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"This notion of ‘success’ isn't measured by which label you are signed to, it is measured by your inner happiness." - Courtney Cox

Posted: February 27, 2024
It is rare for a musician to pursue their path in the music industry completely solo, so collaboration is a key factor in any level of success for an individual or group.
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Photo credit: Jack Lue

Collaboration is the process of two or more people, entities or organizations working together to complete a task or achieve a goal. Collaboration is like cooperation. Most collaboration requires leadership, although the form of leadership can be social within a decentralized and egalitarian group.

The ability to collaborate in a corporate environment is imperative to the success of a company or agency. Individuals belonging to a structured department or group requires unselfish discussion to accomplish goals or purpose. There are varying skill sets that assist in the entire success of a single or multiple projects. If one person fails to accomplish a given task, or disagrees with promoting unity, then the entire group could be affected. Often to the detriment of the company.

Is this something that only a corporate entity could experience? Is collaboration required, in other areas of a “work environment”? Yes of course. We can go back decades to see how a lack of collaboration started the downfall of a band or artist. The history of music is filled with bands that went on a hiatus due to the lack of input from other band members. This article is more than just covering facts or making a statement. It is important for each reader to understand the importance of collaboration or cooperation.

Of course, there are other reasons for a hiatus or a band splitting. Those issues are well documented as well. However, I have read, and experienced the effects of a non-collaborative person. The effects to say the least are “exhausting”. Both mentally and physically. Our guest today is Courtney Cox. She is one of the top performing guitarists that you will ever hear. I have directed this topic to her, because of the experience she has in the music industry.

ABOUT COURTNEY COX

Courtney Cox, originally hailing from the Philadelphia region of Pennsylvania, is a lead guitarist for, and full-time member of, the all-female Swiss metal band Burning Witches. Up until August of 2023, Courtney was known for being a long-time lead guitarist for the world-renowned tribute band The Iron Maidens, a band she joined in 2009. During her tenure with The Iron Maidens, Courtney would also lend her guitar skills to other bands such as Femme Fatale and The Starbreakers throughout her years living in Los Angeles, California, where she moved after leaving her hometown of Essington, Pa at nineteen to further pursue her music career.

After picking up the guitar at the age of thirteen, she would find herself on the road touring for multiple acts by the age of fifteen, carving out what would soon become her full-time professional career of playing music and she would never look back. While currently splitting her time between the United States and Europe, the first female signature artist for Caparison Guitars, Courtney Cox or CCSHRED, continues to gain recognition and praise for her talents and hard work as a musician and performer worldwide.

INTERVIEW WITH COURTNEY COX AND GUITAR THRILLS MAGAZINE

Guitar Thrills: Hello Courtney. It is exciting to finally get a chance to chat with you. I have followed your career with Iron Maidens, as well as Burning Witches. You are a stellar guitar player, and one that has much experience that we can lean upon. You are the perfect candidate for this topic. 

Guitar Thrills: What do you think about the topic of collaboration. Is it necessary to be successful in the music industry?

Courtney:  It is rare for a musician to pursue their path in the music industry completely solo, so collaboration is a key factor in any level of success for an individual or group. You always hear in any conversation about the business: ‘You are only as strong/good as your weakest link’, “Be in the right place at the right time” or “It is who you know” and so on and so on and they are all true on top of hard work and sometimes luck. Surrounding yourself and working with people who want to see you succeed and have your best interest in hand is a very tricky thing to navigate through because in any business, there are many situations where you can be easily taken advantage of. It can be a chess game and having a good head on your shoulders and being familiar with how a business works goes a long way.

Guitar Thrills: Have you personally experienced an interaction where another person failed to cooperate? 

Courtney: I’ve been in this business since the age of fifteen and it is only natural to have encountered people and situations that weren’t ideal for my career/brand along the way. It is a journey of learning many lessons both good and bad.

Guitar Thrills: How did it affect you personally?  

