GREGOIRE GARRIGUES: A HISTORY OF PARISIAN ROCK

Par Franco Onweb

Imagine you know someone who has played, among others, with Tav Falco, Asphalt Jungle, Chris Wilson or Kim Fowley. Well, such a gentleman exists, his name is Grégoire Garrigues, and I have met him.
In the last few months our paths have crossed quite frequently following his musical ventures with Long Chris and the Jones with who he plays guitar. Each time Grégoire told me about some of his musical ventures with the inherent cool and humility, which are his trademark! Each time it was getting more and more interesting. I was convinced that through Grégoire, a history of rock was unfolding!
So we decided to meet and Grégoire accepted to answer my questions, a precious moment for me, as he shared the passion which enlightens his whole being.

 

 
GREGOIRE GARRIGUES: A HISTORY OF PARISIAN ROCK
Eric Parois

How did music get into your life?

By many means: my father listened to jazz and there were several musicians in my family, specially a younger generation on my mother's side who had records by Bill Haley, Eddie Cochran, the Rolling Stones, the Animals, or the Smoke, and at the time I listened to records of the day like Slade, T.Rex, Alice Cooper, Grand Funk and the like.

Did you pick up a musical instrument?

Not immediately. There was a piano at home, and we used it mainly to bang on the keys with my younger sisters. One day I caught sight of an Eddie Cochran record cover, and he looked so damned cool with his guitar! As I bumped into friends at school who had guitars I also wanted to have one, but I had to save up for almost two years to finally obtain one.

(Gregoire Garrigues 2018 ) 

Then you set up your first band?
Later in Rouen high school where I spent a year in 1976, some friends had instruments and a place to play.

We started an informal band but it wasn't going anywhere.

Were you involved at all with the Rouen scene?

No, but I used to go to "Mélodies Massacre" (a famous Rouen record shop), that’s where I listened to the first Ramones LP. My first real band was during my military service (laughs) in 1977. During a year in the North of France I joined the barracks band. It was fun and it gave me the opportunity to do my first gig. There were professionals who taught me some guitar licks. I then played in Paris in 1978 and then met Patrick Eudeline

The first big thing for you was Asphalt Jungle, Patrick Eudeline's band?

I arrived during the transition period between the end of Asphalt and the beginning of Patrick's solo career. There was still Riton on bass and Didier on drums; it was Asphalt Jungle's last version without Ricky Darling. I Met Patrick because we lived in the same neighborhood, and I happened to have his former Rickenbacker guitar.
He came to my place to see my records, guitars, my equipment ... well in fact, to see if I got it right. We started working on his early solo stuff like "Dès demain " or "Boxeur sonné". In October of 1979 we were programmed for a week at the Gibus Club, but it didn't go down too well and we were on for just one night (laughs). We kept on rehearsing with Patrick and I stopped.  We saw each other a lot for a year and a half, in 1978 and mainly in 1979.

(Patrick Eudeline and Gregoire Garrigues - Paris - Gibus november 1979 by Emmanuel Garrigues) 

You then played with Vince Taylor?

Yes, one night I see Vince Taylor at Campagne Première Theatre with Patrick who then phones me at 3 a.m. and says "you (Asphalt) are playing tomorrow with Vince Taylor, here's his set list, his band isn't available”. So I was able to play with Vince Taylor, and of course I was a fan. I will always be grateful to Patrick for this to happen! Vince's group, part of the Big Beat label, was on for the following night.

As all this punk scene becomes new wave and gets lost in le Palace,
you go back to rock, and start with rockabilly?

That started gently, after punk, musically, to me things were getting less and less interesting and there was a real lack of rock. It wasn't really hard core rockabilly, of course quiffs and greasy pompadour's and leather jackets were around but in 1976 and 1977 I was into punk, the Gibus Club, the Mont de Marsan festival, the works that was really meaningful to me. When fashion got hold of punk, I returned to my first love: Eddie Cochran, who is part of the family, the Ramones just took over one generation after, but it's the same family.

But rockers and punks didn't get on too well?

Right, and I could feel aggression on both sides! The rockys, as they were then called, were in their own world, which was slowly beginning to disappear. I had both an Eddie Cochran and a Ramones badge on my leather jacket and that was to them difficult to understand.

After Asphalt Jungle you jump on to the Stray Cats bandwagon?

Yes, it was time for the Stray Cats tsunami.
From 1982 to 1984 I played in a rockabilly /rock’n'roll band "the Dan's", the band was produced by Guy Lux. I played slap double bass.
This was after les Forbans began, record labels were looking for that kind of band, but we were somewhat difficult to manage, and the singer didn’t want to sing in French!

(With Dan's august 1984) 

Were you a purist?

