We’ve heard of Os Noctámbulos. We’ve listened to their split LP, their first and latest album Stranger, which came out in July 2016 and we’ve seen them perform an excellent concert live at le Point Ephémère before Dead Ghosts. Their sound is entrancingly nostalgic of 60s surf and garage rock, it’s hard to believe that they aren’t a group that comes straight from that period. We had the chance to meet with the Franco-English members of Os Noctámbulos, between soundcheck and dinner at l’Olympic Café in Paris 18ème.
Introduce yourselves. Who does what in Os Noctámbulos ?
Nick : I sing and play guitar. I was together with Coline in England, we also played music together in a previous band. Coline wanted to move back to Paris, so we moved from Sheffield.
Coline : I play the bass. I’ve known Baldo for about 5 years and Valentin since high school. After having moved to Paris, Nick and I wanted to form a new group, so with Baldo and Valentin we decided we would play together !
Valentin : I play the guitar.
Baldo : I play the drums. Nick didn’t mention it, but he’s also the « brain » of the group, he composes everything!
Since the beginning of Os Noctámbulos, what have you guys been up to ?
Nick : We’ve been playing together since 2012. In 2014 we put out a Split 12″ with the band Heaters, who were called Plantains at the time. That same year, we also released our first album Corsica Garden. This year in July, we released our second album Stranger. Besides our releases, we’ve toured a lot in France and in England.
Baldo : We toured in England right before the release of Stranger, since then we’ve just played a few concerts in Paris, we’re getting ready to tour in Germany.
Coline : And tonight we play our 69th concert.
We saw you guys play at Point Ephémère with Dead Ghosts and PCP Manor. It was incredible, your music resonates pure surf and garage rock. How would you describe your music for those who’ve never heard or seen you play live ?
Nick: I’d say it’s country music played by autistics who listen to garage, punk, soul and surf. We try to mix all of these sounds.
Valentin : The band is based on compositions created by Nick. He creates all the songs on his own… the lyrics, the melodies… After we add the guitar, drums and bass with our own interpretations and inspirations.
Coline : We adapt the songs that he creates. They transform progressively.
Who are your main influences ?
Nick : Reigning Sound and The Charlatans.
Coline : The Velvet Underground, The Cramps, The Gun Club, The Jesus and Mary Chain.
Valentin : When I was younger I listened to The Beatles, Blur, Pulp, and Oasis. Later I listened to a lot of Brian Jonestown Massacre, Black Lips, The Gun Club, The Kinks, The Who…
Baldo : Bo Diddley, The Troggs, The Modern Lovers, and Question Mark & the Mysterians.
Where did the name Os Noctámbulos come from?
Nick : The name comes from a book written by James Ellroy. He writes police novels… in one of his books there is a bar called Night Owls. I really liked this name but it was already taken by a 60s band, so I translated the name in multiple languages. Os Noctàmbulos, is a mix of Spanish and Portuguese.
Baldo : But there is also the painting by Edward Hopper, « Noctambules. » I like the part « Os » because it’s a reference to Os Mutantes, a psychedelic group from Brazil that we all really like.
Nick, as an English expat living in Paris, how would to describe the differences between the music scene in England compared to the scene in France ?
Nick : I think that the scene in France is much better than the scene in England. In England, I often see bands that sound like they’ve never rehearsed, as if it were their first concert ever. I’ve noticed in France that there is more a sort of professionalism and dedication. In England it’s also harder to play shows, bands usually aren’t paid, fed or housed…
Coline : In France, I feel like it’s more friendly. Everyone knows everyone and we’re all friends. There are also networks in England, but I think it’s a bit cold. It’s not the same culture. There might be more competition between groups in England.
Valentin : But in England we also played with some really great, good quality bands, such as Bully Bones. In any case, I think that in England, bands tend to play more classical rock. In France, there are more « radical » bands, but that’s just my opinion!
Baldo : Despite some of the differences, there are still many things in common between the two scenes. We see the same culture of associations and small labels that organise concerts, just like here in France.
Nick: In Brighton there’s Acid Box Promotions. They’re really nice guys who are quite young and well-known. They organised concerts with The Warlocks and Night Beats. They had us play twice and each time they were really welcoming.
The latest album Stranger was released in May 2016. In what context was this album created?
Nick : I’m living in a different country, I see a lot of misery and police brutality, the refugee crisis… these sort of really difficult situations. I tried to created an album which expresses this feeling that I see happening on the streets of Paris, the media, gay marriage and those that oppose it… the album speaks about these issues but it’s rather subtle and metaphorical.
Baldo : I have a home studio in a suburb south of Paris. All our songs were recorded there, except the 45 tours which came out on Croque Macadam Records.
Coline : We are completely DIY ! We call Baldo’s studio « Corsica Garden » because he’s from Corsica. Corsica Garden is also the name of our first album. After the recordings, Nick does the mix at his parents’ home in England, in the countryside.
Valentin : The album Stranger was recorded in 2-3 jours, we recorded the guitar, bass and drums live, then Nick added the vocals and keyboard.
Nick : Stranger came out on Stolen Body Records, a Bristol-based label in England. They’ve put out other bands such as Heaters, Dan Melchior, Go!Zilla.
What are some of your favorite current bands?
Valentin : Night Beats, Thee Oh Sees, J.C. Satàn.
Coline : Night Beats ! And a lot of French bands such as Pierre et Bastien, Feeling of Love, Magnetix, Destination Lonely (Lo Spider), and Cheveu.
Nick : I recently saw Still Charon (Nantes) and En Attendant Ana (Paris), they were really good!
Do you play in any other bands?
Nick : 39th and the Nortons
Baldo : Flowerbed Tramplers, with Nick. And Revizors, a new project.
Your future plans?
Nick : We’ll be putting out a third album early next year with Slice of Wax Records!
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