Courtney: You must have a pretty thick skin for this business, and you just must keep your eye on the prize. Thankfully my ‘skin’ is quite impenetrable these days and I don't let negative emotion cloud any of my focus. It is a dance of hitting rock bottom and getting yourself back up on your feet repeatedly. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

Guitar Thrills: Did it ever make you feel like giving up as a guitarist? 

Courtney: Never. 

Guitar Thrills: It is apparent that you are still performing at the top of your game. Why are you different then some of the other artists that just decided to give up, or go on a hiatus?

Courtney: Everyone has a different path and sometimes things don't work out because of factors like LIFE. It is not an easy business to be a part of; If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Am I different? No, I didn't come out of the womb shredding and I’m not some God’s gift to guitar playing either. I work hard every day for what I have achieved and plan to achieve.  Music is there for you always, the passion for it and this notion of ‘success’ isn't measured by which label you are signed to, how much you make, how many covers you are on… it is measured by your inner happiness. I would describe misery as being on top of the world and being unhappy, dispirited. You don't want to be lonely up there in space.

Guitar Thrills: Did your experience help you to become a better person, or contribute to the success you are experiencing now?  

Courtney: My experiences have taught me a little more about people in general and how they tick, which helps in this business. You always want to stay true to yourself at the end of the day and be the best person you can be regardless of your situation, whether it is good or bad at any given time. As I said before, ‘you just keep your eye on the prize’.

Guitar Thrills: If you could identify some factors that contributed to negative experiences in the past, what would you have done differently? 

Courtney: I think it is human nature to be hard on ourselves from time to time, if not all the time. I always feel like I could have been prepared a little more for this gig, or played that better, shouldn't have met that person, etc. etc. but I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have those negative experiences or as I like to call them “lessons”. To grow, you need rain and sunshine. I think I've learned more from negative experiences than I have in positive ones where it feels like everyone just puts you up on this pedestal and kisses your ‘behind’ sometimes. For what? I’m just doing what I love. Nothing more, nothing less! I think that when some people in the business persuade you to believe your own, for lack of a better term, ‘BS’, is more damaging than hitting rock bottom from time to time and getting back up on your feet to work even harder.  It is not always greener on the other side is what I’m getting at here haha. Your success should be the result of your hard work and not given to you because of what the industry thinks is “IN” now.  You see this a lot in the world of female players these days. Headlines such as “Women finally entering the metal world” or whatever, when in fact we have always been here working hard like everyone else. It is just that now the people in charge decide to write about it. We will take the write ups though, thanks!

 It is very interesting when you take a step back and look at things like this, regardless of gender. If you didn’t know much about the business, doing this opens your eyes and makes you realize it is what it is and probably will never change as much as we would want it to.  Moral of the story: Work hard and stay true to yourself through the good and bad.

Guitar Thrills: Are you happy with where you are now in your career?

Courtney: Of course. Wouldn't change my life for the world.

Guitar Thrills: That is excellent to hear. Without a doubt, you will continue to make history with your level of talent as a guitarist. 

Guitar Thrills: While we wanted to cover this topic with you, we have other things that we want to focus on. Such as your experience as a guitarist. We know there are many guitarists that have been inspired by those that came before them, who gave you that incentive to pick up the guitar?

Guitar Thrills: Was heavy metal your first choice? 

Courtney:  I grew up in the bubblegum pop era unfortunately, well I guess not unfortunately because I still love The Backstreet Boys to this day hahaha (sorry not sorry. want to fight about it? haha).  My older brother is a huge metal fan, so on top of hearing a young CC screaming her heart out to questionable age-appropriate songs from a boy band group, there was always metal blasting in the next room over in my childhood home. I would from time-to-time sneak into my brother’s room and “borrow” some of his CDs from time to time when he was out of the house. He obviously did not approve of this but anyway. I remember grabbing some Metallica CDs and my life changed forever. So here I am switching off on BSB and KILL ‘EM ALL haha.

