There is a lot that can be said about Adrienne Cowan’s brilliance. She is an artist who can simultaneously be an unfathomable force of nature and a relatable, humble human being. We were lucky enough to talk to Adrienne about the new Seven Spires album “Gods of Debauchery” and the vulnerability and honesty that went into making it. There was also a small mention of Hobbits… read on to see what we mean.
MG: On this new album “Gods of Debauchery” you showcase a lot of vocal and musical diversity, flowing in and out of so many styles. How do you go about achieving this in your music?
Adrienne: Great question! It just kind of comes from the gut. We just do what feels right, and we make the music that we want to hear. When we write, we are very focused on musically illustrating feelings. Not just – this is a sad song – but the profound emptiness of loss, or something like that. Drawing from a plethora of different styles I think really helps us musically paint with the right colours.
MG: Your vocal performance throughout the new album is beyond amazing. What was the most challenging song or vocal part to record for this one?
Adrienne: Thank you so much! There is a line in “Ghost of Yesterday” and it goes “She is an illusion, a ghost…” and this “a ghost” thing was the biggest pain in my ass. I spent so long on this one line with my voice teacher like, “David, please, help me make this sound okay.” So from a technical standpoint that was pretty difficult, I think it is just because it’s on my bridge. The actual most difficult song to record was “This God is Dead” because we spent a whole day tracking a bajillion vocal layers for the choir at the beginning. And also because it’s such an emotionally heavy song… I had to take cry breaks. At the end of the song it was originally going to be “…let me be your light, let me be your light…” as it had been in the intro. Then Jack, who was engineering me, said, “What if you sang I will be your light, let me be your light…” And I was like, “Man, that’s so cheesy, but you know what, I’ll try it because I trust your judgment.” And I tried it, and then I cried for half an hour because it was so emotional. It’s a technically difficult passage as well.
MG: Do you ever have moments with your vocals where you’re in the studio, or you’re hitting a wild note or harmony and you’re just kind of like: why in the hell did I write this?
Adrienne: Usually, it’s when I’m on stage. In the studio I’m like, “Aw man, this song is so cool, I’m gonna do this awesome thing.” And then we will be on tour, I’ll be two weeks in, and I’ll have to sing “just to see your smile light your face once more” really well, every single night… and I’m like, “For fuck sakes, this was a bad idea.” I remember when I was super young, there was this interview with Amy Lee of Evanescence that came out, and she said, “I had to start writing easier songs for myself because I was singing really hard shit every single night.” And I remember thinking, “Aw that’s so wimpy.” No. It’s hard. I don’t know if people realize how hard it is, our instrument is just two little wet pieces of tissue and other tiny pieces of tissue. Even if the air conditioner is on too much, that is going to get messed up. So yea, those moments are usually in a live setting.
MG: The video for “Lightbringer” is so cool, I have watched it so many times. You’ve added some rad dance choreography that is a really great addition to the overall experience of the song. How was that experience for you? Was it fun to work with choreography?
Adrienne: It was so fun! Also, I’ve had a lot of feedback from interviewers who are like, “Yea, so… you did this thing…wanna talk about it?” But I appreciate that you said, “It was rad and I liked it.” So I mean, I am an ex-theatre kid, right. So that should tell you enough. It was so much fun to work on. Our guest vocalist, Casey Lee Williams, choreographed the dance. All the girls learned it at home, and then we had one day to practice together at a dance studio and get our outfits together to make sure we didn’t look disjointed. It was a little bit crazy, and I don’t think any of us had ever done anything like that except for Casey. But it was super fun, when we were filming it we were like, “Yea, this is definitely gonna piss off a lot of people, a lot of neckbeards specifically.” But you know what? That’s fine; neckbeards don’t pay my bills, so I don’t fucking care.
MG: You have shown a continued evolution as a vocalist and composer with each record you’ve released. What is something you are proud of in terms of this growth as an artist?
