Being a Canadian band is tough — long road trips, cold winters and immense competition can derail the most focused act, but throw in non-English vocals and the odds of making it are nearly impossible.
But, francophone five-piece Malajube have defied the odds — their all-French debut Trompe L’oeil was nominated for three Junos in 2007, a Polaris Prize and they’ve toured extensively throughout the U.S., something most Québécois acts only dream of.
“We had no hopes,” says drummer Francis Mineau, on the phone from Montreal. “We thought we’d maybe sell at least the first run of copies and tour in Quebec a bit. The success was overwhelming.”
Now that the entire country is into the frenetic rock band, the group have to deal with the pressure that comes with following up a successful record. Luckily, their new effort, Labyrinthes, delivers another dose of high energy tunes, albeit with a few instrumental jams thrown in the mix.
Besides the amped-up tunes, the band continue to sing in their native tongue. That has some people asking the band if, maybe, their next record will tackle the English language. No way, says Mineau.
“We’re proud to sing in French,” says Mineau. “Plus, it’s the different language that sets us apart. It’s strange, because some people think if we sang in English we’d be more popular, but the French thing has served us well.”
You might think that being one of the only Francophone rock bands traversing English North America would put some added pressure on the group to represent their province. But while they’re definitely enjoying the attention, they can’t be responsible for helping every French act looking for anglophone attention.
“I don’t feel the weight of other French bands on our shoulders,” he says. “If they don’t make it to the other side it’s not my fault.”
When it comes down to it, making it outside the francophone community has to do with one thing — good music. But it helps to be part of the much talked about Montreal music scene, which launched Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade.
“Maybe we’re the band that relates the most to those groups,” he explains. “I doubt if another band that sings in French in Montreal has so many anglophones at their shows.”
Malajube band plays
Toronto – The El Mocambo on March 12, as part of Canadian Music Week
Details at www.cmw.net