Where do professional rockers rock? That’s what I asked the cast of Rock of Ages, who rock Broadway eight times a week. Find out where they go and why on their one night off, before the show, and when the curtain comes down. Here’s our list: Where They Rock Off-The-Clock.
Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay, known collectively as Justice, have spent the entire year touring with over eighty documented dates they’ve played since January—and they’ve got a few weeks on the road yet to go. Despite the exhaustive schedule, the pair doesn’t appear fazed. In fact, they seem downright invigorated to go out with a bang and get back in the studio to embark on album number four. Says de Rosnay, “Right now, we can’t wait to make new music.” As their Audio, Video, Disco song says, it’s “On’n’On” for this talented twosome.
Known for their production-heavy live performances featuring elaborate effects (think lasers and smoke machines) and their distinctive rock- and indie-influenced tunes, the French electronic duo brought the house down in New York last night at Hammerstein Ballroom. But, before this, Friday evening they DJed for a fan-filled audience at the SiriusXM studio, a set that aired to Electric Area (channel 52) station subscribers and can now be enjoyed after the fact on demand.
These Grammy award-winning guys, fortunately for me, took time post spin session to talk shop. de Rosnay held court while Augé stayed pretty much mum, smoking to the side but still listening intently. de Rosnay also smoked, but revealed a great deal about the past several months, from their reverence for North America to a violently funny festival faux pas, from their writing-performing process to the reasons why they have no interest in being rockstars.
Have you performed live DJ sets via radio before?
We do [them] when we think it makes sense. I think we’ve done [this] maybe once or twice before. This type of music is meant to be played in clubs, where there’s no light and everybody’s drunk, and nobody’s looking at you. So, it’s a bit complicated, but it was fun.
This is your third return to the U.S. in a single year. What’s it been like to be back a bunch, especially after a rather lengthy hiatus away from the States for a few years prior?
I’m going to tell you a secret: if we could only tour North America, if it was just that, [we’d be satisfied]. It’s more fun than the rest of the world. We have fun playing everywhere, but all the times we come to tour in North America, it’s a bit different. Doing North America is like doing a world tour in three weeks. North America is the only place in the world that, in the span of three weeks, you can have the winter, the summer, the countryside, the bigger cities, and tons of different people, situations, climates, and environments. That’s why we finished the tour here. We didn’t have to come back again, but we thought, “Okay, let’s finish [this tour] with something that is really fun.”
We appreciate it! So, how was/is it being away from home so much?
Actually, it’s fine. We were never homesick. We make sure we come back home, like, every three weeks. The way we organize our time is, generally, we [tour] for one year like this and then we stop everything and stay home, like, one, two, three years. I don’t know how long it’s going to take this time. By the time we spend that much time in the studio and at home, we want to tour again, which is great. On tour, we want to go in the studio. So it’s good that we can alternate. It’s good to [do] things one thing at a time.
What’s your favorite thing about touring, apart from America?
Just to play music for people and be in front of people and see the immediate reactions. Which is very basic. That’s cliché. But that’s the reason people tour. When [people] enjoy it, it’s great. It’s still amazing, still so prized for us when it works well when we play shows. Because we make this music in a small studio in Paris, at the moment we do it we can never imagine what it’s going to do. When we make music, we often ask ourselves, “Who is going to listen to this music?” It’s not always very obvious.
When you’re not onstage during touring, how do you spend your time on the road?
The first six months we were always rehearsing and working on the show, just to make it good, you know? It takes time for us to learn to perform this music. That’s the big paradox of being on tour: you have a lot of time off, but, at the same time, you don’t have time to do anything constructive. It’s really hard for us to even read a book or watch a movie.
Do you write lyrics from the road?
We focus on one thing at a time, to keep pleasure intact. We tour and don’t work on any music at all. Then we can’t wait to work on music again. If we were [touring and writing] at the same time all the time, we would probably get sick of either touring or making music. We love making music together. We love to be in our studio. We like to keep it fresh, so we don’t do anything while on tour.