Adrienne: I am really proud of the way I have consistently become more myself. Even though I fought to be myself in the past when I was a little bit younger and not as secure in who I was as a person artistically and so on. You get a lot of people who are like, “You should be more brutal, you should play less melodies, you should do this or that…” And I am the type of person who is going to be like, “Fuck you, I’m gonna do it.” I’m really proud of finally letting go of all of those things and just being able to express myself as authentically as possible. I think that was a major point for all of us on the record. I don’t think the guys have had as much of this complex that I had, or if they had it at all, but I think we are all extremely honest on this record. As a side note, I am pretty proud of the orchestrations on this record. Because of the whole… you know… the meteor hit, and we got all of our tours cancelled, we spent a lot of time at home. I drank a lot in the first month and put on some lbs. So I spent an hour and a half on the treadmill every single day and watching orchestration tutorials, just trying to hone my craft a little bit more. So yea, I am proud of being myself more, and I am proud of showing that and executing that.
MG: One thing that is really cool about you is you have this admirable openness with your fans on social media. You are honest and open and it’s really refreshing and probably important to a lot of people. What inspires you to share all of the sides of life as a metal musician?
Adrienne: When I was younger, I was super into My Chemical Romance. Okay, secret’s out. I think enough time has passed that it’s okay to say that. This one interview with them came out, and I remember one of the guys in the band saying basically, “We say these things in our music, we are a bunch of fucked up guys, and it helps our fans know… you’re not alone.” That really made me feel less alone when I was a sad teenager, and then when I grew up into a sad adult, I thought, “Damn, I could be that for somebody else.” Especially now that there are not many opportunities to go out and look cool and be a rockstar, or whatever, I think it’s pretty important to be like- yea, I am a human outside of all of that and it fucking sucks right now, so let me be real with you so that you know we are in this together. I know there are a lot of celebrities who say we are in this together, but I actually want to be there to say, “Guys, I know you’re sad, you know I am sad, It’s okay.” This actually became super important in my discord community. It became a really safe place for everyone to just safely expose their feelings. Even in our listening parties, this level of emotional vulnerability was so apparent. When we listened to the album and everyone who had their cameras on were all crying at different points during the album. I was so happy that everyone felt safe and seen.
MG: Now that the album is nearing release on September 10th what is something you are most looking forward to?
Adrienne: Honestly, I am just excited for it to be out. I have been living and breathing this album since March of last year. I feel like so much of it is this big secret that I’ve had to keep under wraps. For it to finally just be out is going to be a huge relief. Release days are super stressful for me in general because this is something that is very personal and anything anyone says about it, I am going to take it personally. I guess I really am most looking forward to sharing the experience of this album with our closest fans and bonding with them over it, and eventually getting to see them when tours can happen reliably again.
MG: So with the way things have been with the cursed meteor and all the crap over the last two years, what is one thing you can say that you have learned that you are kind of happy or thankful to have learned?
Adrienne: This is kind of a pretty deep thing to say, but I feel like I learned who I was outside of work, outside of being a musician. I have been so focused on that since I think I was sixteen maybe, when I decided I would be a musician. I didn’t really socialize a lot, I was pretty isolated in terms of always moving around every few years. There wasn’t a lot of other stuff besides the focus of trying to become a professional touring musician. Now that I didn’t have that in the last two years, it was like I had to find out what else there is. It was a horrible situation, but I am really glad that that was what I got out of it. I learned to prioritize my physical and mental health. Everyone has their vices, and I definitely do as well, but I just had some time to learn how to do better with myself and with other people, not as a musician but as a person.
MG: I have one last question. I noticed you and I both follow a page called lotr_memelord on Instagram. So I have to ask: If you had to choose one of the Hobbits to be in a band with you for the rest of your days, who would it be and why?
Adrienne: Either Sam or Pippin, I think. Because I think I’m a Frodo, and I need a support system like Sam. But also I need a Pippin to just make me laugh all the time no matter what, and just help lighten the mood, and tell me to eat my carrots and mushrooms.