Matmatah

Creation date : 1995
Country : France
Language : French
Style of music : Chanson / Rock
Members : Eric Digare, Sammy Floc'h, Stan Nihouarn, Fanch Paillard

Come on and visit Lambé! That's what Matmatah hasn't stopped shouting out for several months. We ended up by listening to them and taking a closer look at their work. In fact it was on stage that we really discovered this group from Brittany because their performances are the type that make the audience rise to their feet.

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  • Site de Matmatah
  • Come on and visit Lambé! That's what Matmatah hasn't stopped shouting out for several months. We ended up by listening to them and taking a closer look at their work. In fact it was on stage that we really discovered this group from Brittany because their performances are the type that make the audience rise to their feet.

    Matmatah took shape in the bars of Brest (northern Brittany). Shortly after meeting Sammy who was a guitarist like himself, Stan let music supersede his studies of advanced mathematics. The two of them started multiplying their small gigs in the cafes of Brest under the name Tricards Twins. Their repertoire was made up of folk songs from the sixties and seventies with the Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel also on their programme.

    During one of these shows they met Eric, a bassist, and Fanch, a drummer. The foursome chose to call themselves Matmatah after the little village Matmata (without the h) in south-eastern Tunisia where Stan lived during his childhood. Alchemy was quickly found between them. As early as 1996 they opened for FFF.

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    They didn't waste any time moving along at a frenzied pace from one show to another in all the clubs and cabarets of Brittany. They even took a stab at Paris by playing in a jazz club called the Baiser Salé. The building of fan loyalty bore its fruit when a two-track CD came out in July 1997,which was produced and distributed by the band. The first thousand copies sold out in a week and the group was at the top of the sales charts in their town. As fast as the records were pressed, the Matmatah phenomenon, far from slowing, gathered magnitude and spread throughout all of Brittany.

    In a few months, 30.000 singles were sold. Inspired by English Pop, the four boys, only 25 at the time, also delved unintentionally into their Celtic roots and slipped in a handful of Breton words here and there, all in the brotherly and festive ambience in the spirit of drinking songs. The first two songs that made them known reflect this joyous and easy-going atmosphere, in the spirit of "Moutons", a traditional air which has neither heads nor tails because the text which is in constant evolution is a succession of sentences added by the public.

    Breton refrain

    With its simple refrain, "Lambé an dro" is one of those invitations that you extend with a friendly pat on the back: "If you failed your exams, come visit Lambé, if you have something to celebrate come to Lambé, there's all the chouchen you can drink (Breton honey wine), come and visit Lambé." If the place is idealised it isn't because the place is utopian, it's because the musicians are referring to Lambezellec, a quarter of Brest where they used to hang out.

    Cast onto the trail of unexpected success, Matmatah received the backing of a record company and left to record their first album in Great-Britain which came out in June 1998. The title, "La ouache" is an expression which defines their game, energetic, whereas the topics covered continue to give a feeling of good old pubs, the people that we meet there, the discussions that we hold whether it be about "la Fille au chat noir"(the girl with the black cat) or "Emma" (Mrs Peel) the heroine of the British TV series The Avengers.

    There was no waiting for the impact of "la Ouache". From local fame the group climbed to that of national revelation. In a little more than six months, they reached the bar of 300.000 albums sold and cleared the 750.000 mark by spring 2001. Matmatah built itself on stage and planed to confirm its reputation by going beyond Brittany with this album. For two-and-a-half years, the musicians travelled back and forth across France without stopping, giving several hundred concerts in venues that were sold out in advance.

    Three years after their first stint in a Parisian club, they returned to the capital this time to play before a jam-packed Zenith. From the French music festivals like Printemps de Bourges, Vieilles Charrues without forgetting Fête de l'Humanité or the Francofolies in La Rochelle which led them to Montreal and Spa, they have appeared on the stage of the biggest festivals. In 1999 they recorded a four-song live CD which came out at the beginning of the following year, in order to help tide their fans over until the next album and to have people discover a new side of Matmatah through their covers of "Twist and Shout", sung by the Beatles in 1963 and "Heroin" by Lou Reed.

