We Are Wolves

We Are Wolves

Alexander, Antonin and Vincent are the Montreal trio, We Are Wolves, a rock band that razzle dazzles American girls with their sexy French-Canadian accents, sort of. “When they understand us, yes. If not, it’s like, ‘What did he say, where the fuck are you from, man? Montreal, what?’” says Vincent, a one-time Concordia University fine arts student, sort of. “The thing is, me and Alex were students, because – it’s kind of sad, we dropped out for the band,” adds Vincent, who, for better or worse, can rely on his bartending skills when the sexy French-Canadian rocker-man thing is on pause.

Dispelling myths about Montreal (“It’s not all baguettes and stripped shirts – right now, though, I am into stripped shirts!” says Vincent, adding his neighborhood is full of wealthy homosexuals –“gay guys have some money, because they don’t have children or whatever”– and crack-heads), We Are Wolves travel North America in their nonlinear fashion, making sure they’re the only wolf band that matters, sort of, but not really; Vincent says We Are Wolves are friends with all the other wolf bands. For the record, though, if Vincent could be any animal, he would be a large fish or a large bird, not a wolf.

“About 15 minutes after, we heard banging and police sirens. We opened the curtain and saw a guy handcuffed to the railing.”

Format: Hi, is Vincent there?
Vincent: Yes, that’s me. How are you doing?

Format: I’m doing alright. I went to the gym today and I got all sweaty, so I’m fit. You got to keep fit, I live in Vancouver right now and I find people on the west coast are more health conscious.
Vincent: Yeah, yeah I notice that!

Format: I’m just trying to fit in.
Vincent: It’s always about fitting in!

Format: There are a lot of misconceptions about Montreal life: it’s the Europe of North America and people love the stunts by Just For Laughs Gags. What are your observations of Montreal living and how are they different from what outsiders assume?
Vincent: First of all, there is some truth when people say there is a European feeling, but I think most North Americans have a misconception about Europe, in general. I think what they have in their head is a caricature of what Europe really is. It does apply to Montreal, but it’s not a romanticized Europe, it’s just a warm attitude. It’s not all baguettes and stripped shirts – right now, though, I am into stripped shirts! Life is good in Montreal. There are a lot of artists moving in. People from around the States and Canada come to Montreal, because it’s still pretty cheap. You can get an artist studio, a jam space and you can play with your band. You always get the feeling that it’s a vacation city. Since life is kind of easy, it puts people in a certain mindset: you don’t have to fight that hard to survive.

Format: I should move there.
Vincent: Well, a lot of people from Vancouver do. All we do is send our crack-heads to Vancouver.

Format: There are a lot of those in Vancouver!
Vincent: Although a lot of the ones from Vancouver came back. Right now, in my neighborhood, things are getting crazy!

Format: What kind of neighborhood do you live in?
Vincent: I live in a weird neighborhood. It’s really close to the gay village. And you know how most gay guys have some money, because they don’t have children or whatever, there are a lot of restaurants and place to go, but it’s nothing I’m really concerned with. Plus, it’s a really poor neighborhood, weirdly, because they have condos, but there are people on the street smoking crack.

Format: Sounds like my neighborhood. My hood has condos that sell for half a million dollars, but when I walk to the grocery store a woman asks me if I want a blow job.
Vincent: I noticed that about Vancouver, because the condos are higher and you don’t really see them, but then you find out there is a luxury building right there. Vancouver is a weird city.

We Are Wolves

Format: How did We Are Wolves establish a relationship with Dare To Care Records?
Vincent: We’re from the same city and the bands we know are on their label. The scene is pretty active so everybody sees everybody all the time. They heard about the band when we were with the other label, before. When the time came to change labels, they offered and we said sure. They’re really hard working. We speak the same language, not in terms of speaking French, but in terms of going the same direction. The office is right there and I can drop by. The other guy was from Mississippi and it was kind of far.

