Pierre and Victor from Housse de Racket are two of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet, even if they are from the land of baguettes and berets. This synth-laden rock duo captivated the afternoon crowd on Sunday at Coachella, and I think I captivated the press tent a little bit when I dragged these two youngsters in with me for a short chat. They’re a must-see for those repeating the Coachella experience two weekends in a row.
So you guys are from Paris. How is the wine selection here at Coachella?
PIERRE LEROUX [guitars and vocals]: Uh, we haven’t tasted all the wines of the Napa Valley, but we have a week to do that.
VICTOR LE MASNE [drums and vocals]: We’ll try the wine later.
You guys seem to love California. Is it your favorite state of the union?
VICTOR LE MASNE: We’ve been on tour for a month and a half in the U.S. and in Canada. The end to the tour is California, and it’s very sunny.
PIERRE LEROUX: We travel a lot so we saw the snow, we saw the sun. It’s a huge country, and it’s a beautiful ending to this tour. We’re going to play twice in L.A., twice in San Francisco, twice at Coachella.
I was just interviewing the Hives. They say that Sweden is a better country than France culturally and musically. Do you agree with that?
PIERRE LEROUX: Oooh. I don’t know. We’ve only been to Sweden once. It was too short to know.
VICTOR LE MASNE: I think so. Rock bands from Sweden are really cool. Most of the time!
It wasn’t exciting enough to go back, so maybe you didn’t like it so much.
VICTOR LE MASNE: We want to go. We play a festival in Sweden this summer. So… we can compare. We’ll chat with the Hives tomorrow backstage.
I want to compare L.A. to Paris. Americans think Parisians are all snobs. But in L.A., we’re pretty snobby. If you go to a show in L.A., people just sit there. They don’t dance. They don’t smile. Is it like that in Paris?
PIERRE LEROUX: Yes. That is a definitive answer. Yes. People are very snobby, but sometimes miracle happens. I once saw a Metronomy show in Paris, and people went mad! I don’t know if it’s because it’s an English band, but it’s true that in Paris, the people need to warm up. That’s why we love California. We can come here, warm up a bit in the sun of Coachella festival, and then go back to France with sunny outlooks, I guess.
Well you guys seem to warm up the crowd! But you’re a duo: that must be hard, especially having live drums. Do you guys have your keyboard sequenced, or stuff going on in the background, while you play guitar?
PIERRE LEROUX: Yeah, exactly. We have some backing loops. But we try as much as possible to have live drums and live guitars driving the thing. We don’t want to hide behind the loops and pedals. The real energy comes from the drum, and the guitar, and of course the vocals. I hope.
I didn’t see any earphones on you, Victor. Do you have an ear piece?
VICTOR LE MASNE: No….
PIERRE LEROUX: Ha ha!
VICTOR LE MASNE: I got some special ninja secrets. We try to be modern. We don’t want to sound like a 70s band. Pierre plays the guitar, I play the drums, but the common instrument between ourselves is the synthesizer. Being two on stage is quite unusual and we want to keep that.
You say you don’t want to sound like a 70s band, but you covered The Beach Boys “Til I Die.”
VICTOR LE MASNE: The very first time we record a cover, ever, so … nice point! 1-0, you! We love chords and chord progression and to us that track is like, a masterpiece. We did it for ourselves first. And since we were coming here to California, we said to ourselves, “Hey, it’s a really good occasion.” Plus, we just learned that The Beach Boys were doing a tour for their 50th birthday, so it was a good mix of reasons to do it.
It’s so hot today, and you guys are wearing all white. Doesn’t it cause problems? Do you guys get ring around the collar? Armpit stains?
VICTOR LE ROUX: At the very beginning, Housse de Racket had to do with tennis. So maybe it was a little thing to our past as tennis players. And maybe because white is good when you want to be seen from a long distance.
PIERRE LEROUX: And we want to be seen as classy. It’s a special day so we wanted to look classy today.
Appropriate apparel for a polo field! You guys just came out with a new album. When did it come out, and what’s the new thing on this album?
PIERRE LEROUX: It’s been out since November.
What day? I was born on November 6.
PIERRE LEROUX: November 6, of course! The deluxe edition just came out a month ago with new remixes and demo. It was a re-style. We got to work the same producer as Phoenix and the Rapture. His name is Phillip Starr: we were lucky enough to work with him. It was great. We spent six months at his beautiful studio in Paris. The new thing was that we were singing in English for the very first time. On our first record it was only in French. For the second one, we made the choice to not make a choice: to sing both in English and in French.
So you sold out! One last question: California is a very hippie, crunchy place, and they’re all into astrology. I’m just realizing that your album, if it came out in early November, is a Scorpio. Does that mean that it’s petulant and moody and quiet?
PIERRE LEROUX: I don’t know. It’s futuristic and psychedelic, but it’s not very quiet. It’s quite powerful. I think it fits well with California!
-D. M. Collins