Not exactly, listening just to rockabilly gets quickly quite boring.
In fact, punk or rock’n’roll is simply rock. At the time there was a lot of teddy boys music, English stuff like Flying Saucers or Riot
Rockers. When the Stay Cats arrived, almost everybody found common ground. Brian Setzer is a guitar genius, they had a good image, good numbers, and Dave Edmund's production was superb.

Wasn't it the time when Big Beat Records and French rockabilly came to the fore?

Yes, lots of bands were around, but I didn't follow them much, although I quite liked the Teen Cats.

But Claudia Colonna and les Guépards were part of that scene?

I had met the double bass player. He told me she was looking for musicians and I started as drummer and then went on to guitar.
That was in 1985, I stayed with her until 1991. A really great singer. I made three LP's and a few singles with her.

(With Claudia Colonna et ses Guépards at Bobino in Paris  by Hoi Pham Dinh)

Didn't you play with other bands at the same time?

I did but I wanted to play my own music. I liked the Pebbles, Nuggets
compilations, the Electric Prunes, American 60's rock... At the
time the Cramps were mixing rock, rockabilly and the sixties with ease, and that was inspiring.

Wasn’t the rockabilly scene supposed to be sectarian?

True, but only a small minority was. Seeing the southern flag brandished I couldn't accept that.

You're attacking your own music?

In fact I first started with a band called Pill Box in 1991 doing exclusively covers from the fifties to 1977, as well as some blues.
Then I decided to do my own music with my own band in1995, I had started to compose, as covers, however a good way of learning, are not too constructive.

Did you tour a lot at that time?

Quite a lot with Claudia, mainly in Paris le Palace, Bobino… We went
sometimes to the provinces, and once to Italy. With Pill Box too, we mainly played in Paris.

It’s only when I joined Tav Falco’s Panther Burns that I really began to actually play, mainly abroad.

Concerning Pill Box?

Following a party I had organized in the country with musician friends and plenty of equipment to play with, we decided, Gérald Coulondre, Romain Decoret, and Simon Eliott to start a band. Calling ourselves first the Castaways, we changed to Pill Box. We very often played at the Baryton, the Porte de Clignancourt flea market rock bar. We sometimes played there for three or four hours and in other places, opening for Wilko Johnson and twice at the Plan.

Then you set up Grégoire 4.

My own band at last. Journalist Vincent Hanon described it as a mix of Jacques Dutronc and the Ramones. I wanted to play my own music including everything that had been an influence to me. We made three albums.

(Grégoire 4 by Jean Baptiste Mondino) 

You took part in several various projects: Tav Falco, les Socquettes Blanches, les Dragueurs, Super Wagner … that’s a hell of a lot for one person, do you stay at home sometimes?

Yes, I am quite busy but people close to me, including my wife, are into music (laughs) I have to mention the fact that I have nearly always had a day job as well, as you have to eat, pay your rent, and buy guitars (laughs)! A 24-hour shift is my lot: eight hours work, eight hours music, and eight hours at home (laughs)!

Great, but was is incredible is that all these bands belong to the same genre: so called “classic rock”, you get the feeling that rap or electro have been skipped. 

I’m immersed in a period which stretches from 1950 to 1977, and this includes quite a variety of different styles, I also like jazz and blues. Rap and electro are just not part of my roots, I can’t like just everything.

We are going to overview all these bands, les Dragueurs to begin with.

That was a 3-piece band between 2000 and 2005 I had set up with Jon Von, an American who had played with The Rip-Offs and the MrT Experience, and who had settled in Paris. We had friends in common. He wanted to start a band so I said to him: «start your band, I’ll pick up bass, once you found musicians I’ll be off ». We started writing immediately, and we recorded two 45’s for Born Bad Records and a LP, finally I stayed. 

You had a hell of a look: berets and striped sailor’s t -shirts?

Yes, this cliché went down great with Jon and the audience, mainly with Americans, that was really popular.

(les Dragueurs live in Rome in 2008) 

Didn’t you want to live just on music?

No, never a 100%, if I could have become a music pro, I would have had to play with MOR guys and that was just not possible. Above all, I would have had to really work hard to have the required level.

But you definitively evolved in music?

My musical evolution is linked to all the genres I like and have explored, henceforth the importance of covers, to listen, and understand composition, sound, all parameters involved.

Let’s continue with les Socquettes Blanches.

This started in 2000 and goes on to this day!

In 1975 the Chaussettes Noires records were reissued and I immediately realized two things: how important they were, and how great the sound was. When you listen to their version of « Be bop a Lula », that’s really quite something, what a tremendous sound! I met in 2000 Paolo Coccina a friend who played the bass, who told me that one of his friends wanted to set up a Chaussettes Noires cover band, and asked me if I would join. I was very busy at the time, I tried to find somebody and as I found no one, I decided to have a go. The material is really great, and it was a real pleasure to play these covers.  