Format: There is a label switch for Total Magique from Fat Possum Records to Dare To Care Records, why?
Vincent: It’s partly because of us and partly because of Fat Possum. They expected something else from the band and we didn’t expect anything at all, so he decided to not renew his option on the album. It was really nice while we were with him, but at the same time he was reluctant with the new album. We never really talked to this guy. We would send huge e-mails and he would answer ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and we like communication – like in a crew or something. It just happened in the right moment, the offer and the non-offer.

Format: Sounds like every relationship I’ve had with a woman.
Vincent: Exactly.

“And, it’s like what the fuck, man, you had your arms crossed!”

Format: In several We Are Wolves interviews, the interviewers focus on their peers who focus on the bands with the words wolf or wolves. Essentially, those interviewers are recycling the original question. Dude, if you could be any animal what animal would you be?
Vincent: That’s a tough question. I heard that on a kid’s show! I think some kind of big fish or a big bird, because what I like about underwater is the light that is diffused by the water. I like aquariums. Although I don’t have one, I like the light, because it is all gold and trickily. I like to go somewhere else really quick, so I would like to be a bird. I’m just waiting for teleportation to be invented!

Format: We Are Wolves new album, Total Magique, is set for release in October. What challenges did you face in producing Total Magique?
Vincent: We didn’t really hit any obstacles. Composing the songs came in really smoothly. We went through a bunch of different mindsets. At first, we thought the songs were really smoother than the first album and more down-tempo or emotional. Maybe, it’s because, at that time, we were listing to a lot of hardcore music and thought our stuff was slow. In the end, when we went to the studio, we realized that it was harder than we thought. The good thing with this album compared to the other album is that we had more time to do it. The first album was more like a demo. This one we spent more time mixing and remixing and getting it right. I got a sense of fulfillment.

Format: You’re an art student, where do you study and what is your major?
Vincent: The thing is, me and Alex were students, because – it’s kind of sad, we dropped out for the band. It wasn’t planned that way. The first tour started after the spring semester and we thought we could go on tour and have fun, but just didn’t come back to school. Things just kept on going. I was at Concordia University in fine arts doing painting and drawing. Alex was more into video.

We Are Wolves

Format: We Are Wolves has several T-shirt designs and your arts background probably explains their creation.
Vincent: Me and Alex design them. We screen printed them at first, but keeping a good printing studio is a full-time job so we decided to have them printed by someone else. But we did get back to printing. We released a seven-inch in June and we printed the covers by hand. It was like back in the day.

Format: In your youth, what band T-shirts did you wear?
Vincent: Actually, I just stopped! I had to quit and did two years ago. It’s hard to get out of them. There are some that I kept since I was 14 or 16 I just could not throw them away, even if they’re not the right size!

Format: Most bands face humble beginnings. What are some odd situations you’ve encountered with lodging, food or travel while working with a meager budget?
Vincent: Food is definitely hard, for sure! But we’re more conscious than other bands that don’t care about what they eat, but we do and, sometimes, we’d rather not eat than eat junk. In terms of lodging we had some bad experiences. I think the worst hotel was in Washington D.C., which is probably the scariest city I’ve seen.

Format: It’s pretty violent there.
Vincent: During the night, we got a call and Alex got up and answered it. Some guy was on the other end saying, ‘You didn’t respect the deal. Tony is pissed!’ and he was being threatened. He was like, ‘Man, you have the wrong room’ and he had bad English, well, an accent. The guy is like, ‘I’m going to come down there, man!’ and the call ended. We tried to get back to sleep. About 15 minutes after, we heard banging and police sirens. We opened the curtain and saw a guy handcuffed to the railing.

“We would send huge e-mails and he would answer ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and we like communication – like in a crew or something.”

Format: A lot of bands face border problems when they tour. Have We Are Wolves experienced any disgruntled border patrol workers?
Vincent: We have a lot of friends in bands that have went through that. We were prepared for that. We started touring around the same time the boarders got strict. A lot of people have some recording contract thing, like a fake recording contract that they use to cross the boarder. We never did that. We actually got a work permit from the American Musicians Federation. When we get to the boarder we have a professional visa like we were Elton John touring or something. I wouldn’t cancel a whole tour, because we didn’t take it seriously. We’re serious about what we do and I think it’s a good idea to get a work permit.

