According to Wikipedia, Apophis is a near-earth asteroid approximately 340 metres in diameter. It’s on a near-earth orbit that sees it cross our planet twice in each of its revolutions. It also happens to be the title of the most recent Choses Sauvages single, which is 3:41 long in the radio-edited version, but nine minutes long on the album, for their fans. Paroles & Musique met the band at 180g, a record shop and restaurant in Montréal, a year after the release of their first, eponymous album, to talk and share a plate of bacon and potatoes.
PHOTO For the guys in Choses Sauvages, the crux of the past year has been live shows. “We solidified things and took them further,” says Félix Bélisle, the singer and bassist. “We know our strength is the stage.” Tommy Bélisle (keyboards, vocals) agrees: the band is at its best when it’s band playing for a crowd. “The songs had been written for awhile when we started touring,” he says. “We wanted to go elsewhere, to explore and adapt our show.”
So the band has spent the past year on the road, alongside Foreign Diplomats and Half Moon Run – the latter, a band whose notoriety took the boys away from their usual crowd. “There were a couple of times when we played for nothing but white-haired people,” Tommy explains. “We played shows in 100% seated venues,” which led the band to explore the malleability of their material. Nothing is set in stone in the music of Choses Sauvages; it’s a jigsaw puzzle that’s constantly re-inventing its pieces.
After their debut recording, the band quickly started thinking about their sophomore album, because of the new electronic direction the band was exploring – and thoroughly enjoying. “Everything is different onstage,” says Marc-Antoine Barbier (guitar, vocals). “The next album will be closer to the way we actually play. It won’t be as slick. We really liked Manu’s [Emmanuel Éthier’s] production, but our dance-punk-party attitude is what we’re into right now.” “We’re really exploring the whole kraut electro thing right now,” adds Félix.
With that exploratory mindset facing the future, Choses Sauvages will go into full experimentation mode during Coup de cœur francophone, a week after winning or losing their first Félix Award at the ADISQ gala, where they’re nominated for Album of the Year – Alternative. Their “rewerk” show on Nov. 8, 2019, at Club Soda will see them de-compartmentalize genres, and stylistically stretch themselves as far as they’ll go. “We’re re-visiting the album with a more electronic approach,” says Marc-Antoine. “Some of the songs will likely make it on the next album. There’s less drums and more drum machines and we don’t want to stop to say, ‘Hello Montréal.’ It’s going to be 90 minutes of non-stop music.”
With their new sound, the band feels as if they’re killing two birds with one stone: there’s an audience for everything, and there’s an audience for what makes them happy. “We make music for ourselves, but we also there’s a hunger for this sound,” says Thierry Malépart (keyboards, vocals). “A lot of stuff was going on when our first album came out,” adds Félix adds. “Hubert [Lenoir] and Les Louanges were just starting to make it. We weren’t really hearing what we wanted to in the Québec music scene.”
“Maladie d’amour [by Jimmy Hunt, 2013] was our point of reference, but we weren’t exactly there either,” says Tommy. “Québec has had its folk, its rap. Now it’s happy to have something else.” “Did people ask for that? Maybe,” says Thierry. “We knew that was where we were going.”
The band is very autonomous on this trip to the heart of the music scene, and the guys love being up to their eyeballs in their own product. Which is why their record label is a perfect match for them. “Audiogram truly gives us free rein,” says Philippe Gauthier Boudreau (drums, voice). “They jumped in when the album was completely done.”
One might conclude that their unfruitful attempts at music competitions was a good thing, in the end. Their DYI attitude shooed away all the bad news. “Francouvertes didn’t want anything to do with us,” Félix remembers with a smile. “Nobody wanted anything to do with us,” says Philippe. “That meant that once we got into the real game, we’d already self-produced our shows with no supervision. We only had Marie-Clarys [their manager] on our side.”
The band’s next album should be out in the fall of 2020, and it should feature the fruits of those endless nights of infinite jams played in apartments around Montréal, for a handful of friends who know how to party. “Drum machines are a big plus,” says Marc-Antoine. “It’s going to make a difference.” “We’re also going to allow ourselves to step out of the ‘song’ formula and make tracks that are six minutes long,” says Tommy.
The boys will hibernate together and figure out each of the band’s next tracks before setting out to conquer Europe. “And make new friends for life, too,” chuckles Félix. You read that right: friends. For life.