LES ÉKORCHÉS – From Cellos To Voivod
March 15, 2007, 11 years ago
By David Perri
There’s lots of talk in Montreal music circles these days about a totally unique project that’s going under the name Les Ékorchés. Les Ékorchés is a band that modestly refuses to call itself a supergroup, but evidently has all the qualifications required to be referred to as such. Featuring within its ranks Michel “Away” Langevin (Voivod), Marc Vaillancourt (B.A.R.F.), Pat Gordon (Ghoulunatics) and Philippe Mius d’Entremont (Maruka), Les Ékorchés is brought to further heights by its off-the-wall premise that sparked the band in the first place: instead of playing straight-ahead metal or hardcore, the group puts forth a visceral, aggressive attack centred around acoustic guitar and cello. Yes, you read that right. Les Ékorchés self-titled debut record was released on February 27, and it’s a potent blend of forceful material that reminds of Motorhead or Kyuss filtered through the aforementioned acoustic guitar and cello. Fear not: this is still loud stuff, complimented by Vaillancourt’s raging vocals/lyrics and Away’s patented thunderous drumming. And Gordon’s acoustic guitar or d’Entremont’s thick-as-sludge cello? They’re also in-your-face. Very in-your-face.
BW&BK; had the ultra-cool opportunity to interact with Les Ékorchés three times in the span of ten days, first speaking to Vaillancourt and Away in a downtown Montreal cafe for a feature that will appear in BW&BK; #103 (on newsstands in March), then hanging out at a Les Ékorchés rehearsal in the band’s jam space (the basis of this article) and finally watching the group play live at its album launch at Cafe Campus on February 27th. All of it was a pretty cool experience, made that much sweeter by the fact that Les Ékorchés first full-length is an invigorating listen, with roaring highlights ‘D’la Viande Ce Murs’ (‘Meat On The Walls’), ‘Naitre D’un Chakal’ (‘Born Of A Jackal’), and energetic record opener ‘Shot Ça Yeule’ (‘Punch To Your Face’) getting permanently lodged in your brain.“We’re trying not to put too much pressure on ourselves with this record,” begins Vaillancourt. “We’re trying to keep everything relaxed.”
“I saw this week’s Ici (note: Ici is one of Montreal’s French-language free weeklies) and it said ‘Come discover the metal supergroup Les Ékorchés.’ Nope, no pressure there,” laughs d’Entremont.
“We hope the media will respond with enthusiasm to the project,” continues Vaillancourt. “So far, so good. We just hope to make the biggest impact we can. But we’re keeping our expectations in check. We’ve all been in other bands, so we know that sometimes hype on your band is just hype. The music has to do its job, not the reputation of the band.”
“Yeah, we’re excited about the buzz,” remarks Gordon. “But we’re old enough to already have had a lot of buzz happen with our other bands and then you end up going, ‘Well, the buzz was fun for that week’ (laughs). Sometimes it’s one week of buzz and then it’s over. So we’re keeping things in check.”
“If the music doesn’t do the job,” Vaillancourt says, “the band will just be a curiosity and then after that, fuck all. We’re just relaxed and waiting to see what happens. But we want to win an ADISQ award (Quebec’s version of the Juno’s) for best supergroup… we want that trophy! (laughs).”
Les Ékorchés’ debut finds itself in good hands, with indie powerhouse Indica Records (home of rock saviours Priestess, double platinum phenoms Les Trois Accords and punk legends Grimskunk, amongst a host of others) solidly behind the album. “It’s always a bit nerve-wracking playing in front of your friends,” says Away, regarding Les Ékorchés album launch. “But we’re really happy that Indica has put together an album launch party for us. Not every band gets to have an album launch, so we’re pretty happy.”“The goal of the band is really just to have fun and make music,” continues Away enthusiastically. “It’s fun to play this kind of music, and we’re hoping it won’t cause us any heart attacks or anything (laughs).”
“Away’s on the other side of 40; he worries about things like heart attacks,” d’Entremont chimes in with a grin.
Not surprisingly, the weather also seems to have had its impact on Les Ékorchés’ stylings. Three-quarters of the Scandinavian bands we love so dearly tell tales of being inspired by their cold, dreary winters, so it’s no surprise that a Canadian collective would feel the same way.
“It’s the cold weather man,” says Vaillancourt of Les Ékorchés’ angry delivery. “We don’t play summer songs (laughs). It’s the agony of getting through a brutally cold February in Montreal, and you just want to write angry songs.”
“We should always write albums in February then,” adds in Away with a laugh.
As mentioned above, watch for a Les Ékorchés feature in issue #103 (out in late March). In the meantime, check out myspace.com/lesekorches.