Temping is generally a great way of meeting people you'd never dream of spending time with. However, sometimes the temp can cross their fingers and toes hard and fate might deliver a colleague perfect for struggling through the summer with. In this case it happened to Paul Rafferty when he arrived for work at Chester Racecourse in July 2003. He was propping up the wrong side of the bar serving overpriced beverages to the gamblers when he overheard Matthew Smith waxing enthusiastically about legendary doom-punkers The Misfits. Realising that one another were the best of the frankly attrocious bunch, they discussed the finer details of their record collections and filled one another in on any gaps in their respective knowledge. Jealous that they had not yet met their match, the other temps looked on puzzled as Paul and Matthew spent the afternoon tossing relatively obscure band names back and forth, as they filled those bottomless jugs of Pimms and lemonade.
The rest of the summer was spent swapping the records they'd discussed that day and compiling mix-tapes for one another involving the likes of The Minutemen, Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc, Make Believe, Bruce Springsteen, Storm & Stress, Billy Bragg, Don Cabellero, Battles, John Fahey, Black Flag, Beastie Boys, Smog, Shellac, XTC, Talking Heads, Les Savy Fav, Karate and Owls. Though Paul and Matthew already belonged to their own bands, they figured that the Minutemen's Mike Watt's legendary motto ("Everyone should form a band") could possibly be re-interpreted as "Everybody should form another band". Paul and Matthew dutifully enlisted Matthew's little brother Alasdair into their ranks and they set about making music.
And so, in Matthew and Alasdair's parent's living room (the band have since relocated to a basement in Liverpool's city centre) Paul picked up the bass guitar for the first time, Alasdair sat eagerly behind his drum kit and Matthew strapped his prized red Fender Stratocaster to his body. The music came out all odd and pointed; laden with complex time signatures but somehow retaining a familiar pop sensibility. Their early experiments were showcased at their first gig in Liverpool's Heebies Jeebies in April 2004 and since then Hot Club de Paris have collected a small arsenal of skewif punk-pop bombs.
Hot Club de Paris' current writing process is very similar now to those early practice sessions; an initial guitar riff of Matthew's is unveiled and Paul and Alasdair spend a while jamming to it. Many of their songs begin life as instrumentals and over time the music is whittled down and battered into short two-minute pop arrangements, but with a blatant disregard for standard pop formula. The bass guitar tends to dictate the chord progression, "once I've decided what the progression is, I have a bash at writing the words" says Paul, "we'll play it together some more, struggle a little (it's often far too technical to sing over) and once we're comfortable with the song, Alasdair will begin to figure out the harmonies."
A classically trained pianist, Alasdair is behind all of Hot Club de Paris' harmonies. Many of the songs feature layered up harmony lines and it's this and their natural inclination to write and play in complex time signatures that sets them apart. "Odd time signatures are just something we're used to" explains Matthew, " We listen to so much music that isn't in 4/4 that it's completely natural for us to take influence from that. We don't ever write music just to be awkward, it's just the way we write. People write in 4/4 because that's what they're used to, we're doing exactly the same thing with what we do. "
Live, Hot Club de Paris are one of the most exhilarating bands you're likely to see. Oodles of humour and back-chat abound, they successfully manage to marry technical musicianship with pure fun. Their barbershop-style a capellas punctuate their set to produce a form of entertainment that once witnessed, makes you wonder why everyone's not doing it. And this is far from your 'post-punk-art-rock-pop-band-do-harmonies' affair, it's so much more than that. These kids actually manage to make a room full of awkwardly shifting voyeurs dance to a 7/8 beat and sing along to their a capella musings about "fucking anything that moves".
'Sometimeitsbetternottostickbitsofeachotherineachotherforeachother' along with B side 'Your Face Looks All Wrong' was released on Moshi Moshi Records on July 24. Their second single everyeveryeverything was released on September 25th.
Hot Club de Paris' debut album 'Drop It Till It Pops' was released on October 9th, The vinyl version followed on January 8th.
Hot Club de Paris are:
Paul Rafferty (25) – Vox / Bass
Matthew Smith (25) – Vox / Guitar
Alasdair Smith (22) –Vox / Drums
"There's something cheeringly uncategorisable about Liverpool trio Hot Club De Paris' blend of twitchy punk, rococo guitar, lusty three-part folk harmonies and witty, occassionally foul-mouthed lyrics. Almost wilfully abstruse, but surprisingly charming live" [The Guardian]
"Hot Club De Paris could not have less to do with music's current zeitgeist if they marched on stage playing kazoos and trombones. They are outsiders and tonight they feel like it. "It's dead posh here," says singer and bassist Paul Rafferty, surveying the ornate drapes and cornices of the Elgar Room, an unlikely venue wedged into a restaurant on the third floor of the Albert Hall. "The Queen has been in here before, and youse are all so...polite."
This singular Scouse trio play convoluted, rapid-fire pop songs marked by trampoline rhythms and dizzying time signatures. Recorded, their incessant whimsy can become an irritant, but live they acquire a visceral edge largely due to guitarist Matt Smith, who has the deadpan demeanor of Noel Gallagher until he unleashes dazzling peals of sunshine Afrobeat guitar on tracks such as the effervescent new Demolitian Man. Their debut album Drop It 'Til t Pops was a bizarre aggregation of rococo pop and post-rock japery - imminent follow-up Live At Dead Lake appears to be more of the same. Previewed songs such as Boy Awaits Return Of The Runaway Girl and I Wasn't Being Heartless When I Said Your Favourite Song Lacked Heart find Rafferty's breathless bathos-laden poetry surfing tidal waves of twtchy, juddering rhythms. The ribald stream of between-song banter is equally entertaining, touching on topics from Bruce Springsteen's "Stage height" to a disappointing on-tour encounter with 1980s ska icons, the Beat "They were total arseholes, the sort of people who would skank on your grave." Hot Club De Paris are a unique, and entirely laudable, proposition." [Guardian Hush Gig Review]
- Hot Club de Paris - Free The Pterodactyl 3 Out Now!
- Hot Club de Paris Record Live Split 7"
- Hot Club de Paris' New Video
- Hot Club de Paris Play MOSHI 100 Party
- New Hot Club De Paris EP Out Today
- Hot Club De Paris and Still Flyin' Out NOW
- Hot Club De Paris Announce UK Tour Dates!
- My Little Haunting Out Today!
- Live At Dead Lake Out TODAY!
- Hey! Housebrick - out now
- Hot Club De Paris' Spring Tour Dates Announced:
- Hot Club De Paris' Christmas Single Out Today On Download...
- Hot Club De Paris Christmas Song
- Check Out
- Free Gig. Next Wednesday, July 25th
- Clockwork Toy Out Today!!!
- Hot Club On The Telly
- Special Hot Club De Paris gig!
- Hot Club At Fabric Tonight
- Drop It 'Til It Pops Out Today!
- Hot Club On Radio1
- HOT CLUB DE PARIS DEBUT SINGLE OUT NOW
- MEET THE BAND
- HOT CLUB DE PARIS GIG