very cool to watch 50,000 people bouncing up and down. That's cool. It maybe feels a little cooler than the 50,000 people just standing there staring at my band. I got to go onstage with Bring Me the Horizon, and I will tell you, that is drugs. Every time I’ve performed with them, I only perform one or two songs with them, and I don’t sleep until 6 a.m. I go to bed and I’m laying there [wired]. No one’s even cheering for me, they're all cheering for them, but I’m just there. 

I performed with them five times and that is addictive. Amazing. It’s my dream. That shit inspired me so much. And bands like that really care. They're not on autopilot. It really was validating to me to watch bands like that, how much they care about this white being the right shade of white, or this resolution isn’t right and they have to fly the guy in and change it. It was validating because sometimes I feel like I’m crazy for being like that. 

I had a pretty music journalist-y hypothesis in my article that you guys were going to, whether consciously or not, try and make songs that could give you that drug rush. 

When I read that I said, “OK. It’s not his job to listen to every single song I’ve ever put out.” The song you posted was “The Void.” Listen to another song on our record that we have a video for called “Cellar Door.” 

Yeah, it’s heavy as hell. I know that song. 

So I’m like the taco meme: Why not both? We’ve already made that song and that's not our big song. Our biggest songs are anywhere from more traditional metalcore — I hate the term, “the beauty and beast. The beast verses and then into a singing part.” Those songs do really well and we have lots of streams on them. But I say, why not all of it? 

We’ve already written some really catchy songs. I thought that song “The Void,” that's one of my favorite songs we ever made. It’s just now kind of catching on a little bit with our fans. There’s no one at the helm. There’s not really anyone helming the ship like, “You need to put this out.” I assume the same with the other bands like us. I don’t think they have someone micromanaging them. But yeah, we might make a song that you deem to be really commercial. And then also a song that isn’t commercial. 

I think it’s relative to the goal. Is your goal to be the most-played band on Octane on SiriusXM? Is your goal to go on terrestrial radio? Because that's a whole different world. That's a whole different world who don’t give us a second look. I don’t even know if our label sends us out to that stuff. So I don’t have this, “This song has to be this BPM, or this amount of time, or it’s too long, or it’s too heavy, or it’s too soft.” It’s one of those things where it’s never intentional. 

And another thing with our band is that we don’t have any TikTok virality. We’ve not had that — yet. If that happens, I don’t know if that's a good or a bad thing. Our climb was too fast to begin with. We had such high expectations and we didn’t even have a road team. So we’re trying to do all this stuff and we don’t even have a permanent crew. We’re just now starting to have a team of people to help us achieve all those dreams. 

I guess it’s weird, I just don’t care. Michael writes music, and I go, “This would sound good over it.” That's it. And then we go, “Which one would be the funnest, coolest music video?” And that's how we pick a single. And sometimes we listen to our people. 

We put a song out called “Jaded” and we didn’t want to pick it as a single. And it’s the one time that we trusted our manager and our label head. They're like, “Please let us put this song out.” And we were like, [groans]. And I'm glad because we love performing it and we got nominated for a Grammy for it. So hellyeah, they were right. And I was wrong about “The Void.” I was like, “This song’s gonna change my life.” And they were like, “It’s not gonna change your life. It’s just a good song.” 

I agree with you, though, [in terms of] who’s gonna take up the reins when [the biggest metal bands] don’t want to play music anymore and tour? Because they're tired and they want to retire. 

The tenor of the genre changes. And whether that's good or bad is up for debate, we literally won’t know for 10 years, probably. 

It’s really different in Europe. As a whole, people seem more genre-fluid there. At festivals and stuff. 

Yeah, I mean you look at the Download and Reading lineups and it’s completely different bands mixed together. We’re seeing that here now with Sick New World, which is an indication that anything goes. Like, shoegaze and indie with metalcore. That was never a thing until now. 

Yeah, so maybe that's the way this will survive. It’s thriving in Europe. There’s bands who go over to Europe for the summer festivals and that's how they pay their mortgages for the whole year.

I think that this world is just not very vulnerable. 

How so? 

Aesthetically and the content of the songs. Like, every song is about overcoming. 

Not a lot of songs about failing. 

No, it’s all like, “We will rise. We will overcome. It’s not me.” And then in 2008 all the songs were about how slutty whores suck. All the songs were very misogynistic. 

And then the next song is like, “Jesus Christ rules.” 

Yeah, the savior-core era was like…Dude, my first time playing in Iwrestledabearonce was on Warped Tour 2012. The only bands I had ever heard of on that thing were Born of Osiris, Chelsea Grin, Every Time I Die, and Taking Back Sunday. I had never heard any of those other bands. That was my first time being around egomaniac frontmen. I was like, “Who the fuck are these guys?” 

My joke was that I’d walk around and there’s some bands I’d walk by and I’d be like, “I’ve actually never heard that band play a song because they're always telling girls that they're sluts.” And being like, “We are big and strong! And tough! Don’t mess with us.” And I was just like, “Interesting.” 

It always cracks me up when people are like, “I miss Iwrestledabearonce, Spiritbox sucks.” And It’s like, yeah you did miss us. You missed us on tour because you didn’t come … Currently, what I’m making, people like. But unfortunately, if those two things stop being parallel, I can’t fit this world. I can’t change and adapt and overcome. I’m stuck like this, so all I can do is hope that people continue liking it, because I think as soon as we start thinking [tactically], whatever we make, we’re not gonna really like. 

I feel maybe that's why our little world is having an identity crisis. I don’t know, I think it will be OK. I think it would be stronger if not just one piece of the population enjoys metal music. If it could be come 50/50 men and women, that would be very powerful for the genre as a whole. 

