It was on a cold evening in mid-February that three members of the Montreal punk-rock outfit The Sainte Catherines came out to the Esco Bar to talk about their upcoming release Dancing For Decadence; their first on Fat Wreck Chords. After having spent seven years putting out records pretty much by themselves, the band felt it was time to take the next step, hoping it will lead to bigger and better things. Singer Hugo Mudie, joined by bassist Pablo Boerr and guitarist Marc-Andre Beaudet, at a small table at the back of the bar to talk about the band’s upcoming projects.
The Concordian: Hugo, you are also currently the singer in the band Yesterday’s Ring. With a new release coming up for The Sainte Catherines, does that mean you will have to put your other band on hold for a while?
Mudie: Not really, but we will have to for a couple of months when the album comes out since we will be going on tour. But until the album comes out, we will be playing shows with Yesterday’s Ring, and after, when we take a break from The Sainte Catherines. That’s why we have both bands, because when you are tired of playing fast and hard music, you come back. And when you’re tired of playing slow stuff, you go back to being angry again. So we need both.
The Concordian: Do you think that being in Yesterday’s Ring has had a positive impact on The Sainte Catherines?
Mudie: I think recently it has, because Yesterday’s Ring’s album got really good reviews. I think people take us more seriously. Before, people used to think we were just kids playing punk rock. But now, since we did a more mature album, people take us more seriously as musicians, which I think is pretty funny.
The Concordian: In your biography, it says that you guys have the same punk-rock ideals. What are these ideals?
Mudie: I think what they mean is that there are a lot of bands coming out now in the punk scene that have absolutely no ethics or beliefs in anything which punk is usually associated with. I think we still have the same ideas as when we were younger. People grow up and say, “yeah that was stupid; I’m older now,” but we stayed really DIY [do-it-yourself]. All the homophobia, racism and sexism in punk rock is still there and it is not what we are about. I think it’s because we are mad about what punk rock has become. It was better 10 years ago.
Boerr: Like Hugo said, there’s a lot of lack of respect towards homosexuals, there’s a lot of racism and that stuff shouldn’t be a part of the scene we are part of. I think they are values that everybody in the band really holds dearly. Signing to Fat, nothing has really changed. We play shows and we have an album out, and that’s what attracted us to them and them to us.
The Concordian: Do you think you’ll receive criticism from people in Montreal for having signed to Fat Wreck Chords, an American label?
Mudie: I think it will happen and it already happened, but we really don’t care about that. The people at Fat are super nice so it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Especially with the way we did it, we are not a brand new band that is being hyped and that has the cool sound of the moment. We worked hard, did it our way and Fat liked it, so I will never be ashamed of that.
The Concordian: Why did you guys choose to go with Fat?
Mudie: There were other possibilities but they were the best people and the bands on their label are good. They seemed to like us and treated us well from the start. It’s weird because we really didn’t see it coming. We knew they had some interest in us because some people had told us we should talk to them because they had been talking about us. And then Fat Mike called Pablo saying he wanted to put out the record.
The Concordian: The indie scene in Montreal is currently being represented pretty much all over the world. Is it one of your goals to represent the punk rock scene of Montreal?
Mudie: It is. I don’t know if it’s going to work. For the first tour we’re doing, we’ve invited three Montreal bands to play with us: we didn’t have to do that but we like a lot of bands from here and we have a lot of friends in good bands here . So as soon as we have the chance to bring a band from Montreal, we’ll bring them before a band from anywhere else.
Boerr: I think we’re really lucky to have really close friends that happen to play in amazing bands. Some of the bands people are already aware of but hopefully they’ll be aware of more bands because Montreal’s got a really good punk rock scene. We might be lacking as far as venues goes and more specifically all-ages venues, but as far as talent, there’s a ton.
Beaudet: That’s what we’ve always done; if we do a TV interview or a photo shoot, we always try to wear shirts of our friends’ bands. We try to get the name out there and it’s something that other bands do too.
Boerr: That’s what punk-rock is. Even the cover of our album or the posters that we do, we always use our friends. It’s always the same people, it’s an extended family.
The Concordian: On your new record, the songs are more fast-paced and less experimental. What explains this sound change?
Beaudet: The new drummer really imposed new tempos and a new way of playing that was different. It was more rock; faster and harder, so that influenced song writing too.
Mudie: When we started writing for this record, we were trying to do a more straight-up punk record which was powerful, fast and catchy so that’s what we did.
The Concordian: You guys don’t seem to take yourselves too seriously. Is it important to be able to laugh at yourselves?
Mudie: It’s stressful enough to be in a band and dedicate your life to a band; it’s a hard enough life so you need to have fun with it. It’s just a band and it’s for fun. I’m not going to kill myself trying to find song titles or worry about how I look in a picture.
The Concordian: You’ve been in this band since 1999, and unlike some bands, did not obtain success overnight. Are you happy with the journey the band has taken?
Mudie: I think the way it happened to us is the way it should be. If you get big in a year, you don’t appreciate everything. For us, even playing in front of 50 people is something we think is awesome. Even if there are two people singing the songs, I’m super excited because we played something like 400 shows in front of less than 50 people. If you get big overnight, you’ll be a bitch about everything. I think the way it is now isn’t the way it should be. Before, bands were working hard for years and years and were on small labels and putting out records themselves before becoming successful. There’s still a DIY scene today but it’s not as cool as it was before. Before kids thought bands were cool because they had been working for 10 years. Now they think a band is cool because they look like another band that’s cool.
The Concordian: Where would you like to be in a couple of years?
Mudie: I think it would be cool to do it for another seven years if we can. We already did it for seven years, so if we did it for seven more, that would make us pretty old; that would be fun. Being able to pay rent with music and not having to work shitty jobs when we come back would be really cool but I don’t think it will happen. It would be ideal but I don’t really think it will happen. We’ll see. As long as we still write music that we like and still have fun doing it, we’re still gonna do it. When I’m going to feel like I’m lying to myself and other people, I won’t do it anymore.
The Sainte Catherines will be having a listening party for their new record Dancing For Decadence on Saturday March 11 at Le Divan Orange. The official launch show will be taking place on March 25 at El Salon. Tickets are $8, and the show begins at 8 p.m.
For more information on the band visit www.thesaintecatherines.org