When he pours his curled-lip, mange merde attitude into his chaotic live shows, maniacal 24-year-old howler Xavier Caféïne commands the world, not to mention the stage and any tabletops or speaker stacks within leapfrogging distance.
In sepia-toned punk tradition, the flamboyant, chain-smoking leader of Montreal's glamorama, Stooges-blighted paratroopers Caféïne doesn't really give a shit whether you dig his band or not. And he'll proudly allow that Caféïne's music isn't just off the radar of the current Quebec scene, but his bandmates aren't especially well liked either.
"We are total outsiders," he confirms. "Bands here all hang out in their special bars with their special friends and their special groupies and shit. We don't need more friends. We are five good friends in the band. I don't want to speak badly about my super-excellent country, Quebec, but it's fucking sleeping right now."
Despite that, Caféïne, the man, presents his sleazy spit-shine anthems with a sense of absolute entitlement. And, hey, if you hate his musical peccadillos, go ahead and try to kick his ass.
Caféïne boasts that one such incident -- following a DJ night he hosted, as he does twice weekly at Café Chaos, and yielding a grisly black eye -- scored him more doting chicks eager to put out than his handy ability with eyeliner ever did.
"If I ever see those kids again," he says, "I'm going to thank them. It was awesome."
To the man who gassed an early band member because "he was into Steve Vai -- I really hate that," the beating incident was made sweeter by the fact that the perps were suburban skinheads in bad hardcore shirts who were unsuccessfully requesting music Caféïne deemed too crappy to play. And they thought he was gay, which may have had something to do with the French kiss he offered them.
But if spinning the Cramps Sundays and Tuesdays pays the bills, performing is what makes Caféïne fly. Sometimes literally.
"Doing a live show is almost as good as sex," Caféïne roars from his Montreal pad. "And if you think I'm crazy at the live shows, you ought to see me in bed.
"Rock and roll to me is animal sexuality, and it's not always like that. In Toronto" -- where the band debuted in April to the slack-jawed astonishment of those on hand -- "some people got up to leave, so our attitude was, 'Fuck you, we're going to put on a great show that you're not going to see.'
"You've got to be a kamikaze to play with Caféïne. I'm like Ricky Martin on acid going wang-wang with my hips."
Given his disarming candour and willingness to break bones in the name of down-and-dirty, beer stained punk rock, it's probably for the best that Caféïne claims to be vehemently anti-drug, though anti-psychotics may be worth looking into in future.
Still, Caféïne, the band, has some catching up to do on the recording front. Their independent 97 recording, Mal Edu Qué Mon Amour -- recorded over two months -- is steeped in hip-shaking swagger, but it's not nearly as ferocious as the band it's representing.
While more recent re-recordings of songs -- some in English in a plain bid to reach more people -- show growth, a sharp infusion of cash and more studio time should set things straight for Caféïne and his fellow multi-instrumentalist core bandmates, guitarist Nicotine and bassist Gourmet Délice.
"MusiquePlus has been good to us. College radio here has been really supportive, but commercial radio doesn't like us at all. I actually had one guy at a radio station tell me what we do is complete shit. In Quebec, rock and roll bands are all about longhairs with beards singing songs that people can light their lighters to.
"We've got to get to Europe or maybe the States. Why play dumps in Trois-Rivières, where it's all rednecks who are going to kick our asses? People from other bands who have toured Canada have warned us not to play certain towns. But we need distribution."
And what about the live show? How the hell will Caféïne tour in a major way if their singer is hurling himself around like a rabid dog night after night? Excellent question, apparently.
"I once jumped off a speaker and landed face down. It looked really cool, but I wrecked my knee and I couldn't walk for two days. I can only do that kind of thing when I don't have a lot of shows to play. If we're only playing once a month, it's a good sign that we're going to be crazy and I can fuck up my body.
"I love my band," Caféïne says in a rare, and fleeting, moment of earnestness. "I really do, and I'm not being sarcastic about it. We're having a good trip and we want people to come along with us. When people see us, they have to have a sense of humour and not take everything so seriously, because we say some pretty mean things. But," he giggles, "really, we love you!"