“It all gets weirder from here lads” – A Conversation With Courting

On a casual Tuesday this week, I had the pleasure of chatting to the two Sean’s that make up one half of the UK band Courting, one of the country’s most exciting up and coming indie bands. In our chat, the charming lads shed light on their debut EP, upcoming tour, and who they’ve been listening to this year. 

Courting have managed to gradually build up a following over the two years they’ve been operating, with their attractive riffs and humorous lyrics (poking fun at inherently British activities). Something particularly prominent in their newest single Grand National, the energetic Kickstarter and title track to their debut EP. This number was released on March 11th as a single, and has seriously helped Courting in gaining more recognition. The track gets frequent plays on Radio 6, despite the bands misgivings toward how they were initially introduced by Shaun Keaveny. “When we like first applied for BBC introducing, I just put loads of bollocks in our about section because I didn’t think anyone would ever play us, stuff like our biggest influences were Olly Murs. And I’ve changed it now, but whenever they used to play us, they’d be like yep big fans of Olly Murs these lads!”. With previous tracks like “Football”, Courting had me thinking they’re starting to allude to a running theme of songs involving sports as the backdrop to provide satirical overlooks into British society. Surprisingly these lads wouldn’t necessarily say they were trying to showcase an agenda while singing about horse racing, explaining that they were compelled to write the track simply due to the way it rolls off the tongue. 

I remember having a discussion with Sean, and I think there was like an advert for one of the virtual grand national things that went on last year, and I just remember messaging you Sean saying, “Grand Nationals just a great name for a song”. I guess it just kinda went from there, it was less like we were so disgusted with the state of horse racing that we decided to write a song about it and more that we thought the title was great and tried to build it off that. Like one thing I’ve been trying to say is that the way the individual words fit together as well, like the grand and national bit, considering before this we were kinda talking a lot about nationalism when we were writing, I thought that would be a cool way to name the song and an EP.” 

Track 2 on the EP is “Popshop”, a lively, bouncy 2 minutes about consumerism and repetition in the music industry, a song which fellow young indies Lounge Society have covered. In fact, the lads at courting were more than happy to express their love for the cover “Their remix of Popshop is ridiculous, I’ll be honest I think its better than our version of the song. When they sent me that back I was like “Holy Shit!” It’s like, I cant stop my love for that song so please do go and listen to that”. I was especially keen to divert the conversation towards the track “Crass”, possibly my favorite song on the EP, it has an incredibly infectious, yet really aggressive riff. Combine this with loud spoken word lyrics that really drive the track and you are left with something that displays pure talent, especially considering how different it sounds to the first two tracks, which are a lot more fun and lighthearted. This style really reminded me of Black Country, New Road, especially due to the line “I feel like me and Kanye might still have sex” which caused my mind to immediately wander to the “Leave Kanye out of this!” chant from “Sunglasses”. I was unsure whether this was intentional or more of a reference towards Kanye’s “Famous”, where he feels “like me and Taylor might still have sex”. Thankfully, Sean Murphy was there to clarify: 

“To be honest, I think that was kind of like an individual one, I wanted to write a song about fame for a long time. And how we kinda write stuff is by cataloguing and collaging random ideas, and I guess I was trying to write a song called “famous” like the Kanye song of the same name, and I just thought “that is such a cocky lyric” and it would be so cool to sing from the perspective that you just make Kanye West look kinda shallow. So, I don’t know if it was necessarily like, from the same vein but (sunglasses) is a great song.”

It’s not surprising that later on in the interview the conversation turned towards Covid, with the lads reflecting on where they were before the pandemic. After releasing three superbly punky singles last year, Courting ensured they didn’t disappear into obscurity. When chatting about the upcoming tour schedule, Sean Murphy O-Neill and Sean Thomas contemplated the events of their last gig, a time when – unlike now – they were fairly unknown. 

“Yeah our last gig was actually quite eventful, it was on like a weird time and not many people were there, we were like second on and the opening band had brought all their fans from somewhere else. Like all of them when we were performing had left the crowd and went onto this weird balcony that the venue had. And as I said with the song slow burner, as kind of like an opportunity for crowd participation, we kind of like left the shit on stage, left the venue, went on to the balcony and then like whilst we carried on playing we dwarfed the crowd back down and annoyed them into coming back to the crowd. I think we won them over, if we didn’t, massively pissed them off, it was quite funny. So that was a nice experience you know, annoying people.”

Speaking of “Slow Burner”, which is easily the most ambitious and fantastically adventurous track on the EP , especially with the aforementioned cowbells that the band are so fond of. I felt it important to ask the band if there was a particular direction they were pursuing, whether they planned to make delightfully weird, eccentric tracks, or more humorous, energetic ones. “It all gets weirder from here lads”, came Sean Murphy’s ecstatic reply, a comment that reinforced my excitement for future releases from the band, considering how enjoyable the second half of the EP was. 

Sean Thomas: “I think “Popshop” and “Grand National” were us trying to perfect that more Englishy, kind of punky, poppy sound, and the second half of the EP is like..”

Sean Murphy: “Were we’re leaning towards, but there’s a lot of things that we’re leaning towards so it could really go anywhere at the moment. But yeah, I’d like to pull even further on that “Slow Burner”, cowbelly, dance punky kinda stuff”. 

Finally I asked about the near future, and in particular the touring schedule they’ve just announced, which includes impressive gigs such as the London Camden Assembly hall, and even the O2 academy on their home turf, in Liverpool. “It’s a bit of a step up from where we were last time, so very exciting”. The proof is in the pudding with how much more popular Courting have become over the last year, something the band certainly acknowledge. “Yeah, the results from this tour are looking very nice, but a lot these places we’ve never even played, if you look at the last time we were doing this in Liverpool, we’d only released football like a few weeks earlier and we only had like a few fans, but it feels a lot different now.”

O2 academy tickets to see Courting are available now for 17th September from £10, so make sure to snap up tickets for a gig that will be “well worth the treck.” for non-Liverpudlian’s. Courting are also playing gigs such as Leeds Apollo, Manchester YES, and of course Camden assembly hall for the southerners. 

Ultimately, courting should be on the radar for any fan of the UK Indie rock scene right now, with their future looking potentially very exciting indeed.