The return of spring is also that of Papooz. The group returns with a luminous third album, “None of This Matters Now”. Meeting with Armand and Ulysse, founding members of the pop group, which smells of the sound of the 1960s and 70s.
Did you expect the success that your first songs met with?
Ulysses: Not really. We had the idea of releasing a song every Sunday, we started it in a very innocent way. At the time, I was living with my parents, in the 14th arrondissement in Paris, and Armand often came to my little room. We recorded a lot on my Mac. We had nothing: a ukulele, two guitars, we didn’t even have a microphone except for the computer. Steve Jobs is actually our first producer.
Armand: “Ulysses and the Sea”, for example, which is one of the most streamed tracks in our repertoire on Spotify, it’s a track that we recorded on Ulysses’ Mac, placed on his fireplace, one after -noon in three minutes. It was the era of Soundcloud, Bandcamp too. We did that for a good six months before forming a live band. People listened to our music, there were comments at the time under the songs, a really social aspect.
Then the live training started!
Ulysse: We’ve done all the harbors of Paris to tell the truth…
Armand: We managed to do concerts in Paris even without promotion, for example at the Pop In, at the Dame de Canton… We played for a year almost every two weeks, only in Paris to practice. We played a lot at the Baron, and more and more people came. Especially because they wanted to go back to the Baron and it was finally possible for them!
Musically speaking, what was your musical education?
Armand: Me, it was my American uncle. My parents sent me to his house every summer with my twin brother for ten years. It was he who made me discover all the repertoire that I love now: the classic Anglo-Saxon rock from the 1960s/70s to the 1980s. We listened to that in his jeep, he talked to me about the Doors… I am became a music fan thanks to him.
Ulysse: Personally, it’s my mother who made me discover all the bands that I still like. I was going to see The Brian Jonestown Massacre with her, that’s crazy. I had the t-shirt, which belonged to my mother, my friends couldn’t believe it. Afterwards, as a teenager, we also listened to rap, etc., songs from our time, but very quickly I went back to the Beach Boys, Brazilian music, jazz… I actually listened to very little French music. , apart from Gainsbourg, Barbara, Léo Ferré… But my mother found it very depressive, a little too bombastic for her taste, I think.
You composed your album at the time of the pandemic, how did it go?
Armand: We had songs aside, but we recorded at that time. We were very lucky because we stopped our tour just in time, by magic of the calendar, with the first confinement. And just after the first confinement we were able to record our album, at our drummer’s who had renovated an old building on an agricultural farm in a forest, so it wasn’t that difficult.
Ulysse: And then it wasn’t such a big change, since generally we mostly compose indoors at home, we’ve always done that, even on the first or second album. The big change is that we were experiencing fewer things, humanly speaking.
Armand: Normally you feel a bit special being alone at home, working, and that happened to everyone. Me it made me want to go to the office for the first time in my life for example!
You rehearsed during the day and recorded the songs at night. A particular source of inspiration?
Armand: We started around 11 a.m., we cleared two or three tracks a day, it allowed us to rehearse, we recorded everything, even our rehearsals – because you never know, since you work on a computer. It does not eat bread. And in the evening there is a more secret aspect, it’s an old farmhouse, we lit a stove, there were candles, we had a glass of wine.
Playing on instinct works well for our style of music.
Ulysse: There is a slightly more secret, even sacred aspect to the night.
You wanted to keep a “live” recording, what effect did you want?
Armand: To actually have studio photography. When we record a track live with several people, we capture an essence, a present moment. It’s closer to a film shoot, something without editing. Then, of course, we work on the tracks, but the idea is to capture a moment of life, of music. Even if there are small moments of hesitation, small errors, it is ultimately what makes the charm.
Ulysse: We recorded the first album live, the second we still spent a lot of time doing covers, thinking a lot. And in fact sometimes thinking too much is not the solution. Instinct works better, at least for our style of music. When you sing your song live you are focused and you want to give the maximum of yourself. Without telling you that if you make a mistake you can change it. Which is a very big nuance in the human mind I think. For me, being able to retouch a posteriori has destroyed this magic of requirement. I also think that technology in general has lowered the level of musicians. Knowing at all times that you can rectify everything, your requirement is lower. At the time, if you didn’t know how to play, it was next.
Now that the album is out, comes the moment of the tour, is it a moment that you particularly appreciate the stage?
Armand: We can’t wait to play!
Ulysse: It’s been two years since we played. There already, we did four days of rehearsals and we took so much information to relearn all our songs. But it’s amazing, I think we’re made to play live. It will change our lives to go on tour again.
The Olympia in Paris would be beautiful. We promised to do it.
Is there a particular place where you would like to play?
Ulysse: The Olympia would already be beautiful in Paris. Then we’ll go to the Madison but we still have a little room! But recently we did an interview near the Olympia, we took a cigarette break, we were walked to the Olympia, we promised ourselves.
Do you have a title that is particularly close to your heart on the album?
Armand: Me, I really like “Bonnie Roc n’Roll”, it’s a story of friendship that I have with an Italian singer called Edoardo Florio Di Grazia. I had met him because I played guitars on his record that we did in Milan and it’s a song about his girlfriend, about their meeting. When I sing it I think of him, so it moves me a little.
Ulysse: I would say Reminiscence for my part, I’m quite proud of this piece. It seems to me quite solar, timeless. I was inspired by a live that I saw of Sinatra, a track called “One for my babe”, where a passerby speaks to a waiter, tells him about his life and does not stop him say “tell me if I bother you, I know you want to close the bar”, well, that’s very nice.
You evoke rather serious subjects, always with a rather solar side. Would you rather describe yourself as generally optimistic?
Ulysses: Yes, I think we run away from stressful moments. To choose we prefer to make jokes than to make people uncomfortable (laughs).
Armand: We’re rather happy, that’s why we make music that is often perceived as sunny. Afterwards, we are Parisians, we are necessarily cynical. The French invented criticism, we are imbued with that too…
Regarding the future, what are you most looking forward to now?
Armand: That the war stops and the pandemic stops, it’s cliché but it’s true.
Ulysses: More selfishly, I can’t wait to go back to the United States, to see cities, people again. Overall I can’t wait to relive unexpected and somewhat risky things. Hazardous, that’s going to be my new name!
Papooz, in concert at the Bataclan on May 19, 2022.