Yeah, and maybe I made a mistake by not emphasizing this in the article but some people took it as me being like, “Oh I don’t like the influence of women in metal.” And that couldn’t be further from the truth. But yeah, you guys fill an important role right now by just being there. And going back to what you were saying earlier about how you’re not putting that much forward but you’re still being perceived as an activist, I feel like even you just doing the song with SeeYouSpaceCowboy seemed to really mean a lot. 

It meant a lot to me. It meant so much to me to have the honor of that. Because I know what it’s like. What I go through as a woman, Connie has to go through times 10. So I feel so much strength getting to be beside Connie. I feel like her band are like us. They're making whatever they want. They don’t sit there going, “What do people want to hear from us?” I think they just do what they like. 

Whether we like it or not, we are posterchildren because we’re different. It’s so strange having your existence be novel. You’re either penalized for being different, or if you do well, you’re critiqued for being different, and you’re only doing well because you’re different. To all that I say, “Yeah, sure. I’m doing well because I was born and I present as a woman, you’re right. I’m not talented or anything, I’m just a girl." I’m going to always have a chip on my shoulder. It’s weird wanting to be embraced, but you can also get your agency taken away from you and objectified. 

But I guess it’s why I don’t mind and I’m not stressed out about the changing of metal. Because I’m really more hyper-focused on building my own little army of people. We just keep getting really cool opening opportunities. I’m gonna keep taking them because hellyeah I wanna coast off Korn’s coattails for a little bit. But eventually you have to do your own shows because that's the only way you can really see your fans who are willing to pay to come see you play. I’m very fascinated by that because I don't like fully know who the [Spiritbox] fans are. I can see a spreadsheet of demographics, but I don’t know what they like. Do they dance? Do they fight each other? Do they jump off the stage? I think that's the thing that's exciting to me.

I’m a huge Anthony Fantano fan but I’m past the point of caring if he reviews my music. Because I know that that's not his thing. And a lot of stuff he likes isn’t my thing. And I think that's kind of the same way the bands all operate. We don’t all listen to each other’s music. I bet if I lined up any 10 of my friends and was like, “I’m gonna hook you up to a lie detector test. Have you actually heard every one of my songs?” Most of them would fail probably, and I’d fail as well. 

Appreciation doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a diehard fan. So I’ll continue to be just absolutely cucked by Fantano at all times. He’ll never like my band’s music but I’ll continue to watch all of his reviews of other people’s, including the Knocked Loose one. 

This is an interesting conversation to have with an artist in your position. You’re popular right now, that could change at any moment, but you’re very popular right now. You’re really loved in metal media. Pretty unanimously. There’s almost no way that you’re gonna get a negative review, in the way metal media currently is. 

Find me a negative review of anyone’s record. 

Exactly. Do the positive reviews mean anything to you knowing that there’s no chance that they’ll go negative? 

It is hard not to have them mean something to me because a lot of the times the person writing it, I’m feeling how they feel. I’m drinking their Kool-Aid, I believe that they really get me. I don’t like it when they go, “This is the biggest debut since Hybrid Theory.” I’m like, “Please don’t. It’s not.” And now time has passed and we can see that it’s not. And I don’t really see a lot of people changing their sound to sound like my band at all. So I don’t know that we’re even influential on other bands. Maybe aesthetically. 

I would say that a band like Bad Omens are much more influential on other bands than my band is. And Bring Me the Horizon is the most influential of everybody. So that kind of stuff really bothers me because I don’t like people telling me what to like. I don’t like things shoved down my throat and feeling like it’s planted there. All the opportunities that we got were because of individual people at those [outlets] being like, “I want to help this band.” Whether we deserved it or not. So we got big magazine cover looks on this debut record, without them ever hearing the record. That's crazy. 

I hope we get critiqued by people because that means that they feel comfortable in their position at whatever place they're writing for to not be worried that somebody’s gonna pull ad revenue from their magazine because they wrote something mean about the band. I always say that: Find a negative review within the last 10 years. 

Unless you’re looking at Pitchfork you’re not really gonna find them. And they don’t cover metalcore, or really even metal at all anymore. 

No. I always joke that our genre, metalcore, is not cool enough for anyone to cover. We’re too nerdy but not nerdy in a cool way. We’re nerdy in a theater kid way. 

As someone who exists in those indie circles, too, people don’t even consider it. It’s a different world that's not even looked at. Which is odd, because a lot of these bands are extremely popular. 

Because it doesn’t feel self-aware. 

How so? 

I feel like a lot of indie bands — and that's another hilariously broad genre kind of like “metalcore.” There’s self-awareness and irony [in indie], and I don’t feel like there’s a lot of self-awareness and irony and self-analyzation within metalcore music. I don’t see that. Myself included, I’m not writing ironic songs often. They're usually very eager and earnest, or they're, I call it guns to the head. 

"I’m so crazy, dangerous."

Yeah, so I think that we’re not self-aware. All the cool guys, if you stuck us all in a high-school, the cool people in high-school would’ve beat us all up. You know how there’s nerds that were picked on by the mean guys, and also nerds that were picked on because they're just obnoxious? That's us. We’re all just obnoxious. And we’re like, “You don’t like us because we’re different.” And it’s like, “No, we just don’t like you.” [Laughs]. 

But that's why we make our weird music, because we don’t have that internal dialogue being like, “Don’t do that. People will make fun of you.” 

Subscribe to Chasing Sundays to read the rest of LaPlante and I's conversation. Topics include: LaPlante's inside account of the "shitty music" getting pumped into metal radio rotation, her wish for more negative music writing, the parallels between metal and hip-hop culture, the possibility of a Spiritbox/Knocked Loose tour, LaPlante's opinions on Charli XCX, Chappell Roan, Sabrina Carpenter, and more.