Published on November 13th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
Brussels-based lush-poppers Montevideo are set to give their latest album Personal Space a worldwide release in 2013, so Rocksucker fired some questions over to singer Jean Waterlot in the hope of finding out a little more about them. First, though, check out the video for their new single “Fate & Glory”, featuring Lara Chedraoui…
What’s the line-up of the band? How did you all meet, and how long has the band been going for?
The current line-up features me, Jean Waterlot (vocals and keys), my brother Pierre on drums, long-time lead guitarist Manu Simonis and bassist Gabriel Reding (who joined the band two years ago). We all met when we were boy scouts. Before this we have experienced some line-up changes, Julian Galoy (who happen to be the previous bassist) and Manu formed a ska punk band when they were students at University in 2004. One night they rang up my brother Pierre to ask him to cover drums. After the gig, they both realised that they would not want to play with another drummer anymore.
Then some time after that I completed the line-up, joining the band’s brass section playing trumpet. Not long after the band debut formed, we grew bored of covering Madness, the sax player decided to leave and so we ended up with just the four of us and me with my trumpet in hand. In 2005, we came up with a new name, one we picked up in some rock star’s biography, where it mentioned a Parisian rehab centre named Montevideo.
How would you describe your music, if pushed?
Sincere, passionate, elegant… I guess elegance is really at the core of everything we try to do. Be it playing records in a club, dressing up for a late night dinner or writing songs, we try to capture that feeling but with a twist. Outside the box dandy-ism, that’s what we’re aiming for. Early Bowie and Robert Smith meets Pink Floyd who decide to make some dance music together in the Krautrock era with a 2012 producer.
Where are you based, and what do you use to record with?
We are based in Brussels. Pretty much in centre of Europe, 1 hour by train from Paris, Berlin, or London. The great thing about being a Brussels-based band is that there is no real local scene (compare to the cities in the UK for example), which makes each new band very unique and due to the lack of local musical background we basicaly pick up influences from what’s happening outside Belgium. People speak three different languages here, so there’s no real identity, so when you hear our music you can hardly say it is a typical Belgian sound.
All those influences build up to create actual sound in their way, which makes it difficult to classify, it’s a cross between several styles and decades. We’ll share basic ideas between each other when we write songs in one of our home studios, put it together with crappy computers and then we end up building the tracks together properly in our rehearsal place.
Are you signed to a label? If so, how did you come to their attention?
We’ve signed with EMI Belgium which gives us a great opportunity to export ourselves. They first saw us playing live at this great Belgian festival Les Nuits Botanique in 2011 that we had the opportunity to play at after releasing an EP. The deal was signed the year after that once they’ve got in touch with our manager and after we had come back from working in the DFA studios in New York. When they heard the track “Horses” we had recorded and produced there with James Murphy’s main assistant they were convinced we had potential. After that we went to Paris to work with the French producer Joakim, working with him was truly a blessing for us. When they heard the whole album we recorded from France it did not take time to convince them to sign us.
Is there a full album in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it? (Feel free to be as abstract as you like…)
Yes there is! It’s called Personal Space. It describes that “comfort zone” you try to build when you’ve first met someone, from the moment you try to behave like the perfect guy, hiding your past, all your one night stands, to the point where you have destroyed everything. This album is a sort of tragedy in ten episodes… There ‘s a melancholic mood in all the songs, “behind every good song, there is a girl”, that sentence could have been the tag line to our album. It’s like a melancholic journey of a lost soul into space. We’ve mixed pop songwriting with electronic sounds, we used lots of synths, but mostly we looked for abstract sounds that could be added to a classic pop atmosphere.
Where can we hear your music online?
Our first single is on SoundCloud – http://soundcloud.com/montevideo
So far the album has been released on iTunes in Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, it will get released worldwide next year. I guess you can find the whole album on Spotify, though I don’t quite understand how artists gets royalties through streaming!
Which have been your most exciting gigs and/or overall moments so far?
It was truly incredible, as a band, to discover New York for the first time especially recording at DFA’s Studio! 10 years ago we were listening to The Rapture’s debut album and we told ourselves that something different was happening, something thats matches dance and punk together. That really inspired us, we would have never imagined that 10 years later we would be working on our own record in their studio… It was a real achievement for us. Very exciting.
Got any more coming up? (Gigs, that is…)
We are just starting to plan gigs for 2013. We do know that on the 1st of March, we’ll be playing in our home town, at Ancienne Belgique. It’s one of the best venues in Europe to see a band live, great sound in there.
Are there any obscure and/or up-and-coming acts that you’d like to recommend or give a shout-out to?
One of the greatest gigs I’ve seen this year was a rap band called Dope D.O.D – it sounds like the rebirth of the Wu-Tang Clan, with just a touch of House of Pain! Hearing it was like being slapped in the face. I would also recommend Pond, they’re one half of Tame Impala, 20-year-old kids from Australia and as powerful as MC5!
Finally, if you were forced to spend the rest of your days in solitary confinement, but were allowed to bring the entire works of five different artists along to tide you over, whose would you choose?
The complete collection of the Beach Boys, all their albums. All the David Hockney’s paintings. Chet Baker’s entire collection of live recordings. Every comic by the French illustrator Bastien Vivès. And maybe just one track, “Yasmine” by the mysterious British producer Jai Paul (because he hasn’t released anything else yet!) .
Montevideo, thank you.