We played our first open air gig in Beauvais, it went off well, people came. We played our second gig in February 2OOO  

At the « Petit Journal Montparnasse » in Paris, this time the venue was full. Chaussettes Noires fans were curious to see if we could forward the spirit of the group, that was a real success! A producer asked us to make an album. We made this cover album, sticking closely to the originals. Following this, we started to write original songs remaining faithful to that spirit. This went on for the five next albums.

(Les Socquettes blanches by Julien Dominguez) 

Another important involvement for you is the American singer Tav Falco?

At the time he was living in Paris, he didn’t have a guitarist and was about to embark on a tour. Some friends talked about me and he phoned me saying he was looking for a guitarist. He lived 15 minutes away from me and we were able to meet immediately. He saw I had a Gretsch guitar and the same amplifier as his and that suited him! It was somewhat difficult to get the group together: Tav and I in Paris, Giovanna, the drummer in Rome and Jon Ramos, the bass player-later to be replaced by Laurent Lanouzière- in New York.

That makes rehearsals an issue!

We used to meet up two days before leaving on tour, and most of the time at the sound checks before the gig. I recorded an album, and a double 12-inch ep live in London with him. We stayed together for17 years!

17 years?

Yes, we played all around Europe and further, and in the States. I had already played with les Dragueurs in the USA for a tour on the west coast, but this was something else. We played in Memphis for example, and that really meant something to me.   

(with Tav Falco) 

Why did you stop with him?

It was really getting difficult: travelling, often by air, was more and more expensive, and he had left Paris.

Then comes the Kim Fowley episode (legendary American singer composer and producer).

This is also an incredible story. In 2003, the Microbes record label (a Paris label Editor’s note) had reissued one of his records. There was a session of interviews at the Café Charbon, and a journalist friend told me to come: I was introduced to him. I had a les Dragueurs album and one of his records for him to sign. He asked me to sign the Les Dragueurs album, and in exchange for this he dedicated his. That’s how we first met. Several years later in 2O1O he was to play at Saint Merri church in Paris. FX, a friend who looked after « le Plastique » bar calls me up to say he was asked to play with Kim Fowley. He wanted me to play guitar and he would play bass, for the concert Baldu from the Dum Dum Boys joined us on second guitar. Most of the concert is on YouTube.

And then?

Then I get into touch on Facebook with Kim Fowley to ask him what we were going to play and telling him which records of his I had. He answers he only wants riffs and he would use them to improvise. He wanted riffs like « Gloria » or « Waiting for my man » (laughs). We decide to rehearse with the band to see if it was going to fit together. During the rehearsal we also play some of my riffs, so as to have an original touch. The night before the concert we dine in a restaurant so he can listen to the numbers. He says that on such a number he will recite a text, and on such another text, and that was how the set list was elaborated. We talked about Vince Taylor and he improvised a number  « Vince Taylor still lives »: we had a great time and that was one of the best concerts I have ever given.

What was he like?

It all went down really well. He was a real character and a very interesting person. His girl friend at the time, Snow Mercy, was with him, she gave a hand at the concert, and we remained friends.

(With Kim Fowley) 

Let’s continue with Chris Wilson (ex singer with the mythical Flamin’ Groovies and the Barracudas editor’s note).

This was when I launched my band: Super Wagner. In fact I had been playing with Grégoire 4 for 15 years, and frankly we were at a dead end. We had a good time, but one has to go forward. We had one last gig, and I told the others: « those who love me will follow me». They all followed and that was how Super Wagner was launched! We changed of sound and of guitars. I was trying to be more artistically coherent. Back to 7O’s glam rock. It was a bit difficult to find a bass player when Vanessa Chrétien left, but I composed 12 numbers immediately.

That was in 2010 and I had already met Chris Wilson following a concert he gave in 2006 at the « Paris Paris » (Parisian club editor’s note)… I went there with Jean Touitou, head of APC (a clothes brand) who is also a Flamin’Groovies fan.

And so?

At the end of the concert, Jean asks me to contact Chris Wilson to make a record with him on his APC label. I get in touch with Chris thanks to a friend, he comes on the very same day and immediately accepts the project. We go to the country to rehearse for four days. Mainly to get to know each other and to compose numbers. We walked around and played the guitar, but didn’t compose anything. In short, we became good mates, but finally nothing happens: at the time, he was living in London. One year after, his solo album for « Rock Paradise » (the Parisian label) is released and he needs a band to promote it. I was asked to accompany him for a concert at la Boule Noire with Super Wagner. Two days before the concert we go to the studio to run through the numbers, and this rehearsal became the APC record « Slow Death Live ».

And after this record?

We continued playing a bit with him for three years: small concerts, often there was just the two of us. We also played at the CIDISC record convention with Hervé, the Super Wagner drummer, and at the Pop In with the APC band.

(Grégoire Garrigues and Chris Wilson) 

Now let’s talk about Super Wagner.

