Spiritbox Breaks Free With Breakout Debut LP (Cover Story)

Travis Shinn

With a smash debut LP release, packed sets at major music festivals and a Q1 2022 tour supporting a major band, normally things are well in motion for the next big headline tour. But, ask Spiritbox singer/frontwoman Courtney LaPlante and the answer may surprise you.

“I need to find out who my road team is!” says Spiritbox’s lead singer, who along with husband Mike Stringer are the creative force behind the band that has the metal world buzzing. ”Touring is such a crazy ecosystem that needs to be perfectly balanced for you to execute it right. We have such high expectations put on us that, this next year, I want to develop who my road team is and feel confident about that, and make those work relationships. So when it’s time to put on the headline tour, there’s no wheels that aren’t turning properly.”
The band’s debut LP Eternal Blue dropped Sept. 17, landing on the mainstream Billboard Top 200 at No. 13 with 23,000 units moved in its first week, alongside the likes of new releases from Billie Eilish, Kacey Musgraves, Luke Combs and Dua Lipa as well as some of the hottest hitmakers in music. That, of course, put it No. 1 on the Rock chart, No. 3 on top Album Sales and No. 1 on the Vinyl Albums chart.
While the band and album seemingly came out of nowhere to those who merely scour the charts, the build has been methodical and deliberate.
“I told them, ‘Let’s do things differently. Let’s not tour, let’s say no to a lot of stuff, let’s build online,’” says Roc Nation’s Jason Mageau, who worked with LaPlante and Stringer while they were in a previous band called iwrestledabearonce. With the launch of their full standalone project in Spiritbox, Mageau wanted to start fresh.
“You don’t need to start over and lose money playing small clubs,” says Mageau, who along with the band made the decision to not tour for two years. “Let’s take the same amount you’d lose on tour and spend it on digital advertising and create a better product.”
The story of Spiritbox is one of both luck and design, as both of its first proper tours were delayed by COVID, first being a 2020 UK/European run supporting After The Burial that kicked off in February that was quickly aborted and. Then, in August, the band’s support run for Limp Bizkit following the ‘90s rap-rockers’ high-profile Lollapalooza set was canceled, also because of COVID. 
Steve Thrasher
– Spiritbox
For Those About To Rock Spiritbox plays a jammed daytime set at Louder Than Life in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 25, its first gig since the Sept. 17 release of its breakout debut Eternal Blue.

Still, the band has blown up, including playing to a packed, daytime Louder Than Life crowd in Louisville, Ky., in late September, despite having barely a dozen gigs under its belt and in front of a crowd hungry for familiar favorites from metal gods like Metallica and Judas Priest.
“It’s one of those things that I still don’t even believe it when it’s happening,” LaPlante says of the band’s set at the Danny Wimmer Presents fest. 
“When I’m done with the show, I go on Instagram and look at things people have posted and line them up, I screen record all of them and just sit in my bed and watch it and listen, not to hear myself but I just kept listening to the crowd. 
“I can’t get over it. Number one, there’s people singing along and, number 2, there’s a diverse range of voices that I don’t presume to be masculine or male-presenting voices. I hear a spectrum of people of all genres singing that I’ve never heard in my life.”
LaPlante’s Instagram account has more followers than the band, but she says that will change soon and is in part due to the band’s account getting hacked. Nevertheless, her star power is undeniable and she offers something fresh and unique in a genre often regarded as a boy’s club but ripe for a shakeup. 

