Papier Tigre, a post-punk band from France, is making a second appearance in Shanghai this Saturday night at LOgO. Eric Pasquereau, the band’s guitarist and vocalist, was nice enough to answer some questions via e-mail in anticipation of the show.
This is your second tour in China (the first being in January, 2008). What are you expecting this time out?
We’re expecting to maybe play to bigger audiences than we did the first time around, reconnect with some of the people we met the first time and discover new places like Hong Kong…As well as hang out with our friend Yoann of Wangba Records, and appreciate the Chinese culture and unlimited hours of train rides.
What were your impressions of the crowds in China your first time around?
There’s obviously a major difference between major cities, like Shanghai and Beijing, and smaller places, like Changsha or Guiyang. Major cities have shows like we’ve had in Europe or in the US, with an audience that are used to seeing bands and international acts whereas in the smaller cities our music is pretty new to the audiences and they sometimes reject our music, maybe because they don’t understand it. But even Chinese bands like Carsick Cars reject our music…but it’s alright because most people enjoy it and go crazy…and share the good time with us.
Critics, fans, and blogs have described your music as “primal”, “complex”, “challenging”, and “math rock”. How would you describe your sound to a new audience? How has your sound changed since the first album?
I don’t really know how to describe our music and I don’t think it’s our job to do it, but these words relate to some aspects of our music. We try to make things [as] energetic, minimal and intelligent as we can. The new album adds new atmospheres to our music. The whole band spent more time working on it. Groove and pop elements were added to our songwriting, but that’s just my opinion.
How did the band get started? Tell us how you got signed with Wangba records.
The band started in January 2006. Arthur, Pierre, Antoine, and me met when we were 12/13 years old and learned how to play music together. We played together in other bands before that and we still play in other projects (the Patriotic Sunday, Room 204), but it was clear in our minds that we had to start a band of our own and we’ve been very fortunate that a lot of people want to listen to it and see us live. Yoann heard of us through a friend of his when we played in his home town in France. He contacted us to see if we would be intrested in coming to China. [Then] he released the album here and that’s how it started.
Punk music has a long history of onstage insanity. How do you guys make your mark? You played 200 shows last year. How do you keep it fresh?
The band was created with the idea that our music was before anything else a live performance. I don’t really know how we make our mark, but we have a peculiar line up with no bass and an extra snare drum played by one of the guitar players. We’re French and European so maybe that adds a different feel to the music we play that is mainly American-influenced. A lot of the songs are drums-driven so maybe that’s not very common in a rock band. We love playing live. I think it’s the best way to discover our music. That’s why we go out and play as many shows as we can, even though it’s very tiring. We travel a lot so the different audiences around the world and the relationships we create with them are always different so I guess that’s how we keep it fresh. Every show is different from our perspective.
A lot of the songs on the new album reference have titles referencing everyday, quotidian themes, like offices and insurance. Do you guys wish you worked in a cubical?
Not really! The quotidian themes are what surround us so we tend to talk about what we can see and know. “The Beginning and End of Now” is an album based on immediacy and the lack of reflexion in the modern era. Going faster, getting bigger, and making more is not a good thing if you have no room to think.
Do you have any crazy fan stories that would make the rest of us feel normal by comparison?
Last week in Japan was pretty crazy. Some guy came to the sound check to get autographs from us. You could see in his eyes it was a very important thing. Some Japanese girls were shaking and had a hard time speaking out what they wanted from us… It’s always a very strange thing for me. I’m really suprised anyone would react that way considering [that from the sound of] our music it’s pretty obvious we’re not in it for the fame. The craziest thing happened to Arthur in Brazil where fans actually put up a sign saying something like “I love you” right in front of him when we were playing… I don’t know if that makes anyone feel normal in comparison. It’s not something we are looking for anyway.
Papier Tigre play LOgO on Saturday night supported by beaucoup de musiciens electroniques. For details check out Layabozi’s Gigs page here.