their heads riding somewhere between the rolling Yorkshire hills and
a Parisian metropolis, the four piece Mono Taxi had pitched camp in
the centre of Leicester on an evening that would commemorate the late,
great John Peel. The same was happening not just here, but across the
UK on a night deemed John Peel night, an event which turned
out somewhat of a bizarre coincidence as several weeks later I once
again celebrated John Peel night, entertained by a host
of tele-visual treats, but no matter it was this mid-October evening
that meant far more to myself and the handful of interested faithful
lured here this evening by this single form of transport, otherwise
known as Mono Taxi.
Id first met with the group several hours earlier, as their support
acts were still charming this hardly throng, Oh Atomicduster!
our reputation had preceded us. We had then decided, I should get the
full force of their welcome before entertaining any thoughts of what
would turn out to be a very well mannered interview.
So here the four of us sat, Ellice the bands lead vocalist/guitarist,
her beau and the bands other guitarist/vocalist; Antoine, as well
as myself and my intended, Joanne, musing over the evenings main
course. The location, a set of double yellows on Freelane in Leicester
in what was a rather comfortable Renault people carrier (how the practice
of touring has changed since the Ford Transit, void of any MOT, eh?),
but this aside there the four of us sat chatting away until on presenting
my iPod and notes that would hopefully bear the fruit of
what had turned out a very long day indeed, for the both of us.
Antoine: An iPod?!!.. Umm, thats the way
forward. Way to go Bill and Ted! (how the art of recording an
interview has changed since the moth eaten mini-cassette that wasnt
sure what speed or direction it was supposed to be moving in, eh!)
So with Joanne and Ellice chatting away in the back seat, I
attempted a resemblance of order to the moment and posed the question...
AD: First off, tell me a little about the band, your desires,
yours passions, your long term view?
Antoine: Desires and passions? (muses Antoine,
a far away look in his eyes) Im too philosophical, Id probably
go on to explain about desire and about passion, Id probably be
Ellice: Desires and passions, I dont know,
its quite simple really, we want to do more shows, we want to
do good shows...
Antoine: We want to do PACKED shows!
Ellice: We want to do packed shows, yeah.
Antoine: And you see exactly what I mean, dont
you? We want to do packed shows, like Huddersfield 2 days ago, packed!
After this evenings lack of audience, I detected a wry
wit in the way Antoine was wanting to take the interview, so I asked:
AD: How many did you get in the audience
Antoine: 600 people there, all cheering.
A marked difference obviously, but; AD: What kind of capacity
was the venue?
Antoine: Probably about 600, it was sold-out.
So even though the relative venues had a marked difference in
terms of capacity, and on this occasion it was Mono Taxi whod
been deemed the headline, Leicester mayve been looked on as disappointing...
Ellice chipped in: Its not because were known,
because were not known Antoine...
Antoine: Its obvious, were not a big headline,
nobody knows us... were releasing our first 7, urrr, its
our debut 7, you see what I mean, were no-one, so we arrived
and people tell us Youre the headline... oh all right,
but obviously were not going to fill a venue cos its
not made like that. Youve got bands signed to major labels and
they go straight for a big debut single release, so yeah with a lot
of money and promotion. Were not going that way, were going
the natural way. We are just touring, were playing wherever we
want to go. The natural way, huh?
I take his point and nod in agreement.
Antoine: Still you can get lucky, get to a town and its
completely packed, you dont know why its packed and people
are amazed and want to know more about Mono Taxi, cool, they want to
know more about us, theyre more than welcome. Desires and passions,
yeah thats about it.
AD: And so to your long-term view, your
long-term view is to play to a lot of people, in 5-years time will Mono
Taxi still be an outfit?
Antoine: Oh of course, yeah, we get on really well all
together. Theres really something close, all together...
Knowing only the little that the press had offered about the
band, I asked; AD: So how did the band get together? I know what
it says in your press, An Anglo-French musical coterie...', but
nothing about when you got together?
Antoine: You dont know? really? Ill explain...
it was about 3-years ago in Paris. Ellice was teaching french in Paris.