Kyle Joinson
– Spiritbox
Although the band’s quickly organized opening slot with Limp Bizkit was ultimately canceled, the band got in a few gigs of the “Last Minute Post Pandemic Pop Up Party,” including this Aug. 2 show at 7 Flags Event Center in Clive, Iowa.
“The band made amazing music, they have a great look and feel and vibe, and they’re connecting with people in a real way,” says longtime rock and metal agent Nick Storch at Artist Group International. 
“It doesn’t matter who the team is, the artist made the right music. That’s the beauty of their story. At a time when you didn’t have a chance, people connected. They built up this excitement, when all they had was the music.”
All they had was music, but in the case of Spiritbox, the music is everything. 
“We very much played the singles game,” says Mageau, after the success of its first single, “Holy Roller,” which had a $600 video directed by Stringer but got an immediate reaction with heavy vocals, an industrial-type vibe and catchy, memorable hook. “‘Holy Roller’ really kind of took the internet and the metal community by storm. A female vocalist who can sing beautifully but also scream like Slipknot, or even better, was already a polarizing thing,” says Mageau.
The manager says that although getting caught up in social media comments can be bad for one’s mental health, it also can give clues. 
Spiritbox’s next single, “Constance,” offered a stark contrast, with powerful vocals and dramatic build-ups – but no growling or screaming. That just got more people talking. 
“The demand kept building and building. 
I just looked at – being in the rock/metal space for 10-something years, let’s do something different and fun,” says Mageau, adding that the band was self-releasing music until around November when it made a licensing deal with Rise / BMG. 
“In the rock space, everyone comes out and says ‘Here’s our record. You haven’t heard it, but pre-order it. Here’s our vinyl, you don’t know if you like the record yet, but buy our vinyl.’ To us, it felt like, let’s put out the music and build the demand, and then start offering physical product. We’re still a new band, people haven’t decided if they like us yet, or if they’re going to spend money on us.”
Spend money, however, they did. Once Spiritbox did announce its full LP release, with a good handful of popular singles already out, the band sold out 6,500 vinyl pre-orders in 24 hours. 
The pent-up demand has led to other opportunities to monetize as well, with its own official merch store opening in May of 2020 and grossing more than $1 million since, with between $30,000 to $60,000 coming in per month. The band’s Patreon fanclub, meanwhile, acts as a sort of research and development to see what super-fans respond to.
“With the consumption and everything behind this – when you ask about touring, I have no doubt we could sell out the Gramercy [Theatre, New York] no problem, could probably do the Bowery no problem, maybe 1,000 tickets in LA or New York,” Mageau says. “With all the data we have, this thing is going to be a monster when it does headline supporting this record.” Agent Storch says they’re “in conversations with the right people” and setting up for a big 2022 after its support run with Underoath in the first quarter taking in large clubs.
LaPlante says it’s important to get fully acclimated to road life and hone her chops as both a singer and touring artist, especially when considering the long layoff and multiple delays over the last couple of years.
Kyle Johnson
– Spiritbox
SpiritBus: Although having two tours derailed so far, including a recent run with Limp Bizkit, Spiritbox is ready for a big ‘22, including a Q1 support slot with Underoath.

 “Honestly, I’ve been so sheltered from learning from other artists, I want to be there and absorb everything I possibly can to learn from these amazing people I have opportunities to tour with,” says LaPlante. “From the bands to the tour managers to the guitar techs, everything. It’s part of my identity I’ve neglected for so long, I feel like I need an accelerated learning program from these people.”

So says the singer, who although able to belt out powerful metal ballads and switch to the roughest, hardcore-style growls seamlessly effortlessly, practiced as a young girl singing along to cartoons and at church where she imagined the congregation cheering for just her. However, she admires those who do it day in and day out rather than on recordings or the albeit impressive YouTube “one-take” vocal demos.
“I’m impressed with vocalists that can do that for 25 dates, getting three hours of sleep and doing interviews,” says LaPlante, joking she’s ready to “pay someone a lot of money” to learn. “Their consistency over decades, I look to those people and am always trying to crack their code and secrets.”
Although taking part in the S.S. Neverender Cruise with Coheed and Cambria, and appearing at the DWP Welcome To Rockville Florida festival in November, LaPlante is eager to realize a full tour. In fact, she can already see it.
“I’m so excited; I haven’t completed a tour since 2015. It’s a big part of my identity, and to connect with people in real life is a huge part of most musicians’ identities,” she says. “That’s a big part of my life that I’ve been having to neglect. I’m envisioning the last day of the Underoath and Every Time I Die tour, I think the final day is March 27. I want to finally complete a tour, a viable tour, and bring that tour to term and deliver it (laughs).”