In the spirit of righting wrongs in the world of popular music, Art Brut’s Eddie Argus and The Blood Arm’s Dyan Valdes join forces to form their humorous side project called Everybody Was in the French Resistance… Now! Redoing songs like Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” from the perspective of the bastard child who develops contempt for his father and Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” that describes the fry-cook janitor who is just biding his time until he releases a record makes for a clever collection of original hits.
The sizable band name comes from one of Valdes’s professors at UCLA who was heard repeatedly quoting it. “We just liked the phrase,” says Valdes.
While considering an acronym or abbreviation for the band name, Argos admits, “I’ve been contemplating what we’re going to say on stage. We get up there and keep saying our name and we’ll run out of time to play! But I’ve been writing it like French Resistance.” He pauses for an unusually long time. “Now!”
Their debut album is titled Fixin’ the Charts and intends to do exactly that. By rebuilding famous tunes from a different perspective, the duo is correcting the mistakes of pop songs past. “Dyan and I got the idea while on a road trip,” says Argos. “I’ve always felt that way about ‘Jimmy Mack [by Martha Reeves].’ I say to Dyan that I can’t stand it and someone needs to revise it. I kept going on about it and finally she shouts that we should do that. So we did that one and after that, it was kind of fun.” Their song “Hey! It’s Jimmy Mack” is a response to the song made famous by Martha Reeves wherein Jimmy Mack heard her adulterous song and doesn’t want to come home.
“When choosing songs to redo, some stuck out immediately,” Argos says. “One song we really didn’t like was Avril Lavigne’s ‘Girlfriend.’ She’s a bitch, isn’t she? I always thought about what it would be like to be the boyfriend in that song.” Argos refers to their witty reprise, “G.I.R.L.F.R.I.E.N. (You Know I’ve Got A)” that describes a young man’s dismay at a mentally unstable girl trying to break up his relationship.
Valdes goes on to add about Avril Lavigne, “It’s the dorky, nerdy kid that gets beaten by the mean, popular girl. What a horrible message that is! It’s like the opposite of every 80’s movie.”
Argos throws in “but besides that, we just chose songs we’ve always liked. ‘Walk Alone’ was interesting.” He refers to their version of Gerry and the Peacemakers’ “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” “I like being alone and the idea of never being alone… I would hate that!”
Although the album doesn’t come out until February 16th, Argos and Valdes say that they are already thinking about songs for Volume Two. “We want to do the Donovan song ‘Atlantis’ about how the world was created and we want to write it with scientific rational,” Argos laughs, adding that “there are so many characters in pop songs to write about, too. We recorded it at Joshua Tree. It didn’t take very long [to write the album], actually. Only a week or two.”
The two musicians rely heavily on their experiences in their respective original bands for much of the contributions to French Resistance Now. “I wouldn’t have the confidence to write the same music I do in Art Brut,” said Argos.
Valdes adds, “For me, it was a new thing because with The Blood Arm, I write everything with three other people so this is the first time I’ve been able to write all the music completely on my own. It was a bit terrifying but it was fun.”
Argos goes on to talk about how the French Resistance may affect his other band, Art Brut. “While writing new songs [for Art Brut] I look back and think about them in the French Resistance style. But I love writing and I do these French Resistance albums because it’s different than my other band.”
Singer Eddie Argos comments about the time management between his two bands. “We’ve been practicing all this year. We recorded the album and now we’re relearning it. But Art Brut just finished touring for our last album and we’re going to start recording a new one in the Summer. I like being in a band, though. It’s fun and a good use of your spare time… but I never feel in over my head. It all balances out.”
Everybody was in the French Resistance… Now! begins a tour for their debut album in February in the UK, making their way around Europe and then over to the States in April. The two remain faithful to their original bands while on tour. “I’ve been learning the lyrics [for Art Brut].” Says Argos.
“We just finished recording an album [for The Blood Arm], so it’s all done and packaged,” says Valdes. “So now is a perfect time for French Resistance to go on tour!”