Andy Roberts gives les Flames! a grilling...
LMS meets up with the uber-hyped les Flames! for their first ever interview. Those present along with Andy's minder were Henri les Flames! (vocals & swearing), Antoinne les Flames! (hits things), Alfonse les Flames! (guitar mangler), Rene les Flames! (another guitar abuser) and Nicole les Flames! (flaming femme). Christophe les Flames! sadly absent - allegedly eaten by a dog, sorry, chien...
LMS: Qu est que c'est le raison d'etre de les Flames!?
Henri: J'habite en France mais nous now j'habite en Leeds. We're a French band...shurrup you're the drummer... we've moved to Leeds because we heard it was f***ing ace. We heard it wasn't French enough so we're bringing Frenchcore to the masses."
Antoinne: We're carrying on the work where Vanessa Paradis left off.
LMS: Mais pourquoi?
Henri: Because we can't afford skateboards. (laughs) one -nil... Because we want to bring Frenchcore to the masses and my Uncle Herman said 'If it's got to be Hardcore, then it has to be Frenchcore'. And you can quote me on that.
Alfonse: To rock a lot.
Henri: To kick f*** out of the piss-artist shitty little bands in Leeds who are w***... Nooo! Don't write that! (laughs).
LMS: What are you're particular favourite bands in Leeds?
Henri: Oh that's a very good question. 5'4", yeah we'll have them.
Renee: Le Scaramanga Six
Henri: Farming Incident, Galitza, (laughs - all in stereo now), Being 747, Palo Alto. Who else have we played with? Oh I liked that Japanese Wrestler we played with the other night, Ken Osha, The former Wimbledon manager Lori Mer. I'd also like to say that Mr Shiraz are w***. I really would like to see that in print.
LMS: Could you say that in perhaps more printable terms?
Henri: Yes, I'd like to say that I think Mr Shiraz are the most overrated band I've ever seen in my life.
Rene: I do think that Robochrist is one of the most promising acts we've seen.
LMS: So you're not great fans of ska and skate punk then?
Henri: No we hate it.
Antoinne: The big kids push us off the skatepark.
Henri: They won't let me onto the ramps. I'd like to give a big shout out to The Id who I wish were in Leeds and not Manchester. Very good. 5'4" are very good except the singer who's a cock. The Music are excellent...
Rene: They're rubbish.
Henri: And Parva, they're ace.
LMS: You describe yourselves as Frenchcore but can you describe that?
Antoinne: Yes! Like core, only French.
Henri: It's like hardcore...but more...
Rene: Yeah elements of Mathrock in the songs!
Antoinne: Especially when we turn the Accordian up.
Henri: It's Garage rock and roll.
LMS: Don't you think you've leapt upon the Garage Rock bandwagon?
Henri: Yes, deliberately. It sells, f*** it...No!...NO! (with mock indignation) We've been doing it for years! Who are all these bands!
LMS: So you're quite influenced by American bands?
LMS: Do we detect some tension in the band over this?
Henri: No there's no tension, they're just all pricks. I like American bands. I'm not saying I like all of them...I don't like that Destiny's Child.
Rene: I do! Yeah what about 'Bootylicious'?
Henri: I like the Beach Boys and an American band called The Strokes and other bands like Slayer and The Flaming Lips.
LMS: Have any of these bands brought anything to your sound?
Antoinne: We can't agree on a single band and that's pretty much where we come from.
Henri: That's the epitome of Frenchcore - that you don't all have to like the same things so long as it's French.
Rene: The thing with les Flames is, if we write a song, it rocks. If we write a song it rocks. And then Henri puts lots of swearing in it.
LMS: Who writes the songs?
Henri: Rene les Flames!, Alfonse les Flames!, Henri les Flames!, Nicole les Flames! and Christophe les Flames! but NOT Antoinne les Flames!
Antoinne: 'Cause he's just the drummer. (laughs)
LMS: Take us through how your songs go?
Alfonse: They generally start with him (Rene), then me and him (Alfonse) start swearing and then two minutes later then they stop.
Henri: But one of our songs doesn't have any swearing in.
Antoinne: But it does now.
LMS: Is swearing big and clever?
Alfonse: Shakespeare used it...
Henri: It might not be big and clever but it's selling at the moment and that's why we're doing it.
LMS: So you're shamelessly prostituting yourselves to the record buying masses then?
Antoinne: We do like the word prostitute.
Henri: Can you lend me twenty quid? (laughs)
Rene: It's fun to be in a band when people like the music and you like it as well, so what's wrong with that?
Henri: Our friends Whiskas and Neil used to be in a band that nobody liked so it's good to be in a band that people like.
LMS: You seem to have come to prominence rather rapidly and I believe you played a decent show not so long ago in LondonTown?
Rene: Yes, we were invited to headline The Dublin Castle, which is where I believe The Queen lives (disintegrates into laughter).
Henri: We had to decline the headline slot because we had to get home that night and go to work in the morning. Apart from that we did an ace gig in London, which was packed, and we got invited back to play The Dublin Castle and we said 'yeah alright'.
LMS: There's a big Manchester connection too though isn't there?