Format: We Are Wolves have toured in America, Canada and Europe. Are the reactions from your audience different, based on geography?
Vincent: Yes. First, it depends on the setup of the show. But we’ve had some shows where we were positive that nobody could care less, but after the show they’re like, ‘Man, I’ve never heard anything that original.’ And, it’s like what the fuck, man, you had your arms crossed! We’re not used to that, because in Montreal people feel really comfortable in a show. Thing is, I think there is a difference between a rock show audience and an event audience. In Montreal, we have events where people get involved with the band. With traditional rock shows, people don’t feel related with what happens on stage and they just watch it like it’s a movie. You don’t cheer in a movie, unless it’s Spinal Tap.

Format: The song “La Nature” is great, however, it sounds violent, but the lyrics most clearly heard are, “I really like nature.” What does through your mind when you’re performing “La Nature?”
Vincent: It is a really emotional song. There are lighter moments in it, but it goes dark, again. Our band is dark. We always go for pop things, but once we listen to it, it’s still dark. I guess that’s our punk rock and hardcore background that comes back. That song is always emotional and I still like it a lot, even though we play it a lot. It’s never exactly the same. It depends on what happens that day. Sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s heartbreaking. It’s kind of long, too.

We Are Wolves

Format: What are some jobs that you’ve had?
Vincent: Thing is, I’ve been a bartender since I was 18 and that’s been my thing. But now, I’m an assistant to a Foley artist. You know what that is?

Format: They do sound, right?
Vincent: Yeah, exactly. I thought people would know, but most of the time people don’t know what I’m talking about. I always get the feeling that I may not be pronouncing it right.

Format: You’re doing fine, people are just dumb. Now, the “LL Romeo” music video appears commercial-like. If We Are Wolves could allow any company’s product use a We Are Wolves song in a commercial, what company’s product would We Are Wolves choose?
Vincent: That’s tough! We got offered a few and it’s really hard to accept. Thinking of right now, I don’t think there is a company that we’d say ‘Fuck yeah!’ for. It’s a company and you’re being used. We would do it to get money for more projects, but I don’t think there is one product that I’d be glad being associated with. But I do like a lot of stuff. Maybe some fancy sofas from Italy or nice shoes, something simple.

“Plus, it’s a really poor neighborhood, weirdly, because they have condos, but there are people on the street smoking crack.”

Format: A myth about Montreal is that everyone is fashion conscious and they look beautiful, is that true?
Vincent: Not in my neighborhood, man! I am conscious of the way I look, because I think it gives you a window to what you can be like, but no one should take it too seriously.

Format: Do the American girls find your accents sexy?
Vincent: When they understand us, yes. If not, it’s like, ‘What did he say, where the fuck are you from, man? Montreal, what?’ A couple years back no one knew where Montreal was, but thanks to the Arcade Fire everyone knows.

Format: Yeah, it’s kind of sad. When you go to America it’s hard to believe how secluded Americans are.
Vincent: Yeah, it’s kind of scary. When I was young I remember there was a big difference. When I went to the States with my parents, people had no idea where Quebec was, they were like, ‘Canada? No, nobody speaks French there!’ Yeah, some people do. Now, more people know about French-Canadians.

Format: You speak French at your shows, right?
Vincent: Sometimes. We don’t really mind if people don’t really understand, nobody understands some of the lyrics, I guess.

Format: Most of them are drunk, anyway.
Vincent: Let’s hope so!

Format: “Fight and Kiss” is about a relationship. Is it hard to keep a girlfriend while in a band?
Vincent: No. Well, maybe if I was 17 it would be harder. Not for me, though, it’s – well, no, no it’s not hard. She’s going to read it.

More Info: http://www.wearewolves.net
We Are Wolves

Jordan Chalifoux

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