"Gang of Four"
The pop-perfect Plastiscines have their sights set on global domination.
The weather outside Marine Neuilly’s Paris apartment is kind of crap. However, inside the Plastiscines' guitarist’s flat, located in the seedy Pigalle Quartier, the forecast is pretty bright. She and members of their French pop-rock band just met with fashion label Le Mont St. Michel, which is custom-designing a few outfits for the group’s future music performances. Next up, hitting vintage stores and cheap bridal shops for gowns to wear to drummer Anais Vandeuyvere’s birthday bash. Ironically, the party’s theme is “prom,” a tradition that doesn’t exist in the Gallic country. “It’s a fantasy, something exotic to us,” says bassist Louise Basilien, “that’s why we’re really into it.” French girls emulating American teenagers in gaudy dresses? Mon dieu.
While the U.S. press is about to get a whole lot more familiar with the Plastiscines -- thanks to their recently released Barcelona EP and second full-length, About Love (out in June on NYLON Records) -- the European media have long tagged them leaders of Les Bébés Rockers (The Baby Rockers), a Parisian movement of teenage rock stars. Singer Katty Besnard and Neuilly began playing together four years ago while attending the same Paris high school. “We started the band because we loved music, but first because we were friends,” says Besnard, who still lives in Saint-Cyr-l’École with her parents. “We were not the kind of girls who had a lot of friends to go out with, and we were not especially ‘cool.’ The only thing we liked was going to gigs together and discovering new bands.”
Three months after picking up their guitars, they recruited Zazi Tavitian, their first drummer, and Basilien, and played their first gig in 2007. (Basilien, who grew up in Paris, joined after mutual friends introduced her to trip at a Libertines gig.) "My parents were a bit worried. They thought it was just a hobby and told me, ‘You should do your homework and play later,” says Neuilly. “But I was like, ‘You don’t understand, we need to play now! ” Adds Besnard: “We didn’t really care about playing well or not. The only thing we wanted was to be on stage.”
Eventually, after “really shit” attempts to cover bands such as Radiohead and the Strokes, they became more serious and started writing their own music. This evolved into the band’s current pop-garage sound that’s decidedly more Karen O than Carla Bruni— with plenty of English lyrics. “I have the impression English words sound more poetic,” says Neuilly, adding, “we didn’t really think we were going to do this seriously, but then we had other gigs planned and everything came.”
Later that year they released their debut, LP1, and while on tour in the U.S., met producer Butch Walker, who’d worked with the Donnas and Avril Lavigne.
“He saw us playing Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Were Made For Walkin’ and fell in love with us,’” says Vandeuyvere.
Earlier this year in Los Angeles, Walker produced About Love, a polished assortment of energetic tunes about dysfunctional relationships -- sure to give the group more global exposure. This summer, they're even moving to L.A. “We have our lives in France, but it would be great to spend time in U.S.,” says Neuilly. Adds Basilien: “The main goal has always been to play our music. We just go with the flow.”
Having discussed the Plastiscines' carefree M.O., her attention shifts back to the present: Neuilly's apartment. “She has a hamburger phone, like in the movie Juno,” says Basilien, as Neuilly cracks up. So, you talk into the bun? “More like the cheese. I’m holding the bread and talking to the cheese.” And no doubt, that would be a slice of American.