Recently I was able to catch up with Eli Hirsch of the pop-rock band, Courtship., to discuss his band’s latest record called I Hope You’re Well In These Crazy Times. The record comes after their great debut, Denial In Paradise, and finds the band continuing to tinker with their pop-based sound. I asked Eli about the new album, which includes a cool cover of “I Try” by Macy Gray, as well as some of the core influences and writing strategies that the band have experimented with.
So thank you so much for your time today. Can you tell me your range of emotions after releasing your new album called, I hope you’re well in these crazy times. And also, can you tell me where the album title comes from?
Yes, first the range of emotions putting out records is sort of like a weird mix of mild satisfaction and apathy. I realized, especially on this one, that the fun part is making it, not putting it out. You sort of move on after you make it. That’s the part you do and then move on and make more shit.
Yeah, so do you feel like it becomes like somebody else’s at that point, once it’s released on to the world?
The way that works for me to think about it is that putting it into the world is like a part of the process. So you do it. And then you just make more. I’m just not very attached to any of that. It’s kind of like you just have fun making it. That’s really it.
That’s good. So I really loved your debut Denial in Paradise featuring some great songs like “Perfect People.”
But you hated the new record…
No, I did like it. It’s a lot different, though. But yeah, the debut had songs like “Sunroof,” “Stop for Nothing,” which all did pretty well in commercial spots, too. So can you tell me how some of those commercial placements came to be?
All our bank accounts would not say they had commercial success haha…You mean what happened with “Sunroof” and the Snapchat thing? I mean, that was just a friend who heard it on a short Snapchat. It got put on it. It was super cool.
I saw the debut got pressed to vinyl recently. So that’s cool.
Yeah, we got a new vinyl coming out! We’re stoked about that. I don’t think we’ve ever felt like a big band in any sort of way. I guess that answers the question. I think we feel like a very small band but that doesn’t really bother us.
So you like to be under the radar and hope to surprise people along the way, too?
I mean, it’s not even about being even under the radar. I think we’ve accepted that we just do what we do. And then that’s just going to be what it is. It’s sort of the exact same thing as what I told you about putting music out. You sort of just make what you make, and it’s gonna be what it is.
Right. So the new record starts off with a song called “Sheryl Crow,” with a line in the chorus about “Sheryl on the radio”. So what went into the writing and recording of that opening song?
We’ve always been really obsessed with her. And I just feel like she represents a time for me of just simplicity and a great era for music. In my opinion, I think she’s amazing. And so I think it’s just a song about that feeling of what it feels like to listen to that music.
Is there a certain memory that comes flooding back to you when you think of her music and that time period?
Yeah, I mean, my parents really loved her. So we’ve had my whole family listen to her a lot. And yeah, she’s great. She’s fucking awesome.
Has she <Sheryl Crow> heard the song?
Funny thing is, I know that her manager sent it to her.
Also, “Better Than Real Life” also features a cool vocal harmony, similar to “Heart and Soul” in the middle of that track. So how did those vocal arrangements kind of take shape as you experimented with different sounds?
How did we decide to steal “Heart and Soul?” Well with the harmonies I think we just sort of have a sense like this should be have harmony and then we just need to fuck around with what is good. But with “Heart and Soul” we just thought we should just steal it and then we looked up if it was allowed too, and we realized we weren’t, we did it anyway.
Fair enough. It’s not one of those ones like, “Happy Birthday To You”…kind of thing where anybody can use it nowadays, right?
No, it’s not in the public domain. So the writers of “Heart and Soul,” and the publishers, feel free to come after us. And we’ll be happy to settle out of court.
You also covered a song called “I Try,” a Macy Gray cover that really fits the sound of Courtship, I think, really well. So how did that cover get cleared first of all, and then were there any other cover songs that you considered for the record?
No, that was the one we considered. The only one. And you can do any cover you want just as long as you pay a very small licensing fee for it. And you obviously don’t say that you wrote it. But with that one, I just grew up in love in Santa Monica. We actually met Macy Gray and played it for her, which was really fun.
Oh, really? What was her reaction?
She was like, this is cool!
