We ‘want to break your heart’
Eux Autres brings French-flavored pop to Fulcrum
French lyrics, breezy pop sensibilities, songs named after novels—sounds like the makings of a well-read, art school Euro pop band living in a foreign film. And with Eux Autres, the attractive pop duo whose first album Hell is Eux Autres is full of all the pop-pop snare, handclaps and guy/girl harmonies a fan of clean pop can handle, the description applies … except for Euro/foreign film stuff.
The band includes brother and sister Nicholas and Heather Larimer, who are from Omaha, Neb. but relocated to the hip music community of Portland, Ore. Nicholas sings and plays guitar, and Heather (who used play percussion and sing in the Jicks, Stephen Malkmus’s post-Pavement backup band) plays drums and sings as well. With the help of Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss and Portland engineer Jeff Stuart Saltzman (Sleater-Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie), the band created a first album what the Italian music site Indiepop.it calls “that kind of rough-at-the-edges-soft-in-the-middle indiepop record that stays with you for longer than you may have expected.”
Sessions for a new album (again with Saltzman) will commence after the current tour, and Heather and Nicholas were nice enough to interrupt packing for the short California trip to rap with the CN&R in anticipation of playing at Chico’s Fulcrum Records.
So do you both speak French fluently?
Heather: We both spoke French pretty competently years ago, but it has atrophied from disuse. Our mother was a total Francophile—she lived there for a while—and in Nebraska that seemed really exotic to us, so we both studied French all through school. At this point, we use it in our songs because to us it signifies a genre and aesthetic we love—ye-ye and other ‘60s French pop—rather than being our secondary tongue or something. We figured that a lot of those artists had random songs in broken English, so why not do the same but in French? Plus, someone needs to stick up for the French these days.
Where would you recommend someone interested in exploring some French pop start?
Nicholas: Jacques Dutronc. Francoise Hardy. [Serge] Gainsbourg of course, but the ye-ye girls (Hardy included), who comprised a kind of pop movement, were extremely cool. Girls with a lot of style and not particularly skilled voices. Great production. Pretty far out really, for being so commercial. The music has an earthy sexiness.
I saw the Jicks with The Swords at the Fillmore, and Heather was a dancin’ machine—do you get to jump around at all now, or is all work behind the kit?
H: The kit is like wrestling with an octopus, always something needing attention, so no crazy dance moves back there. I sustain far fewer bruises behind the drums than with my former tambourine self-flagellation. The live show is warm and direct. Sounds like a good therapist, right?
With all the cool arrangement touches on the CD (piano, extra guitars), have you been tempted to have other players join the live show?
N: Sure, more people might be fun, but we worry that we’ll lose something if it gets too embroidered. We’re kind of superstitious that way. Plus, we’re mildly addicted to the terror of the duo. If one of us goes down, we’re taking the other with. Multi-person bands are capable of mutiny; we’re stuck with each other, more like a suicide pact.
Could you talk a little about your songwriting process?
H: Well, the feel of the CD owes as much to Jeff Stuart Saltzman as it does to our songwriting. He really set the tone—he heard how it should be before it existed. Nick and I share songwriting. He usually develops a riff and then someone writes a melody and we workshop lyrics. We just saw that Metallica band-therapy movie, Some Kind of Monster, and totally loved it. Our mom’s a psychotherapist and so it was funny to learn we employ the same jargon the post-enlightenment Metallica boys use when they collaborate, although having grown up with it, we’ve discarded some of the civility, sort of mangled the intention.
What’s the family think of bro and sis having a band together?
H: Our parents think it’s hilarious, and they’re proud, if a little baffled. They’re just happy we’re not beating the shit out of each other anymore. Our little brother Mike is jealous. He wanted to sell T-shirts for us this summer but he’s too young to get into clubs. Maybe he’ll get drafted into the band in a couple of years.
What’s the Eux Autres “mission statement?”
Eux Autres want to break your heart.