Bande à Part
After the unanticipated worldwide success of Nouvelle Vague's eponymous debut album (more than 200,000 copies sold, concerts in over twenty countries, universal media approbation et al...) it seemed obvious that we had to continue the project. Keeping to the original concept - re-arranging the greatest, but rarely covered early '80s post-punk numbers in an original and personal way - we tried to once again re-evaluate music that was seldom considered in terms of 'real' songs.
I then had the idea to set these songs in a very different dimension, namely the Caribbean between 1940 and 1970. Just as on the first album I'd imagined a young Brazilian girl singing Love Will Tear Us Apart on a Rio beach in the '60s, this time I envisaged a young Jamaican with his acoustic guitar singing Heart Of Glass in his Kingston township suburb.
At the same time, I also had another particular scene in my mind: a young blind girl singing Fade To Grey in the corridors of the Parisian Metro, alone with her accordion, ignored by everyone...
Together these two ideas were the genesis for the new album. Musically I saw it moving between Jamaica, the cradle of mento music which became ska/rocksteady then reggae, to the calypso isle of Trinidad via Cuban salsa, Haitian voodoo, and eventually back to our beloved Brazilian coast
As a result, the arrangements and orchestrations are all very colourful: a lot of percussion and acoustic guitars topped off with sensual, feminine voices, accordions, steel drums and more....
Chosing the titles to cover was a simple matter. As with the first album, there were some key bands to explore (Bauhaus, Siouxsie, Echo & The Bunnymen) along with some forgotten marvels (The Wake, Lords of the new Church, The Sound) and many more brilliant acts who were important to me in my youth.
In certain cases I dug the production idea of the original title (like the voodoo sounds and horror movie organ on Bauhaus's Bela Lugosi's Dead). Sometimes I started from one word - Israel by Siouxsie & The Banshees linked to the Israelites by Desmond Dekker, or from a biographical anecdote (I read that an early version of Blondie's Heart Of Glass was essayed in a reggae style). Others, like the Buzzcocks' cover, were introduced to the set by (singers) Melaine and Camille during our 2004 tour.
I was also thinking about the loop which was being created during the period when most of this music first appeared - the influence of Jamaican music on English post punk (manifesting in the Clash and PIL most obviously, but also in the work of the Slits, Mark Stewart and so on...). It's interesting to note how successfully these titles adapt to reggae-based rearrangements.
I wanted the arrangements and overall feel to be distinct from the first album. In Gerald Toto I found the Caribbean singer I had always imagined but there was always a place for the "stars" of the first album: Melanie Pain, Marina and Olivier Libaux, I asked Avril to work on a few of the songs while Phoebe Killdeer (who had replaced Camille in the tour of 2005) brought a more bluesy feel to proceedings.
Bande à Part has been produced by The Perfect Kiss and will be released in May in Europe via Peacefrog and PIAS. Luaka Bop will release the album in the USA next September.