 Later, down the line, I would go to my parents and ask for a guitar out of the blue, which confused them let me tell ya! I was obsessed with the instrument and this band ‘Metallica’ and I studied Kirk Hammett to a T as well as James’s down picking. Within a few weeks, I was playing along to the albums, and I knew there was something there for me with this instrument. I then never looked back. So, for me, Kirk Hammett is the reason I picked up a guitar. From Kirk, I would dive into the world of heavy metal/thrash and all the great guitar players that could be found there. To this day, Kirk is the ONLY musician I have ever met that made me completely start struck haha. 

Guitar Thrills: Which band or artist was the most unforgettable experience for you?

Courtney: I am still a music fan regardless of being in the business, so I love going to concerts. Doesn't matter who it is either. Seeing my favorite bands is obviously a plus, but I really love experiencing the energy of any show. If I had to choose an unforgettable experience or experiences, it would be seeing Metallica, King Diamond, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden for the first time. Not to be lame, but happy tears flowed at each one!

Guitar Thrills: If there was another genre of music that you would have chosen, what would that be?

Courtney:  I think even if I had the chance to start my life over, I would find my way back to heavy metal in some shape or form. I listen to everything as a good song is a good song, but metal is something very special to me and I connect to it more than any other genre.

Guitar Thrills: The brand of guitar is essential. Especially with how hard you play. What is your favorite brand of guitar and why?

Courtney:   In a world where there are many brands to choose from, you end up living a real-life story of ‘the three little bears’ with what is the best for you.  I love many brands, but Caparison Guitars is the perfect match for me and my guitar playing, and I have been fortunate enough to be a part of their artist roster for quite some time now. Their hand-crafted Japanese made guitars are some of the best instruments around hands down. The attention to detail in their craft, their art of obtaining the best sound quality for each guitar and their durability at home/on the road to the treatment and care they provide for their artists, is something a musician can only dream about, and they make that dream a reality.

Guitar Thrills: How much does a specific brand contribute to your skill set as a guitarist? 

Courtney: A well sought after goal as a musician is to be able to make anything that is put in your hands sound good. There is truth in “it is in the fingers” and this is why some players have their own distinct sound even when playing the same notes as another on the same instrument.  Having a brand that you love just becomes icing on the cake and I think it subconsciously nurtures creativity as you are ‘one’ with your favorite instrument. That guitar ends up being an extension of yourself, who you are.

Guitar Thrills: What do you have you been accomplishing as of late? I understand that you will be headed out soon. Will you be touring, if so, where are some places you will be performing?

Courtney:  After fourteen years of playing in the band “The Iron Maidens”, I have closed one chapter and started anew joining the original Swiss metal band “Burning Witches’ last August. It has been a fun ride so far as we have been playing nonstop around the world, playing big festivals/cruises, and touring with some well-known acts. Up next, we head to the US supporting KK’s Priest in March, which I’m really looking forward to! You can find those dates over on all our social media platforms or by using your best friend: ‘Google’!

On top of all the shows and traveling, the band is currently writing and working on our next album release. This is all very exciting for me because the two things I love about this business the most are: touring and being in the studio!  When I’m not out with the band, I work on some solo project stuff in my spare time, whenever I get that! I also spend time creating some content for fans providing some behind the scenes on tour videos, guitar lessons and stuff like that over on my Patreon page (CCSHRED). I’m just staying busy!

Guitar Thrills: That is awesome to hear. I know you have a busy schedule, but it was important to get to know you on this level. Maybe we can talk again soon. How does that sound?

Courtney: This was a blast and I look forward to the next one for sure! I think some people forget musicians are HUMAN too sometimes, so it is always a pleasure to sit down for a chat! 

Guitar Thrills: Excellent. Thanks again for taking the time to interview with me today.

Courtney: Thank you for the interview! See you out there on the road!




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