LE MATOS::THE INTERVIEW.
It feels like we’ve been eagerly awaiting the debut Le Matos LP for decades. For the life of me I can’t remember when I got in contact with the Le Matos brethren, but it was probably sometime during 1987 while passing each other in prep school hallways. It was around the time when TNUC was about to be kicked out of the 9th school in one year’s time, wandering the halls in the trench-coat, rat-nest hair, dangling-cross earring and high tops with the over exaggerated tongue sticking out. Campus administration were appalled by his appearance and influence on other students. Aside from bumming a few cigarettes from them, I didn’t know much about the Le Matos boys, only that they were rumored to have a secret society which met every night at midnight in an old mansion at the top of a hill. Of course upon hearing about this, I WANTED IN.
But that’s ancient history. These days the Montreal-based group have released their proper debut entitled ‘JOIN US’ which landed digitally last month. The stunning vinyl release will be available soon which features an artwork layout that will make your head explode. The songs on ‘JOIN US’ journeyed far beyond our expectations. Imagine having the best-era Tangerine Dream inject steroids before entering the studio and you’ll be on the right track to what you should expect on this record. Several cuts on ‘JOIN US’ sound straight out of a lost Lucio Fulci or Lamberto Bava film, but tougher and tighter. Modern-day horror producers and film music recruiters should take note if they know what’s good for them. We recently sat down with the principal architect behind Le Matos and friend Jean-Philippe Bernier to ask a few vital questions…
T: How did the LE MATOS project start? Did you guys attend prep school together?
JPB: I met Max in film school at the end of the 90’s, and after we graduated we both started working at a movie theater in Montreal, which was when we met Jean-Nicolas.
Jean-Nic was my roommate at the time. After Max’s place got robbed one night, he decided to bring his Moog Voyager and his Juno 106 to my place, scared that the thief would come back for his expensive gear (in french we call gear “Matos”). That night we decided to plug everything and we did the long jam, ‘Piège de Crystal’. Right then and there Le Matos was born.
As for Vincent, last year we decided to add a live drummer to the band and since Vincent was the drummer of Max’s metal band, it was just perfect!
T: How were you inspired to write these songs? The movie character references in some song titles are great, did you write these songs with certain films in mind?
JPB: All the song’s names are from movies that inspired the songs or that we thought fit the vibes of the tracks. Some are more obscure like ‘King’s Filth’ and others more obvious like ‘Interceptor’.
T: Anyone with a soul who flips through a stack of records and sees the artwork for ‘JOIN US’ staring them in the face is going to immediately pick it up for a closer look. It’s really stunning. Can you talk about the thought process behind it all?
JPB: Like I said, we were always inspired by movies… and in the beginning, all the Le Matos branding was from memories and obsessions with movies of our past. Like the photo of us in the fog stems from Carpenter’s The Fog. Or the glowing eyes from Demons.
But so many outrun and synthwave producers were making more and more references like us. I think we always had a more dark and realistic approach in our visual, with a remake vibe instead of just making some look-alike images of posters. Don’t get me wrong I love all those images… but I think we needed a bit of fresh air.
So for the first LP, we decided to change the look… so we asked ourselves what’s our band about… and the answer was Nostalgia! After that we asked ourselves what our other obsessions were when we were kids. Max and I were obsessed with paranormal books. One of our favourite series was ‘Inexpliqué : Le Monde de L’étrange de L’insolite et du Mystère’ (http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/NzUwWDEwMDA=/$T2eC16JHJF0E9nmFQhPSBRN6H-c1!g~~48_35.JPG). So I did lots of research on these books and decided to do the first chapter about a secret society.
I started the project with Danny Demers, a graphic designer from Montreal, and we worked on the branding of the “secret club”. When he showed me the “hands” I was shocked!!! It was perfect. At that moment I knew I had to make it real… in our world, not just on a logo but with us. So one of my ideas was to recreate Danny’s secret club logo with us and that became the gatefold picture of the LP. The members making the circle around the hands and us in a triangle, much like Danny’s logo. Everything came to me after that…us finding the hands in the woods, which is like a prequel to the album’s artwork. The assermentation on the cover, and the clubhouse on the back. To make this vision possible, I asked two of my friends to help me out, Simon Duhamel (photographer) and Sarah Hall (artistic director).
T: TNUC is a massive fan of your cover of Phoebe Cates ‘How Do I Let You Know’ w/ Coeur De Pirate (Private School soundtrack), Have you guys thought about doing any other covers?
JPB: We love reworking movie soundtracks, so for sure we will make other covers. We like the idea of making a soundtrack cover EP. In the past we did a Blade Runner cover of ‘Retired’ and we did a Carpenter cover that is only available on the LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES “Take 1” mixtape.
T: You played SXSW this year as a complete live band. How has the transition been so far playing live?
JPB: We have been playing live since 2008. We decided to add a drummer last year and for the first time in SXSW we did our show with a live drum (not a electronic drum). Normally, all synths and electronic drums pass by the computer and are mastered by Jean-Nicolas before playing in venues. So it was a bit stressful when we did the show without trying that setup first. But at the end it was amazing!!!
T: TNUC would love to be an honorary member of LE MATOS, and receive his pledge pin and official crest. Is this a possibility?
JPB: Le Matos is the band.. and the band is part of the “club”…
You are already part of the club and we will send you your badge and amulet. But once your in… there’s no turning back. And next time we’re on the west coast rest assured you’ll be initiated…
T: When TNUC interviewed Steve Moore in 2012 (here), we asked the following question which we’d like your thoughts on. One of my serious dreams for TNUC is to have a massive and absurd collection of merchandise, like stuff that you really don’t even need or use. If some lucrative, corporate-pig record company handed you a check for $50,000 strictly for designing LE MATOS merch items, what sort of obscure items would adorn the LE MATOS gift shop?
JPB: I guess we would make a short film in the Le Matos universe. Something about the “Hands”. And after that we would release a limited edition laser disc only.
T: What’s next for you guys with this album? Music video…possible touring?
JPB: For sure we want to do some shows in the US… we want to do shows in NYC, LA, Detroit, Cleveland (home of Girlfriend Records). Tell your local bookers to email us!!!
As for a music vid, I’m working with friends on 3 scripts for 3 different tracks… but it’s hard to make it happen without money. The ‘Sarah’ screenplay is complete and is more like a short film than a music video. I really hope we get to make this one.
T: Lastly and most important, favorite pizza & pizza toppings?
Jean-Nicolas: Parisienne pizza with snails
Jean-Philippe (me): Pizza-Getti with pepperoni and cheese .. and hot sauce!
Vincent : the Meat lovers! with bacon, pepperoni, smoked meat, ham, name it!
You can already stream & download ‘JOIN US’ through Girlfriend Records here http://girlfriendrecords.bandcamp.com/album/join-us, but the vinyl (!!!) will be available as a limited release soon in a package containing an amulet, patch and download code. This will allow you entry into the Le Matos secret society if you act fast. Stay tuned for more info..