Hailing from Columbus, Ohio, The Cordial Sins hit the ground running with their harmonious indie rock boasting a snarling hint of grunge, already opening for MGMT and The Flaming Lips.
Songs like “Sick of The Hype” and brand new track “Not Enough” ground the five-piece in an early-90s sensibility, successfully drawing from the riot grrrl, college rock and shoegaze scenes without losing their identity.
In conversation with guitarist and singer Liz Fisher, Born Music got to the bottom of what informs The Cordial Sins’ classic sound, as well as finding out their ambitions for the future:
Congratulations on your new track “Not Enough” – is there a story behind the song?
‘Not Enough’ took me a while to work with and write – maybe 3 months. At first, Corey showed me the initial guitar riff and every melody I imagined in my head just sounded way too heavy. So, I wanted to give it time to simmer so that we could smooth it out a bit. I guess we wanted to go for a specific vibe — something powerful but shimmery at the same time.
When it came time to write lyrics, I tried focusing on a concept that I routinely mull over. I’m really fascinated by my own sense of nostalgia – it’s something that saddens me from time to time but also fills me with a lot of gratitude for the people I have in my life. So, I wrote about the sensation of wanting the most out of meaningful relationships coupled with the insecurity of never being completely fulfilled by them. I think this duality is often present in a lot of relationships — close relatives that sometimes seem distant or old friendships that, while intense at one time, don’t really exist anymore. Writing ‘Not Enough’ was another way for me to process these ideas and to realise my own agency and responsibility in forging the types of relationships I’d like to be in.
You also received well-earned praise on previous single, Sick of the Hype. Do you have any plans for an EP or album release soon?
I can see us releasing another EP at some point, but we’d really like to secure some type of funding or backing before then. We’re going to switch gears and try something we haven’t really tried, which is recording a batch of demos without the intention for immediate release. We want to see who is interested in our music and would love to partner with someone for whatever comes next. So, that means we need to hunker down, develop our sound more, and focus on tightening our live performance as well.
We’re big fans of your early 90s rock sound. Do you work with anybody on producing your tracks to bring in those elements?
Yes. Naturally, Corey and I kind of write riffs that have that era of music in mind, but we work with a producer named Jon Fintel as well. He produced our EP ‘Only Human’ as well as ‘Sick of the Hype’ and ‘Not Enough.’ He owns and operates Relay Recording in downtown Columbus. I would say he’s a pretty instrumental part of our sound.
How did the band first meet and come to be Cordial Sins?
Well, that’s kind of a long story. The short version is that Corey, Kyle (Edwards – on guitar) and I coincidentally went to high school together, although we never hung out. Corey and I started playing music together in 2012 and brought Kyle into the mix a few years later. We spent a long time trying to figure out what kind of sound we wanted to have and also went through a few versions of a rhythm section. By 2017, though, we landed on this formation, which includes John Allen on bass and Mike Ortiz on drums and they’ve been with us since our ‘Only Human’ release. We’ve also spent the most time with them considering we began our small tours last year. I would say this is the strongest line up we’ve ever had, and I don’t see it changing any time soon.
In a parallel universe where Cordial Sins never came to be, what would you be doing instead in the present day?
I think Corey would still be trying to play guitar somewhere in the world… It’s hard to visualise myself as something other than a musician since I’ve been doing it for so long… but maybe a business executive. My parents always thought I’d be the CEO of something, ha!
You hail from Columbus, Ohio. Has your hometown inspired you in any way?
Yes! I’d say that the Midwest vibe provides its own style of inspiration, regardless of how much people elsewhere (the coasts) seem to dismiss it. The thing about Columbus is that it is considered to be “up and coming,” which in a music industry sense means that there isn’t a lot here in the way of labels, production companies, publishers, etc. Interestingly enough, though, music is arguably very integrated into Columbus’ overall image and it does matter to people.
I think we can draw inspiration here because we are able to view our music and this project through a very honest lens – one that hasn’t been tinted by the big music industry just yet. And, we’re lucky to be a part of a place that is growing — in population, in popularity — and everything that accompanies that. Columbus has a lot to grapple with because it’s growing quickly, but I find that many people here are willing to engage with one another, and we have the chance to be a part of a city that is developing during a really interesting time in U.S. history.
Which three acts would you say are your biggest influences and why?
Hmmmm… Well, that’s a good question. I think that’s kind of a hard one to put my finger on because it’s constantly changing. If we really had to pick three overall, it would be Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age and Wolf Alice. Corey and I are really big fans of all of those bands and while they’re fairly established, we feel that they’re still growing with every record. They’re never trying to re-make what they did before and that’s pretty refreshing. There are a lot of other big inspirations for us, like Alvvays, My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Big Thief, Wilco, NIN, BRMC, etc. The list is long and it’s always growing.
Do you have any influences – musical or non-musical – that nobody would expect?
Classical music! It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge my roots here because it definitely shapes the way I approach writing. Learning classical violin has helped me acknowledge how to create melodies (as violins are often strapped with that role in an orchestra) and also how to shape chord progressions in a way that is typically pleasing to the ear. Some might argue that it can get in the way, as we are definitely trained toward a sort of perfectionism (in my opinion), but I try not to worry too much about it.
You’ve become a popular live act, and recently opened for MGMT and the Flaming Lips at the Bellwether Music Festival. What’s your dream venue or city to play and why?
We really want to play more festivals. It’s just so awesome to perform in front of a bunch of sweaty, new people who are trying to share in an amazing experience with one another. If we had to choose venues… Red Rocks in Colorado. It is an absolutely gorgeous amphitheater and we love Colorado a lot. I’d also settle for Madison Square Garden or The Greek, ha!
Finally – across all of your songs, what is your favourite lyric you’ve ever written?
I really like this section of ‘Not Enough’:
“These are the days that stick with you the most/Coming of age and cuttin’ it close”
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