Ah, ah … 70’s British glam rock made an impression on me. It was a tribute to the music of my youth. Well, at the beginning with Grégoire 4 I sang in English with lyrics from Robert Lloyd and in French. Quickly things turned out to be 100% in French. For you to know, I sometimes asked for lyrics to Jean-William Thoury, the former Bijou songwriter, who has become a really good friend. My opinion by the way: only the French mind rock when it is sung in French, foreigners often appreciate it.

When did Super Wagner stop?

In 2017. We played together for a long time: three albums with Super Wagner, one with Chris Wilson, and frankly, we were getting tired of it! At the same time I was asked to become the guitarist for The Jones, and it was beginning to be too much for me, work and music, difficult to do everything at the same time. This said, it’s even worse now; I’m on four projects!

(Super Wagner by Eric Parois) 

You are now the Jones guitarist?

Yes, thanks to Gérald (the Jones drummer) that I know since 1984. They asked me to come to a concert in 2016 as a guitar player was missing. We gave the gig and I stayed. Straight after, Fred Moulin arrived, and the band took on another dimension. For a while I played with both the Jones and Super Wagner, but I knew it was time to give up Super Wagner.

(With The Jones by Philippe Beranger) 

And your last venture to date is the  « Cool Feedback Quartet », very different to what you’ve done so far:  blues, jazz, rock, feedback with Robert Lloyd, and Jac Berrocal. What is this band we hardly expected from you?

I agree, this is a far cry from fifties rock’n’roll. In fact, in 1994, we made an album in New York with Robert Lloyd (former Asphalt Jungle guitarist and incredible musician), produced by Bill Laswell (legendary producer) which became the first APC record. We had numbers we composed in Paris with Robert and we decided to do something with a guitar feedback background. This turned out to be « Tribute to Sun Ra ».

This was meant to be jazz?

More like a wink! There were three guitars on this piece: Robert Lloyd, Sonny Sharrock (this must have been his very last session) a great jazz guitarist, and me. A very beautiful piece, the album is called « Think About Brooklyn », it’s become a classic of its own and I recommend it.

This shows how open minded you are.

Perhaps, after being around with people like Robert Lloyd, me, who was more used to listening to my father’s classical jazz, I continued listening to Coltrane and the like. I decided, alone on Sunday afternoons, to do feedback pieces. I recorded 4 or 5 of them, Thierry Los (Ex Vegomatic, head of the de 3 Jeunes Tambours label) thought they were good and years later he suggested to include them in his music library, but also to release them on an album on his label. When the album was released, lots of people told me « you must go out on stage ». Well, three guitars, a keyboard, a brass section, a rhythm section was required, but above all to give life to what had been elaborated in the studio. Thanks to Robert Lloyd’s friends, I was able to meet people I didn’t know like Gilles Yéprémian and Urban Sax. A book was to come out on Urban Sax and Gilbert Artman (70’s living legendary musician). A compilation came with the book featuring close friends, Robert says « let’s compose a twist and call Jac Berrocal to play with us » (a legendary jazz trumpeter). When we organized the Cool Feedback Quartet concert, I had the idea of asking Jac and Gilbert to play trumpet and bass clarinet, as well as Thierry Los as third guitarist.

(Cool Feedback Quartet live in Paris june 2018 by Eric Parois)

Do you realize you had with you some of the best 7o’s jazz musicians for this concert?

Yes, I do, and feel very honored.

But what is this band? Blues, jazz, and what is it you wanted?  

Not too bluesy for me, despite the « Backlight Blues » title, it’s more like « psychedelic free jazz», with a rock outlook, I wanted to give life to what had been done in the studio.

Were there many rehearsals?

Only two, one with the guitars, to see what it sounded like, and then with the guests, Gilbert Artman, Jac Berrocal and pianist Michel Guikovaty. Only one rehearsal all together but structures are easy, and I want to keep things fresh and leave plenty of space. It went down really well, I decided to record the concert, and it will be released in November on Milano records. We all want to perform again, play live on stage, and we are now nine musicians, morphing into a big band, the Cool Feedback, a new album is coming out in February (out now!).

You only have the Jones and Cool Feedback left?

Yes, the Jones and les Socquettes to keep on rocking and since January 2019 Argent Ardent. Creation is what interests me! The Cool Feedback is my first truly original venture. A change from the verse /chorus structure. It interests more people than I expected. More and more people are becoming interested. I ignored all these 70’s jazz orchestras, and there were myriads of them, people who were rediscovered in the 70’s by Sonic Youth among others.

Recognition by these people is important for you?

What is happening with the Cool Feedback is being accepted from peers I didn’t even know existed!

The new album « soul overdrive » takes you on further with nine musicians.

 

 

 

 

Acomptes et cautions en un clic

Articles plus anciens

http://www.basementprod.com