Housse de Racket on Myspace I caught up with the Excellent Housse de Racket before (and, as it transpired, after) one of their London dates on tour with Does It Offend You Yeah? to ask them a few questions and catch their show after finding out about them via their excellent video for new single which is right at the top of the Myspace page (see above). Their set was passionate, their music is bombastic but thoughtful, in vogue but individual, and their forthcoming releases are quite definitely on my radar. So can you guys wanna start by telling me the story behind the name? Pierre: It’s kind of a stupid French play on words. ‘Racket’ in French and in english doesn’t mean the same thing, which we learned recently! [both laugh heartily] The verb ‘racket’ in French means ‘to steal’. Before the real beginning of the band, Victor and I had a funk/disco band at the same time all these French bands were assembling old fashioned funk recordings. To us it was kind of a robbery; they ‘racket’ funk music so we wanted to ‘racket’ house. At the beginning the band was called ‘House of Rackets’ so we Frenchified it. Literally it means ‘Rackets cover it’. Picture 5 Well that gives it a little mystery! Now we are playing more and more in England lots of different meanings are starting to appear. Damon Albarn, who we played with for a big event called The African Express with bands like Tinariwen, said ‘I love your name, you know what a racket is?’ [he was alluding to a drugs ring] Then we spoke to Yiannis, the singer of Foals because we toured with them in France and he said the same thing! Before we were in Liverpool and the promoter who works with Happy Mondays and he worked for him because he wanted a teeshirt! We have a great name... So a different meaning for everyone then! We were all dressed in shorts and tennis shirts, we’re dressed all in white, old fashioned. [At this point Simon, HdR’s sound engineer bursts dramatically into the room and exchanges some hurried French with the boys, which they roughly translate to me as..:] We might have a huge problem. We can’t find our computer. [Worried looks all round, but they seem keen to continue with the interview so I sally forth] What’s it like touring and what’s the reception been like in England? We’ve actually played quite a few times in London but we know the capital city in a country is often not very receptive. When we played in Leeds and Manchester, Glasgow, it was really great and the people were really cool, in Leeds all this French thing doesn’t mean the same thing for us. Not like ‘aaah the French are lovely’ they just listen to the music. So maybe playing in London is actually easier for us because there are more French there! [At this point Simon re-enters; they really have lost their computer, or a soundcard to be exact. Cue the band almost hesitantly extricating themselves from the aural swathe of my dictaphone before I assure them that I really DON’T MIND that they have to run out into central London to try and buy a new one so that they can actually play the show. In the meantime I hang out with Trip in the next room and listen to their tour managers hilarious stories about starting fights with skinny emo kids in The Old Blue Last because they threw a pint at him. Some time later, after the actual gig in fact which they somehow DO manage to find a new soundcard and install it in time to play, we catch up backstage to finish off the interview. Let it be noted here that their performance was impassioned and really quite awesome] PICT0062 So where were we!? How did it go, did you enjoy it? Haha so you know the context, it was cool. I think we could feel the sense of emergency in our way of playing, we wanted to play so badly, we really wanted to make it work, so we put all our energy into it and it was epic! Agreed. What did you think of the crowd? They seemed to appreciate it even though they didn’t move much. We know that maybe the London crowd is more shy, they wait for the reactions of the people around them like in Paris. We are almost nothing here, really just making our debut, we don’t expect anything; we just want to play and have fun! For us it was cool, we didn’t have any problems when we were playing. Now, with the French electro/rock scene being massive right now, how do you feel you fit into that? We are part of that scene, I used to play with Phoenix as a keyboard player I filled in for Rob (their actual keyboardist) who had just had a baby. I played 20 or 30 gigs, so we are very close. They invited us to support them around Europe, and we supported Yelle as well as one of their members remixing one of our tracks. Victor: I played with Air, and his solo project. So it’s a close knit scene! P: The main difference is all these bands are singing in English. We feel like we have this kind of heritage that we don’t want to shy away from. So that’s why we chose a French name. It might change but for the moment we must hold onto something strong and the fact we played tonight in London and we did the UK tour with Does It Offend You Yeah makes us feel right about that. PICT0023 Well you have bands like Casiokids who sing entirely in their own language but it doesn’t seem to make a difference to the fans. The feeling is still there. That’s why it’s very interesting and quite comfortable for us to play outside of France, they don’t hear the lyrics, they just feel the music and enjoy the power of the sound. For us we don’t write songs to have a huge message, we are not John Lennon, so if the people come out of the gig with a smile on their faces then it’s ok for us. I think that’ll be the case So tell me about future plans? We’re on tour until December. We’ve been touring for a year now, around Asia and Europe. The first LP is going to be released in a month in Japan so we might go back to Japan in January. Japan is awesome. What did you think of the place? Amazing. Compared to europe it’s very different, it’s the only country in the world who prefer french people! I mean... French music to English. Actually we played in Tokyo and it was packed, almost sold out. We had just signed to a label at the time for the first LP. Now we have to make a second LP, the difficult one, but between touring and everything it’ll be hard to find the time. Maybe before summer we’ll have it done. On the first LP the sound was quite easy going, but when people see us on stage it’s more rock’n’roll than on the CD, we definitely want to change that. Maybe it was the way it was produced, so we have a few ideas how to manage that and we are quite excited, already there is a new colour, a darker one. Perhaps there’ll be a little bit of english; each CD is always different anyway. We can’t make a live CD yet obviously, but even Rage Against The Machine sound different live to on disk. So we have to find a middle ground. We are conscious of the huge French electro rock scene but we really love the english scene too, and we really love Metronomy. We know Joseph a bit and we are very attracted to their sound. We want to go in that direction but we are not English we don’t have to pretend to compete, in France there are so many good up and coming bands so we just have to find that balance. In the meantime though you’re having a lot of fun? Being on tour always is a lot of fun. A lot of stress like you’ve seen today, i think it was the most stressful gig we’ve ever done! You can imagine us with the DOIOYY guitar player running up the street with him shouting ‘THIS SHOP’ shop to shop, ‘oh no we don’t have it’ so we got back and thi thing is not working! London shows are very important, the label might be there, the booking agency the media, we were worried we weren’t going to be able to play! PICT0051 Well technically I’m media and I didn’t mind! Of course you are! [this made me guffaw loudly] For you it was important and we left you in the middle of our interview! I’m just happy you managed to play At 7:20 [they were due to play at 7:30] we weren't ready, lots of typing and trying to install the card, but we got there. We are very proud to be here, there are plenty and plenty of friends’ bands who have played in Paris, where Justice and Phoenix etc are the biggest, and there are small bands who are starting to grow in the UK, but it seems hard for French people singing in French. We didn’t choose to do it this way, it just felt natural. Well everyone loves a french accent regardless of whether they’re speaking in French Sometimes it’s so hard to speak in English. [At this point Pierre puts an extra layer of French accent over his already considerable Parisian drawl] Yes because no because not er well but... It’s going to be written down so you won’t hear the accent! Very true. Ok, to finish up, two last things; can you give me your 5 track DJ mini set playlist? Stevie wonder - golden lady Michael jackson - don’t stop till you get anough Housse de Racket - Synthétiseur Daft punk - revolution 909 (because i love that video woth the tomato story) And what’s the worst thing about England? The food? The food is quite tough. Except the Olympic breakfast. It’s like a full english, at all the travel lodges on the side of the road there is little chef... [at this point I can’t help but chime in with OH GOD NO they’re the worst things ever! and then continue to ramble on about how good the food is in Brighton, as It’s their next tour date. After I recommend the best cuisine Brighton has to offer I thank them profusely and we part ways] What say you on this? Sound off in our Fourum!