Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was Comment Debord. Founded in 2016, the band took its own sweet time. The time they needed to choose the right notes and lyrics that represented them; the time they needed to learn to appreciate and choose one another. The seven band members have now integrated the Audiogram team as well, and – following the learning experience of the 2018 Les Francouvertes competition – chosen the Fall of 2020 for the release of their first, self-titled, album. All seven of them tackling the same project at the same time.
Listening to this album over and over in transit, or quietly at home, one immediately gets the feeling of having been invited to their party. Rémi Gauvin, the band’s frontman and main songwriter, shares moments of life with us while playing his favourite instrument: the metaphor. Simple or layered, his allegories are both poetic and humorous, without ever being disrespectful. He allows us to enter a familiar and welcoming universe, where everything we’re being told is phrased in such a way that it seems we’re hearing it for the first time.
“I’m not afraid to be colourful,” says Gauvin, “but ours isn’t a comedy band. I enjoy being engaged by what I hear, so I do my best to engage other people, too. That’s the main thing, actually. And the range of means you can use to engage people is pretty wide. Laughter is one of them.”
Electric guitar player Karolane Carbonneau (also a member of NOBRO) is part of the grooving base that the band members are developing together. “Rémi brings in the basic compositions,” says Carbonneau. “Sometimes we break into smaller units, but the drummer and bass player [Olivier Cousineau and Étienne Dextraze-Monast] always help us come up with an overall groove.” “Those two are very fastidious,” Gauvin laughs. “We never quite understand what they’re talking about, we often feel they’re splitting hairs, but we never doubt that they’re giving110 percent.” The other band members are Willis Pride (keyboards), Alex Guimond (voice), and Lisandre Bourdages (percussion).
While other musicians might shiver at the prospect of keeping the peace in a seven-member band, this bunch has never even come close to a disagreement. “It comes from the fact that we weren’t friends to start with,” says Gauvin. “We all are somewhat different despite, being Montréalers, aged between 25 and 32, and living between Pie-IX Boulevard and Saint-Laurent! We picked up people here and there. The affinities came later. In rehearsal, some of us trade love stories, and others share stories about rock climbing.”
“I’m tired of hearing about climbing,” Carbonneau interjects. “I can’t climb because I have eczema, and with a guitar, that’s a no-no,” she laughs. “But, more seriously, all of the songwriting comes from Rémi, and, later on, we give the same importance to all band members, as well as equal opportunities to shine in each song. It’s totally egalitarian.”
Often described as a new-wave Beau Dommage, Comment Debord is deeply rooted in an old-school ‘70s vibe, and loves to construct stories that Québecers can identify with. “Our songs can resonate with 20-year-olds and old Parti Québécois members,” Gauvin laughs. “This is the only band I belong to that my aunt likes,” says Carbonneau.
The album was produced by Warren Spicer (Plants and Animals) – “our eighth member,” she says. He is the musical artist who mixed “Je me trouve laide,” which came out on their 2018 EP, and, this time the band was keen on using his “magical indie touch” again. “He likes organic wine too, so we all loved him right away,” Gauvin jokes. “We really wanted to feel the band spirit, even on the recording. We wanted people to feel that they’re with us in the room when they are listening to it,” says Carbonneau.
“Chasseurs de tournades” (“Storm Chasers”) has been her favorite song ever, since she heard it played for the first time at Le Divan Orange. “I had started swirling to create ‘tournades’ in the concert hall, and started a movement,” she laughs.
“It isn’t as if that song had brought us any luck in competitions,” Gauvin argues. “People didn’t necessarily understand that the mis-spelling of the word ‘tornadoes’ into ‘tournadoes’ had been voluntary, and was meant to reflect the fact that this was how we pronounced that word when we were kids. My former roommate is studying for a doctorate degree in meteorology. He’s not chasing storms, but he’s still chasing weather phenomena. That’s how I got the idea, and I wanted to treat myself and write my favorite kind of song: a ballad. It says that it’s OK to have an argument in a relationship, and that there are ups and downs, but that you have to try harder. Sometimes you’re the worst, and step into a ‘tournado’ with both feet. Chasing storms in Arkansas is exciting, but it’s also not the brightest idea!”
After evolving over time, as musicians and human beings, the band felt ready to sing with a single voice. Their first album is like a mild late summer breeze on a September golden sunset. And how would they want this gift to be enjoyed? “In a car during a long road trip, or wasted on legal weed,” they say.
Either way, but not at the same time.