But yeah, I love that song. And just like, it just kind of works. It feels good to do. I think covers are great. There’s already so many good songs. So, I think it’s a worthy question to ask, do you even need to write more? Of course you do, but you also should think it is also a place to appreciate other songs that have been written.
Yeah, and do you feel like you guys are ever gonna come to the point where you either want to sample different things, steal different pieces or different parts, to put into your music, like you’ve done on this record?
Yeah, totally. Maybe I could totally see that happening more.
Yeah, that makes sense. Do you have any plans to tour on the new material? And how would you approach a setlist for that upcoming tour if it ever comes to fruition?
The setlist would be exclusively Bar Mitzvah songs. We’re just thinking like Usher’s “Yeah.” What else would be good on that list? Some Britney Spears? Absolutely. Outkast? But no, there are no plans to tour right now.
Yeah, the last time I saw you guys live was with a band called Night Riots, in DC.
Oh, you were at that tour?
I was there.
Where are you from?
I am from just outside DC, in Silver Spring, Maryland.
I spent a little bit of time there.
Interesting. What part of Silver Spring?
Like in the city, near the Discovery building.
Yeah, I’m about 10 minutes from there. I really like DC. It’s a good place to write about music and catch shows and stuff.
Me too, I love the 9:30 Club, but everyone does.
Yes. I think they follow you on Instagram. The show was at a now defunct place called U Street Music Hall. It was the same company that owned the 9:30 Club. But yeah, they went under during the pandemic. Yeah, it was a great, great venue. I used to go there all the time. So talking about the pandemic, are there any albums that piqued your interest during that period of time?
Yes, my favorite album from the last few years is the Porter Robinson album, Nurturer.
I haven’t heard it, but now I’ll have to check it out. Are you familiar with a band called JR JR, by any chance?
Yeah, I think Micah works with them. Weren’t they called Daryl Earnhardt Jr…?
Yes, they were before they dropped his name and went by Jr Jr. Yeah, but I bring them up because I hear some of the similar song structures on your new record. I was telling my buddy about that. He is a big Jr Jr fan, and I am too, so that’s why we both kind of vibed to the record. So I was just curious if that was one of the ones you guys were listening to along the way or just had a casual influence on your sound?
No, but I know of them. I feel bad for them having to change their name.
Yeah, and I think Dale Earnhardt Jr. actually was a fan of that band. He “okayed” it in the beginning, if I remember, right. I don’t know why they decided to rebrand. But anyways, how has your songwriting evolved since Denial in Paradise?
I think you just grow up. Sounds that you like change, and things you want to say sort of change. And then what you’re listening to changes. So I guess that’s sort of it.
And what do you feel like would be your ultimate goal for Courtship?
I think the ultimate goal is to just never fake it. So just do whatever is real, at the time, and that’s really it. There’s no like, “master plan” or gigantic goal. What’s great about courtship, for me, is that it sort of just is allowed to be what it is. When we’re on tour, we’d like to do our own tour thing. And if we’re not, then we’re not. And then if we’re making a record, we are not like we sort of both pretty chilled about it. So it’s not stressful anymore. It was in the beginning but it’s not anymore, and it’s great.
Yeah, and I think the record came out midweek too, which is kind of unconventional. Commercially, everything releases on Fridays these days. So that’s kind of cool to get like those midweek treats along the way to totally show that you guys have some creative control.
No, we do. We’ve never been on a label. Really, we’ve always done it on our own pretty much.
Cool. Any last words for your fans about why they should check out the new record or anything else?
I mean, we’re super grateful for anyone who takes time and gets into our music, like you. It’s really cool. And thank you for listening to the shit that we sat there and made and had fun making. And if you have fun listening to it, that’s cool. And if you don’t like it, that’s cool also.
Yeah, I definitely am part of the former. I really enjoy it, and I think it’s a great record. I wish you guys nothing but the best moving forward and you guys careers. If you ever come through DC I’ll be there.
Yeah, for sure. And if we’re in DC, just hit us up on Instagram, and I’ll put you on the list.
I appreciate that!
Thanks so much for your time.
Have a great one!