Meet The Band: Tonnerre

Cruz Del Sur Music

Canadian hard rockers Tonnerre are this week’s featured Meet The Band artist. Their debut album La nuit sauvage has lyrics sung in French. Vocalist Annick and guitarist Francois introduce us to their band.

Chad Bowar: Give us a brief history of Tonnerre.
Francois: I’ve always been a fanatic of seventies hard rock, so I just started to write songs with no real plan except to have fun. When Annick (vocals) and Patrick (lead guitar) heard them, they immediately wanted to make it a band. Patrick suggested Jeff as bassist. The four of us have been friends for close to 20 years. Jeff and Patrick had played together in Bastardator and Patrick was the first Cauchemar drummer.

Annick: It then went on to become a real band when we met drummer Arnaud at a new bar that had just opened in our rural area. Turns out he is not only one of the owners, but also a brewer! He was an instant friend. Within a week, after a few drinks and listening to the demos, he was in.

Describe the songwriting process for La nuit sauvage.
Francois: I wrote the basic songs but, when we started playing the songs together, everybody added his own style to them, sometimes adding new riffs and melodies and they became what they are now. The chemistry in this band is so great. We all know immediately when a song sounds good.

What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
Francois: For me, it was when Patrick (lead guitar) was redoing some solos. He was really getting into it and the rest of us were cheering every time he’d be pulling tasty licks! His solos at the end of “L’aurore” (the last track on the record) are totally over the top.

Annick: Our drummer, Arnaud, became instant friends with Chany, the studio owner and engineer. On the first night that we recorded, they ended up drinking until 4AM and finished all the beers in the fridge! (laughs) Many beers were “harmed” in the making of this album, I can assure you!

What was the biggest challenge in its creation?
Francois: The biggest challenge was mixing the album. It sounds straightforward, but there’s a lot of stuff going on: tambourine, shaker, backing vocals, lots of solos and on top of that, both guitars never play the same thing. It was really difficult to get the “sweet spot” in the levels but I think we did it!

How would you characterize its style/sound?
Francois: I’d say it’s riff-based bluesy feel-good mystical hard rock that you can dance to.

Annick: Imagine the movie “Dazed and Confused” but as a band. The soundtrack represents us well musically, too!

What lyrical topics do you cover?
Francois: Our first record, La nuit sauvage, is about being in the forest with friends and spending the whole night around a fire. All the songs are in chronological order, from dusk ‘til dawn. The lyrics are about friendship, the mystery of the night, the power of nature, the stars in the sky and what lays beyond…

Annick: François wrote the lyrics, but we live together, so I was part of all these parties that inspired this record. And I can guarantee that all the lyrics are true!

How did you come to sign with Cruz Del Sur?
Annick: We originally were hoping to be on a Quebec-based rock label, but I think our music might be too heavy for the “rock” labels here (even though our area had heavy rock bands back in the seventies). So, we never heard back from any submission we did! I guess Temple of Mystery Records would have released it if it was still around. Well, everything happens for a reason… I sent the album to Enrico, who I sometimes do design for, and he got hooked right away and offered to release it on Cruz Del Sur! They were our first choice as a heavy metal label and Enrico’s a totally solid guy. Love him to death.

What are your goals and expectations for the album?
Francois: We hope it will make people boogie, have fun and drink lots of beer!

Annick: That people like it enough so we can record a second one!

What has been your most memorable Tonnerre live show?
Francois: We have only played two shows so far, but my favorite show was in a punky tavern in Ottawa. The sound was good, we were rocking and everybody in the place was shaking their hips! The atmosphere was super cool.

What are your upcoming show/tour plans?
Francois: We have a few shows scheduled in our part of Canada: Ripon (our hometown in the countryside), Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec.

Annick: I’m trying to organize a short European tour for next year, maybe in the spring or fall. Get in touch with us if you want to book a date in May or September 2025!

How did you get started in music?
Francois: I started playing classical guitar in high school. My music teacher was a nun! She would ask us to write a song, and my friend and I would just play the “classical” parts in Metallica songs. She was amazed that we could “write” like that at 12 or 13! (laughs)

Annick: My father was an entertainer (he would play music for weddings, funerals and for old people with a keyboard) and my mother worked at a radio station. I got my first guitar at age 8, started my own band on bass at age 13, and joined a few bands until my first “serious” one, Cauchemar in 2007 – where I sang and played synth.

Who were your early influences and inspirations?
Francois: The band that got me into music was AC/DC, then I got into Black Sabbath and Motörhead. Those three bands are still my main influences! Everything I write has some kind of roots in those bands.

Annick: My first true musical love was Michael Jackson, at age 4, but also Quebec pop (I did my first music video around that same age, to “Bye Bye Mon Cowboy” by Mitsou!). I got into Black Sabbath and Rush as well as X-Japan in my early teens.

Was your family supportive in your decision to become a musician?
Francois: My parents bought me my first guitar and amp, and they never complained about all those hours of playing non-stop the same AC/DC and Black Sabbath songs every night.

Annick: Yes, my father was a musician so he would drive me to band practices for years! My parents bought me my first guitar and gave me my first courses as a kid, but I bought all my gear by myself afterwards.

Is it difficult to balance being in multiple bands along with jobs, families, etc.?
Francois: We all have regular jobs. Most of the spare time that we have goes into writing, jamming, recording and playing shows.

Annick: Luckily, we live pretty simple lives so it all works out! I’m a freelancer so I have a very flexible schedule.

What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Francois: Besides music, my biggest passion is traveling. I love to discover new places, new cultures, new food, meet new people.

Annick: I love graphic design, typography, gardening, foraging mushrooms, and traveling of course!

Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Annick: Our album was recorded in a “live” and loose way, in the old-school style. I suggest to listen to it loudly, with a cold beverage, or while driving at night. It’s also really cool to listen to with headphones because you get the full stereo experience that way!

(interview published April 13, 2024)

Listen To Tonnerre – “La danse du feu”


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