Five Questions with... CRABE

Five Questions with… is a new CJLO Magazine feature where people from all realms we want to know more about are asked… well, five questions!  The feature’s inaugural interview is with Montreal “normal punk” duo CRABE, who released their seventh album Notre-Dame de la vie intérieure earlier this month on Pantoum Records.  Their latest opus sees the duo, consisting of Martin Höek and Gabriel Lapierre, continue to avoid easy classification and managing to keep a wildly positive and sincere energy about them for 12 years and counting.  CJLO had the chance to speak with Lapierre and pose him five questions about the new record. 

Your new album is called Notre-Dame de la vie intérieure, which I find to be a fascinating title.  What’s the significance behind it?

It was actually Martin who would often pass by a statue of Mary to go to work and noticed much later that it was marked as Notre-Dame de la vie intérieure (Our Lady of the Inner Life) on the statue.  I think it surprised him, and he was really in a phase… the album at its base is all related to the pond, and the pond is the sombre place where we go if we have an agonizing crisis or anxiety. Notre-Dame de la vie intérieure is a bit of the protection that can aid us in understanding our patterns and our paths, that helps us to understand the pond.

Even though this is CRABE’s seventh album, Notre-Dame de la vie intérieure is only the second album created by you and Martin after the departure of David Dugas Dion from the group.  Did you find there was a different dynamic this time than when you made your first album together, Le temps f33l?

Yes, we always try to change our sound, or to surprise ourselves.  For the first [album], we had the desire for it to be really punk, or really square if we could say that, aggressive in the sound.  On the second [album] […] the tempos change a lot, the way we mixed the drums for example is less aggressive. I think it’s a bit more user-friendly, but at the same time I think it still remains explosive.  We put a lot of colours in other settings, for example there were a lot of MIDI sounds that were introduced.

Your songs go all over the place in the space of three minutes.  One minute a song like “Livre compliqué” is in a more aggro and aggressive style, the next it’s like a more indie-rock and jangle tune.  What’s the reason for such multidirectional songs, and how do you juggle all these styles in a coherent fashion?

I think what makes it all coherent is the rigor in our work ethic that we have, and also that we do what we have the desire to do.  If we have the desire to go one direction over another, I think if it doesn’t sound like the same intentions of song, I think the creative intention remains the same between all the songs.  It makes it so that there’s a coherence of experiences we can live with CRABE.

CRABE was on of the finalists during last year’s edition of the Francouvertes.  After all that, what is it that you’ve retained from the competition?

I think what I retained most was that people liked CRABE more than I thought, or at least our dynamic works in general.  We were expecting to be rejected as soon as the first show [laughs]. Ultimately, people really liked it, and we were placed very high.  I think it showed me that no matter what the music we do, if we remain positive, honest, and do our best, there’s always a way that people will like it and bring people together.

Lastly, you’ve said in the past that your work as CRABE was “music-therapy.”  Is it still that for you both?

For me, I don’t see how it can be otherwise, for music in general actually, because I think it’s really music we make for ourselves to put into words at times the affairs we live or just to put in action the emotions and things we accumulate in our daily lives.  I think to do that and to do it 100% like we want to, it does well to know that we can do something like we want to or that it’s possible to go until the end of a project, without making any compromises for example. To have an idea and realize it, I think it feels really good to remind ourselves that we could do that.

Alex Viger-Collins is the host of Ashes to Ashes, your weekly dose of modern pop, every Tuesday at 8:00 PM EST.

You can listen to CRABE's new album via Bandcamp: Notre​-​Dame de la vie intérieure
Photo Credit: Yuki BT