LES BREASTFEEDERS performing as part of SEE VOUS PLAY with EMILY HAINES & THE SOFT SKELETON , JOEL PLASKETT EMERGENCY and LES TROIS ACCORDS at the Kool Haus (132 Queens Quay West), Sunday (October 1), 7 pm. Free w/ ticket from www.bandeapart.fm/seevousplay/index_en.asp Rating: NNNNN
Montreal's magnificent Malajube may have been robbed of the Polaris Prize they deserved, but just because the anglophile-slanted jury decided to give Owen Pallette $20,000 to buy a new sailor suit, the Quebecois rock infiltration of English-speaking Canada won't stop. Oh non, mes amis, it's on!
Along with Malajube's bloodied but unbowed opening set for Islands at the Opera House tonight (Thursday, September 28), freaky-fine Montreal electro duo Call Me Poupée are taking over the Silver Dollar Monday (October 2) following the See Vous Play cultural exchange throwdown at the Kool Haus, which brings popular alt-anglos Emily Haines and Joel Plaskett together with underrated Quebecois threats, namely Drummondville's answer to Green Day, Les Trois Accords who sold 175,000 copies of their Gros Mammouth (Indica/Outside) disc last year in Quebec alone (!) and Montreal's gorgeously garagey Les Breastfeeders, both making their long-overdue Toronto debut.
Hopefully, Haines and Plaskett are coming well amped. Otherwise, this could be an embarrassing blowout.
"We've played in Ottawa and Vancouver, but that's it for Canada outside of Quebec, of course, where we have a really strong fan base now," says leering Les Breastfeeders frontman Luc Brien from his Montreal home. "I don't know if there was any interest until we released our second album, Les Matins De Grands Soirs (Blow the Fuse/Fusion III). Maybe Malajube's success will help open some doors for us and other francophone rock bands in the rest of Canada."
Although Les Breastfeeders have clearly had some difficulty getting established in English-speaking Canada over their six-year career, they haven't been sitting around at home moping because nobody's booking them in Toronto. They've made frequent trips south of the border, where they regularly play to enthusiastic audiences in New York, Detroit, Chicago and Boston.
Somehow, the language thing isn't as big an issue in the U.S., provided your band rocks, and Les Breastfeeders certainly shake up a storm.
"People in the States seem to really like what we do. We play the same show in Chicago or Detroit as we do in Saguenay-Lac-St.-Jean, and singing in French hasn't been a problem at all. In the U.S., they know we're from Canada, but they see us as these beaujolais-drinking European French types, like you might see on the Simpsons, which is kind of funny. That's fine with me, because I like to play up the French thing and speak in bad franglais as part of my stage persona.
"There's a lot of anti-war and anti-Bush sentiment on the rock scene, so being French and from Canada left-leaning people who are known to be against the war is seen as a good thing."
The big challenge ahead for Les Breastfeeders is not cracking the U.S. market but, rather, raising their profile in their home country. Brien is cautiously optimistic.
"Just in our province, I've noticed the interest in Quebec bands has increased enormously in the last two years. It may have started with the popularity of Montreal bands like Arcade Fire and the Dears, but then people began looking beyond those groups to see what else was happening and found some interesting francophone bands, which is great.
"When I was growing up, most of my francophone friends only listened to bands from the U.S. and England I was listening to anglophone bands, too but lately it seems more younger people are picking up on francophone artists. I've heard there are a couple of groups from small towns here covering our songs now. That's amazing to me."