Any ideas the direction you’ll go for the next record?
We have a clear idea of what we want to do, yeah.
No. [Wry smile]
Any funny stories you can relay?
There’s so many funny stories, but what we find fun may not be fun for everyone. The rat is the only funny story I can think about. When [Augé] killed a rat at a festival. He got scared, freaked out, killed him.
With a kick.
That’s so sad! Did he go flying?
Yeah. And then a girl or guy was complaining, “What did you do to my rat?!”He was a pet.
Where was the rat?
We can’t say the name of the festival.
No, I mean, was he onstage with you?
Yeah, he was with us! [Laughs] No, he was in the audience, just enjoying the show, you know? How could we know? Who picks a rat for a pet?
Gruesome. Let’s switch gears. Who are you currently into musically?
We like “Elephant” by Tame Impala—an Australian band. At the moment I listen to this song 200 times a day by the Zombies, called “This Will Be Our Year,” which is great.
I’ll definitely check out both bands. So, can you tell me more about the music video for “New Lands”? It’s savage. I like it.
Thank you. We were in Australia in January, watching television, and they have this sport called footy. It’s like football but more violent. It’s like a blend between football, rugby, and street fighting. We thought it was great, actually. It made us think of this Japanese anime called Cobra. In one episode, this guy plays this sport that’s set in the future. He plays, like, “rugbowl,” a blend between fighting, rugby, football, and baseball. We thought it would be great to make a video with some sort of violent futuristic sport.
Fascinating. Well, you did it and it’s dope. Congrats. One final question. Last time we interviewed, I asked you what it felt like to be rockstars. You denied this classification. Do you believe you’re rockstars now?
Yes, now we feel completely like rockstars. [Laughs] If it only took greasy hair to be a rockstar, it would be so simple. When you look at [rockstars], they don’t really make you want to be like them. All the [rockstars] I can think of anyway, I don’t want to be like them. It doesn’t look very fun. To be honest, we’re in a very comfortable position. Being able to touch what we believe is quite a large amount of people by making the music we do, without being overexposed as persons, and without having any pressure from anybody, [is the scenario we prefer]. When we make a record and give it to our record company, nobody checks it. We don’t have to compromise. And, we don’t have to be everywhere. We are quite underexposed and, at the same time, able to do all these things. We don’t really want that to change.
Photo by Paul Heartfield
Now that you’ve recovered from your Fourth of July celebrations, let’s talk about how tomorrow is Bastille Day. France totally puts America to shame when it comes to partying for the sake of national pride, so it’s time to do it all over again. Here are some coups de Coeur for la fête nationale.
Pravda – “Je Suis French”
The name of the song explains everything in this electro-punk take on national identity.
Phoenix – “Napoleon Says”
An old but good one from what the rest of the world sees as the reigning kings of French rock. They’re due for a follow-up to the hugely acclaimed 2009 album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, but the back catalogue is always worth revisiting.
Housse de Racket – “TGV”
This Parisian electro-rock duo alternates between French and English lyrics, and this highlight from sophomore album Alésia sees them embracing their mother tongue. They’re also known for incorporating “La Marseillaise” into their live show.
The Aikiu – “Pieces of Gold”
This song has gone viral recently, thanks to a music video featuring porn made SFW. The bright and breezy track also deserves it on its own merit.
Yuksek – “The Edge”
France’s best-kept secret is Yuksek, electro-pop artist extraordinaire. His latest single “The Edge,” released this week, exemplifies his brand of dance music for both head and hips.
We Are Knights – “Tears”
Under chilled-out production and hazy vocals, the beat keeps this song as assertive or laid-back as you want to hear it.
Yelle – “Mon Pays”
Despite singing strictly in French, Yelle have always had a healthy audience in America. Even if you can’t understand what Julie Budet is singing about, her tone effortlessly communicates everything against a background of glittering synths.
