Contributor’s Note: On August 13th, Michigan metalcore band Spirit Breaker unleashed “Cura Nata” onto the world. The album evokes human nature and human emotion, along with bone crushing riffs mixed with ambiance undertones. If you’re fans of bands like Northlane, August Burns Red, and Architects, then Spirit Breaker is for you. Guitarist Conner Clair and bassist Hannah Boissonneault of Spirit Breaker sat down with Madness To Creation to discuss “Cura Nata”, mental health, and so much more. Fans can find Spirit Breaker on Facebook, Instagram and Big Cartel.
Madness To Creation: Solid State Records! Congrats my friends in Spirit Breaker. How did that deal come about and give me a list of your top five favorite all time Solid State albums!
Conner Clair: Thank you so much! It was a very exciting time and a great email to wake up to. When the band was younger we opened up for the band Silent Planet (Who are a Solid State band as well). After the show Garrett Russell and the band really enjoyed us and we started to bond. Every time they returned to Michigan they requested that we open for them. Fast forward a few years and continual shows opening with them, Garrett revealed he was a Solid State talent scout at the time and provided some Solid State contacts as he said we were finally ready. Solid State continued watching us and after “Pure Fury & Wonder” was released independently they wanted to move forward with us and here we are now!
Madness To Creation: I was watching the music video to “Flauros,” I love the seamless transitions in the song(I’m not a music major, tempo changes right? haha), anyways, was that song written during the year that was 2020. I couldn’t help but notice the earnest feelings in the lyrics “Such bonds are a waste of time/It’s you and me against the world in rapid decline”
Conner: Flauros was actually one of the last songs we wrote for the album. We wrote it in 2021. This album takes a real deep dive into Tre’s (our vocalist) emotions and life events. To sum it up, the lyrics are actually about an old friendship of his that went sour.
Madness To Creation: In your voice or instrument, what is one thing you exceed proficiency on (brag on yourself a bit) and one thing you want to work on to grow as a musician?
Hannah: I’ve always focused a lot on my left hand technique as a bassist. I view the bass as a melodic instrument as well as a grounding force, and really enjoy writing lines for the bass that aren’t always following what the guitar is doing, but have their own voice and place in the music melodically. I think that I do this in a way that doesn’t crowd the musical space, but adds another layer to listen for. One thing that I’m currently working on is my right hand technique, specifically chugging, and playing at fast tempos! I don’t use a pick, so it’s been a bit of a learning curve for me, but I’ve very much enjoyed using my fingers and playing with my consistency and the weight that my fingers add to a pattern as well as pedals and tones to achieve the full and booming sound that’s present in the metalcore genre.
Conner: I’ve always felt that one of my strengths as a guitarist has been my ability to learn by ear. I joined this band and the other guitarist Johnny basically only told me what the tunings were. I had to listen back to the songs and learn them through good old fashioned repetition. I feel like most guitarists rely too heavily on tabs now. I have always been confident on learning melodies by ear. Despite that great ear training however, I always feel like I struggle with creativity. My main goal going forward is to write things that are much more out of my comfort zone. I tend to get in a rut and fall into old habits of writing, I listen back to things and they all start to blend together and sound too similar. Maybe I’m too hard on myself but I always think my demos are much less inspiring than the other band members’ demos.
Madness To Creation: I invite you to my house and cook any meal you want to (I love to cook), what’s on your plate?
Hannah: I also love cooking and I am the opposite of a picky eater, so picking a favorite meal is nearly impossible for me, but any combination of potatoes or pasta, lots of veggies, and fish are my go-to ingredients for a great meal! If I’m not cooking, though, my favorite dish has to be my mom’s shrimp scampi cooked in a ton of garlic and olive oil with Parmesan cheese!
Madness To Creation: Covid has been crazy for all of us for many reasons, what have you learned about yourself through the pandemic and social/civil unrest?
Hannah: As difficult as this period has been for so many people, I’ve learned a lot in my personal life over the course of the past year and a half or so. I’ve leaned on a positive perspective throughout this time to help navigate it, and it really helped me to stay grounded. I’ve learned how to navigate the digital space and to continue to uphold and develop my sense of community, to take time for myself and my relationships that I wouldn’t have with the busyness of “normal” life, and have developed skills like audio editing, recording and basic engineering that have helped me to continue writing and sharing music throughout the pandemic. I’ve learned to be more patient with myself and others around me, to allow myself to make mistakes and grow as a result of them, and how to prioritize my mental health in ways that I hadn’t considered before this time.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to take breaks from things that you love in order to fall in love with them all over again when the time comes. I’ve learned to default to listening instead of speaking on topics that I don’t know about, and learn about these ideas from others around me who do. I’ve reflected on how important it is to continue to uplift, advocate for, and actively create spaces for the voices in my community that are underrepresented. Overall, I think it’s important to implement mindfulness and positivity in your lifestyle in whatever ways you can, continue to stay informed and involved within your community, and allow yourself and those around you the chance to make and grow from their mistakes.
