EUX AUTRES with RATSICULE , BAD FLIRT and TERROR LAKE at Rancho Relaxo (300 College), Friday (June 16), 9 pm. $5. 416-920-0366. Rating: NNNNN
Let's play a quick game. I'll list groups of names and you try and guess what they have in common. Ready? Donnie and Marie. Robin, Barry and Maurice. And how about Michael, Jermaine, Randy, Tito and Marlon? All siblings playing music together, right?
Now subtract all the scandal, drug abuse and rumoured incest, add some DIY indie pop and you have brother-sister duo Eux Autres. Sister/drummer Heather along with brother/guitarist Nicholas Larimer promise that seeing their band is kinda like reconnecting with your inner child.
"Our music's really happy, but it's got a brattiness that I think people miss. Nick is pretty dry; he's always making deadpan comments onstage. Musically we might come off as eternal optimists, but the songs that seem happiest are really about, like, Vietnam. We'll say stuff that's mean, but we mask that with a smile."
Playing music together isn't necessarily something the sibs planned on from the get-go. Driving out of San Francisco en route to Denver, Heather explains that as kids they were always making up songs. She says Nicholas did the Cab Calloway scat thing and she was just singing direct rip-offs of popular songs. They didn't merge their creative minds until much later in life, with a little help from their own boredom.
"Nick moved to Portland a while ago and was staying with me. A band practised in that house, and I was teaching myself the drums. We were basically bored, and played in the basement. We weren't planning to have a band at all, but the person I was living with was surprised and said we sounded good. The light bulb went on after that."
Good thing it did, because since 04 they've been taking things seriously enough to release the very fun, very acclaimed Hell Is Eux Autres, an album that unpretentiously mixes the sexiness of old French pop with rambunctious, childish garage rock.
After taking a year-long hiatus to write their soon-to-be-released sophomore effort, an album Heather assures me is similar to their previous work in spirit but with more complicated song structures and instrumentation, they're ready to take their show on the road again.
Hopefully, that means she'll still be singing in French some of the time, a skill I tell her will certainly endear them to the crowds in Montreal and Toronto. She sounds up for trying it out, if a tad nervous.
"I've mostly been to Vancouver and Jasper, and I really like Canada. I can express myself in French, but I'm not very articulate. I feel dumb in French, but we love the way it sounds."
The relationship between language and music is a serious influence on their writing. Heather thinks more people should be aware of older international pop bands that sang in foreign tongues like English.
"There are 60s bands that weren't singing in their native language. Bands like Le Shakers from Uruguay sang these perfect pop songs, but sometimes their lyrics are so weird because of the language barrier."
Creativity and inspiration are two things the sister and brother aren't running short of, but be careful not to throw out too many references to other popular duos, like the Fiery Furnaces.
"We don't sound anything like them. We don't wear our sibling relationship like a badge of honour. I always think of the Carpenters - except Nick's not mean like Richard was. Nick's not very bossy."