November 29, 2006

With the internets going Malajube crazy as of late - combined with the fact that these dudes are playing our Gen F Live party at Chicago's Darkroom tonight (still time to RSVP, foolios) - we figured it's as good a time as any to post up the story on 'em from our current issue. Check it out after the jump.

Totally Franc

Malajube breaks down the language barrier

By Caroline McCloskey

On the cruddiest day in recent memory—the sort of bad run where the phone takes a swim in a pint of Guinness and that’s the least of your troubles—I had occasion to throw on the headphones and listen to track ten from Malajube’s debut album Trompe-L’oeil just a smidge too loud. “Étienne d’Août,” is basically the song version of the feeling you get after a monster sob, and after doing time with the rest of the album (which is in French, but you don’t really notice after about three minutes), it became clear that five gentlemen from Montreal could provide the soundtrack to a great many other mood swings as well.

Trompe-Loeil’s twelve bipolar episodes lurch between destructo recklessness and narcotic daze with impressive urgency (frequently all during one song), so it’s tempting to regard them as drunken journal scrawls about an especially damaged affair. Which, in a way, they are. “When we were making the record, my family was getting sicker and sicker. My sister had cancer, then my mother had cancer, then Mathieu’s dad had cancer and Francis’s brother broke his hip,” says singer Julien Mineau. “We weren’t crying in the studio or anything, but it was a bit like a quarter-life crisis. Sometimes it can be a love song about the doctor saving your life, or the guy cutting your stomach with a knife to extract the cancer.”

Back in Canada, much has been made about Malajube’s decision to sing in their mother tongue (though their name sounds like bad candy it does not, in fact, mean a goddamn thing). “There are two different scenes in Montreal, the Anglos and the Francophones, and we sort of have a foot in both,” says bassist Mathieu Cournoyer. “There are lots of differences between the two—the big one is language, but also French bands tend to sing about being so proud of Quebec and all that shit, but we don’t like that. For us, it’s not about sovereignty.” Malajube might be on to something, because by seriously pounding out le rawk, these dudes have done what most French-Canadian bands haven’t been able to pull off: Get out of Quebec.

And then there are the advantages of lyrical ignorance. “I grew up listening only to English music, like everybody in Quebec,” says Mineau. “I was listening to Guns n’ Roses when I was young and now that I understand English, it’s bad. When he was saying ‘honey,’ I thought he meant like bee honey, like the honey you put on your toast. But he means, like, ‘girl.’ It was much better when I didn’t understand.”

Posted: November 29, 2006