Bonjour India: French bands Last Train, Colt Silvers on debut tour
The French band Last Train wears its success lightly. After touring widely across Europe this year, and having won the top spot at the prestigious Le Printemps de Bourges music festival in France, which showcases up-and-coming bands, the band’s members remain grounded in their approach to things, and especially, their music.
“We have a long way to go, with so many things to do, and so many places to go to,” says Jean-Noel Scherrer, lead vocalist, explaining that one of the early challenges they faced when they started their careers was “getting to play away from home”. He clarifies, “Soon after we formed the band, we wanted to play in front of strangers. Playing in your native region is cool, but you realise that you’re starting to go around in circles. So I booked us in some bars and venues, later making it to tours around France and Europe.”
Around a decade later, the four childhood friends who form this band, Julien Pueltier (guitar), Antoine Baschung (drums), Timothee Gerard (bass) and Jean, are all set for their debut multi-city tour in India, along with fellow musicians, Colt Silvers. In Chennai and Pondicherry this week, the tour follows the launch of their debut album, Weathering, this April, which was preceded by two individual tracks, Fragile and The Holy Family.
“For everyo ne in the band, it is an amazing occasion to come to India for the first time. We’ve been touring in Asia for the last two years, in Japan, Vietnam and China, but India will be a totally different experience, we believe,” offers Jean, adding that they’re headed next to Mumbai.
Jean and his friends started playing when they were as young as 12 years old. Naturally, their musical styles have evolved vastly ever since. “Our first show happened when we were 13 to 14 years old. It was at a friend’s birthday party, in a garage,” he shares, insisting that they played original compositions even back then. However, they were equally open to listening to rock from different eras, and later added genres like pop, electronic and even movie scores into their playlists.
“Our exposure to different kinds of music enabled us to evolve our styles to a more expressive one,” explains Jean, who often portrays an intense and passionate persona in the band’s music videos. His voice too is quite sharp, and blends harmoniously with Antoine’s effortlessly smooth percussion. As for the upcoming performances in Chennai and Pondicherry, Jean maintains the suspense. “We change our set-list every night, so I can’t give you the answer right now,” he says, with a laugh.
Besides learning more about Indian music and indie musicians — they’ve only listened to the works of musicians like sitarist Rishi Dhir, of the Canadian band Elephant Stone, we learn — Jean is intent on trying out Indian food. Though they are scared about the spice factor! “It’s not really in our French culture, eating spicy things. But we will try! Anything new can be a good experience, just like in music,” Jean says, adding that they’re keen to learn about Indian classical orchestrations, and might work a project around it in the future.
What would be the odds of talking to a band that admits to having felt seasick during their first ever performance? For Colt Silvers, that was an unusually unexpected challenge to face, when they were performing in 2008 in their hometown, Strasbourg, France. Julien Hohl, drummer, shares, “We were playing on a boat, actually. It was really weird because it was moving, and the venue was small and packed. Thankfully, the audience were energetic from the beginning, so it did relieve some pressure off us.”
A decade has gone by since then, and this electro-rock band — with vocalist Tristan Lepagney, Nicolas Lietaert on bass, and guitarist Florian Kanny — has gone way beyond the boat, and now find pride of place at international music festivals. “We’re impressed with the feedback from the UK and USA, where we didn’t expect to fit in being a French band, and all,” he admits, adding that they’ve also performed in Russia, China and South Korea.
As for the evolution of their music, he begs to differ from general consensus. “People say it is more electro-oriented now, compared to our rock ‘n’ roll beginnings, but we don’t really feel this change, though we’re constantly experimenting, like using a sitar in our music, inspired by Pandit Ravi Shankar,” he says, telling us to expect songs from their latest album, Swords, at their upcoming performance in the city.
They also intend to try out hip-hop fusion, we were pleasantly surprised to learn, considering that they look up to musicians like composer John Williams and Clint Mansell. “After the India tour, we will be back home to perform with the Philharmonic Orchestra,” informs Julien.
At Bay 146 and The Storyteller’s Bar. November 24 and 26. Details: lasttrain.fr; coltsilvers.com