Soon after striking their first chords in the backroom of a Contrecoeur, Quebec, woodworking shop in 2006, the three members of the pop/rock group going by the name of On a créé UN MONSTRE (OacUM for short) took the fast lane to musical fame, at least on the local indie/pop/rock scene. “It happened very quickly,” Antoine Lachance confirms. “We got so busy we didn’t have time to realize what was going on.” As the three thirtysomething musicians had no idea what to call their group, they thought of the phrase “We’ve created a monster” and just called it that: a prescient move.

And a monster it is, in the sense that intuition, and intuition alone drives everything that bassist/frontman/main lyricist François Larivière, guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist/composer Antoine Lachance and drummer Ghislain Lavallée ever do. Admittedly, François, Ghislain and (until 2011) Félix-Antoine Viens had had some time to develop a symbiotic creative relationship as part of Manchester, their previous Sorel, Quebec, punk rock band. “I too, came from a previous group, and we all met in bars around there,” Lachance, who joined OacUM in 2009, explained. “François studied guitar when he was in Cégep, and I took voice training at UQAM. Ghislain and Félix-Antoine are highly instinctive self-taught musicians. All this is good because our diverse backgrounds add value to the band.”

“The writing process can be triggered by a situation, an atmosphere, the feeling of the moment, anything.”

Stemming from wacky conversations and airy jams, the first original songs of On a créé UN MOMSTRE went viral on Myspace. After taking part in the 2008 Francouvertes music competition, the musicians recorded their first EP with the help of ex-Malajube member Renaud (Coeur de pirate) Bastien, an old friend from Sorel days. Signed by Slam Disques in 2010, OacUM released L’Iceberg, their first album, at the Montreal Divan Orange club in front of a rapt audience. In rapid succession, the “Dorval” excerpt began rotating on MusiquePlus in a Jessy Fuchs-produced video and playing on Radio NRJ, while making the TOP 100 BDS and XM Satellite Radio charts. Other tracks such as “5,0,” “Je pleure ou je ris” and “Brûle” also made waves. The band was later invited to perform at a JUNO Awards Pandemonium concert in Ottawa and at the Rencontres de l’ADISQ (where they collected a Sirius XM Award). They also opened Jean Leloup’s Festival de la Gibelotte concert, and attracted a lot of attention at the 2011 FrancoFolies de Montréal festival.

Thanks to their pop/rock style, based on aggressive guitar riffs, stellar vocals and universal lyrical themes, the band’s songs appeal to a cross-section of listeners of all ages. “We are rooted in punk music, but all three of us have very different inspirations and tastes,” Antoine points out. “We’ve been greatly influenced by the Winnipeg group The Weakerthans, for instance, with their varied folk/country/alternative punk palette. We also like Ben Howard and a lot of Quebec artists like Peter Peter, O Linea or Arcade Fire.” Music critics, in turn, have linked some L’Iceberg sounds to Pinback, Three Mile Pilot, The Police or Malajube.

Creatively, the band sides with a type of spontaneity and freedom that is consistently tempered by deep questioning. “François and I often bring in song sketches, draft lyrics or a few chords,” Antoine explains. “This sets off a great democratic exercise. We discuss things, we argue, but always in the interest of the song itself. One thing we’ve always known, though, was that we were going to write in French. It’s the language we love. It’s part of our identity, it defines us at the most basic level.”

Co-produced by Renaud Bastien and recorded by Jérôme Boisvert, La Dérive [Drifting], the band’s November 2013 sophomore album, is a more somber, piano-driven collection that evolved out of a need to explore a new sound. “The writing process can be triggered by a situation, an atmosphere, the feeling of the moment, anything,” Antoine continues. “Our lyrics can often be understood at different levels. We want each listener to come up with their own interpretations. ‘Le corps est lourd’ [‘The Body is Heavy’], the album’s official video, could be read as a tune about suicide, but what I was picturing in my mind when I wrote it was a tightrope walker. ‘Charles-de-Gaulle (Paris)’ was inspired by a real event. ‘Ta langue sale’ (‘Your Dirty Tongue’) deals with psychological aggression, something François learned about as part of his work with people with autism. ‘La dérive’ explores the carelessness that can lead to addiction. It’s probably the darkest song on the whole album.”

At press time, On a créé UN MONSTRE was embarking on an extensive Quebec tour that could lead them some day to France and beyond. The dynamic trio doesn’t know for sure but, as usual, expects the unexpected.