Concert preview: Blissful punk trio the Courtneys keeps things simple

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

The Courtneys keeps things simple on its self-titled debut, a collection of blissful, lo-fi punk tunes that tend to bound along as giddily as a kindergartner with a wicked sugar buzz.

It’s a sound the Vancouver-based trio developed at least partially out of necessity, since band member Jen Payne was forced to hold down double duty as drummer and lead vocalist.

“When we started the band [in 2010] I would do a few weirder drum things, but as soon as we played the song live I would change it to be simpler,” said Payne, 27, reached by phone in the midst of a tour opening for Tegan & Sara. “Now when I’m writing the drum parts I do it knowing I’m going to sing. At the same time, I like that aesthetic of drumming, and I don’t like fancy fills and whatever. To me the drums are just there to keep time.”

This no-frills approach even bleeds over into the lyric writing process, and the group’s songs tend to double as a log of its members’ various obsessions, be it TV (“90210”), film (the “Point Break”-inspired “K.C. Reeves”) or even the various dudes who slip into the musicians’ daydreams (“Delivery Boy”).

Growing up in Calgary, Payne, who was born to a mechanic father and an interior decorator mother, never envisioned a life in rock ’n’ roll, and she didn’t start playing drums until she turned 22, jamming on Jesus & Mary Chain covers with her then-boyfriend. Even so, the musician said she always exhibited a natural sense of rhythm, honed by her childhood involvement in competitive dance and further refined by the years she spent studying post-production audio at the Vancouver Film School.

“The thing I was most interested in there was Foley (the art of recording post-production sound effects),” she said. “And the biggest thing with that is footsteps. You have to watch these people and go, ‘OK, there’s this 150-pound guy wearing army boots walking on a wood floor,’ and then you put on army boots and get on a wooden surface with a microphone and copy his walk. When I was in school and we were doing all these projects, people would always get me to do the footsteps. I think … it all comes from the same sense of rhythm.”

The Courtneys’ musical development evolved in similarly natural ways, with the three mates — Payne is joined in the band by guitarist Courtney Loove and bassist Sydney Koke — gradually moving toward their current sound rather than hewing to some preexisting template.

“In the very beginning, especially our first few shows, we didn’t know who was singing what or what our aesthetic was going to be,” Payne said. “It just kind of organically became what it is, and eventually we fell into a groove.”

Andrew Volk photo

Rumba Cafe

8 p.m. Tuesday, June 3

2507 Summit St., Campus