On occasion, big names can give their favourite bands/proteges the kiss of death (see: Kanye and Mr Hudson, Estelle). Other times, a shout-out from a big name artist can be more important than what meets the eye. Courts, a five-piece from Basildon, Essex have only released three singles to date, but they’ve got a big fan in Elton John. Rocket Man himself played the boys’ new single ‘Glass Half Empty’ on his Beats Radio show last week, exposing their music to a gigantic audience.
‘Glass Half Empty’ is a funky/grime banger that is soon to become a staple for every BBQ playlist in the land. Trying to summarise Courts music is almost futile – it’s a graceful blend of JME’s furious vocals and Jamie T’s witty observations, mixed effortlessly with the funky guitar/bass combo of Chic.
We spoke to Dan (guitarist) about what it was like growing up in a culture-less town, their name-check by Elton John and where they go from here.
How did you guys meet?
‘Well, three of us are brothers – my brother Reese and my brother Luke are in the band. We went to college at 17 and met Chris (singer) and drummer Joe.’
Have you tried to openly rebel against the expectations of what a band from Basildon would sound like?
‘With the music, we’ve never ever made a conscious decision to do anything or make anything that’s like ‘let’s go out of our way to write a song like this’, it’s a natural process. I know it’s such a cliché to hear, but that is actually how it works for us.
Basildon hasn’t really got an identity. It’s just one of those classic set-ups. It’s a new town there’s not much culture, there’s not much history. I suppose it is influenced a little where we’re from, but it’s more of that cliché thing of growing up in a shitty town, ‘we want to get out of it, we’re doing music to get out of it’
You got a namecheck from Elton John the other day which is huge, did you know he was a fan?
‘I didn’t! It was a shock really. Our manager rung up and said that he got news back that Elton John is going to be playing our track [on Beats Radio], and it was just like – ‘what the fuck!’
As a musician you can doubt what you’re making, but for him to acknowledge the music, you don’t need any more confirmation in what you’re doing. He’s a living legend at the end of day.’
How did you pick up your disco/funk/grime sound?
‘Just exploring, researching and listening to new stuff. You get to the point where you get really bored of whatever you’re listening to and you’re searching for the next thing that gives you a buzz and an inspiration, that’s what happened with disco.’
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What’s the creative process for you when you’re making your music?
‘We write and record in our studio, as we’ve got a space near where we live. We’re really lucky to have it. There’s no windows – it’s like being lost in some WW2 bunker and you can get lost in your own thoughts sometimes!’
‘Glass Half Empty’ has been a huge success so far – how are you going to follow it up?
‘We’ve got a string of releases but I don’t want to say too much. Hopefully around April, but that’s not gospel. Loads of live shows and festival appearances too. It’s only February and it’s going a bit mad, but it’s gonna keep building!’