Henri: Yes. That is because in our old band a few years ago, when The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays were right big we tried to be in a band like that as well... and that er, didn't work either. Yes and our record label Valentine Records are based in Manchester. Friends of ours Whiskas and Neil were in a band that got signed to that label and they managed to get les Flames! signed to the same record label.
LMS: Would you break bread with major record labels then?
Alfonse: We'd take the money! If they're stupid enough to give us some money to record then, yeah.
Henri: Yeah we'd work the bastards for every penny that they've got. And we'll obviously respect their integrity while we're doing it.
LMS: So if the record label tried to change the band you wouldn't mind?
Henri: No we'd be quite happy with that... (all laugh). Should I not say things like that? ... 'cause I've got no problem with it.
Rene: I'd have to say that if they did try to change us into Westlife I'd be so up for it. Well I think being loud and swearing a lot is the in thing at the moment.
Henri: I have no idea about these right-thinking people who will have nothing to do with major labels morally. B******* I've been poor all my life and I wanna be rich. Thankyou.
LMS: So have you got any major label interest?
Henri: There's f*** loads of labels after us at the moment.
Rene: We don't want to sound like every other Leeds band in that we've played London and had a few labels interested but it's true.
Henri: We might be saying all the things that all the other bands say but it really is true. I want to sell records all around the world and if that means we have to do it with a major label then so be it.
LMS: So you'd be deliberately commercial?
Henri: Yeah. We've all got jobs that are rubbish.
Alfonse: I haven't, mine's good.
Henri: I want to be rich.
(Big long discussion of how they've recorded a song with 47 vocal tracks on it and who they'd get to produce them in an ideal world...)
LMS: Tell us all about the cliquey Leeds scene.
Rene: We're a part of it.
Henri: As is everyone who drinks and works in Joseph's Well.
Antoinne: Is it really a clique or is just a lot of bands that support each other?
Henri: It's just a lot of bands that know each other and some of those are getting quite successfully and tragically there seems to be a lot of bitter f***ers in Leeds. F*** 'em.
Rene: Our good friends will be shortly issuing leedsmusicscene clique cards allowing cheap access to gigs.
LMS: Do you think that there are a lot of bands in Leeds that don't take things seriously enough?
Henri: There are a lot of bands that take themselves too seriously. We are serious about the music but we're not serious people and there's a tongue in cheek element to what we do and I think there are too many bands that take themselves far too seriously.
LMS: What are the big ambitions for the band when you get signed to a major?
Henri: Two words. Natalie. Imbruglia.
Rene: Piss it away very quickly.
Henri: Have a f*** load of fun and not take ourselves too seriously. Go round the world, meet lots of ace people, be good to children and animals and marry a lady called Sandra.
Antoinne: Yeah if we got famous we might even pull. Just once!
Henri: I haven't had a shag for nearly six months and it needs rectifying.
Rene: If we were signed I'd like to come back and support all the other really good bands that aren't our friends but are really good.
Alfonse: Very magnanimous.
Rene: Yeah right...!
Henri: Very two-faced I'd say... Genuinely I just want to have a laugh in the long term even if that's like ten albums down the track. If in the long term I can earn lots of money and do lots of Cocaine then so be it.
Alfonse: I don't want to do an album.
Rene: I can't see how a Garage rock band can do an album.
Antoinne: A lot of bands aspire to get signed and to make lots of records and make money and then hate touring. Now what's the point of that. We're in it to get out there and tour and play to lots of people.
Henri: We haven't got the nice Kurt Cobain syndrome whereby you play your little records in your bedroom and write all these songs that make you feel better about yourself and someone says 'oh you're really good, go and play to loads of people' and then be s***ting myself going 'oh no' I didn't really want this.
Antoinne: We have to at this point make a formal apology to everyone. We will not be killing ourselves when we become hugely famous.
Henri: As soon as it gets s*** I'm not going to kill myself, I'll just knock it on the head.
(At this point a drunken bloke on the next table interjects to tell of a good band he saw at Unity Day and how that was proper music from the heart and not manufactured pop rubbish. All of les Flames! concur.)
LMS: Swearing seems a big part of Les Flames! as an act onstage too?
Rene: We're basically just replicating how we talk down the pub. Pissed up conversations in song. A lot of people will get offended by the swearing but for f***'s sake it's just the way we talk.
Henri: You can slag Oasis off all you want but they've got to be successful by just being who they are in reality.
Alfonse: Before Queen Victoria was Queen, f*** and c*** were used all the time. Shakespeare used them.
Drunk on the next table: Yeah, Shakespeare took the piss big time!
LMS: Shakespeare is obviously a big influence for you?
Rene: Yeah, it's how we learnt English you see, when we were in France, we were reading the original Shakespeare text with all the swearing in so it is natural for us to swear in our English. It's how we learnt to speak English.
Alfonse: We got banned from playing Leeds Festival because we swore too much.
Henri: We were deducted points in an un-named competition because we swore a lot. Now this competition was in an adult nightclub to play at a rock and roll festival and apparently swearing would not be suitable at this festival. Now we're not arsed and good luck to all the bands that got through, but Flatnose John Trueman (a judge that night) you've got it coming to you!
Drunk on the next table: John Trueman you're a w***er!
les Flames!: Yeaaay!!! (hysterics)