Anoraak – “Long Hot Summer Night”
This song sounds exactly like its title, all lingering warmth and hints of romance.
Justice – “New Lands”
The latest single from the irreverent Parisians was just graced with one of the best music videos of the year so far, if you’re into futuristic sports.
Make The Girl Dance – “Tchiki Tchiki Tchiki”
The trouble-making dance production duo takes on surf-rock and it totally works.
Joe Dassin – “Les Champs Elysées”
If sweating it out with barbecue sauce stains all over your shirt while trying to take in the dozens of bands around you or dancing on a really big boat in the Bahamas sound like your bag, tonight’s festival roundup will be particularly appealing. Austin’s end-of-festival-season blowout Austin City Limits announced its lineup with some notable overlap with Lollapalooza and a stacked roster of eclectic acts all three days, starting at the top with headliners The Black Keys, Florence + The Machine, AVICII, Neil Young & Crazy Horse (get ready to sing some classic American folk songs!), Jack White, The Roots, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Avett Brothers, Weezer, M83 and Iggy & The Stooges.
Other notable ACLiens include a reunited Afghan Whigs on their world domination tour, soul-revival upstarts Alabama Shakes, Childish "Donald Glover" Gambino, BASSNECTAR, The Shins, Los Campesinos!, Gotye, Tegan & Sara, Zola Jesus, BlackBook artist to watch Michael Kiwanuka, Willis Earl Beal, Gary Clark Jr., The Weeknd and First Aid Kit, with plenty more here. 3-day passes for ACL are already sold out, but you can get single-day passes for $90 a pop.
If you’d rather dance on a boat to Diplo and Digitalism, electronica festival and cruise Holy Ship!! (with TWO exclamation points) returns with a host of DJs and dance acts including the aforementioned Mad Decent mixmaster and Hamburg house duo, as well as Major Lazer, Justice, Knife Party, Boys Noize, Skream and Benga, Busy P, Crookers, Dillon Francis and 12th Planet, with pletny more names on the site.
ACL will take place October 12th – 14th in Austin’s Zilker Park; Holy Ship!! will host a pre-party in Fort Lauderdale on January 3rd, 2013 and be on the high seas aboard the MSC Poesia January 4th – 7th, 2013, just in time for you to fully decimate any hopes of maintaining a New Year’s resolution. Watch footage from last year’s cruise below:
Is the 2012 Lollapalooza lineup set in stone? If this grainy snapshot of a piece of paper is to be believed, then the annual music festival will be headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Black Keys, Black Sabbath, Jack White and Florence + The Machine, with The Shins, At the Drive-In, Justice, The Weeknd, Sigur Ros, and more swooping in for the supporting time slots. It could be completely b.s. — again, it’s a grainy snapshot of a piece of paper — but the lineup seems very appropriate to Lollapalooza’s big tent appeal, and some of the acts have already been hinted at through promotion on Chicago’s transportation system. Check out the full (rumored) lineup over at Pretty Much Amazing.
There may be one fly in the ointment: Black Sabbath previously cancelled a summer tour due to guitarist Tony Iommi’s lymphona treatment, and because drummer Bill Ward had previously expressed reluctance to do the reunion without being fairly compensated. But as this Rolling Stone report notes, Sharon Osbourne said that the band would be playing one American show in August — and, as it turns out, Lollapalooza happens to be American, a show, and in August. There’s your smoking gun if there ever was one. At any rate, we’ll know by Wednesday when the lineup is officially announced. There will be all sorts of fun to had at the festival regardless of who’s playing, as you can see below.
After bursting onto the scene with their first album, † (alternatively known as Cross), Justice’s Gaspard Augé (right) and Xavier de Rosnay (left, with his grandmother) haven’t stopped making appealing, upbeat electro-pop. The Grammy Award–winning duo blends indie rock with dark disco beats, a combination that’s seduced audiences since the moment Justice’s debut single, “D.A.N.C.E.,” first appeared.