    Legal Hassles

    During their long and exhausting tour, the group played in Nantes in November 1998. This concert, which went on like many others before it, was at the origin of legal proceedings involving the foursome from Brest. Present in the audience that evening was a policeman from the drug squad who had already notified the authorities about bands promotoing illegal drugs four years earlier after hearing "Mangez-moi, Mangez-moi",a hit by the group from Rennes Billy Ze Kick which brags about the merits of hallucinogenic mushrooms. He referred the matter to the district attorney after having been shocked by the words of the song "L'Apologie" in which Matmatah explains among other things "Un petard ou un Ricard, si t'as vraiment le cafard, a choisir y'a pas photo, moi je choisis le maroco. Les alcools ont leurs soulards la cana c'est le panard. Y'en a qui le mystifient, moi j'en fais l'apologie." (A joint or a Ricard (anis liqueur) if you're really down, no arguing , I choose hash. Alcohol has its drunks, cannabis is magic. There are some who tales about it, I praise it.)

    Charged with inciting the use of illegal narcotics and showing these products in a favourable light" the musicians were condemned to pay a fine of 15.000 francs in May 2000 despite a petition on their behalf with 10,000 signatures. Always with a sense of humour, they bring up this affair in "Quelques Sourires", the first single of their second album.

    Second album

    To follow up "La Ouache", Stan, Sammy, Eric and Fanch returned to Great Britain after several months of rest. At Great Linford Manor, an old 18th century manor in the countryside where PJ Harvey, Skunk Anansie and Jamiroquai passed before them, they got together with producer Jesus Presley, who mixed their four-track live CD, and Douglas Cook, who had worked on their first album. On the console used by Pink Floyd for "Wish you were here" in five weeks they recorded the eleven songs of "Rebelote" which was released in the spring of 2001. Turning towards a purer rock, less schoolboyish according to the authors themselves, it corresponded to the spirit which drives Matmatah today. The partying students had become hardened musicians, ready to hit the road to defend their new songs. That summer, the group performed at major summer  music festivals such as Solidays, the Eurockéennes and the Vieilles Charrues.

    Rock'n'roll attitude

    The group also brought the house down when they performed at the legendary Paris venue L'Olympia on 8 and 9 June 2001. The following year, the group went on to release a live album, "Lust for a live," and a DVD humorously entitled "Piste off."

    After a short pause for reflection, which gave the group time to reconsider where their career was going and also to change their drummer, Matmatah went on to perform a series of concerts in support of humanitarian causes. The group returned to record stores in October 2004 with a brand new album entitled "Archie Kramer" which they produced themselves and had mixed by Head (famous for his work on PJ Harvey and Dominique A’s albums). The twelve tracks on "Archie Kramer" veered between soft ballads and energetic rock numbers. The first single release, "Casi el silencio," received extensive airplay on French radio stations and the group went on to kick off a major tour at the end of October 2004.

    At the beginning of 2005 the rock outfit from Brest found themselves with a dilemma on their hands. The group had planned to do a tour of India, travelling from Delhi to Bombay between mid-January and the start of February. But the tsunami that hit southern Asia on 26 December 2004 had left large parts of the Indian coastline devastated. Encouraged by their contacts in India to honour their tour dates nevertheless, Matmatah headed off to Delhi. The band, billed in India as one of the major rock outfits from France, performed an unforgettable tour, wowing fans across the country. After playing a rousing finale at the Chavan Auditorium in Bombay, Matmatah bid their Indian fans farewell and returned to France where they released a six-track mini-album entitled "And Time Goes Friendly". The video clip for "Comme si de rien n’était", directed by Christophe Acker, received extensive coverage on music channels.

    2007: "La Cerise"

    In March 2007, Matmatah released a new full-length album, "La Cerise." This '70s-rock-influenced album, recorded between Brest and Carpentras on a vintage EMI console from the late '60s, featured a raw rock sound and songs in both French and English which explored darker themes than on their previous albums. The band had certainly come a long way from the Celtic-rock image they had started out with! In April of that year, Matmatah hit the road again, playing gigs across France, Quebec and Europe. Their tour included two memorable appearances at La Cigale, in Paris, on 2 & 3 May 2007.

    August 2007

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