Words: John Carlow and Renee Couture Images : John Carlow
Name: Renee Couture
(I swear, you invite someone over for moonshine once…)
Hometown: Oshawa, Ontario Canada
Band: The Standstills
Favorite place for takeout: the grocery store. I’m not really the fast food type unless it’s a food emergency. We usually track down 24hr grocery stores.
In your own words.. give us a brief bio of the band: We’re a hard rock duo infused with deep blues roots with an overall Western (Good, Bad, and the Ugly) type of vibe that pride ourselves on our high energy live show.
Tom Tom – When/how did your interest in drums begin?
Renee Couture: My parents took me to a lot of concerts growing up, my dad more on the classic rock side, and my mom more on the new and upcoming rock side as she mostly listened to the radio. Seeing all those concerts definitely sparked my interest, but it was a music teacher when I was eight that first sat me behind a kit. That’s when the feeling of “this is awesome” hit me.
Tom Tom: Have you ever taken lessons?
Renee Couture: Yes I did. A family friend took me under his wing about once a week for almost a year, teaching me rudiments and fundamentals to start, then gradually helped me to learn parts of my favourite songs. He eventually let me go to find my own style.
Tom Tom: Do you play any other instruments? ( if no, what would you like to learn ?)
Renee Couture: Other than rhythmic instruments and various percussion, no I don’t; but I would love to learn harmonica.
Tom Tom: Tell us about your gear and accessories
Renee Couture: Currently I am playing a gorgeous custom maple TRS kit with a white textured finish and wooden trim built by the very talented Seppo Salminen. I’m rocking a 22×22″ kick drum, with 12″ and 13″ short stacked rack toms mountable to my kick, 16″ and 18″ floor toms and my 14″ snare drum which is 6.5″ deep. She’s big. I’m currently using Sabian AAX Explosion crashes (16″, 17″ and 18″, which I use as my crash ride), a Sabian AA 16″ China and Paiste sound edge hats 14″. My sticks are Silverfox 2B’s and my hardware is a mix of DW down below (kick pedal and hi hat retro stand) and tama for my cymbal stands. My throne and it absolutely is a “throne” is the DW hydraulic model, an absolute must have. Last, but not least is my mighty black cowbell, a mounted tambourine and the eye of the storm, my black firebell. I’m super happy with my current set up but I think in the near future some digital components might be incorporated amongst my gear and maybe some more cymbals as I’m falling in love with the Amedia Ararat series. Some cool texturing to come for sure.
Tom Tom: What would we find in your music collection?
Renee Couture: I’m listening to everything right now… I’m really digging the new Rival Sons. I’m also really into stoner rock right now, bands like Red Fang, Crobot and Truck Fighters. Then there’s my favourite bands like Incubus, The Tea Party, Big Wreck, Queens of The Stone Age, Deftones, Soundgarden… I could go on forever.
Tom Tom: Why is a magazine like Tom Tom important?
Renee Couture: I think it’s very important to empower women to do things out of the ordinary and in this case breaking the stereotype that girls can’t play drums, especially at a young age! I know for me I spent years with my kit facing a wall in the farthest room in my house. I had no confidence at all and I believe a major factor in that was how “uncool” it was with the other kids at school, especially the girls. I think it’s awesome that Tom Tom shines the light on women behind the kit because there is some exceptionally talented ladies out there and the more exposure they get the more it inspires others to think “wow I’ve always wanted to learn, maybe I can do this.”
Tom Tom: What was the most unusual thing to ever happen to you at a gig?
Renee Couture: Ha-ha. I don’t know about unusual apart from slow sinking thrones (literally was sitting on the stage) but I did play through food poisoning once, that was crazy. My idol and mentor Jeff Burrows of The Tea Party picked up the phone to coach me through it which resulted in a bucket on the stage, which luckily I didn’t have to use. It’s funny now that I look back on it and was able to pull it off.
Tom Tom: What appeals to you about playing live?
Renee Couture: Everything. The feeling of winning over a crowd is by far the most rewarding thing to experience. Anything can happen and that roller coaster of emotion, being excited and nervous becomes a bit of an addiction. We have such a great time on stage, always flying by the seat of our pants as we usually change up the set list frequently and make up transitions on the spot. It can be a challenge up there but after almost a decade of performing together our chemistry and body language is pretty well locked in, so we’re just having a blast now.
Tom Tom: How do you prep for a show?
Renee Couture: I do some mild stretching and just try to remain calm and on the level. I used to burn out a few songs deep when I over stretched and tried to increase my energy level going out. It took me a while to find a good balance for what works to get the best performance out of myself but finding that groove has put me in a much more confident position.
Tom Tom: Do you have drumming idols?
Renee Couture: Growing up, Jeff Burrows of The Tea Party played a big role in my development. I had seen dozens of shows and played along at home to the records. He’s got some amazing chops and always integrates really cool rhythmic textures. I’m also a big fan of Ray Luzier (Korn); that man has crazy time changes and fills and of course what a showman. I also love Joey Castillo (QOTSA, Danzig, Scott Wieland). What a powerhouse. Last year I had the pleasure of seeing Motorhead in Detroit and that night I dubbed Mikkey Dee to be one of greatest drummers in the world. I had no idea who he was and he just blew me away. Last, but not least are two females; Leah Shapiro from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Hayley Cramer from Pop Evil. Both quite different in drumming styles but both are extremely gifted and put on amazing live performances.
Tom Tom: What’s in your musical future?
Renee Couture: More shows, more records and more traveling. We have an amazing team behind us and supportive family and friends. So long as the music is connecting with people as it does with us and until I physically can’t, my future is more music.
Tom Tom: What’s the most important thing for people to know about Renee?
Renee Couture: I love what I do and because I’m just as much a fan of music as anyone. I’ll always be appreciative to our fans and remain humble. I’ll always give 100% on stage whether it’s to 50 or 100,000 people because I’m passionate about our songs and frankly I love them. Ha-ha. What you’re seeing on stage isn’t an act; It’s 100% true to me and the vibe we’re getting off the crowd and each other. Success to me is when people express that our music is moving them on a deep personal level.
Tom Tom: Who would be on a dream billing with The Standstills?
Renee Couture: All of the above mentioned bands for sure, but if Page and Plant are up to it I wouldn’t say no.
Tom Tom: What is the most valuable thing you have taken away from playing drums?
Renee Couture: I value how creative its allowed me to be. I’m a very creative person across the board when it comes to the arts. The fact that it has taken me on a journey and left me with such great memories and experiences; I couldn’t hold it any higher in value.
Tom Tom: Do you have advice for anyone thinking about playing the drums?
Renee Couture: I’ve had countless people approach me and say “I’ve always wanted to learn to play the drums” and my response is always the same; “do it”. It’s honestly never too late to learn no matter how old you are. If you’re passionate about the idea and motivated now, then dive in! Who knows what could happen ? You could be headlining festivals in 10 years.
Photography : John Carlow –Finding Charlotte Photography