Although they’ve toured the world, collaborated with clothing label Surface to Air, and released a concert documentary (the punny A Cross the Universe), Augé and de Rosnay thrive on spontaneity, and have few plans for the future save for a general notion of putting out new records they love. With their latest album, Audio, Video, Disco, they confess, “We didn’t try to make our own revolution and we didn’t try to repeat something either, we just made a natural followup—it’s the accumulation of everything we’ve heard and seen since we were kids.” There’s definitely a hint of ’70s glam rock in the mix, but they insist that “the backbone of the record is really modern.”
Often deemed the successors of fellow French electro masters Daft Punk, Justice’s new album proves they’re beyond living in the shadows. As if to tear their fans asunder, they say, “We’re not pop artists, but the music is very pop in a broad way. We’re not club people”—no matter how many bodies they get moving on dance floors around the world. Justice would love nothing more than to play the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, “Just to be playing out there in the mountains. It looks amazing.” Now that’s a show we’d like to check out.
The new music video for Justice’s remix of Lenny Kravitz’s “Let Love Rule” is the kind of clip you would have imagined on those Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry music video anthologies you used to show girls in your dorm room to make them think you were an interesting person. It features a sight gag (kicks in around the 1:30 mark) so random and ingenious that it reminds me why some people are creative and others not. In this case the creative person is music video director Keith Schofield, an American music video and commercial director who’s been producing some of the cleverest work in any visual medium, period.
Schofield is the mad scientist behind last year’s cunning ode to cunnilingus (and other X-rated pursuits), the promo for Diesel’s XXX parties, which won the filmmaker a Silver at the 2009 British Television Advertising Awards. His videos (more of which can be viewed here) are playful vignettes tailored to a generation of quick-fix YouTubers who crave that three minutes of never-seen-that-before gleeful entertainment. But imagine what he could do with a whole script. Someone get Charlie Kaufman on the phone, quick.
French electronic duo Justice recently completed the kind of road odyssey that comes only when people really, really love your music. They’ve spent the better part of two years raining distorted bass lines and chainsaw synths over sweaty, hysterical fans around the world, and now that they’re settled back in their native Paris, a visual relic has emerged from the debris. A Cross the Universe is a CD/DVD compilation that features a live recording of a San Francisco concert, but even more notably, a film documenting their March 2008 US tour. The movie doesn’t chronicle their performances in typical concert-doc fashion so much as offer up fly-on-the-wall glimpses of backstage mayhem and tour-bus depravity. Gaspard Augé of Justice dialed in to describe some of the bloodier moments on tour, reveal some preshow rituals, and explain why despite the religious iconography, they’re anything but godlike.
The DVD was the last three weeks of the tour, but how long was the tour? I guess we played more than 150 shows, and it lasted for one year and a half.
So how many shows is that a week? It depends, we had a schedule from time to time, but it was about four or five a week.
What do you guys do on the nights when you’re not playing shows? We’re just sleeping on the bus in between towns.
After your shows, are there any quiet nights when you guys don’t party, you just go back to the bus and go back to sleep? We always had to leave right after the shows because we had to go to the next city, so we had to keep quiet, but we had some fun moments.
Do you remember maybe one night that was the most memorable? It’s a bit blurry you know, but I guess you can see some of it in the DVD.
Have you watched something on the DVD that you don’t remember happening? Yea, kind of, we were a bit surprised afterwards when we got to see the final edit. But we’ve been working on it too, so we didn’t have to censor the directors, because we knew that we couldn’t take back activities.
When you were editing, was there stuff you left out on purpose, that you didn’t want people to see? Yea, but the directors shot 200 hours of footage, so there’s just a very small part of the reality that we’re showing. But it’s mainly true to the fact that we had to push some directions, and to do a bit of the caricature of who we are. But I guess there were just a few outtakes that we couldn’t use, just to respect some people’s privacy.
