When we think about French music, the first thing that springs to mind is that 60’s bohemian and murmured genre called «chanson française» (coetaneous with the cinema trend «Nouvelle Vague») that encompasses names like Françoise Hardy, Charles Aznavour or Serge Gainsbourg among others. But if we placed ourselves in a bit previous time, precisely in the 40’s-50’s, we find in that country one of the greatest singers of the world : The Kid Sparrow, what it is, Édith Piaf. Then in the late 90’s and early 00’s, French music gave a turn and forgot that most traditional influences to immerse itself in the electronics style with important bands like Daft Punk, Justice or M83 and, those last years, artists like Zaz, Camille or Sebastien Tellier, seem to have come back to the earlier bohemian and traditional yardsticks in their compositions. That is, grosso modo, what we think of when somebody asks us about French music. As I said, grosso modo, because sometimes we find artists that can not be included in the previous lists like the talented Yann Tiersen and his delicate instrumental exploration of the French folk, or the rock of classic bands like Noir Desir or other more focused to the indie genre like Phoenix.
But, the aim here is not to make an analysis of the French music, it is to present you another group that does not follow the main musical standards of that country: Sheetah and les Weissmüller. They are a garage-rock band, a style that seems not to be a quite exploited and popular one in France, although if we look for it, appear 60’s bands like The Lutins or The Sultans or other more current like The Feeling of Love. The Shetaah play rock. A psychedelic rock that feeds itself from the American and British 60’s beat sounds. And I almost forgot it : they sing in french.
Know a bit more about this band through this interview with their singer Barnabé Mons.
– How did Shetaah and les Weissmuller come up?
It started 11 years ago, when a few sixties music fans got together and asked me to sing with them. Ever since the band members changed al lot and many many times, I’m the last survivor!
– Who are your main musical influences?
Well, our favourite bands : Music Machine, Seeds, Strawberry Alarm Colck, cool singers like Don Fardon, Jimmy Powell, but also French beat maestros as Jacques Dutronc, les Fleurs de Pavot, Ronni Bird, Malek…
– What can we find on your last album “Evolution Française”? What’s the theme? What does it sound like?
“Evolution Française” is our psychedelic album, filled with fuzz, tambourines, sitar, strings, harpsichord, backing vocals, horns… songs are about girls, motorcycles, oriental fantasy, violence, drugs. We hope it’s a cool record, check it on Deezer.
-How was the experience of recording in Circo Perrotti Studios and working close to Mike Mariconda (The Devil Dogs)? How did last one influence in the sound?
We enjoyed a lot recording at Circo Perrotti with Jorge and Mike, it is the second album we record there with them. Jorge sang many backing vocals and played a few guitar parts. Mike did the wild solo of Qu’ils aillent tous au diable! He is a great great guy, I’m so sorry he left Europe now.
– Is there any band you would love to collaborate or share stage with?
Well, we played with most of our living idols : Fleshtones, Cynics, Kid Congo, Fuzztones, Playboys, Vigon… I think I’d like to work with lost legends of french 60’s freak scene like Zouzou, Nato or Jean-Pierre Kalfon. And yes, I’d like a show with the best garage soul band today : King Kahn and his Shrines.
– Garage-rock is a very Anglo-Saxon genre, but you sing in French. Have you ever thought about starting to sing in English and maybe reach a wider audience? Or do you think that is precisely what characterize you and makes you different from other bands?
Well, I want to sing in my own language. There are so many good English singing bands that we can’t fight. We have a few songs in English, but Sheetah is a French singing band.
– How do you get inspiration for composing?
Haha ! It really depends. But we need a lot of smoke before starting!
– Any rituals before the show?
Well, I do have a few but I keep them a secret!
– Why would you recommend people to go to your concerts or buy your albums? Sell us “The Sheetah and Weissmuller” brand.
Sheetah is a high energy band, very wild and often funny on stage, don’t miss them if they’re around. Our albums are filled with dance-floor killers and wild anthems for party freaks. Hope you’re one of them.