Madness To Creation: How do you plan on changing the game and the world with your music?
Conner: My main goal with music is to have others relate to what I’m trying to create. I’m definitely no lyricist. Our vocalist Tre writes all the lyrics. So if they relate to his words and develop meanings that’s great. As a guitarist I want to inspire others to play guitar but also to understand that the melodies and note choices I use are used to convey a certain emotion better than I could describe it in words. If I inspire even a single person to start playing guitar, that’s all I could ask for honestly.
Madness To Creation: What are some personal and professional goals you have to get through the rest of the week/month?
Hannah: One of my biggest personal goals that also flows into my professional goals as well is time management. I’m involved in a lot of musical endeavors; alongside playing bass and singing in Spirit Breaker, I’m currently a full-time student finishing my Master’s degree in Music Composition at University of Michigan, writing concert music for various chamber-classical commissions, work an audio editor for many different podcasts, own a jewelry/décor business, and also working on an album for my multi-genre project, Feels Like Honey! Time management is one of the most important skills that I have to keep in check throughout this schedule to make sure that I achieve my musical goals first and foremost. For now, my biggest goal is to be on track with all of these aspects of my life and be the best bandmate, business owner, and musician I can be.
Madness To Creation: Take us into your very first show and what advice would you give to your younger self when performing live?
Hannah: I’ve been performing live since I was twelve years old, and back then I was absolutely terrified of playing in front of an audience. Like, would-get-anxious-for-days-before-the-gig-and-would-refuse-to-sing nervous. I loved playing bass and I loved singing, but it took me a long time to get over stage fright. I would tell my younger, timid, shy twelve year-old self to let go of these self-doubts, to lean into your bandmates for support, and most importantly, to have fun. Once I got over that fear early on, playing on stage was (and still is) one of the most enjoyable, cathartic, and exciting experiences. It’s a privilege to be able to play your music for people, and to be able to be vulnerable and open and connect with others through music, so I would tell my younger self to not be afraid to be yourself, and to not be afraid to have fun or make mistakes, because they will always happen and you can always grow from them.
Madness To Creation: Reflect back on your upcoming goals, how do you come together with your band and team to make sure these goals are met?
Conner: Honestly before we got in contact with Solid State we had planned to release the new album independently multiple times. Late 2019 and then we decided we may release it in 2020. We have been holding onto this album for a long time. Some of these songs are over 4 years old! Once Solid State got involved we realized this isn’t just about our goals as a band. We need to work with our expanded and wonderful team now. The biggest thing that our band does well is we all independently take charge of our strengths. Johnny is the main writer, Tre writes the lyrics and Alex, our drummer handles a ton of social media presence. I tend to handle a lot of administrative stuff like band emails and such. When we have a deadline we all manage to pick a project to work on and complete them individually. When there is a lot to do, that divide and conquer strategy works wonders for us.
Madness To Creation: What is the soundtrack to your life? What bands/albums/songs have gotten you through when times were a little uneasy in your life?
Hannah: This answer changes daily for me! I started playing bass because of bands like Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and Alice in Chains. They were absolutely my biggest influences as a young bassist. These days, the soundtrack to my life consists of bands like Radiohead (my favorite albums are King of Limbs and In Rainbows), Fleet Foxes (Shore), O’Brother (Endless Light), Periphery (Periphery II or IV), The Dear Hunter (Act III), Ben Howard (Collections From the Whiteout and I Forget Where We Were), Local Natives (Hummingbird), Lianne La Havas (Blood), Sarah Kirkland Snider (Penelope), and The National (Trouble Will Find Me).
Madness To Creation: What mental health plans do you have to make sure you get back up after you get knocked down?
Hannah: I have generalized anxiety, and I see a therapist regularly to help manage it. When things get difficult or my anxiety rears its head, I practice mindfulness (or being in the present moment) by focusing on my breath or taking a quick break to regroup. I also keep a journal for my “morning pages” (a practice created by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way) where I write 3 pages each morning before I go on with my day. This journaling really helps me stay grounded and keep my thoughts and activities in one place, and reminds me of all of the things I’m grateful for in my life. I’m also really lucky to have such a wonderful support system of family and friends who I lean on as well.
Madness To Creation: What else would you like to add in regards to Spirit Breaker?
Conner: Spirit Breaker has gone through a lot of changes lately but we all feel that we are in a much better place and very thankful for all the opportunities that have been presented to us. We are very thankful for our team and the folks at Solid State. We feel that this album is a culmination of a dark and deep dive into human emotion, and are very thankful for the patience that our fans have had for this album as it has been a very long wait. We cannot wait to share this album with you!
Fans can check out “Cura Nata” by Spirit Breaker via Spotify below: