Louise Attaque

Creation date : 1992
Country : France
Language : French
Style of music : Chanson / Rock
Members : Gaëtan Roussel, Robin Feix, Alexandre Margraff, Arnaud Samuel

When Louise Attaque first emerged on the French music scene the media and the general public were absolutely intrigued, wondering what exactly lay behind this bizarre name. They didn't have to wonder for long however! Louise Attaque rapidly proved themselves to be one of the most exciting new bands on the French music scene - and, what's more, the talented newcomers managed to pull this off by word-of-mouth rather than a huge promotional campaign!

When Louise Attaque first emerged on the French music scene the media and the general public were absolutely intrigued, wondering what exactly lay behind this bizarre name. They didn't have to wonder for long however! Louise Attaque rapidly proved themselves to be one of the most exciting new bands on the French music scene - and, what's more, the talented newcomers managed to pull this off by word-of-mouth rather than a huge promotional campaign!

The story of Louise Attaque began in Montargis, in the playground of a local school when Gaetan Roussel (future lead singer of Louise Attaque) met up with Robin Feix (the group's future bass-player). Roussel and Feix were already major music fans and when the pair left their hometown to study in Paris in the early 90's, they decided to realise their childhood dream of forming a group. Roussel and Feix began rehearsing together in their free time and soon got round to auditioning for a drummer - the successful candidate for the job would be a budding young musician by the name of Alexandre Margraff. While all three members of the group continued their studies - they would all go on to graduate with good degrees - their free time was devoted to finding the right rock sound for their group Caravage.

The group soon established a name for them on the Paris music scene and began playing a number of local gigs. Then, after performing an extensive acoustic tour, the trio met a violinist by the name of Arnaud Samuel. They began experimenting with adding violin melodies to their basic rock sound and Samuel was taken on as a permanent member of the group - the future sound of Louise Attaque had been born!

Shortly after meeting Samuel, Louise Attaque went into the studio to record an 8-track demo tape and within two months the new group was ready to hit the live circuit. The group's big break came when they performed at the Printemps de Bourges festival, where they were spotted by a talent scout from Delabel who offered them a contract on the spot. Following their success at the Printemps de Bourges festival, Louise Attaque soon went on to sign a second contract with the independent label Atmosphériques.

The American Connection

Atmosphériques would give the group the chance to record their first album and, shortly after signing their contract, Louise Attaque headed off to Brussels to begin working in the studio with Gordon Gano. Gano, lead singer of the legendary American punk-rock outfit Violent Femmes, was to become a major influence on the Paris foursome.

Louise Attaque's eponymous album, released in April 1997, featured a range of simple, but extremely catchy, songs written by the group's lead singer Gaetan Roussel. Louise Attaque's lively folk-rock sound, which gives full rein to Arnaud Samuel's masterly violin-playing, proved a big hit with French music fans and the group soon set off on an extensive tour, taking in several major festivals on the way. Louise Attaque performed in Paris for the first time on April 24th 1997 and since then they have returned to the capital several times, an increasing number of fans flocking to see the group's energetic live act.

By the start of 98 Louise Attaque had already sold over 400,000 copies of their album - a phenomenal feat by anyone's standards! Riding the wave of their newfound success, the group kicked off a new tour on February 19th. This extensive national tour included dates in Paris (at La Cigale on April 6th, 7th and 8th) and an appearance at the prestigious Printemps de Bourges festival (on April 17th). The group's concert at the Printemps de Bourges scored a huge hit with the festival's young audience and confirmed Louise Attaque as one of the most promising new bands on the French music scene.

Towards the end of 98 the group reduced the number of their live appearances, preferring to lock themselves away in the studio and work on material for a new album. At the beginning of this year Louise Attaque were back in the limelight, however, when they triumphed at the 'Victoires de la Musique' (the annual French music awards) on 20 February. The group carried off the award for Best Group of the Year (thanks to the overwhelming success of their debut album which has sold a staggering 2.5 million copies to date!)

Just Like They Said!

Louise Attaque stormed back into the headlines in January 2000 with their eagerly-awaited second album "Comme on a dit" (Like We Said). After the phenomenal success of their debut album recording a follow-up had not been easy, but the group rose to the challenge in style. Presented in a sober black album cover, "Comme on a dit" (written and conceived between October '98 and June '99) proved to be pretty much in the same rock'n'folk vein as the group's first album. Gaëtan's vocals and Arnaud's violin-playing made the sound instantly recognisable but a spot of radical experimentation managed to creep into the musical arrangements here and there. Louise Attaque's musical influences, Noir Désir (c.f. "Tout passe") and Jacques Brel (c.f. "Sans filet") - which the group had already covered live - were also much in evidence. The group invited Gordon Gano, responsible for the production of their first album, to co-produce their second opus with Warren Bruleigh. On 19 January Louise Attaque hit the road again, embarking on a five-month tour to promote their new album.

Cultivating their image on the fringes of the mainstream music industry, Louise Attaque began staging their own music festivals in the summer of 2000, inviting friends and fellow alternatives such as Les Wampas, Mickey 3D, Cornu and the American bands Violent Femmes and 16 Horsepower to appear. The group agreed to perform at other music festivals besides their own, on condition that they were organised in the "right spirit". Having established their reputation at small low-key venues, Louise Attaque railed against impersonal stadium-style events and insisted on playing gigs where they could get close to their fans.

Splitting Up

At the end of their 2000 tour, the members of the band decided to take some time off the band and indulge in more personal projects. As a result, in October 2001, two out of the four members joined together and, calling themselves Tarmac, released a duo album. A very acoustic piece, "l’Atelier" was recorded in 20 days. It featured Melodica, slide, mandolin, violin, banjo, Fender Rhodes, drums, guitar and vocals. Tarmac also collaborated in Georges Brassens’ tribute album entitled "Les Oiseaux de Passage", celebrating the 20th anniversary of the chanson forerunner’s death.

At the same time, the two other members of Louise Attaque, Robin Feix and Alexandre Magraff, were devoting themselves to another occasional band, Ali Dragon. Influenced by electro music, hip hop and Dub, their album is due for June 2002.

The Tarmac project continued with the release of the album "Notre Epoque", followed by a live album recorded at the Réservoir in Paris in 2003.

Not ones to indulge in self-satisfaction, the various members of Louise Attaque were at first not sure if they wanted to get back together. They met up again in September 2003 to test the waters and see if they could still inspire each other, if the fire was still there. Throughout 2004, Louise Attaque worked on a number of tracks and recorded some demos but were still unsure as to whether they wanted to release anything. After sessions at the Electric Ladyland studios in New York, the four members decided to continue as Louise Attaque. Other tracks were recorded in Paris and a new album is slated for release in September 2005.

In the meantime, the group kicked off an international tour in March 2005 in Russia, followed by India. In May they were in Latin America, before returning home to France in June, playing a Paris concert on June 17 at the Grand Rex, entitled "Une nuit parisienne".

On June 1st, Louise Attaque released a first single from their album, "Si c'était hier", available only as a legal download from the Internet.

The band's eagerly awaited next album, "A plus tard crocodile", was finally released on 5 September 2005. Louise Attaque's sound – made so particularly distinctive by Gaetan's vocals and Arnaud's fiddle – gained a more upbeat edge this time round, losing the darker elements that had haunted the two previous albums. "A plus tard crocodile" was a much more serene, more open, album featuring greater musical diversity, Louise Attaque's catchy folk-rock sound mixed with occasional electro loops and reggae beats. Many saw the new album as a sign of musical maturity. Whatever the case, fans rushed out to buy the new album in droves and, within a few days of its release, "A plus tard crocodile" had rocketed to the upper regions of the French album charts. Meanwhile, the band continued their extensive tour.

The foursome gave two sell-out performances at the Zénith de Paris in April 2006, and on 29 November they played at the Paris-Bercy Palais Omnisports with Têtes Raides and Violent Femmes.
 
That same year, Louise Attaque received the Victoire Award for the best pop/rock album of the year for “A plus tard crocodile”. In Quebec they also won an award at the Gala de l’Adisq as the francophone artists that had made the most impact in Quebec in 2006.
 
In 2007, Louise Attaque went into sleep mode. Gaëtan Roussel was focusing on producing Alain Bashung’s album, “Bleu pétrole”, a piece of delicate craftsmanship for which he was highly acclaimed. He went on to write and produce the track “Il y a” for Vanessa Paradis and the album “Bonjour” for Rachid Taha, and sang in a duet with the Franco-Algerian singer on the track of the same name. It was only then that he took the time to get down to his own pet project, a “solo, but not solitary” album, as he described it. “Ginger” was released on 15 March 2010 and well received by fans and press alike. The noticeably lighter style of Roussel’s work was acclaimed. On 28 April 2010 he filled the Cigale de Paris, and on 9 February 2011 he was awarded the Victoire de la Muisque for the rock album of the year. On 6 April 2011, he performed at the Zénith de Paris alongside Joseph Dahan (bass player with Mano Negra) and six other musicians, none of them from Louise Attaque.

During this time, his colleagues were pursuing their own personal careers: Robin Feix set up the band Poney Express with which he released an album in 2008 entitled “Daisy Street”. Arnaud Samuel created a stage musical in 2010 called “La traversée de l’Atlantique” after having participated in Ben’Bop’s album. As to Alexandre Margraff, he was out on the dance floor working under the pseudonym Alex Monday.

In response to pressure from their record label, the four members of Louise Attaque decided to release a “greatest hits” in 2011. It came out in September, giving fans the pleasure of two new tracks, “Du monde tout autour” and “Snark”. The 4-volume digipack took the form of a DVD with 4 live tracks and a booklet.

After that, the band seemed to go back into hibernation.

Novembre 2011

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