Photography: Dan Ramaën
France may be known for wine and chansonniers, but beer and ‘00s Britain are the fuel of MNNQNS’ muscular indie-rock. With long hair, catchy riffs and an outstanding grasp of the English language, the French outfit took The Great Escape by storm, surprising everyone during their second set as vocalist Adrian D’Epinay drops his guitar to the floor to embrace a malevolent stance in riotous Mark E. Smith style.
In today’s climate of indie-rock uncertainty, the task to remind us where we came from lies in the hands of a French band – skinny jeans and Fred Perry shirts included. MNNQNS speak to Lorenzo Ottone about their influences, supporting Franz Ferdinand and meeting their heroes.
Lorenzo Ottone: You’re from France, but your sound is rather English and American…
Adrian D’Epinay [vocals]: We grew up listening to The Strokes, Franz Ferdinand and all that genre, but also Television and Sonic Youth are very important to me. They all come together!
LO: You actually supported Franz Ferdinand, didn’t you?
AD: Franz Ferdinand are in the same agency roster as us in France, so they wanted us to be their support act. They gave us advice and said they liked our music.
LO: Old-school indie-rock is slightly out of fashion now… Do you think there’s still space for bands like you in the mainstream?
AD: We will see! A lot of bands now have a raw sound. I think of Shame, who I really like. It could be something that goes into the mainstream at some point.
Photography: Lorenzo Ottone
LO: How about France, how are you perceived there?
Grégoire Mainot [drums]: Everyone is like, “Why don’t you sing in French?”, but we don’t really listen to French music.
AD: There’s a lot of good underground bands in our area, Rouen, who sing in English. We do that simply because when I started the band in 2013, I was studying music in Cardiff. The course wasn’t that good – my expectations were probably a bit too high, but living there and going to see bands really helped me develop the music I do.
LO: Is it hard to write in English?
AD: I never translate from French to English, it wouldn’t sound genuine. I try to write songs thinking of lyrics in English, but I usually write the melody first. Sometimes it is frustrating, because you can’t translate certain idioms, or you can’t find the right word…
LO: What are your favourite themes to write about?
AD: Generally, I just write about life and things that happen to us. It’s all about trying to find some good words to describe these things.
Photography: Lorenzo Ottone
LO: How much does psychedelic music influence you?
AD: It depends what kind of psychedelia we’re talking about. About the ‘60s I like the way they wrote songs with vocal harmonies. Music was very well written. Of modern psych bands, I like repetitive elements. Fuzz Club and similar labels.
LO: You met Paul McCartney in London, didn’t you?
Félix Ramaën [bass]: I bumped into him by chance in the Abbey Road studios. Paul is my all-time hero [Felix is wearing a ‘Paul McCartney is God’ t-shirt, as we speak] and I didn’t even know what to tell him. It was the longest minute of my life [laughs]!
AD: It’s a strange feeling! It happened the same when I met Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth. I hate having a picture taken and you feel a bit dumb because you don’t really know what to ask them. You stammer and your hands always shake when you try to give your idols your band’s CD.
LO: What band would you recommend to our readers?
GM: The Garden (US).
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