It happens every two or three years. A virus infects hundreds of thousands of Quebecers who start singing along together. It started back in 2004, when they all sang about wanting to be “Hawaïenne.” Then they sang about this grand champion international de course (great international racing champion). The 2009 mutation of the virus was quite devastating, and even the most manly men of the province were singing about changes in their young girl’s body… But so far, the worst came when even my five-year-old daughter admitted, singing, that she was in love with my grandmother.

The mad scientists behind this virus are Les Trois Accords, the band that’s launching their new album titled Joie d’être gai (The Joy of Being Gay), and the first single off the opus is another fearsome earworm. “Initially, I dreamed that the chorus from “Joie d’être gai” would become a hymn for the gay community,” says singer Simon Proulx. “But it turns out that in the end, it’s true. I’ve seen mechanics changing tires while singing “Dans Mon Corps.” If the same mechanics change tires this year while singing their heart out with “Joie d’être gai,” I’d say we’ve accomplished something.”

In many different ways, universal love is a recurring theme on the Trois Accords’ new album. Same goes for unicorns, dolphins and rainbows, which are back with a vengeance because of the seapunk phenomenon that’s had the web abuzz for a few months. “We didn’t become aware of it on the Internet as much as in convenience stores along the highway outside of urban centres,” says Proulx. “I don’t know why, exactly, but almost all of them have a section with dolphin and unicorn tchotchkes.”

“We’re less into throwing strong images at you like when we started. You can really make out a kinda serious message in many more of our songs.” – Simon Proulx of Les Trois Accords

Les Trois AccordsHe readily admits having been drawn by these shiny, colourful ornaments. “I look at them every time we stop for ga,s or just to stretch a little when we’re on tour,” says Proulx. “I’d love to buy some, but I’m afraid of what others will think. To tell you the truth, I’m secretly hoping to get them as a gift. I don’t know what happened that we started thinking these things are corny. Dolphins are magnificent natural creatures. So are unicorns; it’s not because the’are rare that they’re ugly. The one we got photographed with is from Québec, but I can’t tell you where, otherwise photographers from the whole world will flock there and it could hurt its eyes.”

Whether or not it’s a coincidence, this strong attraction to symbols of New Age culture happens at a time when Proulx’s writing has taken a more poetic turn. “I felt pressured in the wake of the success of ‘J’aime ta grand-mère,’” says Proulx. “I wanted to be even better. I worked hard to write songs with a more poetic dimension that would still be straightforward and firmly planted in the Trois Accords universe. We’re less into throwing strong images at you like when we started. You can really make out a kinda serious message in many more of our songs,” says the singer in reference to the song “Les Dauphins et les licornes” (“Dolphins and Unicorns”), whose subtext is an invitation to come out.

As if to contrast this newfound poetic licence, the quartet has also never sounded so grungy: lots of distorted guitars, and song structures and arrangements very reminiscent of Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins, and even the Pixies. “When I was in high school, I was much more skater punk than grunge, but for my generation, grunge was so omnipresent that it became part of popular culture,” says Proulx. “And even though we’ve never used so much distorted guitars, many people also feel we’ve never been as pop as this. Goes to show how much grunge has become a part of our collective subconscious,” muses the man whose solo career began last summer with the launch of his Simon 1 album and was short-lived.

“We knew from the get-go that my solo album was not to interfere with the band’s agenda,” says Proulx. “As a matter of fact, it launched while we were recording the band’s album. I would’ve liked to do a bit more promo and do a few shows to support it, but I had no time. Maybe I’ll get back to it after we’re done touring Joie d’être gai in 2018…”

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