Teaching french and we met up, I was already doing lots of music and
stuff, I met her and we started doing music and that was where we started
from. And then we got that fool as a drummer... that big
AD: (Obviously continuing our joking of earlier on) Ha,
Animal, the muppet?
Antoine: Yeah Paul, the fool, the muppet, at a party
in the west of Paris. (referring to fellow Parisian, Paul Mabillot),
at an ex-girlfriends party in fact, interesting isnt it?
[the inside of the car breaks into laughter] It was all good, Paul the
drummer. Then we crossed the channel, from there we met
that man out of the Eurostar, he found us in the rails of the Eurostar,
he was going to be the bass-player (making reference to meeting Kent
born Steve Ingersent in London 2-weeks after arriving), it was very
simple really, were not a fancy band, we just play our stuff,
were very simple.
The story goes, the group had formed originally in France, although
playing under the name Bettyking. When theyd decided
to relocate their then bassist, unsure of the move had stayed behind.
So now a three-piece theyd wanted to redress the balance, changing
the demographic from an essentially french band, into one whose leanings
were far more english...
Antoine: So we needed a bass player, because we like the
bass and what he brings to us is nice...
AD: Hes very sexy.
Antoine: Yeah very sexy boy, but it was great to bring
a balance as well, between the France and England. Before it was 3 French
and 1 French speaking English and based in Paris, so you can imagine
how french the band was and Im not a big fan of France.
[A joke ensued, instigated by myself of a French onion seller,
wearing a blue hooped top and beret]
Antoine: What like Jean-Paul Gautier? Nah, were not
typically French and anyway the idea the English have of the French
is completely wrong, it doesnt exist! Have you ever been to France?
- AD: Yes - Antoine: Have
you ever seen people dressed like that?
Oh well, looks like I got told! - At which point a brief lesson
in English geography was embarked on, to which Antoine achieved the
highest honours... Antoine: I KNOW MY ENGLISH
GEOGRAPHY! You can write that. Well at least Im learning my English
geography, going on tour.
AD: So what have been the pitfalls and
successes, of your career so far?
Ellice: I think like any new band going out, you can have
shit receptions and its not anything to do with your music, its
just that they dont know it, or its maybe not exactly what
they want. Say youre playing an indie gig- say 100 people, you
cant expect everybody to like what we do. So pitfalls...
Antoine: Pitfalls is empty rooms isnt it?
Ellice: No, pitfalls and empty rooms, pitfalls and gigs
where people dont give a shit!
Antoine: For me empty rooms is a success!
AD: Pitfalls may be where people didnt
Antoine/Ellice: Yeah, its more that, where people
didnt get us.
AD: So the successes/triumphs? The single,
the label deal?
Antoine: No those are just stepping stones, as I was saying,
its nothing fancy, were just given the opportunity to release
500/1000 singles, but were not given big hype, were just
doing our music.
Ellice: But whats good around that and what youre
not saying is that other people are starting being interested, so then
you dont look at the triumph of doing a little 7, you look
at the things that work around that, so its not a triumph yet,
but maybe it might be...
Antoine: Lets put it like that... (and paraphrasing
the bands first single Kind Of Better) Its
not what the world is looking for, but we might be what you are looking
So by this point with the other members of the group, climbing
on the vehicle to hasten the progress of our talking - I quickly moved
to possibly the most relevant question I had penned...
AD: Your musical offerings may be best
described as Antique Indie, but how would you see or rather hear
Antoine: Antique indie, why is it antique?
So attempting to assure the quizzical Antoine that the idea
was cool, rather than anything to the contrary, he perks up in response
to my question.
Antoine Oh, antique in terms of a retro-cool, well if you
tell me that my style of music is Antique indie then Im
happy. Antique indie, that sounds great, Antique indie!
So having seemingly created a new sub-genre of music, I leave
the band duly reunited and bums parked firmly on seats once again. Heading
off through the brightly lit streets of a nocturnal Leicester for tomorrows
gig, this time in Liverpool. Hold on, the band had come from Newport
the night before, were here in Leicester and tomorrow, Liverpool!
Perhaps there is a reason the Ford Transit took retirement after all.
Interview: Nick James