Were you trying to portray a specific image of Justice? No, because it’s just kind of avoiding the two main concerns of music documentaries. We didn’t want to talk about music, because we’ve only done one album, so it was pointless to talk about music, and as we are not famous as characters, we are kind of not very present in the DVD, just to make the story more entertaining. And so we could have made a DVD to our own glory, but it would have been very boring, and so far it was way more relevant to just take a piece of that. We just wanted to do everything that was entertaining, even at our own expense.
What do you think about the craziness of touring? I guess it’s just part of the touring process, because when you’re a child, you kind of fantasize the pieces of the touring life, and then when you’re doing it, you just realize that everything was true, but it’s not only your fault, it’s the process of touring that creates all the pieces. The tour was a great experience. We learned a lot about people, especially girls.
Are girls puking on your bus a common experience? Eh, no, it’s not that common, but at least it was funny enough.
Is there a lot of vomit on tour? No, not that much.
Have you ever found a girl on tour that you’ve been attached to and didn’t want to leave, or are there so many of them? Of course we did meet some great people, but it’s kind of hard to have a relationship when you’re always away.
Was there one time when you just wanted the tour to be over? No, because it’s not the worst job on Earth. Now we stopped everything, and it’s kind of cool to be back home, but touring is exciting as well.
Are you looking forward to going back? No, not really. We’re just going to step back for a bit and make some new music.
When you’re on stage, and your hands are in the air, and thousands of people’s hands are in the air with you, do you ever feel godlike? No, because we don’t really relate to the music we are doing, we are not frontmen. We are not singing or playing guitar. We are just happy that the music we create onstage is efficient. People scream when you raise your hands, so at some points you have to do it, but we are kind of shy people, so sometimes it’s a bit violent to go on stage in front of other people. You always kind of get away with it, but it’s kind of frightening at some points.
What about the moment in the film when you guys are covered in blood? We have a stalker on tour, a guy who was harassing us, so at some point he was very drunk, and came to us and starts to beat up our friend and stuff, so finally he got bottled by Xavier.
Over the head? Yea, it was a bit violent, and so the security staff called the cops, and finally we didn’t get any charges because it was self-defense, but we got kind of scared that we wouldn’t be able to come back to the States.
What is your most favorite city to play in? I guess the Montreal and New York shows were really amazing. Just because the crowd was amazing, and we were kind of happy after the show we did.
Did touring the US make you consider moving here? No, not at all. We want to avoid the cliché of the band that moves to LA to make their second album.
And what about the food in the U.S.? The food was okay because it’s kind of impossible to eat late at night in France, so we were really happy to always find something to eat.
Is it hard to eat healthy when you’re on the road — do you try? Yeah, its kind of hard. I guess we gain weight and stuff, because we always have the same rider, and so we always end up with the same sandwiches, so we eat the same stuff every day.
Did you get to make the rider yourself? Yeah, very simple sandwiches and two bottles of alcohol, rum and vodka. We have this ritual before the shows, a shot of rum and Tabasco.
Do you ever drink a lot before you go on? No, we just need to drink a bit to get in the party mode. It’s hard to get excited every night, so we need some rum.
A few years back, it was penguins who ruled the documentary roost. Then came docs about Iraq. I predict the next trend in nonfiction filmmaking will have something to do with the economy, but until then, following French electro acts on tour looks like the subject matter du jour. Watching the trailer for the new Justice tour DVD A Cross the Universe made me giddy with jealousy as well as forcing an unwelcome life-path reconsideration. The doc was shot by So Me (the man responsible for Justice’s brilliant “DVNO” video), while the Ed Banger boys toured their breakthrough album †. Another documentary, C’est L’Amerique, featuring BlackBook favorite Yelle, is also in production; this one’s by Yoann Lemoine, who, beginning ten days ago, is following the French singer around the US and Iceland (and also shot her newest video for “Ce Jeu.” Combined, the teasers show that the French are effortlessly cooler than we are, and they probably have more fun in this country than we do. Because when it’s all said and done, they get to leave. Videos after the jump.