October 14, 2008

Interview: Eux Autres

Eux Autres have made two of the most addictive albums of the decade: Hell Is Eux Autres (2004) and Cold City (2007). Responsible for these wonderful garagy pop gems were Portland-based siblings Nicholas and Heather Larimer. Quite a lot has been going on since that last album's release, so I thought this would be a good time to ask Heather for an update.

Hello Heather! I read on your website that you've been recording some new songs with two new band members, Yoshi Nakamoto (The Aislers Set, Still Flyin') on drums and Nevada on keys. Has this resulted in a very different Eux Autres sound? What do you do now Yoshi is drumming?

I think it does sound fairly different. It's like we went from the small Crayola box to the big glorious Crayola box that has Burnt Sienna in it. Nevada and Yoshi are both such great musicians. It's thrilling to see what they come up with. Our songs just seem much more fully realized.

As far as live shows are concerned, I'm going to be adding more secondary percussion — tambourine, shakers, xylophone, extra floor toms, et cetera.

So Yoshi and Nevada are going on tour with you in the future as well?

We certainly hope so. We took Nevada on tour last December and it added a lot to the show. And Yoshi is one of my favorite people to be around anyway, so having him on tour would be great. I'm worried that I'll get injured from laughing so hard though.

This phenomenon really happens. One time on tour I laughed so much that I got a bizarre ailment. On the drive home, I kept saying, "Guys I think I'm having a heart attack." Turns out I had this inflammation of the chest cartiledge called costochondritis. It is caused by 'explosive chest expansion'. Usually, chronic coughing. But in my case it was laughing.

Can we perhaps look forward to you playing some shows in Europe?

We really, really hope so. We'd love to get over there as much as possible. As soon as possible. If Obama doesn't win our election, then permanently perhaps.

One of the things you recently recorded was a Bruce Springsteen song for a tribute compilation. How did that happen? Are you admirers?

We were asked to do it by Where It's At Is Where You Are Records, which is very flattering. But of course we're Springsteen fans. I mean, he's amazing. Plus, his song Nebraska (the state we grew up in) is about Charles Starkweather, the serial killer, who was both of our parents' garbage man when they were children. So for us, on a personal level, there's that macabre point of entry into Springsteen's work. On a lighter note, Springsteen's working class anthem Glory Days was a very divisive song in our household. It was on MTV a lot - Nick loved it and I hated it. Now I love it. I finally came around.

I've read about some of your other influences elsewhere: from Carpenters to Guided by Voices and from Blondie to Françoise Hardy. What are more current bands that you like?

We like Papercuts, Still Flyin' (obviously), ...always like what Spoon does. Blitzen Trapper is awesome. Love The Dodos. Blood On The Wall are cool. They're like the crazy brother and sister from down the street. The ones you're a little scared of.

You’re scheduled for a release in Slumberland Records' Searching For The Now split single series. Do you know who you'll be sharing your single with?

Nope. But we're very excited. We were hoping for a reunited Aislers Set. Anyone would be great, really.

Searching For The Now is a series started by Slumberland to celebrate the recent resurgence of great pop music. Have you also noticed that the independent pop climate has changed over the last few years?

Well, I think that it's so much easier to make your own record and put out your own record now. It's made the world of music more democratic. I think right now in history is a great time to be making pop. People are ready for a little sweetness. You feel as if you're providing some relief and light to the world, albeit minor.

Of course I need to ask something about your French lyrics. Where does this Francophile interest come from?

Our mom lived in France in her youth, so she gave us the Francophile spirit. Then, when it was time to make a band, we were looking for a limitation to work within (other than the limitation of our musicianship). We needed a niche in order to give ourselves permission to make music. Just starting a band seemed so vast in possibility, it was terrifying. So we decided to make a band that would revisit 60s French pop and American garage, with weird simple lyrics, et cetera. Of course, it's evolved away from that now. We may or may not have more French songs in the future.

It's been almost a year since you've released Cold City. Apart from the recordings mentioned above, what have you been up to since then? What do you do when you're not playing with the band?

Well, we've been moving around the country. We both left Portland. Nick moved to San Francisco and I moved to New York City. I sang on some other great bands' records — The Village Green and The Minus 5. We have day jobs, too. Nick gets paid to make pictures and I get paid to make words.

Everyone I play your extremely catchy songs to loves them; all reviews I've read are very positive; you're both good looking... you seem ready for a big mainstream breakthrough. Is this something you're aiming for?

Wow, such kind words! Thank you!

Of course we'd love it if we could support ourselves with our music, at least for a few years. That's any artist's secret dream. But right now we can make whatever we want, whenever we want, so that has its merits, too. I don't have a manager trying to put me in a pink vinyl mini skirt or something like that.

If that big breakthrough would indeed happen and you're big big stars, what do you think would change about Eux Autres?

I always used to say that if we made it even minorly big, the first thing I would do would be hire a roadie/drum tech. I HATE setting up drums. But now Yoshi has to do it. Ha ha!

Maybe we'd have a nice practice space. With a water cooler. And I would like to take a shiatsu practitioner on tour. And eat sushi instead of burgers. And no more hotels that have mysterious stains on the carpet.

But then again, all the funniest stuff happens when you're just scrapping it out. Success separates you from other bands, and from the people who come to see you play. All these layers of bureaucracy start to intervene. It's easier, but not as fun or random. The best part of being in a band is going to get pizza with random fans in Modesto or Philly because they're happy you're in town. Or just hanging out, singing Neil Young songs and having beers backstage with other bands. That doesn't happen nearly as much once you're big time.

But first: a new album?

Right now the plan is to put out a lot of singles, but I could see us compiling them or recording an album down the road. We've been working with Jason Quever of Papercuts. He has a great studio that's all analog. So far the sessions have been extremely fun, low-stress. Just wonderful.

That all sounds great. Thank you Heather!

Cold City is available on Happy Happy Birthday To Me.
Hell Is Eux Autres and the Partick Nil 7" are available on Bon Mots Music via the bands' webshop.
The Other Girls 7" is available on Knock Yr Socks Off Records.

Eux Autres website
Eux Autres myspace

Download (Mediafire)
1. Eux Autres - When I'm up ( from Cold City)
2. Eux Autres - Ecoutez bien (from Hell is Eux Autres)


Colin said...

Nice interview, Dennis! I so hope they make it to Glasgow one day.

Marianthi said...

Lovely interview! Apart from the bit when I thought Heather liked the Doors and had a panic attack - but it turned out to be the Dodos.

Kippers said...

Spooky! As my laptop loaded this blog Other Girls by Eux Autres came up on the mix CD I'm listening to at the moment.

Rocío Flores said...


I've been enjoying your interviews a lot... Great work.


Anonymous said...

I've only just started getting into them.Fantastic interview.What a great band!!