Beyond the Boys’ Club is a monthly column from journalist and radio host Anne Erickson, focusing on women in the heavy music genres, as they offer their perspectives on the music industry and discuss their personal experiences. This month’s piece features an interview with Adrienne Cowan of Seven Spires.
Seven Spires came together while the members attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and began crafting a unique and theatrical metal sound.
On their recently released new album, Emerald Seas, the band delivers a dynamic blend of power and symphonic metal, blistering rhythms, and heaps of melody. Singer Adrienne Cowan shines whether singing thick, operatic vocals or fierce, gritty growls.
Seven Spires had just set out on a North American tour with Insomnium, only playing one show before it was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fans can help out by picking up the new album here, or contributing to a GoFundMe campaign so the band can recoup its losses in time for a summer tour with Amaranthe.
Adrienne Cowan recently spoke with Heavy Consequence for the latest “Beyond the Boys’ Club” column, discussing the new album, what she loves about traveling the world with her music, how the metal world has changed for women since she first started out, and more. Read the full interview below.
On her first memories of playing shows and whether she was treated differently as a woman
I did a lot of theater in school before I started playing in rock and metal bands, I started in rock and metal bands around 10 years ago, and it’s pretty much all happy memories. It was a childhood dream turned into reality to be able to get up on stage and pretend to be a rock star. The only times I felt I was being treated differently because I was a woman was that I used to play bass, and occasionally, someone would say, “Oh, sweetheart, are you going to play that all by yourself?” But, it’s really not better or worse, because anytime there’s one guy who says, “You can’t play that one on your own,” there are 10 other guys who are supportive.
How has the metal world has changed for women since she was first starting out
I started in 2015, and at that point, there were already a lot of people walking so we could run, like Amy Lee and Hayley Williams, and before that, Doro and Joan Jett. These legends were already out, so when I started out, it was something totally unique to have a woman fronting a band, but it was different to have an angry woman fronting a band. You had a character in a typical gothic, symphonic metal band in mid-2000s that was that dark, operatic voice, but then you had Lzzy Hale, and she really shook things up with her crazy scream-singing. She was one of the first to really break the mold in a mainstream way. It’s almost becoming normal for women to be as brutal as any guy or even more brutal.
On if she thinks women are more embraced in hard rock and heavy metal today
I’ve seen other women still speaking passionately about this, and I definitely think we’re a lot more accepted, and I think it’s nice to be seen as a musician instead of a female musician. I don’t necessarily feel that I need to say, “I am a female but am still brutal.”
On what women inspired her to get into metal music
All of my inspirations in the early days were men, but the first female voice I really fell in love with was Elize Ryd of Amaranthe. Her style of singing is totally not metal at all, but she rocks it, and it’s fantastic, and she has such an amazing stage presence. Floor Jansen of Nightwish has made such a huge impact on the metal world and has really set the bar for being able to do a lot of things. She’s a goddess.
On how the band’s new sophomore album, Emerald Seas, is different from what they’ve done in the past
This is our first record with our drummer Chris [Dovas], and sonically, we’re really happy we have his artistic voice on this record. Almost all of us have finished music school at this point, so there’s hopefully some individual growth in our musicianship, too. We’re always pushing ourselves to be better.
On how attending Berklee College of Music together helped band members’ musical chemistry
We all have that shared experience. We speak the same musical language, so we’re never struggling when talking about certain parts of the songs.
On her initial vision with Emerald Seas and how it evolved
I wanted to create a story that was a little bit more human. I was in a pretty burned-out state for a while, and I was trying to fall in love with music in general again. Music is the only thing I ever felt like I was supposed to do, and to not feel like I love it anymore was very sad, so I tried to create a world that I could exist in and be happy in while I was finishing my degree.
On the meaning behind the album’s title, Emerald Seas
Back in 2013, it was the first time I visited Venice, and I went in late winter or early spring, and the canals were green there, and it was stunning. The city has this incredible life to it, and it felt like home. It’s this soulful home feeling, and it goes with this fantasy story that I was escaping my life. Venice is definitely where my heart lives.
On what she loves about traveling the world and performing internationally
I love the performance itself. It’s where I feel the most like myself, but more importantly, I love getting to have a taste of everything that’s out there. I’m an American citizen and spent 21 of my 25 years here, and there’s so much to see in the U.S., but if you go beyond, there’s so much history. And I love that music brings people together. It’s like you have another family that you never met, but you all love the same things.
On her favorite song to perform live off Emerald Seas
I really love “Fearless”. It’s a song about losing your fear of death, and regardless of the lyrics and the catharsis of it, it’s fun to just scream, and that might be why I like it so much.
On the importance of the live show to Seven Spires
I think it’s the most important thing. It’s the point where you can turn a causal listener in to a fan. We strive to deliver the best show every time, and there’s a special kind of energy with the live shows that doesn’t appear with the records. I think it’s one of the most important parts of building yourself as a band.
On what advice she would give women looking to get into the music business
Aside from the obvious working to be at the top of your field, I would say to be as authentically yourself as possible, because if and when you make it to a point where people are giving you rude comments or you’re denying yourself simple human needs like sleep and being home, you need to know you did it for yourself and not for anybody else. You have to be authentic, because nobody can be you better than you.
Our thanks to Adrienne Cowan for taking the time to speak with us. Once again, you can pick up Seven Spires latest album, Emerald Seas, or help them recoup their losses from their recently postponed tour via GoFundMe.