Bass Players Need Not Apply
The Inspector Cluzo are the funkiest rock duo in the world. The French pairâ€™s philosophy is summed up pretty neatly in their first single: â€˜Fuck The Bass Playerâ€™.
â€œFrom the start, we said 'fuck the bass player',â€ laughs drummer Phil Jourdain. â€œWe were playing in a band with seven members, and we went through several bass players. After that, we thought, 'ok, let's make it simple'. The main thing is always to make it simple. So we said, 'ok, we don't need bass'.
â€œThere were a lot of people saying to us - really arguing the point - that you can't have a band without a bass player. And we said, 'that's stupid, we'll show you how you do it'. We decided it was really easy with two people.â€
Of course, Jourdain and guitarist Malcolm Lacrouts aren't the first musicians to realise this - the colour coded White Stripes and Black Keys will come to mind for most readers. But while groups of their ilk tend to trade in bluesy rawk (the type of music that never really needed a bass player anyway), Cluzo flip the script with tunes drenched in funk and soul (the type of music that doesn't seem possible without Bootsy Collins on bass).
â€œThe audience is really divided into two separate parts,â€ says Lacruouts of a typical Cluzo live show. â€œThere are guys like you who are wondering, 'how are they doing this without a fucking bass player?' But there is another part of the audience who don't care at all. They just like the music, and they take it as it is.
â€œAfter the third song, we say, ok, we don't have a bass player; we make a big, long joke about it. The musicians in the audience laugh, and then it's finished. But the first and second song, people are really curious. We have a lot of guys coming up to the stage to see if I have a pedal to make the bass sounds. They're wondering how we do it. But that's only for the first three songs.â€
â€œPeople laugh when we first come on-stage,â€ adds Jourdain, â€œbecause there are only two of us and we look like nothing. But then they hear the sound, and it's really full. It's full of all the frequencies. And then they really start getting into the groove. Then they sing with us, 'fuck the bass player'. We don't need any bass player.â€
At this point, you might begin to wonder if a bass player stole one of the guys' girlfriends, or picked on them at school. But the Aquitaine duo has struck up friendships with some notable bass players, including Suicidal Tendencies' Steve Brunner, whom they toured with just weeks after forming in 2007.
â€œIt was intimidating,â€ Jourdain explains, â€œbecause (Suicidal Tendencies frontman) Mike Muir is someone we have big admiration for. Big respect. This guy has been in the music business for years, doing his stuff. He's the kind of guy, like Jello Biafra, to hold up as an example. It's not exactly our kind of music, but he's an example.
â€œSo we were intimidated, but he was a really nice person. Everyone in Suicidal Tendencies is, actually. The bass player, Steve Brunner, used to come on-stage every time we played 'Fuck The Bass Player'. He'd throw his hands up and say, 'yeah, I'm fucked'.â€
From the beginning, Cluzo's live performances were something special. Even after the release of their self-titled debut LP, seeing these red wine connoisseurs in person is still the best way to experience their unique sound.
â€œFor us, the CD is really different from the live experience,â€ Jourdain says. â€œWe don't like bands who do exactly the same thing live that they do on the CD. We don't understand it. For us, a live performance is a secret moment - it's a confidential relationship you have to build with an audience. When we see bands who aren't trying to build that relationship, we say, 'well, why do they play live?'
â€œWe belong to a group of bands like Fishbone who want to be entertainers. When audiences leave, we want them to say, 'wow, that was a good moment, I had a good time'. The CD gave us a chance to fix songs and melodies and smooth things over, but the live experience is rarer.â€
The Inspector Cluzo play Amped NYE at Dreamworld on Thursday December 31. â€˜The Inspector Cluzoâ€™ is available now through MGM.